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Batman Golden Age comics

To say that The Batman is one of the most highly anticipated DC movies would be an understatement. For years, fans have been waiting for the Caped Crusader to lead another solo movie, and while this project won’t star Ben Affleck’s Batman as originally planned, with Matt Reeves at the helm, Robert Pattinson donning the cape and cowl, and a solid lineup of other talent both on and offscreen, The Batman shows a lot of promise so far.

With a little under a year and a half to go until The Batman’s release, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what the movie holds in store. However, judging by various images and pieces of information that have trickled over the last several years, Matt Reeves looks to be doing something quite different with his Batman movie: having it draw heavily from Batman’s time in the Golden Age of Comics, i.e. when he debuted in 1939 and into the 1940s. Here are some of the examples making that case.

(Side note: while there was speculation following the reveal of Robert Pattinson’s Batsuit that the ears on the cowl might be more spread out, similar to Batman’s look in Detective Comics #27, other pictures have since shown that the ears are a more traditional distance apart. So in that regard, it’s not getting a mention in this Golden Age list, though the suit still looks very cool.)

The Batmobile in The Batman movie

The Sleeker Batmobile

Admittedly, I’m starting off with a bit of a cheat, but hear me out. Earlier today, Matt Reeves posted the first look at The Batman’s Batmobile, and unlike nearly every cinematic Batmobile that’s come before, this incarnation looks like an actual car rather than a tank-like vehicle. A lot of folks on social media are calling it a “muscle car” and believe it’s a spruced-up Dodge Challenger, the first generation of which was manufactured from 1970 to 1974. In that regard, there isn’t anything Golden Age-y about the Batmobile.

That being said, remember that when Batman first hit the scene, the Batmobile looked like an average car one could stumble across in 1939. It wasn’t even black; Bruce Wayne was driving around in a red automobile, and while that color was dropped in later stories, it wouldn’t be until 1941 that the car would finally be called the Batmobile and gain its Bat-look. So while there’s definitely a modern aesthetic to this new Batmobile, as there should be, it also calls to mind the lower profile that Batman kept while driving around in his earliest adventures. Plus, considering that The Batman is reportedly set in Bruce Wayne’s second year of being a vigilante, it makes sense that his car wouldn’t look as elaborate.

Batman in Detective Comics #27

The Noir Tone

Matt Reeves has previously described The Batman as being a noir tale that highlights the eponymous hero’s detective skills. As any film lover will tell you, the 1940s was when the noir genre was at its most popular, and while Batman has starred many kinds of stories over the years, one could argue that he’s most at home when operating in a darker environment, figuratively and literally. And make no mistake, those earliest Golden Age Batman stories were a unique mix of noir and pulp flavor, though as time went on, they started to get more lighthearted and goofy.

While the Tim Burton Batman movies definitely had some noir elements, particularly with how many of its characters dressed like they were living in the 1940s, tonally speaking, Batman and Batman Returns felt more gothic than noir. With The Batman seeing Bruce Wayne investigating some sort of crime (if this movie is truly based off The Long Halloween, he might be tracking a serial killer), this movie could end up not just being an exceptional superhero movie, but also a worthy entry into the noir genre in a time when few of these kinds of movies are still being made.

Police airship in Batman: The Animated Series

Rumored Airships

When you think of airships in regards to Batman, I imagine that for most of you, Batman: The Animated Series is the first thing that comes to mind. And that’s fair, because in the show’s anachronistic Gotham City, airships were all the rage, from the GCPD using them for patrols to the occasional villain relying on one for their schemes. However, airships have been part of the Batman mythos as far back as Detective Comics #33, a.k.a. “The Batman Wars Against The Dirigible of Doom.”

While airships started falling out of favor in real life as the 1940s passed, every now and then you’ll see an airship or two floating above Gotham City, and it’s possible that The Batman will keep that trend going. Some set photos leaked at the end of last December showed a fleet of blimps surrounding an airfield where a cathedral set was being built for the movie. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the blimps will appear in The Batman, as they might have just been used to keep other aircraft out of the airspace above the set. However, if they do appear onscreen, that’ll help with making this version of Gotham City feel more old-timey.

Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 1 cover

Jeffrey Wright’s Reading Material

Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright was the second actor to be cast in The Batman, with him playing James Gordon being confirmed last October. While we still don’t know what to expect from this version of Gordon yet, a few weeks ago, Wright shared on social media that he was reading Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 1, which collects Detective Comics #27-45, Batman #1-3 and New York World’s Fair Comics #2. Wright said this was “background reads for the culture.”

Rather than just pick this collection at random, I suspect Jeffrey Wright was specially advised to read these stories, which could hint at the influence for his version of James Gordon. Granted, while Gordon was already the GCPD’s commissioner when he was introduced in the comics, I’m guessing Wright’s Gordon won’t be at that rank at the start of The Batman, but reading these Golden Age Batman stories could help the actor prepare to effectively portray a character who’s suspicious about a certain masked crimefighter operating in his city. And even if Gordon does decide that Batman’s ultimately a force for good, that’s not to say that the two men will have a solid working relationship right off the bat… pun slightly intended.

Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin DC Comics

Its Choice Of Villains So Far

Thus far, three villains have been confirmed to appear in The Batman: Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman, Paul Dano’s Riddler and Colin Farrell’s Penguin. All of these antagonists debuted during the Golden Age and rank only behind The Joker in notoriety. Plus, following yesterday’s report that Teen Wolf’s Charlie and Max Carver have been cast, some fans have guessed that the twins are playing Tweedledee and Tweedledum, who also started causing trouble in the Golden Age (and might mean that Mad Hatter is on the way).

Granted, because Catwoman, Riddler and Penguin have been around for so long, obviously their depictions in The Batman could pull from other sources. That being said, it is fitting that the villains Robert Pattinson’s Batman is facing off against as he’s still getting the hang of crimefighting are also among the first colorful criminals he crossed paths with on the printed page. Coupled with Peter Sarsgaard’s comments about The Batman not being “sanitized” and having a “raw emotionality,” perhaps we’ll be getting the darkest cinematic portrayals of these three characters yet.

The Batman swoops into theaters on June 25, 2021, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates about the project, including what other corners of Batman history this movie will draw from. Feel free to look through our DC movies guide to learn what else is coming up in this corner of the superhero movie market.

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