The Dark Knight’s Face Plant


In the summer of 1997, I worked at a movie theater in high school when “Batman and Robin” was released. My manager, a nice girl who was a few years older than me, asked if I would wear a Batman costume for a meet-and-greet and promotion in the lobby, before the opening night showings. She thought I had the right height and build to fill out the suit.

So, I said I would and I begrudgingly put the suit on. Other than being a little tight in the shoulders, it was pretty comfortable. Taking pictures with Batman fans and meeting kids before the show was sort of fun; it was easy money.

When the lobby emptied, my manager came over to me and told me to go into the theater and when the trailers end and the theater lights fade, run down the center aisle, fan your cape dramatically, and run out the fire exit. I didn’t want to do it, but I thought I did the meet and great; I put on the outfit, what’s one more thing?

As the previews were playing, I anxiously waited in the back of theater, hunkered down in the shadows. The theater was packed and the audience was abuzz with excitement to see the new Batman film. The side lights went down and the Warner Bros. logo was projected onto the screen. I started my sprint down the narrow aisle way.

When I got to about the third row from the front, I went airborne.

I don’t know if I stepped on my cape and that caused me to trip, or if there was a tear in the carpet? I flew face first toward the linoleum floor between the seats and the screen. When I landed, I skid on my face for about three feet.

I heard some chuckles from the audience. I heard one person ask, “What the hell was that?” I stumbled to my feet in a blurry haze; I tried to remember which side of the theater the exit door was on. I weakly fanned my cape, like the manager had asked me to do, and then I carefully staggered to the exit.

I got back out to the lobby, and my nose started bleeding.  Leaning against the wall, pinching my nose and tilting my head back, I saw out of the corner of my eye this little boy staring at me, looking traumatized.

Not wanting to ruin the kid’s image of Batman, I darted into the bathroom and examined my nose in the mirror. I saw  parts of my face swelling up and started washing the blood off my face.

I heard a toilet flush. A balding guy opened the stall door, looking like a tall Carl from “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” hairy arms and all. He started washing his hands in the sink next to me. He stared at my face for a second, dried off his hands, and asked, “Did Vicki Vale [Batman’s love interest in a previous Batman release] catch you with Catwoman?”

My nose wasn’t broken that night, but my self-dignity was.