This weekend saw the expansion of Birdman, a critically heralded comedy that's been tearing up the indie box office and spurring early Oscar talk. With more of you having had a chance to see what all the buzz was about, we thought today would be a great time to dig into the inspirations that made this thoroughly modern and wildly fun movie everything it is. Basically, what movies helped Birdman take flight.

But be warned, the deeper you go into this feature, the more spoilers lurk ahead.

Michael Keaton has been pulling in scads of praise for leading Birman's insane ensemble as Riggan Thomson, a washed up movie star best known for fronting a series of superhero movies in the 1980s. Where Thomson had Birdman, Keaton--of course--had Batman, a role that radically changed his casting niche and career legacy forever. Before Batman, Keaton was largely known as a comedic actor thanks to turns in Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously and Beetlejuice. But while he walked away from the Batman franchise after Batman Returns, it is still the most popular film in his filmography. Even though Keaton has publically insisted he doesn't share Riggan's relentless thirst for recovering his heyday fame, their shared histories give Birdman a distinctly meta appeal.

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