THE LEN WEIN INTERVIEWS return! The writer talks about how he played Cupid for Gotham‘s star-crossed lovers. PLUS! How Jack Kirby inspired the return of … Kite Man?!
UPDATED 6/7/17: Hey, you mighta heard some BIG news about Batman and Catwoman this week — click here if you wanna know (SPOILERS!). Well, it seemed a good time to revisit this segment from The LEN WEIN Interviews, in which the legendary writer talks about playing matchmaker with Bruce and Selina in the Bronze Age. Fun stuff…
Welcome back to The LEN WEIN Interviews, a series about the great storyteller’s Batman years.
The Bruce-and-Selina cat-and-bat game has been around since her first appearance as the Cat in Batman #1, 75 years ago. It intensified in the ’60s with Julie Newmar and Adam West‘s frustrated flirtations on TV.
But it wasn’t until Len Wein got his hands on the two of them in the late ’70s and early ’80s that we were introduced to the idea that they could really be a couple. The Bruce-and-Selina back-and-forth you see today? That began with Wein.
For me, that was a major part of reading Batman as an adolescent. Their relationship was exciting and sexy and complicated. Adult stuff! I loved it.
Dan Greenfield: Let’s talk a little bit about Catwoman and the relationship there because this was really a turning point for Selina Kyle that is part of the character today, in terms of making her an antihero or more “on the side of the angels.” Tell me about that.
Len Wein: Well, it was part of my plan to add a new character to the Batman book…which was basically Bruce Wayne.
Now unlike Superman and Clark Kent, where Clark was always a critical part of what went on in his book, Bruce would frequently be in the background in the Batman book. You’d go through months and months where he’d hardly be there. He’d hardly even be doing anything and I felt, you know, he’s an interesting character.
Let’s bring him back and make him as important to the book as Batman and when I prepared to do that, he had just gone through that whole thing with Silver St. Cloud (in the the classic Englehart-Rogers Detective Comics run) so they had no female…there was no Lois Lane.
But there had always been a Selina. And there was always that cat/mouse — or cat/bat if you want to call it that — little thing going on between her and Batman.
Len: And I thought it might be interesting if I created a triangle. What if I let Bruce back into the book — which I did — and then put Selina in and have her get involved with Bruce and there’s this interesting triangle. You have a three-way going on as to who’s she more interested in and unlike Batman, Bruce is the one who’s gonna be able to help pull her over to the good side of the Force.
Dan: So what else do you remember about that period as the monthly Batman writer? What comes to kind?
Len: Oh, it was great fun. I brought back Kite Man because hang-gliding had become very popular. It was sort of my tribute to Jack Kirby in a weird-ass way. Jack was always creating characters in the Marvel Universe that reflected whatever the hot sport of the time was. You know, the Silver Surfer or the Black Racer or characters like that, so hang-gliding had gotten hot so I’m going, “There’s a perfect hang-gliding villain for Batman, so I brought Kite Man back.
I just did it to challenge myself to see if I could take a complete dork and make him (laughs) really interesting.
Check out Len’s Batman in the hardcover Tales of the Batman: Len Wein, now available from DC.