Batmobile breakdown turns heads of Ontario drivers
Stephen Lawrence, 39, began playing the Caped Crusader in high school
When the Dark Knight has car trouble, it's a recipe for traffic chaos.
Drivers returning from Ontario's cottage country clogged Highway 401 near Napanee on Sunday evening as they watched Batman, in his Batsuit, working on his Batmobile.
Julie Toole said 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."
Stephen Lawrence — who prefers to be called the Brampton Batman — was returning from a charity gig at a Kingston, Ont., mall when he heard a disconcerting noise in his car.
So he pulled off to the side of the road to inspect the problem, which turned out to be a loose hatch.
But by then, traffic had nearly stopped to get a glimpse of 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."
The 39-year-old Lawrence has been portraying Batman in one way or another since he was 14. He said it started when he was in high school in Markham, Ont., where he wore 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."
That's when, he said, he started practising the art of ninjutsu. When his dad died a few years later, he began wearing a homemade Batsuit and lurking around in the shadows at night.
"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?"'
So he went with it and spent years doing it, his own personal thing.
"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."
And then he bought a Batmobile
Then he decided to "follow his dream" to drive a Batmobile. His friend saw one roaming the streets outside Toronto and Lawrence eventually met the man who builds
them in Orangeville, Ont.
He began saving to buy one, so rather than take transit or drive to work, he decided to "come out" as Batman and walked home after his late shift at Coca-Cola -- a 2 1/2 hour walk. He met many who loved the suit and police officers who wanted to know what was going on.
"I told them I was getting a Batmobile and would appreciate it if they didn't pull me over every two minutes," he said.
Through an unfortunate turn of events — someone broke into Brampton Batman's home and made off with a bunch of stuff -— he stashed the insurance money as part of what he needed for the car.
"The rest of it I worked my cape off for," said Lawrence, who bought a Batmobile from Glenn McCullagh about two years ago.
Lawrence said it's made from an old cop car, a Chevrolet Caprice, with a 1989 Batmobile replica body made by McCullagh.
He still gets pulled over periodically, mostly by curious officers. He said the car is street legal, has insurance and Ontario plates.
He said the car has broken down on him a few times, which wasn't a big deal when he was still talking to McCullagh -- they aren't speaking because of a spat over comments made on Reddit.
So he gets mechanical help elsewhere. And he still gets to drive a Batmobile.