Even Batman can have car trouble.
ubbernecking is the act of slowing down your vehicle to gawk at a traffic accident or other roadside misfortune. It’s a bad idea. It causes traffic jams and frequently leads to more accidents. But you have to admit, the urge to rubberneck would be pretty tempting if you spotted Batman stranded on the side of the highway, trying to fix his broken-down Batmobile.
That’s exactly what Ontarians taking Hwy 401 saw Sunday evening, and it created a traffic nightmare.
Julie Toole says she watched Batman “in full garb standing at the back (of the car). We only saw it for a few seconds as we were driving. It was cool. And confusing.”
Here at Social News Daily, we have a policy against revealing the secret identities of crime-fighting vigilantes, but Stephen Lawrence, the man in the Batman costume, doesn’t mind letting the world know who he is. He just prefers to be referred to as “the Brampton Batman”.
Lawrence was returning from an appearance at a charity event at a Kingston, Ontario mall when he heard his 1989 replica Batmobile make a disconcerting noise. He pulled off to the side of the road to inspect the problem, which turned out to be nothing more than a loose hatch. By then, however, traffic had come to a near standstill as people stopped to get a glimpse of, to quote the Canadian Press, “the caped crusader with car troubles.”
“I try my best to baby that car as best as I can,” Lawrence said. “It was fine, but it didn’t take long for traffic to build up, as it always does when Batman is around.”
Lawrence, 39, has been an aspiring Batman impersonator since the age of 14. He tole The Canadian Press said it started when he was in high school and would wear a black trench coat to class over his school-issued uniform.
“I started wearing that and it looks like a big, black cape,” he said. “So my friends started calling me Batman.” Shortly after, he said, he started practicing the martial art of ninjutsu.
He says when his dad died a few years later, he began wearing a homemade Bat-suit and lurking around in the shadows at night, emulating his favorite hero.
“When your father passes away and, obviously, you’re looking at Bruce Wayne’s life and looking at your life and you’re saying, ‘they kind of match, don’t they?“’
Lawrence said he kept on doing it as a form of personal catharsis, keeping his nighttime activity private.
“You don’t want people to think you’re just nuts,” Lawrence said. “It was private. There are nights that I have gone out in my early, put-together homemade suit and literally be Batman and be by yourself – you can help kind of cope with your changing life.”
But eventually he decided to “follow his dream” to drive a real life Batmobile. He says a friend of his saw one driving down a street outside Toronto, and Lawrence eventually found the man who builds them in Orangeville, Ontario.
That’s when he decided to ‘come out’ as a Batman impersonator. While saving to buy his Batmobile, he opted to forgo his pedestrian vehicle and take to the streets in full costume, walking over two hours to get home from his job at Coca-Cola. He says he met a lot of people who loved the suit, as well as many curious police officers.
“I told them I was getting a Batmobile and would appreciate it if they didn’t pull me over every two minutes,” he joked.
Lawrence said his Batmobile is made from a retired police vehicle, a Chevrolet Caprice, and has a 1989 Batmobile replica body over the frame. He still gets pulled over from time to time, mostly by curious officers. They have nothing to fear, as the car is street legal, insured, and has Ontario plates.
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