In Matt Reeves‘ The Batman, Robert Pattinson will play the fifth live-action version of the Caped Crusader, pitting him against new forms of The Riddler (Paul Dano), The Penguin (Colin Farrell, though you wouldn’t recognize him), and Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) in a noir-inspired murder investigation. There should be more than a few tributes to the Dark Knight’s past on the page when the picture reaches theaters on March 4th, with 83 years of comic book history to draw inspiration from. So, in the lead-up to the film’s debut, here are a few recommendations to get you ready for three hours of Pattinson and a familiar cast of rogues.
1. Batman: Year One
It’s easy to understand why Year One has been regarded as a key influence on almost every modern big-screen Batman film. The Dark Knight’s first year on the job is chronicled in Frank Miller’s iconic 1987 comic, which also tells the narrative of Detective Jim Gordon’s return to Gotham and rises through the ranks. Its emphasis on police corruption as well as the exploits of a younger, less experienced Batman will both be featured in Matt Reeves’ picture, albeit he has termed The Batman as a ‘Year Two’ narrative. “Grounded in a reality we recognize,” said artist David Mazzucchelli of his and Miller’s Batman, which is exactly what Reeves is looking for. The animated film of the same name is based on this source material as well, and is worth seeing only for Bryan Cranston’s superb voice portrayal as Jim Gordon.
2. Penguin: Pain And Prejudice
Prepare for Colin Farrell’s portrayal of Oswald Cobblepot, nicknamed The Penguin, by reading Gregg Hurwitz’s 2012 comic, which tells the grim origin tale of one of Batman’s oldest foes. This story takes us from Oz’s terrible upbringing to his rise to Gotham crimelorddom, allowing us to empathize with the ‘Gentleman of Crime’ – which is apt, given that Farrell’s interpretation of the character is based on Fredo from The Godfather. Because he’ll be reprising his role in a spin-off series after The Batman, this is a must-read.
3. Batman: Ego
The late great Darwyn Cooke’s first DC endeavor is a belter, and it’s easy to understand why Matt Reeves hailed it as a significant inspiration for his take on the Dark Knight. ‘A Psychotic Slide Into The Heart Of Darkness,’ entitled Batman: Ego provides readers with a deep dive into Batman’s brain as he deals with his fury and remorse. The Batman previews reveal that Battinson will be attempting – and potentially failing – to control his rage. Bruce warns his Batman persona at one point in Cooke’s one-shot: “There is a line that we must not cross. There will be no killing. It’s the only thing that separates us from them.” Hopefully, Reeves’ Batman will follow suit.
4. Batman: The Long Halloween
One of Batman’s most recognized nicknames is “The World’s Greatest Detective,” although that aspect of Bruce Wayne’s skill set has been restricted in his big-screen exploits. Thankfully, The Batman appears to be on track to change that — and in the meanwhile, The Long Halloween provides some real investigating. It stars a still-early-in-his-career Batman, written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale, as he tries to solve the mystery of who is killing organized crime figures on holidays, beginning with Halloween. Not only does Carmine Falcone loom big in this legendary tale – who will be played by John Turturro in The Batman – but Riddler also makes a cameo to guess suspects and Catwoman allies up with Batman for a while. The two-part animated film of the same name, which was recently released, is also worth seeing.
5. Batman: Zero Year
The comics community adores a fresh start. Batman: Zero Year, a 2013 film that reinvented Batman’s origin, was one such continuity reset. The narrative has a youthful Bruce Wayne return to Gotham and combat several of the city’s supervillains, including a dark version of the Riddler, as written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion. This book appears to have inspired Bats’ armored costume (sans cape) and motorbike outfit featured in The Batman trailers. The Riddler flooded Gotham in Zero Year, and early footage from Matt Reeves’ film suggests that Batman will face a similar situation on the big screen.
6. Batman: Hush
Hush is one of the most well-known and well-liked Bat-stories, with something for everyone. At its core, it’s a great detective story as the villainous Hush shows up in Gotham and begins manipulating everything in Batman’s life. Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Jim Lee, it’s a great detective story as the villainous Hush shows up in Gotham and begins manipulating everything in Batman’s life. As Batman puts the puzzle pieces together, everyone from Superman and Nightwing to Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and others is dragged into the story. Catwoman and the Riddler are two of the show’s most notable guest stars. Batman has always had a thing for the former, but as the narrative continues, he and Selina Kyle push their connection to new heights of closeness. The Riddler, for his part, comes out on top in this tale, proving his criminal mastermind credentials in a big way — and the animated film of the same name reworks the plot to give Riddler even more screen time. If the trailers for The Batman are any indication, Edward Nygma figuring out who the guy beneath the mask is won’t be all that unexpected.
7. Batman (2014)
In July 2020, Colin Farrell made waves when he bought a copy of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s Batman series. While Bruce Wayne seeks to tackle Gotham’s gentrification issue, a street-level Dark Knight teams up with Detective Harvey Bullock to take down a trafficking ring. The gorgeous graphics in this comic might teach Reeves’ crew a thing or two, and its allusions to a criminal family fight between The Penguin and Carmine Falcone could explain Farrell’s interest in it as well.
8. Batman: The Court Of Owls
For good reason, Robert Pattinson has mentioned The Court Of Owls as one of the villains he’d want to see his Batman face in a future sequel. When Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo debuted them in the New 52 Batman comic series, they instantly became fan favorites: not only could their deadly Talons give Batman and his friends a run for their money, but they also convincingly refuted the premise that the Wayne Foundation constructed Gotham. Although it may be too soon to feature The Court in this picture, Reeves and company would be wise to begin leaving hints and easter eggs that will pay off in the future.
9. Batman: Turning Points
The Batman will once again see the notorious vigilante pair up with Gotham’s top cop Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), a combination that has proven to be successful on the page and on film time and time again. Turning Points explores their relationship at five different phases as they progress from hesitant allies to trusted friends, as written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka in this five-issue series. Given that the Dark Knight is still in his formative years in Matt Reeves’ picture, the Batman/Gordon partnership may not be fully formed just yet. However, this comic provides us a decent picture of what it may become.
10. Batman: Dark Night, Dark City
So far, everything we’ve seen of Paul Dano’s Riddler suggests that he’ll be more comparable to the Zodiac killer than Jim Carrey’s over-the-top prankster from Batman Forever. In Peter Milligan and Kieron Dwyer’s 1990 Dark Knight, Dark City storyline, the puzzle-master did everything from executing security guards to abduct newborns from hospitals, and it was one of the first times a darker version of Edward Nygma appeared on the page. It’s unclear how far Riddler will go in The Batman to carry out his nefarious schemes, but it’s evident that Battinson will be dealing with a monster rather than a joke machine.