As anyone who’s seen one of the film’s trailers already knows, The Batman promises a unique look at the Dark Knight.
For the character’s thirteenth big-screen appearance (not counting cameos), director Matt Reeves offers a mystery grounded in the real world, in which the young Batman (Robert Pattinson) must follow clues to stop the Riddler (Paul Dano) from continuing a murder spree. Helping him along the way is the seemingly amoral Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), and Gotham City’s most honest cop, Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). The secret behind the Riddler’s crusade not only forces Batman to face unsettling truths about his departed parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, but also brings him face to face with crime bosses Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell).
Of course, nothing involving a character whose been around for nearly 100 years can be completely new. Since Batman’s first appearance in 1939’s Detective Comics #27, he’s been reinterpreted as everything from a cold-blooded killer to protect the rich to an upright paragon of righteousness, a dedicated loner to the head of a family.
These different interpretations have made Batman one of the world’s most enduring pop culture figures. That’s why you can have the gothic creature of the night in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and the troubled rich kid in military gear in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. When Reeves and his collaborators embarked on their version of the World’s Greatest Detective, they could choose from a wide variety of Batmen.
But that breadth of options can be daunting for those who want more of the Reeves and Pattinson style of the character. For those who like their Caped Crusader gritty and real, here are some of the comics that inspired the new blockbuster film.