The Comics That Helped The Dark Knight Rise

Spoiler Warning: Plot details from The Dark Knight Rises get discussed below. If you haven't seen the movie yet and want to go in unspoiled, stop reading now.

One of the things I liked most about The Dark Knight Rises is how it reconfigures elements from various Batman storylines into its own compelling experience. The bigger influences are obvious: Bruce Wayne's retirement from being Batman clearly invokes the classic The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley. The presence of Bane draws on the multipart Knightfall storyline from the 1990s, done by Chuck Dixon and various other creators.

And while I mentioned a few of the direct references I could see in a DKR trailer a few weeks back, I can see even more now that I've seen the movie. There's already a good catalogue over here at Vulture (among other places), so the titles listed below will dig a deeper.

Batman: The Cult This four-issue miniseries had Batman being captured and brainwashed by rabid clergyman Deacon Blackfire, who leads a massive war on Gotham's elite with an subterranean army of homeless people. An attack on Commisoner Gordon leaves him hospitalized and the class warfare that happens in The Dark Knight Rises seems very reminiscent of moments from The Cult.

Nightwing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's John Blake character was David Goyer and Christopher Nolan's take on a sidekick/partner for Batman. Blake appears to be most closely modelled on Dick Grayson, the first person to take up the Robin identity. Grayson later became Nightwing and moved to a neighbouring city called Bludhaven, where he worked as a cop by day in a run written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Scott McDaniel, Greg Land and others.

Tales of the Demon In the comics, Batman encountered Talia Al Ghul before meeting her infamous father. That story and other chapters in this collection chronicle the evolution of the tangled relationship between Ra's Al Ghul, Talia and Bruce Wayne. When Marion Cotillard's Talia seduces Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne for nefarious ends, the movie's plot is following a precedent set in decades of Bat-comics.

Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 She may be loyal to her dad's twisted agenda in The Dark Knight Rises, but the most recent comics storylines have Talia breaking from Ra's Al Ghul's legacy and seizing contrl of his organisation. The second issue of the globe-trotting Bat-series is a great character study of what's it's like to grow up as the pampered, ignored daughter of an immortal terrorist super-villain.

Gotham Knights #34

Because they share a mentor in Ra's Al Ghul in the movie, you might call them brothers of a sort. But in a storyline that appeared from a Bat-family ensemble book from the early 2000s, Bane actually thought he might be Batman's biological brother. It was an enticing possibility that wound up not being true.

Secret Six

In this supervillains-for-hire series, Bane, Catman and other lawbreakers became mercenaries who took on extreme contracts. The surprisingly tender side of Bane that cared for a young Talia in prison may have had its roots here with his portayal as an overprotective partner constantly worrying about teammate Scandal Savage's pregnancy.

What other nods to Batman comics did you see in The Dark Knight Rises? Sound off below to let other readers know what you spotted.


    killer croc mention in the sewers

      I thought that was a very clever part for his name drop.

        Maybe it was a sub plot that will be on the extended edition. I really hope so.

    ^ Went nuts when I heard that, looking around the cinema to see if anyone else got the reference.

    The bomb from the 60's batman movie

    I was thinking of a sort of 'Son of the Demon' ending once Talia was revealed.

    Nobody else got a No Man's Land vibe from it?

      Definitely. This should be number one.

      Surprised it wasn't listed above, frankly.

    There was a hint of Knightfall in the movie (most obvious one would be the backbreaking scene) but there wasn't much of the elaborate plotting and mindgames in the movie like there was in the series.

    You forgot Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, pretty much establishes the entire idea of Batman having to come out of retirement.

      Ok I just noticed the written reference in the article, but the cover really should be featured in the visual refernces as it's one of the most iconic and unique depictions of Bats out there.

        I just finished reading this for the first time this afternoon. Such a cool story, some interesting ideas. Plus Batman looked awesome .

    Huge tips to Knightfall, Dark Knight Returns, No Man's Land

    Umm, this list seems to have completely missed the connections the film made to the comics. Why the hell would you put Batman Inc. down when there was a Bane/Talia story years ago called Bane of the Demon - that has a more solid connection to the film than last months Grant Morrison spewings

    Also yea, not a single mention of No Man's Land = fail/10


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