Batman costumes at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. Photo b Luis Monteagudo Jr.

Bruce Wayne would’ve fit right in.

Comic-Con 2019 kicked off Wednesday night with a glitzy, Batman-themed event at the new Comic-Con Museum that would have made the Caped Crusader’s alter ego proud.

The sold-out event was a fundraiser for the future museum, which is housed in the old Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. It also was the first major event at the museum and it began as fans were lining up to enter the San Diego Convention Center to enter Comic-Con’s Preview Night.

“This is very exciting for us because it’s essentially a full dress rehearsal of what we want the Comic-Con Museum to be,” said Adam Smith, the museum’s executive director.

Dubbed “The Gathering,” the event also served to induct Batman as the first character in what will be the museum’s Hall of Fame.

A batcave was created in the bottom floor of the museum. There were costumes and props from various Batman movies, Batman video games and pinball machines, giant covers of landmark Batman comics, a batsignal and a batmobile.

The induction ceremony featured artists and actors, including David Mazouz, who played the young Bruce Wayne in the recent “Gotham” television show. Jim Lee, publisher and chief creative officer of DC, Batman’s comics publisher, accepted an award for the induction of Batman into the Hall of Fame.

“What really makes him a hero is what makes anyone a hero, it’s about making a difference,” said Lee.

The fundraiser attracted a host of San Diego VIPs, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer and various City Council members, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton and former Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman.

To honor the Dark Knight, fans were dressed in tuxedos and glittering dresses. Others came dressed as Batman characters, including the Penguin, The Joker and Harley Quinn.

“This is very special because it’s the 80th anniversary of Batman and this is the first time they’re using the whole museum for an event,” said Shawn Mullen, founder of a fan group called the Science Fiction Coalition.

Ralph Bufano, a museum consultant who is advising Comic-Con on its museum, said it is  poised for success.

“Comic-Con is one week a year,” Bufano said. “This will open it up 365 days. You think of all the investment that led up to comics becoming pop culture; this lends itself to kids and adults who are kids are heart. For this part of Balboa Park,  I think this will rejuvenate it.”

The museum event occurred as Comic-Con is celebrating its 50th year. Back in the beginning, Comic-Con founders had dreamed about building a museum dedicated to the popular arts. With fundraising underway, the museum is now scheduled to open 2021.

Mayor Faulconer called it a historic night, adding, “Comic-Con is part of the fabric of San Diego.”

A pop-up version of the museum, including some of the Batman displays will be open starting 9:30 a.m. each day during Comic-Con. Comic-Con badges will not be required to enter and admission is free.

Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture fan who is attending his 29th consecutive Comic-Con.

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