The association between Chicago and Batman in the movies began when Christopher Nolan took over as director of the saga.
In 2005, “Batman Begins” was filmed in the Windy City because Nolan believed it provided the most realistic character for Gotham, including its recognizable skyline. The Chicago representation of Gotham continued with two-thirds of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, in 2008.
According to the director of the Chicago Film Office, Rich Moskal, Nolan had a specific vision for where the stunts and action scenes should take place. Chicago offered the desired scenic and architectural effects.
Despite “The Dark Knight Rises” being filmed in Pittsburgh, Chicago had become Gotham City. “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was partially filmed in the city to coincide with “Man of Steel,” which was also chronicled in the Windy City.
Chicago in the DC Comics
Before the movies, DC Comics illustrator Neal Adams thought Chicago was the right setting for Gotham over New York City. There are similarities, however, New York lacked the alleys needed for Batman’s fight scenes.
In 2011, Scott Snyder became of the authors of the Batman comics. The writer has added his own flavor to the 75-year-old series, including the Gotham Illuminati. He has envisioned both Chicago and Manhattan as the fictional city of Gotham.
Snyder says, in his mind, Chicago has the best physical look for Gotham. He has found an alley that reminds him of the area where Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered, and the John Hancock Center prompts thoughts of Wayne Tower.
More Evidence Chicago Is Gotham’s Location
Digging through the Batman saga, readers learn that Commissioner Jim Gordon was an officer for the Chicago Police Department where he took down dirty cops. He then requested a transfer to Gotham City for his own safety. Would he go far from home?
The comic book series, “Batman: Gates of Gotham,” focuses on the history of the fictional city. The series, written by co-authors Snyder and Kyle Higgins, draws from the influence of “The Devil in the White City,” written by Erik Larson and set in Chicago during the late 1800s.
In “Nightwing,” Dick Grayson travels around on the tops of trains based on Chicago’s Damen Blue Line. The comic series references landmarks of the Windy City, such as the Crown Fountain, Millennium Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, Willis Tower, and U.S. Cellular Field.
Brian Azzarello, the writer of DC Comics “Joker” and “Broken City” stated, “I can’t not be uninfluenced by [Chicago].” Beyond the influence the city has had on the Batman writers, the Caped Crusader has also had an impact on Chicago.
Batman Influences Chicago
The Gorilla Tango Theater featured “Batman Burlesque.” In this sexy storyline, Batman and Robin must rescue Batgirl from the Riddler. They search all of Gotham to obtain clues from the Caped Crusader’s enemies and find Batgirl before the time is up. Batman’s enemies include the Penguin, Catwoman, Egghead, and Two-Face. The show was an hour-long event.
“Batman Burlesque” was directed by Kaitlin Fleharty and choreographed by Crystal Paradise, Hazel Hellbender, and Fleharty. The Chicago show has received positive reviews from KickingtheSeat, Skokie Patch, and Ray’s Chicago Area Burlesque with comments such as:
“A rich, pop-geek-friendly comedy show.” – KickingtheSeat.com
“As good as Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman installment is, this show made a far more memorable evening.” – Ray’s Chicago Area Burlesque
“It was ridiculous in the best way possible.” – Skokie Patch
However, the Gorilla Tango Theater reported that “Batman Burlesque” closed at the end of 2016.
Despite all the buzz from directors, fans, and DC Comics writers, no one has actually revealed the true site of the fictional Gotham City.
By Jeanette Smith
The Chicago Tribune: Batman’s top writer talks about hero’s 75th anniversary
The Chicago Tribune: Batman’s Chicago connection
Gorillatango: HOLY BOUNCING BOOBIES! A Batman Burlesque
Featured Image Courtesy of Matt Turner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of John W. Iwanski’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License