Warner Bros. has officially, successfully rebooted the Batman franchise with “The Batman,” which has earned glowing notices from audiences and critics alike and is dominating the box office. And while it will surely be some time before a sequel is ready to go before cameras let alone unleashed on the public, there are plenty of films that influenced “The Batman” that should whet audiences’ appetites – and may expand their cinematic horizons in the process.
Co-writer and director Matt Reeves has made no secret of the fact that several films influenced his dark, “urban noir” take on the Caped Crusader for “The Batman.”
Below, we’ve rounded up a handful of films that served as touchstones for the new Batman film that are well worth seeking out to enjoy more of what made “The Batman” so special. Whether you were thrilled by the detective angle of the film, the hard-boiled noir atmosphere or the hunt for a maniacal serial killer, the following films should hit the spot.
The most obvious reference point for “The Batman” is David Fincher’s 1995 neo-noir thriller “Seven.” Set in a grimy, unnamed city where it always happens to be raining and/or wet (sound familiar?), Brad Pitt plays an idealistic detective who’s teamed up with a cynical almost-retired detective played by Morgan Freeman. Their case? A serial killer who’s committing gruesome murders across the city according to the Seven Deadly Sins. Dripping with Gothic influences, “Seven” is a gripping thriller that burrows under your skin and stays there.
Where It’s Streaming: Peacock
Another David Fincher film that inspired “The Batman” is his 2005 masterpiece “Zodiac.” The film chronicles the hunt for the Zodiac Killer in 1970s California, as told through the eyes of a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle who helped decipher the Zodiac Killer’s letters. The brilliance of “Zodiac” is that while it serves as a satisfying serial killer procedural thriller, it’s ultimately a movie about obsession, and the toll obsession takes on an individual and his family. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. and John Carroll Lynch lead a top-notch ensemble cast.
Where It’s Streaming: Hoopla
Roman Polanski’s 1974 film “Chinatown” is one of the most influential films ever made, and its DNA is felt throughout “The Batman.” Set in 1930s Los Angeles, the film stars Jack Nicholson as a private investigator who delves deeper and deeper into a mystery involving a wealthy family and water rights in the city of Los Angeles. As the mystery unfolds, schemes of conspiracy arise all the while Nicholson’s P.I. gets personally involved in the case. Much like “The Batman” isn’t a full-on film noir but a riff on the noir genre, “Chinatown” was groundbreaking in the way it expanded the genre.
Where It’s Streaming: HBO Max
All the President’s Men
While “All the President’s Men” may seem like an odd choice to pair with “The Batman,” there’s actually much that the Warner Bros. blockbuster has in common with this Best Picture Oscar-nominee. The 1976 film recounts how Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward reported the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford filling the lead roles. Cinematographer Gordon Willis’ work was a huge inspiration to “The Batman” cinematographer Greig Fraser’s approach to the DC film, and you can see it in the way Willis uses shadows in the political thriller. Moreover, the procedural nature of Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation is not entirely dissimilar to how “The Batman” approaches Bruce Wayne’s detective work — complete with meeting sources in the shadows. Although Woodward and Bernstein do a bit less punching…
Where It’s Streaming: HBO Max
Another Alan J. Pakula film shot by Gordon Willis, “Klute” is clearly an influence not only on the cinematography of “The Batman” but the film’s neo-noir aspect as well. Released in 1971, “Klute” stars Jane Fonda as a high-priced sex worker who assists a detective, played by Donald Sutherland, in a missing persons case. A mix of mystery, romance and thriller, this one is a classic of the neo-noir genre and is well worth your time.
Where It’s Streaming: DirecTV and the TCM App
“The Batman” opens with a shocking shot in which The Riddler is spying on a family from afar, and the voyeuristic undertones of the film owe a debt to 1974’s “The Conversation.” Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this film fell in between the first two “Godfather” films in his filmography and found the director getting granular with the story of a surveillance expert who overhears a potential murder. A moral dilemma unfolds dripping with tension and intrigue, anchored by a tremendous lead performance from Gene Hackman.
Where It’s Streaming: Pluto TV
Pretty much every neo-noir is going to be influenced in some way, shape or form by Martin Scorsese’s 1976 masterpiece “Taxi Driver,” and that’s certainly the case with “The Batman.” Scorsese’s drama stars Robert De Niro as a lonely taxi driver and Vietnam veteran who mulls over taking action to clean up the streets from perceived “scum” as he drives night after night. As much a psychological thriller as it is a character study, “Taxi Driver” is one of the definitive “anti-hero” films as it’s told entirely from Travis Bickle’s deteriorating point of view, immersing the viewer inside his warped mind for the totality of the film.
Where It’s Streaming: Netflix
Alfred Hitchcock was clearly a massive inspiration on director Matt Reeves’ approach to “The Batman,” as the visual approach to the film is entirely motivated by Batman’s point-of-view. To that end, Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller “Vertigo” is a must-watch for those who haven’t seen it. The film stars James Stewart as a man who is hired to work as a private investigator to follow a man’s wife, who he observes has been behaving strangely. Is she possessed? An imposter? Or a little bit of both? “Vertigo” allows the viewer inside the character’s mind in ways both subtle and tremendously effective, and that POV-motivated approach is ever-present throughout “The Batman” as we track Bruce’s arc over the course of the film.
Where It’s Streaming: Peacock