One of the most highly anticipated films of 2016 has been making waves across the world since its release on the 25th March, and now Turkey is getting a piece of the action. Turkey is also eagerly awaiting the opening of Istanbul’s Third Bosphorus Bridge, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, an additional gateway between the European side of Istanbul and the Asian side of the city. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as Batman hails from Gotham City, the Batmobile has never made the journey from one continent to another, but Turkey has rectified this matter in a fantastic promotional stunt, not only for the film ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, but also for the city of Istanbul and for Turkish Airlines who set up the event to promote their new partnership with Warner Bros Pictures.
The new YSS bridge which connects Garipçe in Sarıyer on the European side, with Poyrazköy in Beykoz on the Asian side, is set to open officially this summer. However the ever evolving armoured fighting motor vehicle which sports dozens of high-tech gadgets left the Bat Cave temporarily to become the first mode of transport to cross the new bridge. But it was a night of firsts for the Batmobile too. The journey marked the longest ever ride for the one of a kind vehicle, in addition to being the first time that the crime-fighting car crossed continents as it travelled from Europe to Asia. Turkish Airlines’ Board Chairman, M. Ilker Aycı commented that “the ride across the newest Bosphorus bridge is symbolic of how the Batmobile unites people worldwide as a pop culture icon (and) how Istanbul is the one and only city connecting two continents… the Batmobile is one of the most symbolic movie icons of all time and has now connected the world with Istanbul”.
This world-wide observed stunt is not the first time that Batman has made a splash in Turkey. In 2008, Hüseyin Kalkan, then mayor of the city of Batman in Southeast Anatolia, made headlines globally as he announced that he would sue Christopher Nolan, director of ‘The Dark Knight’ film and Warner Bros. over the alleged unauthorised use of his city’s name. In an amusing series of events after Kalkan claimed that Nolan stole the name of his city without telling him or his people, locals claimed that Hollywood executives banned them from using the name of their home town when setting up businesses at home and abroad. Kalkan also blamed a series of unsolved murders in his city on the psychological impact of the film’s success. The mayor had hoped to prove that the city of Batman was founded before the 1939 debut of DC Comic’s superhero and receive royalties if he was successful in suing the director, but DC Comics and Warner Bros. later claimed that no suit had been filed.
Despite its name, the city of Batman is not gothic in nature, nor does it have its own gadget filled, vehicle hiding, high-tech crime wielding Bat Cave. Batman is a city in south-eastern Turkey and is the capital of the important oil producing province of the same name. The name of the city is, of course, entirely unrelated to the one of the superhero and is in fact a shortened form of Batı Raman, the name of the mountains where petroleum was first found in the vicinity and despite Mayor Kalkan’s claims, is in fact younger than the superhero himself, since the former village of Iluh was only renamed Batman in the 1950s.
While there is not much to do or see in the city other than taking various pictures of signs saying ‘Batman’, the province is an interesting one. There are some ruins on the outskirts of the city and railways connect Batman with Istanbul and Ankara via Diyarbakır. There is also a major shopping mall, Batman Park, which has a state of the art cinema. The local university, a vital hub for the city, trains young engineers in oil production and there is currently an open air museum which exhibits old equipment used for oil mining. The ancient town of Hasankeyf, located along the Tigris River, a natural conservation area is a huge draw to the area. In a similar style as the immensely popular Cappadoccia, thousands of caves exist in the cliffs that surround Hasankeyf, many of them multi-storied and with their own water supply. Churches and Mosques were also carved into the cliffs and numerous ancient cemeteries still exist today.
If the city or province of Batman don’t sound enticing enough, or the Batmobile’s presence in Istanbul isn’t enough to lure you to the historical city, Turkish Airlines are now whimsically offering flights to Gotham City and to Metropolis! All joking aside, the airline is getting creative, offering a comic book superhero experience on their flights which is a great quirk for attracting visitors to fly to Turkey. A flight to Istanbul or any other part of Turkey with their national airline will be a treat with their free superhero merchandise such as kids packs and eye masks and a comic book themed menu to accompany the adventure. One thing is for sure, with such heroes representing Turkish Airlines and indeed the wonderful country itself, anyone travelling to Turkey will be in safe hands. Perhaps you’ll even be lucky enough to fly alongside the Man of Steel himself!