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Bruce Wayne is a man of many secrets, which his double-life as a silent guardian and watchful protector of Gotham City by is clear evidence of. Fittingly, the Batman movies, like most other DC movies, are littered with their own mysterious details hidden in plain sight that only comic book aficionados or any other die-hard fan of the Dark Knight would more likely able to pick up on. I, as a comic book aficionado and die-hard fan of the Dark Knight, managed to pick up on 10 of the coolest Easter Eggs from movies like Tim Burton’s Batman or Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, starting with a subtle nod to one of the men who started it all.

Bob Kane's Bat-Man illustration from Batman

The Mocking “Bat-Man” Illustration From Batman 1989 Is Signed By Batman Co-Creator Bob Kane

Early on in 1989’s Batman, the film that stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne, ambitious reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) seems to be the only one convinced that there really is a creature of the night cleaning up crime in the city, which makes him a target of mockery at the Gotham Globe. Until he meets renowned photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), the teasing he receives at the office ranges from being nicknamed “Count Dracula” to his cartoonist colleague imagining the “Bat-Man” as a six-foot-tall winged creature in a pinstripe suit. If you look closely at the bottom left hand corner of said illustration, you will see the signature of late comic book artist Bob Kane, who created Batman with Bill Finger in 1939.

Elizabeth Sanders as Gossip Gerty in Batman & Robin

Gossip Gerty From Batman Forever And Batman & Robin Is Bob Kane’s Wife

The funny “Bat-Man” cartoon from Tim Burton’s first film about the Dark Knight is not the only Easter Egg with a close tie to the superhero’s co-creator throughout the franchise. Both of late director Joel Schumacher’s truly "batty" movies, 1995’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin from two years later, feature an eccentric journalist named Gossip Gerty, who is played by Bob Kane’s real-life spouse Elizabeth Sanders. However, Sanders’ first Batman movie appearance was actually in 1992’s Batman Returns, in which she is credited as "Gothamite #4" and makes a comment about the questionable Oswald Cobblepot.

Adam West as Batman and Alan Napier as Alfred Pennyworth on Batman

The "Real" Name Of Jack Nicholson’s Joker References Alfred From The 1960s Batman TV Show

I am not necessarily a comic book purist, but I do have a certain unwavering favoritism toward the Joker having no specific origin story (or at least one that is "multiple choice," to quote Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke). Thus, I am convinced Jack Napier is only an alias that Jack Nicholson’s mobster character goes by before his accident at Axis Chemicals turns him into the Clown Prince of Crime in Batman - not to mention it is also a clear tribute to the original Batman TV show. The Alfred Pennyworth to Adam West’s Bruce Wayne in the campy 1960s classic was played by British actor Alan Napier, who was actually a friend of Michael Gough, who played the Wayne Family’s trusted servant Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s films.

Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger in Batman Returns

Penguins Parents In Batman Returns Are Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Stars

Before Tim Burton hit it big as a superhero movie director, his first feature-length effort was Pee-wee’s Big Adventure in 1985. He managed to squeeze a tribute to his directorial debut in his second DC Comics adaptation, Batman Returns, by casting Pee-wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens, and his co-star from the zany comedy hit, Diane Salinger (who played a waitress named Simone with dreams of living in Paris), as the neglectful parents of Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito) in the sequel’s introductory flashback. Reubens would even pay reference to this cameo by playing the father of Robin Lord Taylor’s iteration of The Penguin on Fox’s Batman prequel series Gotham in Seasons 2 and 3.

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Chris O'Donnell as Robin in Batman Forever and Tim Drake as Robin

Chris O’Donnell’s Suit In Batman Forever Resembles Tim Drake’s Robin Outfit

Despite original plans to introduce Robin, as played by Marlon Wayans, in Batman Returns, it was not until Joel Schumacher took over the reigns of Batman Forever when the Boy Wonder finally had a role in the Batman movies franchise. However, when Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson sports his costume before the third act showdown with Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, the outfit bears a resemblance more similar to the suit worn by Tim Drake, the third young hero to adopt the Robin moniker. This would not be the last time the Batman movies looked to a different iteration of the character for O’Donnell’s wardrobe design, that is.

Chris O'Donnell as Robin in Batman & Robin and Dick Grayson as Nightwing

Chris O’Donnell’s Suit in Batman & Robin Resembles Dick Grayson’s Nightwing Outfit

After reaching adulthood in the comics, Dick Grayson would abandon the Robin moniker and create the alias Nightwing, which also came with a new costume that was solid black with the shape of bird embroidered on his chest. The bird logo is usually blue, but has also been red, much like the outfit Chris O’Donnell wears in Batman & Robin from 1997. The biggest difference between this Robin suit and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing suit is that Nightwing never wears a cape… nor has fake nipples, either.

Joker's calling card in Batman Begins

Joker’s Card At Batman Begins’ End Was Recovered By "J. Kerr"

Now, why don't we we wash away the tainted memories of that critically reviled Batman sequel and move on to the movies that got people to take the character seriously again, under the guidance of director Christopher Nolan. The final scene of 2005’s Batman Begins, which sees Christian Bale’s Batman in a rooftop meeting with Gary Oldman as James Gordon, contains an Easter Egg of sorts, teasing the introduction of the Joker. There is actually an Easter Egg within this Easter Egg: if you look closely at the evidence bag containing the villain’s “calling card,” you can see it was found by someone named “J. Kerr,” which could be just a fun joke on the audience or a preemptive clue to when Heath Ledger’s Joker disguises himself as a Gotham City cop in The Dark Knight.

Heath Ledger's Joker's Mask in The Dark Knight and Cesar Romero's Joker's Mask on Batman

Joker’s Mask In The Dark Knight’s Opening Heist Pays Tribute To Cesar Romero

Speaking of the Joker’s disguises, the thrilling opening sequence of the 2008 cultural phenomenon sees the villain pull a fast one on his henchmen by posing as one of them in a sad clown mask. Some may recognize the similarities between Heath Ledger’s mask in The Dark Knight and one worn by Cesar Romero as the Joker in an episode of the Batman series from Season 1. Believe it not, this is not the only time the Dark Knight Trilogy paid homage to the 1960s TV show.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises

Wayne Manor Has A Red Phone, Like In The 1960s Batman Show, In The Dark Knight Rises

An iconic Batman TV show prop is the flashing red phone Commissioner Gordon use to contact Batman, which, in retrospect, seems pointless given the GCPD’s access to the Batsignal. While Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne would likely be opposed to giving even Gordon a direct line of communication to his house, taking a closer look at 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises reveals he could have been flirting with the idea. In the scene when Gotham City police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) pays a visit to the Wayne Manor, you can see a red phone sitting on a shelf behind him. Bonus Easter Egg: right next to the phone is a bust that bears a striking resemblance to the one Adam West and Burt Ward used to open the door to the Batpoles.

Sen. Patrick Leahy and Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight

Sen. Patrick Leahy Has Appeared In Five Batman Movies

One lesser-known detail that ties Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the DCEU together is Vermont senator Patrick Leahy. The self-described Batfan, who is currently third in line to the United States Presidency, briefly appeared as himself in both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin before playing a member of the board of directors for Wayne Enterprises in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises - the former of which saw him mince words with Heath Ledger’s Joker - and Senator Purrington in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 during Superman's trial. In August 2020, Leahy admitted to the Burlington Free Press that “COVID” and “appropriation bills” would unfortunately prevent him from landing a role in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman, which would have been his sixth appearance a live action DC movie.

I should mention that Sen. Patrick Leahy also made a vocal cameo as another governmental figure on an episode of Batman: The Animated Series from 1995. If only he could have had the time to reprise his senatorial role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, we could have also noted him as one of the most memorable 2021 movies cameos, considering he won’t appear in 2022’s The Batman. Regardless, it is pretty cool to know that there is a Batfan in the political world.

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