THE STORY of Zoltán Kohári, dubbed the Slovak Batman, has been widely publicised in global media, including Der Spiegel, the Chicago Tribune and the Reuter’s newswire, with internet hits occurring in Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, the USA, Poland and Germany. The unemployed man, aged 35, lives in an old, deserted block of flats, speaks only simple Slovak while preferring his native Hungarian tongue, and helps his neighbours in the town of Dunajská Streda in southern Slovakia while attired in a Batman outfit.
Even with some similarities, there are big differences between the Batman movie hero and the real-life version as the Slovak man has no Robin to assist him, no Batmobile and not even a Facebook page. Kohári does not save human lives in his hometown but he does resolve minor skirmishes and does small handyman jobs for neighbours who then pay him with food.
Kohári does not hide his true identity like the film character. The trained house painter spent eight months in jail last year and also attempted suicide after he was released, Reuter’s wrote, adding that Kohári’s Batman impersonation follows a trend in the US where ordinary citizens began donning superhero costumes while performing public services
Kohári told the Slovak Šarm magazine about the beginnings of his particular passion: “As a child I loved the movie about Batman; I wanted to be like him. I tailored this costume, managed to get the cloak and made my sign,” adding “I am perfectly aware that I cannot be like the film hero and I don’t have his powers”. But he said he wants to “make a film about Batman and star in it” suggesting that local police could take part and help children learn about right and wrong.
Kohári told the magazine that media attention began when “just as a joke, I let pictures and video of myself be made and someone put the video on internet. Nový čas [a Slovak tabloid] and then other media started writing about me and now I am famous.”
Nevertheless, acquaintances say he remains a modest, ordinary man unchanged by the attention and fame. But Nový čas reported a darker note: Kohári has been accused of sexually harassing a young girl. The flesh-and-blood Batman denied any wrongdoing. An expert opinion submitted to the court in connection with the charges states that Kohári is “perfectly sane and only simple”.