Watch CBS News

Canton Man Spreads Joy In Metro Detroit As "The Giant Batman"


(CBS DETROIT) - At 6 foot 9, Canton resident Tom Burger makes an impressive Batman with an authentic-looking suit as he drives around to parties in a sleek, three-wheeled Batmobile. "I first started dressing as Batman (as an adult) in 2016 for Halloween. My church hosted a trunk-or-treat event, so I put together Batman character costumes for my whole family," recalls Tom.  When he was in his hometown of Pennsylvania for Christmas, he was at a mall and saw the black Polaris pictured below.


"And I instantly thought it would make a great Batmobile," Tom said, "I didn't rush out and buy one or anything, but I did end up renting one for the day to use for the trunk-or-treats in 2017 and 2018. Then in the winter of 2019 a friend from back home pointed me to a listing that this same dealership was selling some showroom models at a discount. I ended up buying a 2017 with only 1 mile, and it was identical to the one I had rented twice. In early March I drove there for the weekend to pick it up. I took my Batman and Robin costumes, and my nephew and I picked it up in costume."  That same day he visited his mother's best friend's grandsons (one of which was having a birthday) and also met up with the friend who referred him to the listing and his son.  Tom says, "They loved it so much, and that's how I got the idea to use it for birthday parties. That day (...) my sister was seeing a lot of talk about it on Facebook. And people were asking about hiring me. So I put the Facebook page together and made up some business cards, and started going to different community festivals, car shows, and cruises."


When asked why he calls himself "The Giant Batman" Tom responded, "I had made a joke about "the Giant Batman" coming to Butler, PA (my hometown), and found an old comic with that name. The way old comics are, I figured Batman must have become giant at some point. I went looking for a comic just for the joke."


A typical visit from "The Giant Batman" ranges from 30-45 minutes. Usually many photos are taken and people want to sit in the car. Some kids get really excited and jump up and down. Tom says, "Others get overwhelmed at first and are kind of shy, but they usually come around after a few minutes. But it's fun to go out and see reactions from kids and adults. I get a lot of people taking pictures or video from their cars when I'm driving or at red lights."


Tom also shows kids some of the things he carries in his utility belt.  Tom said, "A few months ago I got a new belt with roomier pouches, and I rigged one up with glowing kryptonite. It automatically lights up when the pouch is opened. I usually ask the kids about other superheroes they like and lead them towards talking about Superman and show them the kryptonite. I tell them it's for just in case Superman is under a villain's mind control, or if he's been exposed to red kryptonite, which makes him act like a total jerk."


Fighting crime is not the only nemesis to this Giant Batman.  He recently had a battle with his garage door. "I had a little trouble last night. I was all suited up and about to leave for a birthday party and the garage wouldn't open. The torsion spring broke! Thankfully I was setting out to leave about 20 minutes before I really needed to, so I managed to get the door open manually and only ended up being 5 minutes late. I had to take off my cowl, cape, gloves, and belt to deal with the door though."


Tom has been an engineer for the auto industry for 20 years.  He started at Ford right out of college and he's been at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for 11 years. His interest in Batman started early with wanting to wear superhero costumes and underoos all the time, especially Spider-Man and Batman.


It's from these early years that Tom understands how much joy kids get from getting a visit from someone special.  Tom remembers, "When I was 3, my parents arranged for Santa and Mrs. Clause to visit us on Christmas Eve, and I still remember the doorbell ringing and my dad carrying me to the door, and seeing Santa through the little window."


"I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing kids get so excited. It's usually a complete surprise whether I show up at their door or in their driveway, or in traffic or at some event. And I know it will be a memorable experience for them," Tom says.


If you would like to hire Tom Burger for an event, you can search "The Giant Batman" on Facebook to schedule a visit and check out rates.

© 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.