Jack Walker is one of the lucky ones: Officially, he’s Batman.
Living a dream of arguably millions, the British-born actor dons cape and cowl — not at a theater near you, not on any Bat-channel, but in the flesh, before your eyes, in cities worldwide, in the Batman Live arena tour.
For eight performances between today and Sunday, the Chesapeake Energy Arena will be transformed into Gotham City for a live, action-packed two hours that Walker promises is “an experience you’ve never had before, regardless of what you expect from a Batman show,” featuring such classic characters as Robin, The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Two-Face and Catwoman.
“It’s a comic book and a movie melded together into a live stage production that has all kinds of spectacular fight sequences, pyrotechnics, acrobats and the Batmobile,” he said. “It tells a story, but has a ‘wow’ factor, the whole spectacle, for all ages, from kids to pensioners.”
“Retirees,” said the Londoner.
As a kid, Walker wasn’t much of a fan of comic books until the day he discovered the caped crusader.
“I had a lot more time for them after that,” he said. “Batman was definitely the catalyst, the inroad for sort of getting what the appeal of comic books was. Batman always had such dramatic, dark artwork, and that’s part of his universal appeal. It has that superhero thing, but also that human darkness that I think kids are drawn to as much as adults, which is why it’s so enduring.”
To become the dark knight, whom he has played for roughly a year now — first in England, then in Europe and South America — Walker said he endured a long audition process that sought someone who could handle the dramatics and the physicality, not to mention “all sorts of little hurdles.”
“I had to undergo a flight test to make sure I wouldn’t pass out and cry,” he said, noting that the show requires him to zoom some 40 feet over the audience, wearing the iconic suit that weighs about 40 pounds. “You get to enjoy the rush of it, always.”
While the thespian in Walker looks forward to the quiet moments as Bruce Wayne, he can’t deny the adrenaline jolt that comes with being one of the world’s finest superheroes.
“In the fight scenes, the music is pumping and it feels like you’re in a movie,” he said. “You do the vicarious escape thing. You feel very powerful.”