Director Matt Reeves (left) and Robert Pattinson on the set of “The Batman”

It’s a risk that has beautifully paid off for director Matt Reeves. With its $128.5-million debut at the box office, “The Batman,” Reeves’ grittier-than-usual take on the Dark Knight’s tale, has just marked the biggest opening weekend at the tills this year.

To make that feat sweeter, critics have been heaping praise on it, with Variety speculating that the three-hour superhero flick could be the first best picture contender at the Oscars in 2023.

But what were Reeves’ biggest influences—from comic books and other films—for his neo-noir vision of the oft-told tale about the DC superhero?

“Gosh, there’s a lot. On the comics front, I did a deep dive and read so many comic books that inspired this tonally,” Reeves said during the press con that Inquirer Entertainment attended recently. “There was something in the tone of ‘Batman: Year One’ (released in 1987) that grounded it, but it also felt cinematic in a way that reminded me of an American ’70s movie, you know what I mean?

“There’s a scene in it where Batman has to adopt another persona because he’s so famous. He can’t walk around as Bruce [Wayne], so he goes to the East, puts a scar on him, and he’s got this bomber jacket on.

“In the notes, [writer] Frank Miller wrote to [illustrator] David Mazzuccelli that in the drawings, Bruce should look like he just won the Travis Bickle (the protagonist of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’) look-alike contest.

Pattinson (left) as Batman and Peter Sarsgaard as district attorney Gil Colson —PHOTOS COURTESY OF WARNER BROS PICTURES

“Then, [the 2000 graphic novel] ‘Batman: Ego’ by Darwyn Cooke was really important, because it was dealing with the psychology of being Batman. It tackles the idea of ‘the beast within’ and Batman being in an internal struggle—which I thought was really captivating.

“Then, I would also add ‘The Long Halloween’ (1996-’97) by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale. This [series] is super important because it focused on the hunt for a serial killer, with Batman getting caught up in it as the world’s greatest detective. I felt it was important to draw inspiration from those.

Inspired by ’70s movies

“As far as the movies that were an inspiration for this, there were lots of them. There’s a way in which Lieutenant Gordon (played by Jeffrey Wright) and Batman in this movie are Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 film, ‘All the President’s Men.’ I mean, this whole thing about corruption and how high does it go?

“And there’s a bit of [William Friedkin’s 1971 movie] ‘The French Connection’ and Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) and also Pakula’s neo-noir ‘Klute’ (1971). The relationship between John Klute and Bree Daniels very much informs the relationship between Batman and Selena Kyle aka Catwoman. Those ’70s movies also inspired me to want to make movies in the first place.” INQ

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