NO SPOILERS! Here are 4 graphic novels that Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice used as source material for the epic on-screen showdown. If you just walked out of the theater and want more — or maybe you were a bit confused about plot points in the movie — well, HERE. YOU. GO.
Justice League Vol. 1: Origin
I think we all know where Dawn of Justice is going. It’s taking us on a one way ticket direct to Justice League Movie-Town (weird name for a town). So what better way than to read the comic that started it all and showed us how the A-team gets together. Superstar creators Geoff Johns and Jim Lee deliver a fast-paced easily accessible comic full of witty jokes, clever introductions, and awe-inspiring art. If you’ve never read a comic in your life, this is a great place to start. Origin also does a superb job of showing us who these superheroes are and what they are all about, as well as their relationships within the Justice League. Movie-wise; a couple of scenes from the trailer seemed to be cherry-picked directly from the comic, and I for one can’t wait to see how it all unfolds on the big screen.
The Dark Knight Returns
Considered to be one of, if not the, best comic of all-time, The Dark Knight Returns is a 1986 four-issue comic book miniseries written and illustrated by Frank Miller. It’s the pinnacle transition to the ‘new’ Batman in comics (think of it being the transformation from Adam West’s Batman to Christian Bale’s Batman). The comic features an old grizzled Batman, 55 years of age, coming out of retirement and punching his way back in to crime-fighting after years of hardship. While Frank Miller might not be for everyone (especially his art), and the time it takes to read The Dark Knight Returns might triple the length of a normal graphic novel, it is a defining moment in Batman lore and a must read.
The movie connection? Well how about a curmudgeony grey-haired Ben Affleck? And how about that big fight at the end where Superman is fighting Batman in a giant mech suit? Yep. This is the comic.
Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright tells the tale of Superman’s origin and his early history on Earth. It’s a fascinating series that deals with many key moments from Superman’s lore: the destruction of Krypton, Ma and Pa Kent, the creation of his suit, and Clark Kent’s struggle when finding out he is an alien and that he has superpowers. Now, I know 2013’s Man of Steel gave us an origin story in movie form, so why mention this for Dawn of Justice? Well, one name: Lex Luthor (with hair!). This comic portrays the soon-to-be sinister villain in a different light and gives insight as to why he became so misunderstood and evil. We get to see Lex in his teenager years and see him develop a good relationship with Clark Kent, not knowing that Clark is Superman or that Clark will become his future nemesis. The story also deals with, like the film, the fact that Superman is an alien – an alien who destroys things and whether or not Superman should be trusted.
Batman Earth One: Volume One
Earth One is a series from DC Comics that retells the origin stories of some of our famous caped crusaders. By now, with the numerous movies and television shows addressing the subject, the general public should know Batman’s beginnings. But, what is so great about Batman Earth One is it gives it a fresh new take and is not bogged down by years of continuity and confusion. It tells of Bruce Wayne’s childhood and how he became the Dark Knight.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice includes a very cool addition from Batman Earth One; a stern, hard-nosed, in shape, BADASS Alfred Pennyworth. Traditionally, Alfred has always been the smarmy butler who scoffs at Batman’s plans or his need for continual physical confrontations. Yet, the movie seems to have gone the route of Earth One with the casting of Jeremy Irons, and I for one am ecstatic. It explains a lot of where Bruce’s training has come from, and it emphasizes more of an authoritative father figure for Bruce. While the movie doesn’t seem to directly take full scenes or plot points from the comic, it does seem to also match the overall feel and tone.
Did I miss a pivotal graphic novel that inspired Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? What do you think? Let me know in the comments. I had some honorable mentions in my head.