Thursday, August 4, 2011

Comic Book references in movies Part V: 'Batman Begins'

Every writer of the Batman movies had either an extensive prior knowledge of the Batman comic books or did an extensive research before writing the script. Each and every one of the theatrical Batman movies has numerous subtle and not so subtle nods and references to the comic books and reveals an impressive knowledge of the comic book back catalog.
One of the last posts focused on differences and deviations from the comic books from each movie, listing the number of things which were changed to fit the story more and serve it better ( This time we'll focus on all the references and similarities to showcase the writers' knowledge of the Batman stories and to point out what was taken from the comics


The previous Batman movies drew either primarily from 1940's, 1970's or 1960's. Batman begins focuses most on graphic novels, one shots and limited series' from 1980's and early 1990's. The cited influences on Batman Begins are Year One, The Man Who Falls, The Dark Knight Returns, Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale's Batman stories (Haunted Knight, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory), and the 1970s Dennis O'Neil with Ra's Al Ghul. This representation of Batman is very faithful and very referential to the Bronze and most primarily, Modern Age (1985-present day). To read about the portrayal of Batman in Christopher Nolan's movies check

David Goyer: We based a lot of it on Year One. Ra's Al Ghul we pulled from the '70s Denny O'Neill and Neil Adams stuff ( 

1. The opening shot is very reminiscent of the imagery in 1987's Batman: Year One 

2. The idea of young Bruce falling into a bat cave and being attacked by the bats comes from 1986's The Dark Knight Returns

3. 1989's The Man Who Falls was the first to depict Bruce falling through wooden planks

4. The same story also has Bruce growing a beard

5. It is worth noting that the trip to the top of the mountain in order to find a mentor is an homage to Batman #431 and The Man Who Falls.

6. The Gotham monorail, featured on the first panel of Year One, makes its debut in the movie

7. Very often when Batman's origins are retold, there is an image of young Bruce kneeling among his dead parents (panel below from Batman: Year One)

8. When Ra's Al Ghul first appears in 1971's Batman #232 , his hidden base is in Himalayas

9. When Bruce was about to kill Joe Chill, somebody else beat him to the punch in 1987's Batman: Year Two

10. Bruce leaves among the common pure people. He did the same in The Man Who Falls

11. The first time the League of Assasins/League of Shadows appeared, there was a Sensei present who was in charge despite the fact that it was Ghul's group. While in the movie he was just a decoy, the inspiration is clearly there

12. Ra's pick Bruce to be in charge of the League of Shadows just like in the comic books Ra's chooses Bruce to be his successor in leading the League of Assasins (panel from Batman #232)

13. In Year One, Bruce makes a comeback to Gotham City after a long absence. The media picks up on it immediately

14. Bruce's speech during his flight is very reminiscent of his dialogue in 1980's The Untold Legends of the Batman. David Goyer admitted to copying some dialogue verbatim from some comic books

David Goyer: But in some cases, I literally took this line of dialogue from this issue, and this line of dialogue from that issue. And then wove it all together. ( 

15. Bruce disguised in tattered clothes as a transient worker in order to spy comes from 1999's Batman: War on Crime

16. While Gotham City has been depicted with a lot of Gothic architecture, it has also been depicted in Modern Age as a regular looking city


17. In 1996's Long Halloween, Scarecrow and Carmine Falcone briefly worked together

18. In 1994's Detective Comics #0, Bruce Wayne takes a tour of Wayne Enterprises’s science division and tells Lucius Fox to shut it down. Then he and Alfred disguised as delivery men steal all the equipment. While Batman later modifies everything , the idea of his gadgets originating from Wayne Ent. was there

19. The tumbler resembles The Dark Knight Returns' Batmobile in look and overall theme

20. Bruce gets the idea for becoming the Bat-Man after a bat flew into his house

21. The use of Bat shurikens is also taken from Year One

22. Year One: Flass harasses others and gladly abuses his power. Sickened Gordon watches and doesn't hide his disgust

23. The interrogation upside down in the rain comes from The Long Halloween

24. The short ears on the cowl and the big and wide bat logo were always the characteristics of the first Bat costume in Batman's earliest days, depicted as such in every era. His early belt also consisted of compartments rather than pellets that he had in latter years of his crime fighting career.

25. Batman is often shown watching over the city on rooftops and most often statues in crouching positions

26. Bruce is spontaneously exercising while Alfred talks to him and informs him on what he read in the newspaper. That is also from Year One

27. When Bruce gets gased with Scarecrow's poison, he sees flashbacks of his parents' murder. This comes from 1996's Batman: Haunted Knight. Another example posted is from 1990's Detective Comics #457


28. After getting poisoned by Scarecrow Bruce wakes up and Alfred is on his side. This is also from Haunted Knight

29. Very soon after, Bruce is visited by Jillian/Rachel who thinks that his worn out condition is a result of heavy partying. Also from Haunted Knight

30. The ambush on Scarecrow's hideout and goons comes from Haunted Knight as well. It also featured the line "Its the Batman"

31. Crane's line about making an appointment also comes from Haunted Knight

32. Batman uses a sonic device from his boot to call the bats for distraction. This comes from Year One

33. The whole story about Ra's trying to poison Gotham's water supply in order to bring "balance" is taken from 1982's Batman Annual #8

34.  From the outside Arkham looks very much like the comic book Arkham looked like for most of its long history. Throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s, Arkham was an old, long building

35. Ras Al Ghul freed all the prisoners from Arkham in Batman 1986's  #400

36. The imagery of Scarecrow on the horse comes from The Long Halloween

37. Ras was a physically tough opponent for Batman

38. The movie ends with the mention of the Joker, as did Year One

39. While not a comic book reference, Batman looks like the Batman from "Batman Beyond" series when seen through the eyes of the toxed Crane

Special acknowledgement for fellow Batman historian BatmAngelus


  1. This is to me the most detailed origin of the Batman, its never been detailed as much as Begins even in the comics(where this film draws inspiration from) but the most emotional orgin I've seen is the one in Mask of Phanatsm.

  2. It wasnt the most detailed, it skipped decades in Bruce's life and shortened his origins but they were the more emotional

  3. Its not more detailed than comics. In comics he had like 3 or 4 different mentors and trained and travelled all over the world looking for masters ever since he was a kid. But BB origins are awesome

  4. Those comics are merely separate stand alone one shots that fill in some gap between the time he left Gotham, and when comes back. Begins actually showed how Batman became Batman in one sitting. Begins showed the origin in such a unique and clever way and crafted origins of of Bat's suit, bat cave, and crated a reasonable psychological explanation(which was from the comics) and made it its central theme and most believable motivation for a man dressing up as a large Bat.

    Also Nolan Batman was not trained by several different masters, and thus he is not as smart as his other iterations.
    Actually I like the Nolan Bruce a lot, he's not as overpowered like his comics version(in the intelligence department) and is much more realistic(Nolan's Batman simply wants to lower crime and corruption, while the comics version wants to eradicate all crime and corruption

  5. I agree with everything you said but I dont agree with your dismission of the comic book origins. They might not have been collected in one story but they were respected and acknowledged in latter issues and very consistent. The characters of Ducard and Kirigi never disappeared once they debuted as Bruce's trainers

  6. I never dimissed the comic origins they're awesome, but I think Begins told a full definitive story and I respect that and the source that inspired it.

  7. I must hand it to the blogger, he made me eat me words. I always picked on Begins for Batman just getting all of his stuff from Wayne Ent and now I see its actually how it was in the comics.

  8. Holy shit, what a great post

  9. This is a very cool and inspiring list.

  10. I knew about most inspirations, but its very cool to see them side by side like this

  11. Great list, however I notice there is no mention of the Len Wein miniseries 'The Untold Legend Of The Batman' from 1980. If I'm not mistaken, many ideas from the film can be traced back to this story, including the stuff about becoming "more than just a man", and the Thomas Wayne bits about compassion and helping people, etc.

  12. True. There are also couple of more additions from Man Who Falls and Ill add all this in time

  13. I noticed that in The Dark Knight, during the "Tonight's entertainment" scene that the Joker spins and throws a henchman at Batman prior to flicking out his shoe knife. To me this is a mild nod to the Adam West Batman serial where odd double tag-teams where employed during the 'Biff', 'Pow', 'Bang' scenes.

    Might not be a homage to the comics but it is hinting at an earlier version of the Batman myth.

  14. This is by the most detailed origin of Batman. The comparison between various comics and the movie is identical in mostly all area. It get's to show that Nolan has payed alot of homage to the comics. It's by far the best interpretation ever.

  15. wow it just go,s to show that nolan and goyer know and love batman this is very awesome thank you for this.

  16. 32 Did that ever appear previously in some form?

    Incidentally, this strikes as ood for a story that tries to play as a gritty crime drama. It plays to Doc Savage or Iron Man or Buck Rogers level technology. It actually almost reaches Adam West in terms of the hero having an item no matter how implausible to save himself.


    David Goyer noted that he wrote a screenplay for Doctor Strange in the 1990's. He noted that he wanted to follow the origin storyline -- a selfish, acquisitive man gets redeemed when going to Tibet and studying under a mystic. Then The Shadow came out in 1994 which featured a similar origin. "Batman Begins" also featured a somewhat similar origin (although Wayne was self-absorbed, he was not really acquisitive) -- and it was written by David Goyer!

  18. May I add SHADOW OF THE BAT 45 as a reference for the story of Bruce's ancestor?

  19. Ill look into it. Been busy lately but once Ill settle down Ill add all the suggestions from the comments

  20. 23. The interrogation in the rain... Is that from 'The Long Halloween or is it from 'The Haunted Kniight'?

  21. Its from haunted Knight actually, goof on my part

  22. The scene in the beginning where he fights in the mud whilst the prisoners are watching is a reference to the mutant leader scene in millers dark knight returns. He even breaks the guys leg in the fight!

  23. Jonathan Crane (outside of the Scarecrow costume) looks almost exactly like his first appearance in the comics right down to the same black parted hairstyle and glasses.

  24. I'd like to add a small (but interesting nonetheless) addition to this fine article.

    In Batman:Shadow of the Bat #45, Bruce and Alfred discover a corpse in the Batcave that turns out to be Bruce's Great Great Great Uncle Joshua Wayne. It reveals (via flashback) that Bruce’s Great Great Great Grandfather Solomon Wayne and Solomon’s brother Joshua used the Batcave as a key stop in aiding runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Joshua Wayne was killed by Southern bounty hunters and his body went missing (until his body was found by Bruce and Alfred)

    In Batman Begins, Alfred mentions the Cave's prior usefulness as well. "In the Civil War, your great-great grandfather was involved in the Underground Railroad, secretly transporting freed slaves to the North. And I suspect these caverns came in handy."

  25. This is a terrific post! And I daresay an important one. But I have to disagree (like most) regarding the death of Ra's and the LoS fortress being "murders" on Bruce's part. He was using the fire as a distraction that got out of hand, decoy-Ra's also died accidentally, we can't put that on Bruce. As for the train scene, I think that's a bit more subtle, but it's there as well. Ra's was given enough time to get out, he didn't because he was on a suicide mission. When that failed, he simply accepted death over living a life where Batman's made him and his old-school vigilantism redundant: he dies after Batman, his great student, defeats him in their long argument about "compassion" and "justice." He accepts the fact that he's grown out-dated.

    Batman didn't kill Ra's Al Ghul. Killing involves intent.

    -- Nave 'Torment'

    1. ^ I'm so SORRY FOR THIS :(
      i meant to post this on the "Killer Batman" article (kinda ironic since i was talking about intent, haha)


  26. Wow, that is totally awesome! I truely could not stop reading this post. Awesome! Makes me love my batman even more!!

  27. Not from a comic book, but the villainous plan is similar to TAS episode Dreams in Darkness.