The Dark Knight will rise in Balboa Park this summer.
Batman will be the first character added to the Comic-Con Museum’s Character Hall of Fame on July 17, kicking off Comic-Con International. The 80-year-old character, still a comic book best seller and a mainstay of film and TV, was chosen because of his iconic stature.
For San Diegans, it will mean the first time the museum in Balboa Park — now slated to open in summer 2021 — will be open for a big event. It has only been open a handful of occasions since it was announced in March 2017, usually on a small scale and only in one section of the 68,000-square-foot space.
“All three floors of the building will be fully activated,” said Adam Smith, executive director of the museum, of the Batman event.
The celebration, organized alongside Batman publisher DC Comics, is a fundraiser with tickets to the main event costing $250. There are also $50 tickets for the “after party,” which runs from 9 p.m. to midnight. Smith said are about 300 tickets left.
DC Comics publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee said Tuesday that it jumped on the chance to participate in the Hall of Fame idea as a way to celebrate the 80th anniversary and help a good cause. Lee lived in San Diego for 25 years and said he was excited about the comic-themed museum.
“We definitely wanted to help them out and elevate the launch of their museum and the fundraising efforts,” he said, “and it gave us an amazing opportunity to really spotlight how important and iconic this character is.”
Lee also happens to be one of the most famous comic book artists in the world, penciling a celebrated run on the main Batman series from 2002 to 2003. His story, along with writer Jeph Loeb, is being turned into an animated film called “Batman: Hush” to be released in August.
Some of the reasons why Batman continues to endure, Lee said, is a great name, one of the best superhero costumes and the best villains in comics.
“At its core, the concept endures because it’s about a child that was potentially destroyed by tragedy, but doesn’t let it define him,” he said. “Instead, he dedicates himself to becoming the best person he can be, the best superhero, the best crime fighter.”
The museum event takes place during Comic-Con’s preview night, a chance for people to get their tickets early and see the convention floor without a mob of people. Smith said the Batman event was designed so people could get their badges at the Convention Center and head to Balboa Park after.
Organizers say the museum will be filled with props from film and TV, memorabilia, interactive experiences and guest appearances. DC Entertainment and the museum are being tight-lipped about the specifics, although they said in a news release “Gotham City will come to life” inside the museum.
The occasion marks accelerated activity for the museum, which was announced two years ago. Its plan to transform the former Hall of Champions relied on fundraising, which Smith said has gone well enough that he can now talk about an opening. Additionally, he said they have hired architects LPA San Diego, based in Barrio Logan, to design the space. Smith said they will have preliminary designs to show attendees at their booth on the Comic-Con convention floor.
The museum event July 17, called “The Gathering,” comes amid a flurry of Caped Crusader 80th anniversary-themed activity from Warner Bros.-owned publisher DC Comics. It released issue No. 1,000 of Detective Comics and a hardcover book called “80 years of Batman” (former San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman wrote an essay in it).
Batman continues to be a best-seller in the comic book industry, according to recent sales estimates from Diamond Comic Distributors. In May, nine of the top 20 selling issues had Batman on the cover or in a starring role. On TV, there are two new Batman series set to debut: “Pennyworth” on Epix, about Batman’s butler; and “Batwoman” on CW, about Batman’s cousin. A new Batman movie from director Matt Reeves is in development and a movie about Batman villain Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, comes out in October.