Tom King’s nearly 60-issue run on Batman has been one of my favourite takes on the Dark Knight in years. King’s critical interrogation of the humanity buried beneath the bat cowl, and the indomitable power of Batman as a symbol are just a few of its myriad strengths, but others are down to a certain daring archaeologist.
Speaking to CBR.com, King revealed the influence when discussing a Bat-trait found throughout his run—best shown in the sequence from Batman #20 above. It’s a moment in which, after Bane tells Batman he’s facing “the end,” a bloodied Bruce laughs him off, saying that no matter how many foes have said that to him, he’s still standing. According to King, that sort of infallible ability to never stay down comes from a movie moment that enchanted him as a child: Indy climbing his way back up from certain death after being pulled underneath the truck containing the Ark of the Covenant in a high-speed desert chase:
When I was a kid, I used to watch Indiana Jones on loop, especially the first one, and I remember my favourite moment of the whole movie was he’s on the car, right, and he gets shot and he gets pulled underneath the Jeep and you’re like, ‘Oh, this guy’s dead! Like, he’s gone! There’s nothing he can do to sort of get himself off the floor.’ And then he reaches up and grabs the bottom of the Jeep, right, and he climbs back up and the music starts to swell. I think I’ve been trying to sort of chase that high my entire career.
That sort of idea that when you’re down, when someone really hits you in the place you’re most vulnerable and you fall down and you can’t get up, that’s sort of the moment when the real strengths of your life and your character can be shone through and where the things that you love and have loved you are most important in sort of making you get up and sort of climbing back on that Jeep and punching a Nazi in the face.
So now, if you see Batman start running around with a whip, you’ll know why.