NYC and Chicago: The real Gotham Cities?

Posted at 3:17 p.m. EST

The Batman sign on the Woolworth building in New York City.The Batman sign on the Woolworth building in New York City.

All us comic book nerds go through periods of wishing we lived in our heroes’ worlds.

But now people will actually feel like they are, thanks to “The Dark Knight” and a few ingenious marketing people.

On the trail of a year-and-a-half long marketing campaign, fans of Nolan’s upcoming movie got a chance to get down and dirty around City Hall in New York City and by the Sears Tower in Chicago on Tuesday July 8, unlocking a puzzle on behalf of “Citizens For Batman” (CFB). The website, among various devised by 42 Entertainment–The Dark Knight’s marketing company–is a snippet of this intricate web of puzzles, scavenger hunts and just downright silliness.

Fans become involved in an Alternative Reality Game where they get contacted through these various websites, working for main characters such as Commissioner Gordon, The Joker, and others involved in the movie. Famous events for this ARG include people getting Joker cell phones out of cakes after figuring out one scavenger hunt, unlocking the latest TDK trailers, physical copies of The Gotham Times, free pizzas (courtesy of Domino’s Pizza) and swag.

However, for a novice such as me, there is little to do when there is so much already at stake. Following this ARG has not been easy but there are some websites keeping on the lowdown, such as batman.wikibruce.com. As a functioning wikipedia website, the organization of the site keeps novices and integral characters involved with the entire storyline. I’ve seen news filter out quickly once active participants have unlocked something.

The whole thing seems sketchy at first, seeing all these intricate and highly detailed websites dedicated to keeping you involved. But once things start rolling, it’s hard to keep your mind off of what’s going to happen next. Unlocking things like passwords to people’s voicemail connects you to a web of mobmen and as a vigilante for the Gotham Police Department. Not to mention, all the messages from the Joker just make things seem downright creepy, getting mutilated copies of Joker cards and newspapers like The Ha Ha Ha Times.

But that simple sense of mystery is what lured me to head out to New York City for CFB. A group of over 100 teens and 20somethings (or so it seemed) met up at Thomas Paine Park.

Crowd at City Hall Park

Crowd at City Hall Park

Once 10 o’clock struck, everyone went running, in search of a lockbox by City Hall after eating pizza pies and getting free t-shirts and stickers.

Symbol--Citizens For Batman

Symbol--Citizens For Batman

People scattered as the lockbox led them to the City Hall park, where we were encouraged to find a two-way radio that would lead us to an optimal spot to see something. What that something turned out to be… well, see for yourself.

Faithful blogger with Batman Sign

Faithful blogger with Batman Sign

It was pretty awesome to see the batman sign on a building in my city, much like Gotham City. It was also the ultimate goal of this little hunt and it felt pretty satisfying to see it. Although many of us expected more, that was the end. An hour-long scurry around New York City to see it turn into Gotham City (minus the overt corruption and Joker running around).

Although, to be honest, there’s still a week left, and at least a few more things to unlock and unravel. The Joker’s website, has a bomb waiting to detonate Thursday July 10 (tonight). Who knows what’ll come of it?

And the culmination?

The premiere of TDK and with it, an awesome ending to an intense and involving campaign which has made a few lives a wee bit more exciting.

And, to be nerdy, here’s a picture of me with the girl Jess and her friends, who got the two-way radio.

Karen with Batman friends.

Karen with Batman friends.

– Karen out

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~ by Karen on July 10, 2008.

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