The Striking Parallels Between WAR ON CRIME and Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN

Intentionally or not, Alex Ross and Paul Dini’s treasury-size Batman story echoes throughout the film…

Buddy and pal Rob Kelly, podcaster extraordinaire of The Fire and Water Podcast Network and a 13th Dimension contributor, kindly asked me to be on the latest episode of TreasuryCast, covering Paul Dini and Alex Ross’ 1999 Batman: War on Crime painted comic.

The episode is live now and you can click here to check it out, if you like. (I think you’ll dig it.)

Anyway, as I was re-reading the story, I was struck by the number of thematic parallels between Dini and Ross’ work and 2022’s The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson.

Pattinson’s Batman peers through a rainy skylight.

I’m a really big fan of the film, and it’s grown on me even more in repeated viewings. There are many more layers than you might find at first glance — it’s not just “Emo Batman” — and I actually went as far as to read the script to further dissect what is a thoughtful and thought-provoking rumination on trauma, rage, race, class and existential angst.

Those five themes also happen to be at the heart of War on Crime. The details of the stories are very different but the concepts are very much the same: When you’re Batman and beating people into oblivion is only so effective, what do you do if you really want to change the world, or your corner of it?

The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale; Ego by Darwyn Cooke; and Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli have all been cited as inspirations for The Batman — so much so that DC released a boxed set of the three stories. I’ve not found any quotes from Reeves that War on Crime played a part in his thinking — and neither Dini nor Ross are mentioned in the special-thanks credits — but the two share considerable DNA nonetheless.

Rob and I get into all of that in the episode, as well as many other aspects of War on Crime, from its scope, to its storytelling style, to its spectacular art.

Again, click here to have a listen, if ya like. There’s a lot there to chew over.


— THE BATMAN: O’Neil, Adams, Englehart and Rogers Among Creators Thanked in Film Credits. Click here.

— ALEX ROSS Pays Tribute to the Bronze Age in Latest BATMAN Masterpiece. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. You’re forgetting the script that Chris Wozniak wrote 30 years ago, that was seemingly used WORD FOR WORD as the basis for the movie.

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  2. I’m so glad to see you make this comparison! I’ve always been a huge fan of BATMAN: WAR ON CRIME, and I instantly saw the connection between the book and THE BATMAN. In fact, I wrote about it extensively in my review of the film on my website. But I’ve never seen anyone else make that connection – until now, that is! It is very surprising to me that Dini and Ross were not thanked in the film.

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    • When I watched the movie and saw the skylight shot, I instantly thought of Alex Ross. But when I re-read War on Crime, the parallels really hit me. I do recommend the podcast because we discuss that in detail, as well as many other aspects. Thanks, Mark!

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  3. I will definitely be listening, Dan! And both of my sons are huge BATMAN: WAR ON CRIME fans, so I’ll be telling them about the podcast as well!

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