10 Heroes and Villains Who Inspire Batman

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By Wanda

The character of Batman birthed in the early 20th century, is a blend of these 15 characters, shaping the most phenomenal Caped Crusader.

Batman is undoubtedly one of the most influential heroes in the history of comics and has been the inspiration of various imitators over the last eight-plus decades. But it is equally important to come to know about the many characters that Batman has inculcated in his persona.

Batman was first introduced in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in Detective Comics #27 and made a great impact in binding elements of horror movie imagery, movie mysteries, and pulp adventures. This unique blend made Batman the popular character that he is, for decades. Here are the 10 best characters that Batman draws inspiration from.

10. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, a character by Arthur Conan Doyle played a significant role in making Batman as popular as he is in adventure fiction today. The storytelling techniques and the reasoning in Batman extend to that of Sherlock Holmes. The characters Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon shadow the roles of Dr. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Inspector Lestrade in the Holmes stories.

9. Dracula

There has always been a presence of an underlying vampiric element in Batman and that is believed to have been taken from Dracula. Bram Stoker’s description of the Count in his 1987 novel hinted at a shadowy bat-like figure, it was Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 film adaptation that had a huge impact on Batman’s genesis. Kane noted Lugosi holding the hem of his cloak with two hands to display bat-like wings.

8. Doctor Syn/The Scarecrow

One of literature’s most famous masked heroes, Doctor Syn, also known as The Scarecrow, debuted in Russell Thorndike’s 1915 novel Doctor Syn. It revolves around the global journey of Reverend Doctor Syn to seek revenge after a personal mishap. He transforms into a pirate and moves forward in the disguise of a masked vigilante called Scarecrow. The influence on Batman can be paralleled with Bruce Wayne leaving Gotham and Syn’s travels.

7. Tarzan

Although much dissimilarity can be found between Tarzan and Batman, the influence still holds true. The comic adaptation of Tarzan by Hal Foster shaped Batman’s appearances in the Detective comic series and Kane took inspiration from it. Batman navigated urban skylines and Tarzan ruled the forest.

6. Zorro

Zorro has a significant influence on Bob Kane’s Batman. Diego de la Vega, Zorro’s alter ego resembles the playboy character of Batman‘s Bruce Wayne. Batman and Bruce Wayne being the same person is an inspiration drawn from Zorro’s first novel by Johnston McCulley, The Curse of Capistrano, where Don Diego and Zorro are proven to be the same person.

5. The Bat

The criminal thief from the 1920 play The Bat had a noticeable impact on Batman’s character. Both adaptations, The Bat and the remake The Bat Whispers take us to Batman’s world. In the 1926 version, the character had a bat-like mask and a cape resembling Batman. The 1930 version featured even a prototype of the Bat Signal.

4. The Shadow

The Shadow is known to be among the most remarkable inspirations of Batman and Bill Finger has openly accepted it. He took down ideas from a Shadow novel for Batman’s first story, The Case of the Chemical Syndicate. The Shadow is an original nocturnal fighter protecting the streets of New York by frightening criminals. 

3. Dick Tracy

Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy played a significant role in shaping Batman‘s popular appearances. Batman‘s initial inspiration came from Dick Tracy‘s adventures. Gould’s detective fought one or more criminals, each having unique characteristics. Notable villains like Flattop, Prune-Face, and the Brow are still remembered.

Bill Finger, in Batman, drew influence from this array of villains who laid challenges every single day. In fact, many Bat villains, such as the Joker, Clayface, and Two-Face, are important parts of Dick Tracy’s comics.

2. The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet debuted just three years before Batman did but it clearly resonates with Batman’s history. Britt Reid, a newspaper man transforms into a nocturnal fighter more like Bruce Wayne in Batman. The Black Beauty paved the way for Batman’s vehicle, The Batmobile which is of cultural importance. The Green Hornet also has its influence on Robin who resembles Kato.

1. Superman

Superman is the biggest inspiration for Batman, it owes its existence to Superman’s success. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s superhero Superman is a sensation who paves the way for publishers to step into the superhero genre. Bob Kane collaborated with Bill Finger to create their superhero. Their appearances resemble each other by his strongman tights and cape. Superman held up Batman’s legacy.