Last Updated on April 2, 2022 by Lil Ginge
The Batman’s excellence as a film can surely be attributed to the vision of director and co-writer Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield). But every director has their influences. And when it comes to Batman movies, those influences are often comic books.
Of course, Reeves had other inspiration for his film as well, especially the gritty crime cinema of the 1970s like Taxi Driver and Chinatown and serial killer thrillers of more recent years (Se7en, Zodiac, and Silence of the Lambs all come to mind).
But which comics or graphic novels specifically influenced The Batman as a film? In this article, we will answer this question and take a glimpse at those very same comic books that inspired Reeves’ film.
Comic Books The Batman Is Based-On
Batman: Year One
Batman: Year One is not only one of the most classic Batman comic books of the modern era, it also happens to be my personal favorite comic book story arc ever. It was created in 1987 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and tells perhaps the most classic and definitive origin story of The Batman seen in comic books to date (with apologies to Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s brief version).
The story follows Bruce Wayne in his first year of fighting crime as Batman. The many influences of the four-part series on The Batman are pretty apparent, including the characterization of “drifter” Bruce Wayne as well as the plot about crime and corruption among the city’s elite classes. It also develops the origins of the relationships of Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Selina Kyle pretty fully.
In setting The Batman in his “year two” of fighting crime, Reeves, with some creative license to be sure, takes his film to be a kind of sequel to the tale told in Batman: Year One – if not literally, at least in spirit. Yet other elements of the film, including the presence of The Riddler and The Penguin, are completely independent of this miniseries arc.
Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween, like Batman: Year One, is an inspiration for both Matt Reeves’s new film as well as Christopher Nolan’s now-iconic Dark Knight trilogy. In some ways, Reeves has even more directly borrowed from the plot of this series than he did Year One.
The Long Halloween, created by Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale, is set early in The Batman’s career as well and details the intricacies of the war between the Carmine Falcone and the Sal Maroni mafia crime families. It is also the tale of a serial killer – much like The Riddler in The Batman – taking down members of Gotham City’s corrupt elites. The killer strikes during every holiday over the course of a year.
In The Long Halloween miniseries, we learn that Thomas Wayne once performed a life-saving surgery on mob boss Carmine Falcone that saved the gang lord’s life. This specific plot point, including Thomas Wayne’s murky ties to Gotham’s criminal element, made it into The Batman film as an essential part of The Riddler’s mystery.
Batman: Ego was created by Darwyn Cooke and features an art deco-styled Gotham City while delving into the interior psyche of Bruce Wayne / The Batman. In this story, Bruce Wayne is psychologically haunted by a personified incarnation of The Batman, who tortures Bruce about his failures as the caped crusader of Gotham City. It also focuses on several core philosophical tenets of The Batman, including the character’s “no-kill” policy and his relationship with Gotham City’s police force.
Batman: Zero Year
Zero Year is a 2013-14 crossover comic book story arc that featured a collaboration between writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV as well as artists Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Rafael Albuquerque. The storyline revises some aspects of Batman’s origin and was part of a wider effort by DC Comics to put forth new takes on its iconic superheroes.
In Zero Year, Batman is confronted by The Riddler, portrayed as Batman’s polar opposite, who wants to “change” Gotham City for the worse. Like The Batman, Ego also features Batman’s transformation from a vengeful crimefighter to a more hope-influenced and save-the-day kind of superhero. It also presents Bruce Wayne as a mere angry shadow of The Batman, who is presented as the “real” identity.
Batman: Dark Victory
Batman: Dark Victory is a sequel to The Long Halloween by Loeb and Sale. It follows from the events of The Long Halloween after Alberto Falcone is unmasked as The Holiday killer. An important element taken from this series includes Selina Kyle’s ambiguous relationship with Carmine Falcone and the mystery surrounding it.
When In Rome
When In Rome is not a Batman comic book series but rather a Catwoman one, and essentially takes place in parallel to Batman: Dark Victory. The story, created again by Loeb and Sale, follows Selina Kyle as she travels to Italy to find out the truth about her relationship to Carmine Falcone. In The Batman, Selina is on a similar journey to discover this truth, albeit while remaining in Gotham City.
While plot elements from Hush are not necessarily directly incorporated into The Batman, there are certain thematic and stylistic elements taken from the 2002-3 series by Jeff Loeb. Hush is about a deranged killer with a vendetta against Batman specifically. Riddler’s obsession with Bruce Wayne and his parents as well as his perceived connection to The Batman certainly recall elements of Hush.
The Batman’s Comic Book Influences
The above-mentioned comic books are most certainly the main inspirations The Batman is based on as a film. But, there are others that may have played a role, like Batman: Year 2 and some others. If you are a fan of the film or haven’t even seen it yet, you may want to read some or all of these comic books to get a sense and taste of the movie’s origins.
Reeves’ The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne / Batman and also features Paul Dano as The Riddler, Colin Farrel as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot / The Penguin, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth.
The Batman, produced by DC Films and 6th & Idaho and released on March 2, 2022, has earned more than $400 million worldwide from a production budget of $100 million or so and is definitely counting higher. It tells the tale of a young Bruce Wayne in his second year of crimefighting as The Batman matching wits with a new serial killer named The Riddler.
If you enjoyed this article on the comic books that The Batman was influenced by, also check out my recent article on The Batman’s Mayor Don Mitchell Jr.