April 28, 2022
As I sat in the theater to watch “The Batman” movie, I couldn't help but notice how much the movie felt like a comic book. The more I thought about it almost resembled those fan-favorite Batman storylines that I’ve enjoyed.
Warner Bros. Pictures, The Batman with Robert Pattinson as Batman looking out at Gotham
“The Batman,” directed and written by Matt Reeves, took heavy inspiration from the graphic novel that laid the foundation for the “Dark Knight Trilogy.” Those being “Batman Year One” and “The Long Halloween” for the simple fact that the storylines are cornerstone Batman tales. As I watched the film I couldn't shake the feeling that it felt like I was reading one of those stories.
As I thought more and more about this, I couldn't shake the idea that there might be others who may have felt similarly about it as I did. So I decided to mention 3 Batman stories that perfectly reflect the tone, story, and style that the Reaves' interpretation of the franchise successfully translated onto the big screen. Each one helps reflect one aspect of the character seen in Robert Pattinson's performance of the character. Each story will be labeled with the one aspect of the character that it helps represent.
The Caped Crusader: Batman Year One (1987)
DC Comics, Batman Year One, Art by David Mazzauchelli with Colors by Richmond Lewis, depicts Batman as he crashes a social gathering hosted by the Falcone family.
“Batman Year One” written by Frank Miller (known for his work on “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Daredevil Born Again”) and illustrated by David Mazzuchelli, would feature a storyline that would come about as the publisher DC Comics had concluded its restructuring of the DC universe, which created the need to provide new definitive origins for its flagship characters. This caused the editorial staff of DC to contact Miller, for his work in redefining the character for a whole generation with the “Dark Knight Return,” to create the one true definitive tale for Batman.
The novel centers around Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s first year in Gotham as Bruce Wayne had returned to the city after his years of absence since his parents' deaths, and Gordon’s transfer from Chicago to Gotham City. The book present’s a clumsy, inexperienced Batman that makes mistakes similar to Reaves' Batman in the film. It depicts the corrupted Gotham city that is controlled by the mob, who has their hands deep within the ranks of Gotham’s police force, as Gordan is harassed by his colleagues who work for the interest of the mob, even blackmailed, just because he fights for the interest of the people instead of those in power.
The story’s DNA can be seen in the movie “Batman Begins,” where the section revolving around Gotham City and the ending scene of the film are lifted directly from this novel. The novel serves as the foundation that many Batman stories try to live up to. From the masterful writing of Frank Miller and the stunning art done by David Mazzchelie with colors done by his wife. It’s the definitive Batman tale that shows the Caped Crusader as he should be.
The Detective - Batman: The Long Halloween (1996)
DC Comics, Batman The Long Halloween, Art by Tim Sale with Colors by Gregory Wright, depicts Batman as he protects Mickey Sullivan.
“The Long Halloween” written by Jeph Loeb (known for his work on the film “Teen Wolf,” and the graphic novel “Spiderman Blue”) with art by Tim Sale, tells the second year of Batman, which Matt Reeves’s film depicts that period in Batman's career. The story comes as a response to a conversation taken between Loeb, Sale, and editor Archie Goodwin, which is explained by Sale Deluxe edition re-release, as the three were discussing noir films, then Goodwin mentions his enjoyment of how Loeb and Sale’s work “with gangers,” though Loeb and Sale pushed him on what he was trying to say, and Goodwin explains how he wondered “what happened to The Roman and all those other gangers from Batman Year One” with him even mentioning how they should do something with the material. This conversation would become the catalyst for the creation of “Batman The Long Halloween.”
The series centers around Harvey Dent before his transformation to the villain Two-Face, as he makes a pact with Batman and the newly appointed Commissioner Gordon, as they solve the cases of “The Roman” Maroni and the Holiday Killer. The atmosphere that the story presents is like a detective noir movie rather than a simple superhero tale, which is most likely the reason that “The Batman” and “The Dark Knight” feel so similar to “The Long Halloween.” The plot of the story is presented is similar to how “The Batman” film is presented as there’s a mysterious killer who is behind the murder of many powerful people in Gotham City, the fact that Bruce Wayne’s father saved Falcone, and the post-credit scene in the movie is directly lifted from the ending of “The Long Halloween.”
It's a nice and long tale that makes the reader guess who is truly behind these murders as by the end the reader won't know who to truly trust or put their faith in. The reader will witness the slow descent of Harvey Dent into the villain Two-Face and the true detective work done by Batman that is largely glossed over in modern Batman stories, making it an amazing tale that is a worthwhile read.
The Symbol of Hope: Batman Zero Year (2013)
DC Comics, Batman Zero Year, Pencils by Greg Capulo with Inks by Danny Miki, and colors by Fco Plascencia, depicting Batman as he looks over Gotham city in his Zero Year gear.
Someone that is not mentioned a lot (though had a cameo in “The Long Halloween”) would be the Riddler, as he's the main antagonist behind most of the murders depicted in “The Batman” movie. Written by Scott Snyder (titled the best modern Batman writer of all time after his work on “Batman Black Mirror” and relaunch of the character in 2011) and illustrated by Greg Capullo (recognized for this long tenure as the artist for the popular character Spawn). This creative team would come to create one of the best Batman sagas of all time through their work on “Batman Court of Owls'' and “Batman Endgame.” Though Snyder would work on the series “Batman Eternal” the main Batman title would be in an event called “Batman Zero Year.”
The storyline takes place in the modern-day, as a reinterpretation of Batman's first year as the Caped Crusader. It depicts Bruce Wayne's reconnecting with his uncle who's been running his family business since his absence after his parent’s death, then Bruce Wayne's war against the rampant Red Hood gang who are now controlling the city, and then facing the new villain of Riddler as he takes control over Gotham after the vacuum left by the Red Hood gang.
I mention this storyline as it presents a unique look at Batman as Snyder would present him as a symbol that represents Gotham City similar to a previous storyline of his, though also presenting him as a symbol of hope that represents each citizen’s ability to fight against great villainy that may or may not take over their city. And one of the major set pieces done by the Riddler near the end of “The Batman” movie is taken from this storyline. It’s a great read for anyone interested in the character, especially with Snyder’s other works on the character.
Overall each story tells an aspect of Batman that is depicted in Reeves’s interpretation of the character, especially with the deleted scene between Batman and the Joker being publicly released, it helps to show how much reverence that he has for the character of Batman. As the movie encapsulated what makes Batman so unique in a similar manner that the comic books depict the character as he is a slow, vengeful, fighter, who's the world's best detective, though who’s not immune to not seeing the big picture. While Batman may come from 1927 and has a large history, I hope by mentioning these storylines which were used as references for “The Batman” it might get those interested to check out and read more about this character.