Bruce Wayne is a man of many secrets, which his double-life as a silent guardian and watchful protector of Gotham City is clear evidence of. Fittingly, the live-action Batman movies, like most other great superhero movies, are littered with their own mysterious details hidden in plain sight that only comic book aficionados or any other die-hard fan of the Dark Knight would more likely pick up on. As a comic book lover and die-hard fan of the Dark Knight, I managed to pick up on 13 of the coolest Easter Eggs from movies like Tim Burton’s Batman or Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, starting with a subtle nod to one of the men who started it all.
The Mocking “Bat-Man” Illustration From Batman 1989 Is Signed By Batman Co-Creator Bob Kane
Early on in Tim Burton’s blockbuster – starring arguably, the all-time best Batman actor, Michael Keaton, as Bruce Wayne – ambitious reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl, an underrated member of the 1989 Batman cast) seems to be the only one convinced that there really is a creature of the night cleaning up crime in the city. Until he meets renowned photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), the teasing he receives at the Gotham Glob ranges from being nicknamed “Count Dracula” to his cartoonist colleague imagining the “Bat-Man” as a winged creature in a pinstripe suit. If you look closely at the bottom left hand corner of said illustration, you will see the signature of late comic book artist Bob Kane, who created Batman with Bill Finger in 1939.
Gossip Gerty From Batman Forever And Batman & Robin Is Bob Kane’s Wife
The funny “Bat-Man” cartoon from Burton’s first film about the Dark Knight is not the only Easter Egg with a close tie to the superhero’s co-creator throughout the franchise. Both of the late director Joel Schumacher’s truly "batty" movies – 1995’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin from two years later – feature an eccentric journalist named Gossip Gerty, who is played by Bob Kane’s real-life spouse, Elizabeth Sanders. However, Sanders’ first Batman movie appearance was actually in 1992’s Batman Returns, in which she is credited as "Gothamite #4" and makes a comment about the questionable Oswald Cobblepot.
The "Real" Name Of Jack Nicholson’s Joker References Alfred From The 1960s Batman TV Show
I am not necessarily a comic book purist, but I do have a certain unwavering favoritism toward the Joker having no specific origin story (or at least one that is "multiple choice," to quote Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel, The Killing Joke). Thus, I am convinced Jack Napier is only an alias of Jack Nicholson’s mobster character before his accident at Axis Chemicals turns him into the Clown Prince of Crime in Batman – not to mention it is also a clear tribute to the original Batman TV show. The Alfred Pennyworth to Adam West’s Bruce Wayne in the campy 1960s classic was played by British actor Alan Napier, who was actually a friend of Michael Gough, who played the Wayne Family’s trusted servant in Burton and Schumacher’s films.
Penguins Parents In Batman Returns Are Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Stars
Before the filmmaker hit it big as a superhero movie director, the first feature-length movie directed by Tim Burton was Pee-wee’s Big Adventure in 1985. He managed to squeeze a tribute to his directorial debut in Batman Returns by casting Pee-wee Herman himself, the late Paul Reubens, and his co-star from the zany comedy hit, Diane Salinger (who played a waitress named Simone), as the neglectful parents of Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito) in the sequel’s introductory flashback. Fox’s Batman prequel series, Gotham, would reference this cameo by casting Reubens as the father of Robin Lord Taylor’s iteration of The Penguin in Seasons 2 and 3.
Chris O’Donnell’s Suit In Batman Forever Resembles Tim Drake’s Robin Outfit
Despite original plans to introduce Robin in Batman Returns – as played by Marlon Wayans – it was not until Schumacher took over the reins of Batman Forever when the Boy Wonder finally had a role in the franchise. However, when Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson sports his costume before the third act showdown with Jim Carrey's Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, the outfit bears a resemblance more similar to the suit worn by Tim Drake – the third young hero to adopt the Robin moniker. This would not be the last time the Batman movies seemingly looked to a different iteration of the character for O’Donnell’s wardrobe design, that is.
Chris O’Donnell’s Suit in Batman & Robin Resembles Dick Grayson’s Nightwing Outfit
After reaching adulthood in the comics, Dick Grayson would abandon the Robin moniker and create the alias Nightwing, which also came with a new costume that was solid black with the shape of bird embroidered on his chest. The bird logo is usually blue, but has also been red, much like the outfit O’Donnell wears in Batman & Robin. The biggest difference between this Robin suit and Grayson’s Nightwing suit is that Nightwing never wears a cape… nor has fake nipples, either.
Joker’s Card At Batman Begins’ End Was Recovered By "J. Kerr"
Now, why don't we wash away the tainted memories associated with Batman & Robin – which does have its fans today – and move on to the movies that got people to take the character seriously again, under the guidance of director Christopher Nolan. The final scene of 2005’s Batman Begins, which sees Christian Bale’s Batman in a rooftop meeting with Gary Oldman as James Gordon, contains an Easter Egg of sorts, teasing the introduction of the Joker, that actually hides another Easter Egg. If you look closely at the evidence bag containing the villain’s “calling card,” you can see it was found by someone named “J. Kerr,” which could be just a fun joke on the audience or a preemptive clue to when Heath Ledger’s Joker disguises himself as a Gotham City cop in The Dark Knight.
Joker’s Mask In The Dark Knight’s Opening Heist Pays Tribute To Cesar Romero
Speaking of the Joker’s disguises, the thrilling opening sequence of the 2008 cultural phenomenon sees the villain pull a fast one on his henchmen by posing as one of them in a sad clown mask. Some may recognize the similarities between Ledger’s mask in The Dark Knight and one worn by one of the more unique Joker actors, Cesar Romero, in a Season 1 episode of the Batman series. Believe it not, this is not the only time the Dark Knight Trilogy paid homage to the 1960s TV show.
Wayne Manor Has A Red Phone, Like In The 1960s Batman Show, In The Dark Knight Rises
One of the most iconic Batman TV show props is the flashing red phone Commissioner Gordon uses to contact Batman – which, in retrospect, seems pointless given the GCPD’s access to the Batsignal. While Bale’s Bruce Wayne would likely be opposed to giving even Gordon a direct line of communication to his house, taking a closer look at 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises reveals he could have been flirting with the idea. In the scene when Gotham City police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) pays a visit to the Wayne Manor, you can see a red phone sitting on a shelf behind him. Bonus Easter Egg: right next to the phone is a bust that bears a striking resemblance to the one Adam West and Burt Ward used to open the door to the Batpoles.
Sen. Patrick Leahy Has Appeared In Five Batman Movies
One lesser-known detail that ties Schumacher’s Batman movies, Nolan’s trilogy, and the DCEU together is former Vermont senator Patrick Leahy – a self-described Batfan who was President pro tempore before his 2023 retirement, according to NBC News. He briefly appeared as himself in both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin before playing a member of the board of directors for Wayne Enterprises in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises – the former of which saw him mince words with Ledger’s Joker – and Senator Purrington in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during Superman's trial. In August 2020, Leahy – who also had a vocal cameo on Batman: The Animated Series – admitted to the Burlington Free Press that “COVID” and “appropriation bills” would unfortunately prevent him from landing a role alongside Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne in The Batman, which would have been his sixth appearance in a live action DC movie.
The Batman Starts On Halloween, Just Like The Long Halloween
Matt Reeves’ The Batman is actually my personal favorite choice for the best live-action Batman movie yet, and not just because the story also happens to open on my personal favorite holiday. Setting the intro on All Hallow’s Eve – in addition to inspiring the film’s one epic F-bomb (“Happy fucking Halloween”) – is also the film’s way of paying tribute to the comic book arc that loosely inspired it, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween, which had previously been adapted into a two-part animated movie starring Jensen Ackles in 2021.
Hints At The Villain Hush In The Batman
Another acclaimed comic book story by Loeb that inspired The Batman is Batman: Hush, and its influences go beyond just the tone and the Dark Knight’s flirty alliance with Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz). In the film, Bruce discovers his father, Thomas Wayne, requested help from Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) to silence investigative reporter Edward Elliot – the great-grandfather of Bruce’s childhood friend, Thomas Elliot, whose alter ego is, indeed, Hush. Plus, the way Paul Dano’s Riddler wraps duct tape around the murdered Mayor Don Mitchell’s head resembles the villain’s bandaged disguise.
Selina Heads To Nightwing’s Town At The End Of The Batman
I hope we do see more of Kravitz – who gives one of the best Catwoman performances yet, in my opinion – in the upcoming sequel, The Batman Part II, despite how the previous film ends. Selina tells Bats that she intends to leave Gotham and head toward a town callen Bludhaven, which is a name that might not have meant much to more casual fans of the best superhero movies. However, die-hard DC fans likely recognized this town as where Dick Grayson would go off on his own, shed the Robin mantle, and become Nightwing.
We could talk about the many references to Michael Keaton's Batman movies in 2023's The Flash, but we covered those in their own article. With how many upcoming Batman movies there are on the horizon – including a couple of live-action upcoming DC movies centered in Gotham – there are bound to be much more epic Easter Eggs where these came from. So, make like the Dark Knight himself and stay alert.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.