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Metrocenter Forever


Where mall and movie memories meet

The first “midnight premiere” I ever attended was Batman Forever — at Metrocenter.

We sat in line near the top of the escalator for what seemed like days, but it was probably only an hour or two. I remember feeling a kinship with the gaudy neon, because I was buzzing with excitement for a new Batman movie — and the debut of Robin.

I remember my buddy trying to whisper something to me during The Wayne Murder Flashback Scene. I hushed him like we were in church. Since the movie omitted the assertion that “Jack Napier” killed the Waynes, the scene struck me as more canon — more poignant — less tied to THAT story and more a story in and of itself. Every time I watch it now, I chuckle at the reverence I felt about it then, even as I still feel it today.

In the months that followed, when we’d hang at Metrocenter, I’d slip away from my chums and go to Waldenbooks. I’d flip through the beautifully leatherbound edition of The Dark Knight Returns and dream of the day I could afford it. (It’s pretty collectible now, so I’m still dreaming.) Batman Forever adapted Frank Miller’s sequence of a young Bruce Wayne falling into the Batcave. I didn’t think movies could GET more comics-accurate!

We were too young for Mill Avenue. Arrowhead wasn’t there yet. Metro was the place to be. Where the books and movies and music and Orange Juliuses were.

Last week, Metrocenter announced its permanent closure at the end of the month. Today, news broke that Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher passed away. A biff-pow to that delightful memory . . .

. . . and, still, there’s a hope that future generations have stories and places they remember as fondly. A real hope that we LET them. That’s why Batman has a Robin in the first place — not so someone else feels at home in a cave, but so someone else doesn’t have to find one.

Phoenix Metrocenter

Phoenix’s Metrocenter Mall from the air (Craig Sanders via Flickr)

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About the author

Russ Kazmierczak Jr.

Russ Kazmierczak Jr.

Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. is the creator/self-publisher of Amazing Arizona Comics, and dozens of other minicomics and zines. He was the Phoenix New Times’ Best Storyteller in 2018, and he’s the biggest fan of The Monkees you’ll ever meet. Follow him online on Instagram @amazingazcomics, or on his new Patreon, at