For whatever reason, news stories about real people dressing up like Batman tend to go for the jugular, emotions-wise. (Maybe it’s because the character represents some better part of the human soul, or maybe there’s just something about people in cowls.) The recent documentary Batkid Begins captured one end of the human interest continuum, pushing the “inspiring” button so hard it threatened to permanently jam. Now, we’ve got a story that falls hard on the “Aw, that sucks” side of things, with news coming that Lenny Robinson, a Maryland man who spent his free time visiting sick kids while dressed as the Caped Crusader, has died after being struck by a car on Sunday night. Robinson, who was 51, had pulled over to the side of Interstate 70 after his vehicle—a customized Batmobile—suffered some sort of engine trouble.
Robinson gained national fame in 2012, after a video of him getting pulled over by police while in character went viral. (He’d forgotten to replace his Batmobile’s fake plates with the real ones while driving, and jovially posed for pictures with the officers after the confusion was cleared up.) Working with the Washington-based Hope For Henry Foundation, Robinson spent 13 years and apparently hundreds of thousands of dollars acting as Batman, visiting hospitals around the country, giving gifts to sick children, and doling out gravel-voiced inspiration. He also volunteered for regular functions at his local firehouse, library, and basically anywhere else someone in a Batman suit could be expected to show up and make kids smile.