Leukaemia boy lives out his Batman fantasy in San Francisco
Five-year-old dons superhero costume and 'saves' San Francisco from Riddler and Penguin
Associated Press in San Francisco
Dressed in a black Batman costume, his fists clenched as he took on foe after foe around San Francisco, a five-year-old boy who has battled leukaemia for years fulfilled his wish to be his favourite superhero.
In the process, Miles Scott became a darling of social media and attracted thousands of fans across the United States, and in the White House.
"When you have an illness, it's very important to know you have a support system," said Gina Futrell, a 51-year-old with multiple sclerosis, who was among a large crowd gathered at Union Square on Friday for a chance to see the "Batkid" in action. "I have an extremely strong support system, and I hope he does too. He's such a little hero."
Batkid was called into service by police chief Greg Suhr and spent the day zooming from one "crime scene" to the next. Accompanied by an adult Batman impersonator, Batkid rescued a damsel in distress from cable car tracks, captured the Riddler as he robbed a bank and saved the San Francisco Giants mascot - Lou Seal - from the Penguin's clutches.
Miles was able to fulfil his wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the city and volunteers who stepped forward to help. He was diagnosed three years ago, underwent chemotherapy treatment and is now in remission.
Batkid had a police escort worthy of a dignitary as he sped around the city in a black Lamborghini with a Batman symbol, with officers blocking traffic and riding alongside him on motorcycles.
The White House sent out a tweet encouraging Batkid to "Go get 'em!" In a video recording, President Barack Obama said: "Way to go, Miles! Way to save Gotham!"
The crowds grew after each stop, reaching into the thousands by the time Miles got to Union Square for lunch at the Burger Bar atop Macy's. Spectators climbed trees and clambered up lamp posts, and police and organisers struggled to keep a path open for the motorcade, which drove past onlookers lining the streets six deep for several blocks.
At Batkid's stop in the city's Russian Hill neighbourhood, a woman sat on the cable car tracks in a dress and thigh-high black boots. She had a handkerchief around her mouth, and her hands were bound behind her back.
Batman and Batkid sprang into action, with the aid of a trampoline. They rescued the woman and disabled a plastic replica bomb she was tied to.
The two masked superheroes then took off to nab the Riddler as he robbed a downtown bank. They later jetted to the Penguin's kidnapping of Lou Seal.
The five-year-old at first seemed overwhelmed by the outpouring, quietly working through each scenario with clenched fists and tight lips amid delirious chants of "bat kid, bat kid". But by the time he reached City Hall to receive a key to the city in front of the biggest crowd of the day, Miles was all smiles and bravado.
The San Francisco Chronicle, KGO-TV and thousands of volunteers participated in the event. At Union Square, the Chronicle distributed hundreds of copies of special-edition newspapers with the headline "Batkid Saves City".
"This is off-the-hook San Francisco," Suhr said.