'Dark Knight Rises' Reading: 10 Stories That Inspired Christopher Nolan's Trilogy

Dark Knight Rises

by Ryan Rigley

In 2005, Christopher Nolan launched what is now considered the definitive Batman movie franchise with "Batman Begins." Now, with "The Dark Knight Rises" currently in theaters, Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy has finally come to end. But just because there won't be any more "Dark Knight" movies, doesn't mean that there isn't a ton of source material to start checking out!

One thing that the Nolan-verse did so well was capture the gritty realism of the Caped Crusader that we all know and love, while remaining true to his comic book origins. In fact, it seems like Nolan and his writers did a pretty extensive amount of research in order to create three Batman films that fans of the comic books can actually appreciate as well. With that said, here's our list of the ten Batman stories that most influenced the "Dark Knight" trilogy!

"Batman: Year One"

Frank Miller's seminal masterpiece is about as realistic as Batman comics come. Nolan's movies, while not directly referencing this story, were clearly inspired by this re-telling of the Dark Knight's origins. Especially the last scene in "Batman Begins" when Commissioner Gordon meets up with Batman on a rooftop and tells him about someone called "The Joker."

"Into the Den of the Death-Dealers!"

Remember that whole Liam Neeson/Ken Watanabe switcheroo in "Batman Begins," when it turns out Bruce's mentor, Henri Ducard, is actually Ra's al Ghul? Well, that happened in the comic books as well. Granted, the Ra's reveal was under completely different circumstances. This story also introduces the League of Assassins, which is where Nolan got his League of Shadows.

"Blind Justice"

This is the story that first introduces Henri Ducard who, like in "Batman Begins," mentors Bruce Wayne until the two come to a crossroads when Ducard wants Bruce to murder criminals. The relationship between these two is pretty much the same in the comics as it is in the movies, with Ducard coming to Gotham years later and deducing that Bruce Wayne is Batman. The only major difference is that Ducard doesn't turn out to be Ra's al Ghul.

"The Man Who Falls"

There are a lot of scenes in "Batman Begins" that borrow pretty heavily from this story; Bruce living in poverty in foreign lands, Bruce being locked away in a small, village prison, etc. But there is one scene that mirrors its comic book predecessor practically panel for panel: a young Bruce falling into an old well where he is scared by the bats that dwell within until his father is able to rescue him.

"The Long Halloween"

The first in a series of critically acclaimed stories by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, "The Long Halloween" revolves around Batman, Gordon, and Harvey Dent all working together to bring down one of the biggest crime families in Gotham. Sound familiar? It should! "The Dark Knight" also borrows heavily from both this story's Harvey Dent/Two-Face transformation and the whole "I believe in Harvey Dent" campaign.

"The Killing Joke"

In "The Dark Knight," The Joker attempts to prove that all it takes for an ordinary citizen to go completely mad is just one bad day. This whole concept is taken from Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke," in which The Joker shoots Barbara Gordon and then takes pictures of her naked body in an attempt to drive her father, Jim Gordon, completely insane. But while the Gordons somehow manage to overcome, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent is essentially a direct product of The Joker's madness.

"No Man's Land"

After a 7.6 earthquake hits Gotham, the city is left in ruins to be completely carved up by criminals and supervillains. "The Dark Knight Rises" borrowed several key things from this story; including all of the bridges to Gotham being destroyed, the national guard not allowing anyone to leave, and Gordon leading a small band of freedom fighters in Batman's absence.

"The Cult"

One of the bleakest Batman stories ever written, "The Cult" sees the Caped Crusader being beaten, captured, and brainwashed by a crazed clergyman called Deacon Blackfire. During this story, Commissioner Gordon is left to recover in a hospital after being attacked by Blackfire's followers and the class warfare that ensues in the latter half of the story is quite reminiscent of "The Dark Knight Rises."

"Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street"

Before Ed Brubaker came along, Catwoman was just another Batman villain who never really seemed all that bad to begin with. But in 2001, she became an anti-hero vowing to protect the residents and working girls of Gotham's seediest district: the East End. Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Selina Kyle was largely inspired by this incarnation of Catwoman, as made evident by her decision to aid Batman in the fight against Bane.


Perhaps the most famous moment in Bane's entire existence comes from this story. After freeing all of Gotham's criminals, Bane ambushes Batman at his own house and proceeds to break his back. "Knightfall" was clearly one of the biggest inspirations for "The Dark Knight Rises," what with Bane breaking Batman and taking over Gotham City. There's even a scene where Alfred quits rather than seeing Bruce injure himself any further!

Which comics do you think inspired the "Dark Knight" trilogy? List them off in the comments section below or hit us up on Twitter!