Mark Hughes is a LONGTIME BOF reader and contributor to the site.
Professionally, Mark writes about film -- especially comic book/superhero movies -- on his FORBES.COM blog, REEL ESTATE WITH MARK HUGHES. He's also a screenwriter for film and TV and, in a former life, was a media specialist and campaign ad writer. He's also a good friend and one of the biggest Batman fans I've ever known!
For all of BOF's "BATMAN 75" coverage, visit the MAIN B75 PAGE or click the logo above or to the upper right.
1) What is your first memory of Batman?
MARK HUGHES: My oldest clear memory that's specifically about Batman is listening to two of my older twin brothers reading a Batman comic book with me. I must've been about four or five years old, and I remember very clearly that it was a comic with Ra's al Ghul in it, the cover was missing. I have a slightly older memory of sitting on my sister's lap in front of the TV one evening, watching ABC's preview of their new upcoming Saturday morning cartoon lineup, and it included a brief bit about "The Super Friends" -- I remember it very vividly, including the "Sunshine Family on ABC" song that played, and I was mesmerized by the scenes of "The Super Friends."
2) What's your favorite Batman comic book cover ever?
MH: My favorite Batman comic book cover has to be the first issue of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS -- I consider it to be the single greatest comic book cover ever made, since it so perfectly captures the essence of the character and the story. I love that cover so much I'd like to have a huge copy of it framed in my living room! But it's hard to really name just one, because sometimes I think BATMAN #244 (with Batman on the ground at Ra's feet, a sword rising from Batman's body) is my favorite, and at other times, DETECTIVE COMICS #31 (the iconic cover with Batman's image in the sky behind the Monk's castle atop a mountain) is my favorite.
3) If you were hired to write a Batmam comic book story and could pick your artist, who would it be?
MH: Because of the sort of Batman story I'd probably write, I'd pick Alex Maleev or Michael Lark. However, it's obviously hard not to say Marshal Rogers or Neal Adams -- two of my favorite Batman artists. If I intentionally wrote in a more classic Batman style, I'd go for one of them. Now, if I could get Jim Lee to do a pencil-only version of a Batman story, that'd be hard to pass up!
4) What's your favorite single Batman comic book story?
MH: For single-issue comic book stories, the first issue of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is a perfect Batman story, and the definitive Two-Face story as well (Two-Face is probably my favorite Batman villain). It has one of the greatest endings of any Batman story -- or any comic book story -- that I've ever read. For longer multi-part stories that ran in multiple issues, I'd have to pick YEAR ONE as my favorite.
5) What's your favorite animated Batman series?
MH: There's no doubt in my mind that BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is the best Batman cartoon ever made, and a lot of fans grew up on that show and consider it their favorite and the best as well. It's amazing and if I'm going to spend a lot of time watching animated Batman, then this would be the show I'd go to, and once I actually watched enough episodes it became my new favorite animated Batman series. That said, I was already well into college when it aired, and I didn't actually see many episodes until years later. So for most of my life, the only Batman cartoon that stood out in my mind as entertaining and good quality, and thus remained my favorite for most of my life, was the 1960s BATMAN AND ROBIN cartoon. It's dated, it's goofy, and it's not the go-to animated series to watch if you want the best Batman cartoons, but God bless it I still love it!
6) What's your favorite live-action Batman film?
MH: I'm on record as saying THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is the best Batman movie and the best comic book movie ever made. However, my personal favorite Batman film is probably a choice between BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT. But the distance between these three films is about a hair's width, I love them all so much. BEGINS is all-around the closest to mirroring my personal image of Batman in live-action, because we get the origin story and we see Bruce as such a dominant decision-maker and so influential on the story's events. Batman in that film is fighting his way up the chain of command in the mobs, he's piecing together the mystery, and it's a story that spans decades and moves around the world. On the other hand, "The Dark Knight" is much more grounded in a real-world setting, the characters are so rich and their arcs so complex as they connect and reinforce one another, and the iconic Joker performance by Heath Ledger elevates everything in the film. It's an urban crime story that just happens to have Batman showing up in it, and the new bat-suit is my favorite live-action Batman costume to date. So picking my favorite based on how I feel right this minute, I think BEGINS has a tiny edge due to the impact it had on me and how much it reflects all of the things I most love to see in a Batman story. But tomorrow my answer might be THE DARK KNIGHT HAHAHA!
7) Which filmmaker needs to direct a Batman film?
MH: Ben Affleck is hands-down the director at the top of my list to make a Batman film in the future. I've been saying this since 2011, actually, and even wrote a Forbes article in early 2012 naming Affleck as the best director to helm Batman movies after Nolan departed the franchise. Affleck's GONE BABY GONE (which for my money deserved the "Best Director" Oscar) and THE TOWN were brilliant crime-thrillers. Then there's ARGO which once again demonstrated Affleck's status as one of the best directors working in cinema. He has a particularly keen eye for the sort of thriller-mystery stories that Batman's franchises needs more of, he's a comic book fan who recognizes the need for high-quality productions in the genre, and so I hope Warner Bros. has done whatever is necessary to convince him to sit in the director's chair when Batman's solo franchise gets moving again.
8) What's your favorite "Batman Logo" from any medium, any era?
MH: This might surprise a few people, but if I had to name the coolest looking presentation of the Bat-Logo was the one from BATMAN RETURNS. It's the simple, traditional Bat-logo, and they really did a masterful job of depicting it in that image. I also am a big fan of the logo from THE DARK KNIGHT and that's my favorite on-costume Bat-logo. In the comics, I really like the one Jim Lee usually draws, and I also like the Frank Miller's as well.
9) Your favorite live-action movie Batman?
MH: No contest...Christian Bale! The Batman in the Chris Nolan films as portrayed by Bale is as close to "My Batman" that as has ever been portrayed in live-action so far. But I've got high hopes for Ben Affleck, so we'll see what the future holds!
10) What does Batman mean to you on a personal level?
MH: Batman took on a deep meaning for me while I was just a child. Batman represented the idea that no matter what bad things happen to you in life, you can overcome them and rise to make something better of yourself and of the world around you. I saw him as refusing to just accept the bad things in the world, refusing to give up even in the worst moments of pain and fear and loss, refusing to believe that good couldn't win no matter the odds. Batman fights for those who can't fight for themselves, he tries to be a symbol of hope for people who feel hopeless. He's a hero and a champion, and he first had to become a hero and champion for himself in his own life, which is a particular distinction that always stood out to me.
Thanks again to Mark for being a part of BOF's celebration of 75 years of Batman! You can read Mark's Forbes.com blog HERE, and follow him on Twitter at @MARKHUGHESFILMS.