<i>Batman Live</i> unveils characters for $20-million arena tour

Somewhat overshadowed by the calamitous Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the other big-budget superhero stage production, Batman Live, made a splash Tuesday in London with the unveiling of the key characters.

Officially announced in November, the $20-million touring arena show pits Batman and Robin against their rogues gallery in an ambitious production that features a giant video screen, a Joker hot-air balloon, recreations of several Gotham City locations -- it takes 20 trucks to haul it all -- and a Batmobile created by legendary Formula One designer Gordon Murray.

Oh, and Es Devlin, who's created stage and costume designs for Lady Gaga, is also working on the show.

"What it is really is rock and roll," choreographer Anthony Van Laast told The Guardian at Tuesday's launch. "Almost all of us come from a rock and roll background, we know we can fill an arena, we can do the whiz bangs and the special effects – all we needed was a really good yarn as the backbone of the show, and we've got that. It's not a musical."

Batman Live premieres July 19 in Manchester, and tours the U.K. through Oct. 8 before heading to Europe and then, in August 2012, North America.

After the break you can see video clips from Tuesday's preview, including models of the elaborate sets and the introduction of the villains by The Joker. Superhero Hype has a gallery of the costumed performers.

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