Our resident supervillain: An inside look at the Batkid’s epic day


Holy bizarre coincidences, Batman! The Penguin is a TEDx speaker?

It’s true. No, we’ve never booked Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. But we do have Mike Jutan, the crafty supervillain who played the bespectacled and umbrella’d Penguin for Make-A-Wish’s Batkid caper — in which the city of San Francisco was transformed into Gotham City for a 5-year-old leukemia patient named Miles who became Batkid for a day. D’awwww.

We talked to Mike about what he learned from being a supervillain. Below is an edited version of our conversation. Our first question: How did you get involved in the Batkid adventure? Here’s Mike —

This summer, I had a backyard BBQ and my buddy Eric said to me, “What are you doing Friday, Nov 15th?” He said we were going to dress up in costumes and run around in a Make-A-Wish event. It sounded awesome. On the big day, Eric played Batman and his wife was the “Damsel in Distress.” We had no clue it was going to be as big as it was.


How did you prepare for your role as the Penguin?

The many days of preparation included going back and forth to AT&T Ballpark to do location scouting and pyrotechnic safety run-throughs, figuring out the sequence of events for Miles, watching old 1960s Batman episodes to do some character research. I also spent hours worrying if my part of the day would go smoothly, and [hoping] that people would show up. 

They certainly did — everyone really got behind it. 

The outpouring of support was massive. Police Chief Greg Suhr filmed TV clips for Miles to watch throughout the day, updating him on the dastardly deeds of The Penguin and The Riddler; the SF Fire Department was there to help; the Justice Department gave Miles his own mini FBI “raid-jacket” and created a faux indictment for The Riddler and The Penguin; Twitter helped with the huge social media presence. And the people of San Francisco — over 20,000 people — showed up in costume, with homemade posters and cameras, cheering, “Batkid! Batkid! Batkid!”

What did you learn from being a part of the Batkid’s epic day? Any ideas worth spreading?

Making a wish come true starts with one person saying yes. This incredible event started with one person, then one more, then another … and Batkid turned into an international news story seen by more than 2 billion people.

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