Batman was a total rip-off, or, "How To Create A Title That Gets Geeks Angry."

WARNING:  What you are about read is very, very geeky.  Geeky?  Did I actually type that?  What topic would I, who freely and proudly discuss things like killer slugs, poo-monsters, and snowmen with only the most serious of tones, deem necessary to sully by calling it geeky? 

Batman.  I'm going to talk about Batman....and comic books....and the creative process...and a very old film your grandfather MIGHT have seen.  Batman's not as geeky as he used to be, thanks to recent cartoons and movies, but still.  This is going to be educational.  At the very least, the next time the sweaty guy in front of you at the comic shop starts talking about Batman you can own his ass with controversial trivia.  Maybe.  Let's get a couple things clear:  I'm not a huge comic book fan.  I used to be, but the whole "Death of Superman" back-stabbery sullied the whole thing for me.  When a guy appears on CNN (true story) saying that DC comics plans to kill off Superman, I damn well expect it to happen.  I'd love to see the follow-up interview: "So, why'd you lie to us you knob-smoking bastard?"  :sigh:    This is all one big tangent so let's just dive right into what earthshaking facts I'm about to throw your way.

Now to any of you who do anything creative, you should know that nothing truly new is ever created.  Some people (too many) look at my stuff and say "Hey, that's great,  I LOVE Tim Burton!"  Instead of setting them on fire, I admit that Nightmare before Xmas did have an impact on me as a child.  Everything is based off (or "inspired") from something.  Sometimes, that "inspiration" is so complete that all the person did was repackage something old and try to sell it as their own.  Now, I'm not saying that this was the case with Batman, but, while watching a very old film, I noticed a few things that are sort of fun/retarded.  Say hello to The Bat:

"The Bat,"  directed by Roland West, was a silent film based off a play by the same name.  The movie came out in 1926, 13 years before Batman first appeared in any comic book.  Right now that doesn't mean anything...just keep that fact in mind.  "The Bat" is about a super-criminal who dresses up in a bat costume (complete with cape) and lurks in the shadows a lot.  Instead of me just rambling on about this very very outdated film, let me just throw some facts with images in your direction.  So how is The Bat different from Batman?

   

The Bat dresses up as a bat to scare everyone, while Batman dresses up as a bat to....scare criminals?  While we've all seen Batman's mask, I have to say The Bat's mask is kind of scary in that "holy crap that guy's running around in the dark dressed as a rabid baboon" kind of way.  Yes, it's a stupid costume, but no one said Adam West looked kick-ass in his, either.  On the plus side, The Bat's mask has a mouth that moves when he talks (spooky teeth going every which way)...though the value of this is lessened somewhat by the fact that this is, indeed, a silent film.

Batman has a Utility Belt, while The Bat has a utility bag.  Sad, really.  Even more sad is what The Bat keeps in his bag besides grappling hooks and glass cutters:

Batman has a whole arsenal of bat-themed weapons, while The Bat only has "bat-stationary" that he folds into bat-shaped origami before throwing at people. 

Ah crap.  Batman gets Bat-Stationary too.  For those of you wondering where I got that comic panel, it's from Detective Comics #28...also known as the 2nd Batman story ever.  So we're seriously old school and there's a serious coincidence in how The Bat and The Batman sign their names.  Not really that subtle, is it?

The Bat kills people by shooting them with a gun, while the ORIGINAL Batman kills people by shooting them with the gun that killed his parents.  (While I did already know about Batman's old NRA days, a friend pointed out what specific gun the Caped Crusader was using.  All I can say is that's pretty messed up.)

The Bat travels across rooftops using a complicated system of grappling hooks, while Batman travels across rooftops using a complicated grappling gun (with hook).  If you look at the above picture you might notice The Bat's wearing a big black cape.  Oddly enough, this is one of the things that Batman doesn't have...as we all know the Caped Crusader would never wear such a thing.  Did I mention that I'm a terrible liar?

The Bat has a smoke machine to make all his entrances dramatic, while Batman uses smoke bombs to punctuate his entrance/egress.  What?  Fine:  The DIRECTOR of "The Bat" uses a smoke machine to make all of The Bat's scene's more dramatic.  Happy?  Basically both of these guys use "dramatic stealth" whether they're stalking someone or just looking for the toilet.

The Bat, despite being a super-criminal, only kills other criminals, while Batman only kills criminals.  That's one of the most interesting things about this film.  When you watch it, it's easy to think that The Bat might actually be a good guy...except for the fact that he's killing the other baddies so he can take all the money for himself.  The movie is kind of telling because it pits a "supercriminal who dresses like a Bat" against "normal criminals who don't have costumes."  It's VERY reminiscent of the classic Batman stories....but I digress.  Here's my favorite similarity:

Batman uses a "bat signal" to instill fear in his enemies and so that the police can contact him, while The Bat apparently has spooky powers that let him create the same damn thing so he can terrorize rich people trapped in a house.  I can't believe there's a possibility that the "Bat signal" wasn't originally Batman's.  Gah.

Of course, nothing presented here should surprise you. Batman's creator actually admits to being "inspired" for the idea of Batman by this film (actually the sequel to this film)...which is odd because Bob Kane (said creator) originally wanted to create "Birdman" until someone changed his mind.  Go figure.  So it's really up to you to decide:  Did the creator of Batman take a few key elements from The Bat or did he freaking take creative license with how far you can go with the word "inspired."  On a side note, can you imagine if this film every popped up in the "comic book universe?"

Superman:  "Hey Bats!  I hear you like silent films."

Batman:  "What the hell are you talking about?  Oh, and I'm Batman."

Superman:  "Me and Mr. Terrific were watching Turner classic movies and this old silent film by Roland West came on and it was about..."

Batman:  "LIES! THE FILM WAS ABOUT LIES YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH YOU ALIEN BASTARD OMG SHUT UP!

Aquaman (walking in):  "Hey guys!  What's going on?"

Superman:  "Nothing much.  We were just talking about how much you suck."

Batman:  "Um. Yeah.  You totally do.  In fact, I'm going to go take a Bat-leak in your bowl.  Loser."

Aquaman:  :sob:

So, in conclusion:  The creator of Batman admits to being inspired by this film.  Personally, I believe him...if you take "being inspired" to mean "stealing everything about the main character."  That's just my opinion.  It does make me wonder if people where looser about copyrights back then.  Can you imagine if someone started making a comic called "Meo:  The Chosen One" that had a guy who looked like Keanu Reeves fighting a computer intelligence in a (not THE) matrix?  Would that fly?  I don't know.  I just wanted to give some of you hardcore Batman fans something to digest. Oh, and remember:

Being original isn't everything.  Batman knows this, so should you.

-jared

 

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copyright 2005, except for the images and the tribute picture at the top.  I don't own Batman because my name isn't Bob Kane.  If my name was Bob Kane, I would make up cute songs about my name.  "Bob Kane the names the same as Lois Lane only I'm less plain though insane on a train nor on a plane I would not, could not be Bob Kane."