I just read Michael Uslan's memoir, "The Boy Who Loved Batman," and maybe a more apropos title would be "The Boy Who Dreamed About Batman"...actually, that doesn't sound right...on with the review..
I came out of reading the book thinking that Uslan was portraying himself as a fan who made it - this is the guy who grew up loving comics and was never tempted to move on and managed to successfully parlay his hobby into a career as a Hollywood producer. And he wants to tell the story of a pop culture guru/whizkid who anticipated everything and saw it all coming years before everyone else. And the story of an average supernerd who gets lucky and lives out the fanboy fantasy of authenticating, validating, and vindicating the stuff of his youth and young adulthood, hitting paydirt via luck, social networking savvy and spunk more than anything else.
Uslan's greatest contribution as an executive was as a catalyst and support system - if any director had grand ideas for a Batman movie, it was Uslan who could step up as the happy warrior and fight for him, but only if those ideas appealed to his own reasoning. In Hollywood, if you don't have the support of SOMEBODY, a "warrior" behind one of those desks to push an idea, it can stay in "development hell" long after you're gone. He had been championing the concept of doing a serious Batman film for years, but in my opinion, could never articulate it well enough for it to be realized until the arrival of Tim Burton. It was not a perfect union - Uslan hints that this relationship got ugly when Burton chose Michael Keaton for the title role. It took a hell of a lot of convincing to get Uslan and the other executives to see otherwise, and by that time so much money and energy and resources had been invested in the project, they had to go along with the decision if they ever hoped to recoup.
Uslan should be a familiar face to fans of superhero movies who watch DVD bonus features and documentaries on superheroes and comic books. He's one of the guests who offer socio-psychological-historic rhetoric on the enduring popularity of these characters - all of which falls apart the moment you actually get in the habit of reading the books or walking into any comic shop, unfortunately. I always wondered how marketing and collecting hoopla, large balloon breasts, promotional gimmicks, stunts fit in with all that talk of "Modern-day Folklore". Uslan often drops numerical values of old comics throughout the book. Money gets mentioned a lot here, and it goes against the grain when he talks about passion and fidelity to portrayals of comic book characters.
Ironically, I found that I could relate to Uslan in the sense that the love of Batman that we get from the book is of a Batman that exists in Uslan's imagination - he can point to Christopher Nolan's Batman and Tim Burton's Batman and Dennis O'Neil's and Steve Englehart's and say, "That's my Batman!", and he could point to an inconsistent sampling of 20 comics through the decades and say that his Batman is there, too. That list appears in the last third of the book, and it reads like a blog entry than what it should have been: a book itself, offering commentary and analysis as to what he finds in these choices a distillation of the Batman of his dreams. Then, we would have a more powerful book, and not a "The Kid Stays In The Picture"/"Field Of Dreams"-esque mish-mash. We also get invited to peek at his collection of boilerplate correspondence, autographs, memorabilia and false career starts and comics - can you imagine what it would've been like if he hadn't made it and this stuff was just rotting away in his house (or his parents house)? We would've lost a warrior.