Variety Magazine reported last month that the mayor of Batman, a city in southeastern Turkey, is preparing a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan, the director of the two most recent "Batman" movies. The mayor alleges that the filmmakers used the name of the town without permission.
"The royalty of the name 'Batman' belongs to us," said Huseyin Kalkan, the town's mayor, according to a poorly translated report in the English-language Hurriyet Daily News. (He might have meant "the royalties from" the name belong to us, but maybe not. It is a pretty cool name.) "There is only one Batman in the world. The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."
It is not at all clear who was using the name first. It is clear that the DC Comics character (originally "the Bat-Man") was created in 1938 and first appeared in a comic published in May 1939. Facts about the town's name are more difficult to get (it's probably easier if you speak Turkish).
People have lived in the area for thousands of years, but just when they started calling the town "Batman" is hard to say. According to some reports, the name is a contraction of the Turkish words "bati," which means "west," and "raman," which means something else. There are lots of references to the "Bati Raman" or "West Raman" oil field, which was discovered in the 1950s, but whether the town's name predated that and so could have conceivably inspired the comic-book hero is not clear. Even if it could have, it is probably unlikely that DC Comics decided to name its character after an oil field in southeastern Turkey, let alone that anyone would get the two Batmen confused.
Reportedly, the lawsuit (which has not yet been filed) will include the claim that the film's success, and the psychological impact on residents of not sharing in that success, has led to a high female suicide rate and "a number of unsolved murders."