“the Legend of Batkid”
An Eyewitness Report
by Cory Thrall
Yesterday I was very proud to witness first-hand the birth of a brand new Superhero, one to be added among such names as Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America, etc. I saw the birth of a legend. I saw the birth of Batkid.
I was there for the ‘first appearance’ of this 5 year old protector of ‘Gotham City’ and watched as he not only battled crime within San Francisco, but also filled the hearts of the whole world with a joy and excitement that is all too rare in these times.
5 year old Miles Scott is the alter-ego of Batkid and he has the strength, perseverance, and presence to make any fan smile and any dastardly villain quake in their boots. Why? Because Miles has been battling a villain far worse than any imagined onto a comic book page.
When most of us were 5 we had our head full of cartoons, toys, candy, etc. We had no worries, and were scared by the simplest of things. The world didn’t really seem to fully exist, everything seemed to exist in a little bubble.
Our hero, this unstoppable Miles-turned-Batkid, has experienced more horror and trauma in his early childhood than most adults I’ve known. Since he was just a year old, Miles has been fighting Leukemia and going through the medical motions of said disease. Though he is currently in remission, he still has a set of chemotherapy to finish this coming June, so his battle is still being fought on many fronts.
This brings us to the present. The Make-A-Wish Foundation got in touch with Miles and his parents and upon asking him what he’d like to do most, Miles responded that he wanted to be Batman. Not *meet* Batman, but to *be* Batman. The innocence in that answer alone is the crux of his story. A little boy in a huge Batsuit, a huge heart in a tiny child’s costume.
In response, the city of San Francisco agreed to ‘turn SF into Gotham City’ for a day so that Miles - I mean Batkid - could save the day and thus live his young boy dream. The idea was to set up spots where Batkid could take part in ‘saving’ the city from such evils as the Riddler and the Penguin, all while accompanied by ‘Batman’ - an adult who seemed to have some quality stunt skills and spent time with Miles ‘training’ him for his new superhero role.
What happened yesterday was a testament to the good of people, the love of strength of character over strength of illness, and a city and nation becoming one giant hug for Miles to hide his little face in. He was our Batkid, and we were his Gotham.
Bat Symbols were everywhere - from shirts and signs, to stickers and hats. Even some construction cones, city worker safety vests, and Police Motorcycles were adorned with either Bat Symbols or the now famous ‘Batkid’ logo. It was quite the sight to see. The event even prompted a shout-out by President Obama, and for fan favorite Batman artist Graham Nolan to illustrate a picture of Batkid fending off the villain Bane. The reach of this day was, and still is, quite amazing.
One of my favorite parts of this story is the fact that Miles had no idea this was going to happen. He just thought he got an awesome Batsuit from his parents and they in turn tried their best to keep all of the growing media and news reports away from Miles’ eyes. How he must have felt when suddenly the TV showed a (faked for the event) news report that Batkid was needed to rescue a captive woman from the wrong-doings of the Riddler, and that he was the hero to do it. That amazingly awesome way to open this, as well as his first meeting with ‘Batman’ must have been incredibly mind blowing for him.
I arrived a few hours before the first event - scheduled at 10:30am - and poked about to find a good place to set up. After what seemed like hours people began to move into the area, eventually followed by a slew of police and an army of news crews. I met another early bird named Kyle who was about my age (late 30s) and had traveled all the way from Chico, Ca. - a nearly 3 hour drive that he took in a car that was constantly wanting to overheat. He had friends who were going to travel with him but when they cancelled he made the trip to San Francisco on his own. Those who know the city know how hectic it can be even for people who live there, and it shocked me to hear Kyle had never even been to SF prior to this day. He had no idea where anything was, had to park his car far away from the events due to it finally wanting to die on him, and was on foot finding his way about. This is what the whole event was for me - people like Kyle doing whatever they had to to be a part of this day. It made me wonder where other visitors might have traveled from.
The opening event at 10:30 involved Batkid saving a woman tied to a ‘Riddler Bomb’ as she is about to be hit by a Cable Car. She sat there, in the middle of the street and surrounded by people, police, cameras, news reporters, etc., like a good sport as it took longer than planned to get everything in order. The event had attracted far more to the city than had been expected and the police were having constant troubles keeping everyone out of the streets, where the ‘rescue’ was to take place. Eventually they rolled ‘Do Not Cross’ yellow tape in front of the sidewalks, but even that couldn’t keep the more rude onlookers from trying to get the best photos they could.
As I waited with camera in hand, I began to hear a cheering come from down the street, slowly making its way to the main spot. Following the cheers was, of course, the Batmobile with Batkid and Batman inside. The Batmobile? A black Lamborghini with Bat Symbols on the hood and doors. The immensity of it all must have already been euphoric beyond belief.
The Bat-team jumped from the Batmobile and quickly ran to a small trampoline and mat - Batman doing an impressive flip off of it and Batkid jumping from it - then off to save Riddler’s intended victim. Batkid quickly unplugged all of the mechanisms and disarmed the bomb, saving the woman from certain doom! As they made their way out of the immense crowd of cameras and newsfolk, it was back into the Batmobile and on to event #2 - stopping the Riddler from robbing a bank. Would they make it in time before Riddler made off with the cash?
Since the bank heist was inside the building it was impossible to get any photos or see any footage other than news feeds and broadcasts later that night. In the battle, Batkid locks Riddler out of the safe portion of the bank, thus stopping the robbery! He was on a roll, and his legend grew even larger. After such a heated battle - as with any hero in the world, super or otherwise - he needed to refuel, and that meant a Batlunch.
Lunch having ended, Batkid received an urgent call from the Police Chief, calling for Batkid’s help in saving the SF Giants’ mascot Lou Seal from the clutches of the Penguin. Off to the Batmobile, Batkid!
They headed out, going straight for the SF Giants’ AT&T ballpark, where he encountered the Penguin and rescued the San Francisco Giants’ mascot. As a reward, he was able to run around the actual field the Giants play on, was given a baseball signed by Giants star pitcher Tim Lincecum, and even had the chance to run the bases in his batsuit. In a photo showing him hustling towards home plate he has such a smile on his face that it just melts the heart, showing why this day was so important. That smile. That huge, excited and deliriously happy smile. It sticks with you.
The Penguin vanquished, Batkid was called to City Hall where thousands of fans and onlookers had gathered. On a stage above the crowd, Batkid was thanked and given the key to the city (it was chocolate under the gold foil) by SF Mayor Ed Lee, who cleverly thanked him for saving the “Gotham City by the Bay”. Another shot of Miles, triumphantly raising his fist in a hero’s stance, is so joyfully perfect it brings tears to the eye even after multiple views. Again - that smile. That huge, child-like smile with Miles on top of the world. It may not make his problems better, it may not ease the troubles of chemotherapy and other such procedures, but - for that one day yesterday Miles was Batkid and all was right in his world. He fought villains that were actually tangible to his 5 year old mind and he defeated them. I hope in some way this is what he takes from this - the Batman ‘anyone can be a hero’ mantra mixed with the knowledge that he is a true soldier in the harder knocks of life.
Hopefully he already knew that. Hopefully he knew no matter the costume and no matter the number of cheering crowds, he *is* a hero. A hero for bravely struggling through his illness, a hero for being a shining light to all that were there. A hero for hopefully showing other ill children that their plight is not in vain, that they *do* have the support and love of too many people to count, and they, too, are also a hero fighting a very real battle. I hope that when in doubt, they know they have a stalwart do-gooder watching over them - a hero large in soul but small in body.
And that hero is Miles Scott.
So, good job, little Caped Crusader! You’re an inspiration and lesson for us all. And in a Bay Area beset by so much robbery, murder, and other very serious crimes recently you were just what this area needed. I hope we returned the favor in kind.
The City of San Francisco has officially named Nov.15th “Batkid Day”.
PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT:
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27