Batman isn’t just a character, it’s a way of life…

BERLIN – From the outside, Ezra Welch’s home looks like many in East Berlin; its brick face and American flag fit in perfectly with the neighborhood. Stepping inside, it looks clean and quiet.

But head down the stairs to his basement and you enter the other world he inhabits.
Batman artwork covers the walls. A large sign welcoming guests to “The Batcave” hangs over the steps. The only thing that appears to be missing is a revolving bookcase that serves as a secret door.

For Welch, the self-proclaimed world’s No. 1 “Batfan” who has gone as far as getting Batman tattoos, “The Dark Knight,” the newest Batman film, opens today and is the “Holy Grail.” He, along with millions of other fans will flock to multiplexes to see the sequel that has created a buzz.

Welch said he was drawn to the Batman character, whose story of a man who responded to tragedy by teaching himself to fight crime and stand up for justice inspired him. As a scrawny young boy who wore glasses, he said he attracted the attention bullies.

“It was an inspiration for how to stand up for myself,” the 40-year-old said.

In fact, Welch loves his hero so much that he has dedicated an entire room to his obsession.

The basement is filled with a lifetime’s worth of Batman memorabilia — clocks, action figures, toys, masks, posters, even Batman cologne. Of course, there are comics too, more than 500 of them. He started collecting as a young boy, but a fire destroyed his collection while he was in college. He didn’t let that stop him though; he just started over and kept adding.

The collection is a diverse one, ranging from framed movie posters to a utility belt and even a large ceramic cookie jar shaped like Batman. He has even deemed one corner of the collection a “Rogues Gallery” and uses it to showcase Batman’s foes.

Welch, who works at Precision Graphics in East Berlin, doesn’t know exactly how much he has spent on his collection over the years but estimates it is at least $5,000, maybe even $10,000.

Even with all the money he has spent, he says his favorite item didn’t cost him a thing.

“It’s a Batrock,” he says, pointing to a chunk of stone he got during a visit to the cave used to film part of the 1960’s “Batman” TV show that starred Adam West. “It’s from the Batcave. I don’t know if anyone else has something like this.”

He has two Batman tattoos, though his preferred term is “Battoo.” One features the Batman logo, and the other, which Welch designed, places the character in front of a full moon and a swarm of bats.

Occasionally he will even don a full-size Batman costume, though he prefers to do it to mark special events; one photo on the wall of the “Batcave” features him, fully-costumed, kissing his wife in front of their Christmas tree.

As for his wife and two teenage daughters, Welch said they have put up with this obsession of all things Batman.

“It’s good fun. I support him because of his profound enjoyment,” said Andrea Welch, who has been married to him for 20 years.

His 17-year-old daughter, Jenna Welch, said that although she’s not too interested in Batman now, as a child it gave her and her dad a special bond.

“It gets a little bit annoying after a while, but it makes him happy,” she said. “I’m OK with it.”

As for the movie, Welch says it would be hard for him to be more excited. He has done everything he can over the past six months to avoid information that would spoil the film, but that hasn’t stopped him from preparing for the big night. He will host a “Batbash” with family and friends this afternoon, where “Batburgers,” will be on the menu. After the party, the group will head to the movie and then meet back at the “Batcave” to discuss and critique the film.

“I’ve waited 30 years for this movie,” he said. “For me, it is the Holy Grail.”

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4 Responses to “Batman isn’t just a character, it’s a way of life…”

  1. Lou Says:

    HAHA This new Batman attempt has been universally panned as the worst movie of the year with the worst casting and acting ever. Maybe it can earn some money being a hit in europe of all places. HAHAHAHA We need better actors! HAHAHAHA

  2. Your Daily Chum Says:

    For a second, I thought you were being serious. 🙂

  3. Blood_Highway_65 Says:

    Dude, he is being serious. Seriously bad movie. Being panned everywhere. Get the DVD at best. Mainly, I would think, due to the notorious casting choices, and the bad acting and directing that’s getting all the hype. For the next movie they need a Batman actor and director that’s more appropriately suited for the role, kwim.

  4. patrick Says:

    kudos to the makers Dark Knight for their record breaking opening weekend… it’s no wonder there’s talk of another one coming out ASAP

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