The Batman (2021): Comic Books that Inspired the Upcoming Film and Plot Details Discussed
When The Batman (2021) screenwriter, Mattson Tomlin, was asked by a Twitter fan on his inspiration for the film, Tomlin revealed that Batman: The Animated Series was a big inspiration while he was writing the screenplay.
I can’t safely add much other than what Matt has already put out there, but I will say that it gave me a great excuse to rewatch the Animated Series and literally triple my already heavy comic book collection. https://t.co/XkS4fEl8m0 — mattson tomlin (@mattsontomlin) April 25, 2020
That doesn’t come as a surprise since the 1992 animated series has been cited by many as arguably the best version of batman to date—animated or otherwise. Even though the series was targeted towards children, the show had plenty of substance and dark storyline to keep even the adults engaged.
What Makes 'Batman: The Animated Series' Great
There were myriad factors that made the animated series so special. From its stellar voice acting to its Gothic tone to its top tier animation, the series didn't pull their punches.
Perhaps the most important thing that made it stand out was its gritty noir storyline. The series finally made use of the huge rogues' gallery in batman mythos and wove interesting narratives around each of them. Prominent villains like Two-Face, Man-Bat, Riddler, Clayface, Scarecrow, and Harley Quinn made their first animated appearances on this show.
In its 85 episodes, the show took inspiration from various comic book storylines that lent the series the gravitas that is still undisputed to this day. But out of the numerous good storylines out there, which stories could Mattson Tomlin and Matt Reeves possibly take inspiration from?
Where 'The Batman' Draws its Inspiration from
Back in January of this year, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Matt Reeves disclosed that his version of Batman will be exclusively about Batman as the "world's greatest detective" and referenced Batman comics to make his point.
"It's very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale. It's told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it's going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It's more Batman in his detective mode than we've seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He's supposed to be the world's greatest detective, and that's not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I'd love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it's going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation."
Reeves has certainly taken inspirations from numerous Batman comics and novels to enhance the plotline of The Batman (2021). Here are some of them that may influence the upcoming movie.
'Batman: Year One'
On Feb 20 this year, Reeves also gave a special birthday shoutout to Bruce Wayne using a panel right out of 'Batman: Year One.'
Written by the legendary comics book writer/artist Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, this iconic take on Batman's formative years is often cited as the definitive origin of the caped crusader. And while Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins wasn't a straight-up adaptation of the comic book, there were many elements in it where he drew inspiration from.
Judging by the Matt Reeves tweet, we can safely assume that he too will be inspired by the comic book's storyline of a younger Bruce Wayne coming back to Gotham after years of extensive training only to discover a corrupt Gotham on the brink of destroying itself.
'Batman: The Long Halloween'
In another Instagram post in March, actor Jeffrey Wright (who has been cast to play James Gordon) posted a cover picture of the 1996 comic book 'Batman: The Long Halloween,' with the caption "Another for the culture."
The 'Long Halloween' comic is a 13-issue series written by Jeph Loeb and art by Tim Sale. The series is a year-long murder mystery that tells the story of a young Bruce Wayne in his early years as the masked vigilante.
In the story, Batman has to track down a killer known only as Holiday who goes around killing people during major holidays. The caped crusader has to find this killer before the criminal murders his victims each month. At the same time, he also has to stop a turf-war between Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni—two of the most powerful crime families in Gotham City.
In his mission to find out the killer, Batman confronts and investigates established crime figures in Gotham.
'Batman: Earth One'
Matt Reeves has gone on record stating that Bruce Wayne will be in his second year of crime-fighting and will function as a detective rather than a vigilante. His version of Batman will be slightly more of an amateur.
Reeves' statement is evident in the first-ever camera test reveal of Robert Pattinson in the batman suit.
In the above footage, we con see a leathery material that has been stitched on top of a military tactical helmet. This DIY-version of batman cowl is also featured in 'Batman: Earth One' comic, which was illustrated by Gary Frank and written by Geoff Johns.
Frank's batman suit iteration looked deliberately amateurish, something that was hand-crafted by Bruce who was yet unsure of what he was doing.
Interestingly enough, the storyline for Earth One revolves around a serial murder mystery akin to that of 'The Long Halloween.'
'Batman: Earth One' Storyline
In this storyline, a mysterious figure is killing off Mayoral candidates one by one, leaving behind riddles to be solved. Oswald Cobblepot, who is better known as Penguin, is the corrupt mayor of Gotham City and tries to get Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne, killed.
Now, we cannot expect the upcoming film to follow the book's narrative to the point because the death of Bruce Wayne's parents has been done to death (pun intended) in the big and silver screens; and it is very doubtful that Reeves would want to explore that aspect of Bruce's origin again. What is interesting, however, is Colin Farell's casting as Oswald Cobblepot, the aristocratic mobster of Gotham City.
We also know Paul Dano is playing the Riddler and we also have an idea that Riddler is going to be a prominent villain in the film.
Who Is the Penguin?
In the comics, Penguin uses his old money and high society connections to become a respected and powerful crime figure in Gotham city. He also has strong political connections and tries to run for elections.
In leaked set pictures, we see Colin Farrell in his dashing attire which is befitting for Penguin as he is also known as the “gentleman of crime”. The film's version of Penguin could follow the route of Earth One storyline and introduce him as the shady corrupt mayor ruling over Gotham.
When you have a corrupt mayor, who is also connected to many high society families, this makes Gotham a breeding ground for corruption.
However, in the film, he has actually been written off as a "good guy" who is in the running for the mayor and is trying to save himself from being murdered.
Who is the Riddler?
The Riddler is the criminal mastermind of Gotham city and often incorporates mysteries and puzzles into his crime. He uses his ingenuity to challenge Batman and, on some occasions, has even managed to outsmart him.
If the film deals with several mayoral candidates being killed off, Riddler could be the one behind the killings. He could be the serial killer-like figure behind these killings. He could also leave clues for the police and Batman to find. But if we know Matt Reeves, the story isn't going to be quite that obvious.
'Batman: Overdrive' & Batmobile Inspiration
Judging by his tweet frequency, we can assume that director Matt Reeves is an avid twitter and likes to use the platform to make his announcements about the movie in grand fashion. In his tweet from March, we see a lean Batman standing next to a muscle car.
The car seems to be an old Ford Mustang with a self-fitted V10 truck engine at the rear. The film seems to be taking its cues for the batmobile from the relatively unknown storyline titled 'Batman: Overdrive.'
What's more, the graphic novel by Shea Fontana and Marcelo Di Chiara is aimed at younger audiences. The story reimagines a young Bruce Wayne who is looking forward to his 16th birthday and the freedom that comes with it.
In his mission to get closer to his father, Bruce sets himself to restore his father's old muscle car that he hopes to drive when he has turned 16. As he is restoring the car, Bruce makes his own additions to it to help him in his crime-fighting mission, and the end result was something that looks similar to what Reeves unveiled.
Another interesting thing to note in the graphic novel is the relationship between young Bruce Wayne and his guardian, Alfred—who Wayne blames for failing to receive his parents on the night of their death.
After his parent's death, Wayne becomes obsessed with finding the truth. While the apparent shooter turns out to be a low-level criminal who dies before his trial, Bruce gets convinced that there might be something more sinister at play. And Alfred thwarts his every attempt to solve the case.
In the plot, Alfred is like an overbearing father ridden with guilt and Bruce is a rebellious teenager ridden with angst. 'Overdrive' has explored more into their relationship than any other Batman storylines before it.
The actor cast in the role of Alfred Pennyworth in The Batman (2021) is an indomitable actor Andrew Serkis. Many fans were left wondering about casting such a powerful actor in Batman’s butler role. But the strong father-figure role of Alfred in the new film could be a hint at the reason behind his casting.
Serkis is best known for his motion-capture roles: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong in King Kong, and Caesar in Planet of the Apes trilogy. He also recently stood his ground against Black Panther and Killmonger as Ulysses Klaue in Black Panther (2018).
'Batman: Dark Victory;
One more source material inspiration for The Batman (2021) is reportedly Batman: Dark Victory.
This 14-part comic series focuses its plots around three to four years into Batman’s career and is said to be the direct follow-up to The Long Halloween.
The story centers around a series of murders of Gotham City police officers in the backdrop of a territorial war between the now rising crime guy Two-Face and Falcone family—or what remains of the Falcone family.
It is also rumored that Hush could be the 'big-reveal' villain. However, we have yet to receive confirmation if the reveal will be at the end of the first film or saved for the sequel.
Catwoman also plays a very prominent role in the comic book 'Batman: Hush' and the upcoming film could explore her relationship with Batman in detail.
'The Batman' 2021 Possible Plot
Notice the recurring them of a young batman, solving series of murders and turf war between two powerful crime figures?
From all the references from the above-mentioned sources, we can assume that there will be a serial killer loose in Gotham City. And Batman will have to race against time to solve the identity of the killer who is probably leaving clues and riddles to his next killing.
As Batman investigates the case, he will cross paths with many of the already established rogues in the corrupt Gotham such as Catwoman, Penguin, Carmine Falcone, Mad-Hatter, and Firefly.
Furthermore, Peter Sarsgaard's Two-Face may be depicted as a good guy at first and then slowly could be shown turning corrupted by Gotham's underbelly akin to 'The Long Halloween.'
Perhaps, there may or may not be a twist revealing that the killer is someone other than the Riddler.
We can also gather that Bruce Wayne will be more inexperienced in crime-fighting than previous versions. This is evident from the fact that his cowl, bat-suit, bat-symbol, Batmobile, and bike all seem to be retro-fitted by himself. We will also get to see a more strained relationship between Bruce and Alfred, and Alfred will probably play a larger part in the story.