The 1930 Film Noir Inspiration For ‘Batman’ Might Just Blow Your Mind

YouTube mashup artist and UPROXX reader Rob Hebert emailed us a link to this video he made after reading that The Bat Whispers, a 1930 noir thriller, is thought to have been Bob Kane’s inspiration for Batman.

He writes:

The plot, as summarized by wikipedia, goes something like this. A mysterious criminal by the name of “The Bat” eludes police and then finally announces his retirement to the country, while a wealthy Cornelia Van Gorder takes up residence in the estate of a famous banker. Along with her maid Lizzie, her niece Dale, and a bank teller disguised as a gardener, she is terrorized by a series of strange events seemingly set in motion by the mysterious bat. Possible suspects include a doctor, an elderly police lieutenant, a butler, a handyman, and a big-city cop.

An early talkie, this film is the second film version of the 1920 hit Broadway play “The Bat.” The first film version of the play, “The Bat” (1926), was also directed by Roland West. Just as in the play and the first film, people explore an old mansion looking for a hidden treasure while a caped killer picks them off one by one.

There was a clip from the film on Daily Motion. I watched a few minutes of it and I was knocked backward. I searched on youtube and found the entire film.


Yep, it’s safe to say, if Bob Kane never saw this, we would never have had the Batman. Kane often cited the film a one of the influences for the character. he didn’t seem to shy away from that. But, so many elements of Batman and Gotham City spring from this film. The German expressionist lighting, the double life storyline, the aerial acrobatics, they’re all there. There’s even a Batmobile.

After checking this out and being floored by the beautiful filmmaking of Roland West, i decided to stay up all night and cut together a trailer for the film in the style of “The Dark Knight Rises.” I used clips that I found on youtube and Hans Zimmer’s music from several DKR trailers.

Mind. Blown.