The Silent Dark Knight

Chances are if you're reading this blog, you weren't around when movies were silent (and if you were, I'm honored that my blog reaches the centennial crowd). But they were, meaning that the actual story was told by the film itself. And if they were European, then chances were that there was a sort of exotic feel to them that you might not necessarily think would influence the character of Batman. But sure enough, they did. The European Film Report has an article up looking at some of the silent, European film origins of Batman. While Bob Kane readily admitted in his autobiography that his favorite movie as a child was The Mask of Zorro (and obviously the biggest influence on Batman), there were a few other European films that could be seen as influential. Les Vampires (1915) chronicles the leader of a group of villains called Les Vampires (funny that) who often ventures out in a bat costume. The Bat is another film with obvious relation to Batman, in that The Bat is a criminal who moves about at night seeking victims to rob. This isn't quite the same credo that Batman leads his life by (vengeance and paranoia come to mind for that), but the idea of masquerading as a bat at night is a pretty obvious correlation to Batman. And what would Batman be without Joker as a foil? Heavily influencing the Clown Prince of Crime is The Man Who Laughs, portraying Gwynplaine as a character with a permanent smile carved on his face for betraying the king. There was actually a one-shot called The Man Who Laughs released in February 2005 featuring the work of Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke detailing Batman's first encounter with the Joker (the book's title an obvious nod to the movie with the same name). The actual article has a bit more insight into each film's relevance with regard to the Batman mythos, so check it out. The European Film Report silently analyzes Batman