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The Graphic Novel You Need To Read Before Watching The Batman

The Batman still won't come out for another year, but after a fantastic first trailer that was filled to the brim with small details and Easter eggs, fans are already salivating at the thought of another film with the Caped Crusader. It's clear director Matt Reeves has a very different take on Gotham's Knight, and that Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne will be unlike any iteration we've seen before. 

Until the movie actually comes out, you can bet there will be plenty of speculation as to what exactly is going to happen. We already know the focus will be on a younger Batman who's in his second year of being a vigilante. While there have been rumors the film would draw inspiration from well-known Batman stories such as Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween, Matt Reeves recently revealed a highly unlikely source that's nonetheless very interesting. 

If anything, the inspiration proves that Reeves wants to delve into Batman's/Bruce Wayne's psyche in a way no filmmaker has tried before. 

Matt Reeves took some cues from Batman: Ego and Other Tails

Batman: Ego and Other Tails is a 2007 graphic novel from DC Comics that dives into the troubled mental state of Bruce Wayne. Darwyn Cooke authored the series along with Paul Grist while Cooke, Tim Sale, and Bill Wray served as artists. At the 2020 DC Fandome event, Matt Reeves spoke at length about his upcoming adaptation, including what would differentiate his Batman from previous versions, and name-checked a unique Batman story in the form of Ego (via Gizmodo). 

Reeves talked about how there's a dark side to Batman. It usually gets brushed off to the side for action sequences, but considering how much Reeves spoke about Ego, it really seemed like he was interested in exploring a different side of the Dark Knight. 

Ego a great story that dives into the fact Batman isn't just a cool hero who's smarter than everyone else in the room. He's ultimately a broken man who's haunted by the inability to save his parents and the knowledge Gotham will seemingly never get better.

What is Batman: Ego and Other Tails about?

Batman: Ego and Other Tails contains various other short stories about the Caped Crusader. It's a great collection, especially if you want to prime yourself for whatever Reeves has in store for us with 2021's The Batman. The story with which we're most concerned, however, is Batman: Ego

The graphic novel begins with Batman tracking down one of Joker's henchmen, Buster Snibbs. Batman confronts Snibbs, who pulls a gun on the vigilante and reveals that he just murdered his family because he knew Joker would do it eventually anyway. Snibbs turns the gun on himself and commits suicide. 

Batman, shaken by what he's seen, begins to question the role he plays in Gotham's quest for justice. It keeps looking like Gotham isn't getting any better, and all of this violence and death is taking a toll on Batman's psyche. Bruce Wayne returns to the Batcave, and partly as a result of his delirium, he envisions a monstrous version of his alter ego. It's during this part that Hugo Strange makes a cameo, and he mentions how Batman must suffer from a split personality and schizophrenia. 

The story delves deep into Bruce Wayne's consciousness, and its title, Ego, refers to one of the Freudian concepts of the psyche, along with the Id and Superego. Bruce Wayne is the superego, the moral part of the psyche, while Batman at times becomes the Id and represents Wayne's desire for vengeance. It's up to the ego to balance these parts out to create one whole person. 

What does this mean for The Batman?

We know from Reeves that The Batman follows Wayne's second year as a crime fighter; he's not exactly new to this, but he isn't as old and jaded as Batman gets in something like The Dark Knight Returns. It would make sense for Batman at this stage of his journey to begin to feel the weight of not being able to save everyone. 

Plus, the idea of an animalistic Batman also seems like it will be front and center. From The Batman trailer, we can see Batman absolutely wailing on a gang member. There are plenty of small moments to dissect, but that beat really struck a chord with fans as a demonstration that Batman is giving in to his darker side.  It remains to be seen how much he'll be pushed to break his one rule to never kill anyone. 

If you need some more Batman stories in your life, then you should definitely read Batman: Ego and Other TailsThe Batman is set to be released in theaters on October 1st, 2021.