Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Comic Book references in movies Part III: 'Batman Forever'

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 (http://gothamalleys.blogspot.com/2011/03/list-of-changes-in-movies.html). 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 writers of Batman Forever, Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler and Akiva Goldsman, also referenced various decades but focused much more on the graphic novels and centered more frequently around the Bronze Age, particularly the 70's. This alone should tell everyone how different Joel Schumacher's take was because it drew primarily from different sources, different streams. To read about Batman Forever's portrayal of the Batman character, check http://gothamalleys.blogspot.com/2011/01/batman-in-movies-part-ii-val-kilmer.html

1. In the beginning of the movie, Batman and Chase quickly deduce why Two-Face attacked the particular bank on the particular day.  It was the second anniversary of his capture and it was the second Bank of Gotham. Two-Face's crimes were based on gimmicks like those

2. Two Face's goons call him "Face", just like in The Dark Knight Returns

3. Two Face was also an energetic madman in the beginning 

4. The sequence with Batman dangling from Two-Face's helicopter has been used in different stories, such as The Dark Knight Returns, 1979's Batman #314 and perhaps Batman: Year Three

5. The Statue of Liberty in Gotham comes from 1971's Detective Comics #411

6. Wayne Enterprises, originally called Wayne Foundation which debuted in 1964's Detective Comics #328 made its big screen debut (Panel below from Batman #217)

7. In the 70s comics Batman moved to his penthouse and had a direct connection to his secondary batcave in Wayne Foundation Tower

8.  After seeing the signal on the sky Batman rushes in and expects Gordon to greet him. Instead its Chase who turned on the bat signal for her own needs. This is lifted from 1993's Legends of the Dark Knight #42

9. Two-Face's origin story is very faithfully reproduced from his first origins shown in the comics in 1942's Detective Comics #66

10. The tragic story of Graysons is very much like in Batman" Year Three. The suits are very similar and Bruce Wayne is also present at the event with his date

11. In the same story, Dick wows the audience with his maneuver

12.  Even some shots are close to recreating how the panels presented the death scene

13. The entire theme of revenge and the motif is also taken from Batman: Year Three

14. Two Face actually robbed/attacked the Gotham Circus in the past. (panels below from Batman #50 and Batman #81)

15. Two-Face's hideout mirrors his personality and obsession with duality and number 2. It's split in half, with one half being dark and evil, and the other being brighter in appearance or seemingly 'normal'. (Panels below from 1942's Detective Comics #66 and 1979's Batman #313)

16. The idea of Bruce falling into the cave has been used numerous times, but in this case The Dark Knight Returns is most likely the main inspiration since it also shows a sole, giant bat that approached Bruce after the others

17. Two-Face happened to refer to him in plural (panel below from Batman Annual #4)

18. Batman, in his typical fashion, makes a crashing entrance through the roof

19. Bruce keeps his costume handy nearby whenever he goes to a party

20. Without Batman's knowledge, Dick discovers his true identity, dons the costume and finds and helps Batman after he's being defeated by Two-Face. This is what Tim Drake did in 1989's Batman #442

21. Another scene from the same story. Batman isn't grateful for help and doesn't approve of having a sidekick

22. Two-Face usually accepts the judgment of the coin, however that's not always the case and sometimes he simply flips until he gets the desired outcome. Just like in the comics (panel below from 1986's Batman #398)

23. In the 70's Batman had a great collection of trophies in his batcave and pretty much customized it. He also had his costumes and prototypes behind the glass display as well as another level under his batcave where he held other vehicles

24. The Batplane disengages some parts and becomes a submarine. That's taken from Batman #61

25. The sonar eyes go back to Detective Comics #47

26. When Two-Face is about to kill Batman, he reminds him to flip his coin. When Two Face does that, Batman makes him lose his coin and eventually jump/fall because of it. Similar situation happened in 1979's Batman #314

27. Arkham Asylum resembles the post-Knightfall Arkham 

A major share of the credit should go to the fellow Batman historians Silver Nemesis and BatmAngelus


  1. Honestly this was a far better film than Returns IMHO Its primary problems stem from it trying to be wash off the overly somber tone of the previous and trying to be more 'commercial'. But if you watch the film from a non-biased lens you can see a better darker film hidden under it, I just wish they release the directors cut with all the deleted scenes, which would undeniably strengthen this film.

  2. The only good stuff is when Kilmer is out of the suit. It even passes as a serious movie then. We get the guilt, the dreams and morality speeches. EVERYTHING else is ....not so good (Im trying not to cross the line of polite criticism). Pink street lights? Giant hydraulic islands with watery graves and traps? Who built all that? What did Nygma tell the workers that this is?

    1. He probably goy them to build it while they were brain dead zombies through "The Box".

  3. Well, well. So TwoFace did refer to himself in plural, the statue of liberty was in the comics and TwoFace happened to flip the coin until he gets what he wants. Thats is exactly why I like reading this site. Cant wait for Nolan's stuff

  4. At the time and maybe today too people thought it was better than Returns. It had much more and much bigger action, incomparably bigger scale, special effects, tons of pretty boys (Kilmer, ODonnel)and poster girls (Kidman, Barrymore), comics (Carrey) and lots of superhero action. Returns was a quiet and very grim and claustrophobic tale of scarred souls. Person who liked Returns wont find Forever appealing and vice versa. Theyre just so different that it all depends on personal tastes

  5. The Burton/Schumacher films were pretty bland, I only liked the Dini/Bruce Timm movies and Nolan movies, to me they are the definitive Batman.

  6. To the poster that is wondering about Nolan's references, most of them are pretty obvious and always cited in interviews but the author mentioned that very writer included some obscure references so those are the ones Im most curious about

    To the poster above, Dini&Timm love Burton's movies and thats the look and feel they were trying to imitate. This site even has all the stuff they took from it

  7. Bruce Timm/Dini only used the Burton films for visual inspiration other that it was mostly based on the more modern, Neal Adams/Dennis O Neil versions. Minor inspiration is irrelevant. Personally I find Mask of Phantasm far better than any of the Burton/Schumacher films IMO.. They are good on their own and I guess they do adhere more to the older comics
    I do admire the Burton films, just thought they were mediocre.
    Mask of Phantasm however.....
    Its like the definitive Bat-film. Whether animated, or non-animated.

    Say blogger can you do one on the BruceTimm/Dini movies?

    That'd be awesome!

  8. Re: article about Nolan's movies

    This will take a bit longer since theres some obscure material I need to acquire first

  9. I liked the first three movies with BATMAN FOREVER being my favorite. In fact, it's my second fave Batman movie after THE DARK KNIGHT (yes, even more than BATMAN BEGINS).

  10. This movie was ridiculous. It started a major decline. It was a SpiderMan movie with a Sadman superhero in a flowing cape fighting bubble gum face villains in a Barbie City

  11. The only sure way to ensure the success of a comic book film adaptation is to do justice to the source material and translate from comic to screen. This sad excuse of a film did neither! And could they have picked a more ridiculous title? Or perhaps a more pathetic director? I doubt it.

  12. If you watch the deleted scene of Batman Forever "The secret of the Batcave" it's a reference of a scene of Batman Year one.

  13. Well, 'Batman Forever' is nothing more than a 'stand-alone sequel', just like 'Superman Returns' was to the Christopher Reeve's series.

    Batman & Robin?, let's suppose that never happened...

  14. 19. The scene in the limousine. “The Spider and the Shadow had special compartments in their limousines or cabs to put their cloaks into, and would change in their limousines. The Shadow changes from the Shadow to Cranston in the back of Shrevvy's taxi in the 1994 film. Can anyone else recall similar scenes, of the hero changing in his cab or limousine?”

    The Green Hornet is shown changing clothes in the back seat of Black Beauty several times during the 1960s tv series…
    “Frog is a Deadly Weapon” (from Hornet to Reid)
    “Eat, Drink, and Be Dead’ and “Hornet Save Thyself” (from Reid to Hornet)

    I’m pretty sure Batman changes in his car at least once in the 1940s serials.

    In the novelization of the 1989 film by Craig Shaw Gardner, the author mentions him having prepared for the situation of having to change in a limousine.


    Similar scenes occur in LOTD#50