The storyline about Alfred’s sickness is yet another element adapted from Detective Comics #373. In the comic it is Aunt Harriet who is sick.
Her condition can only be cured by use of a rare cryosurgical instrument which operates on the same principle as Mr. Freeze’s freeze-gun. But this breaks when the doctors try to operate, and Bruce and Dick are told that Aunt Harriet will die unless they can find a replacement device.
Moving on to Poison Ivy now. The version in this movie is pretty accurate to the comics and seemingly takes her cues from Ivy’s first few appearances in the sixties as well as a story arc from the early eighties.
Neil Gaiman’s Black Orchid (1989) revealed that Ivy became the way she is after being experimented on by her college teacher, Jason Woodrue.
In the movie she makes her public debut at a charity auction. Batman and Robin were constantly attending these kind of social events in the forties, fifties and sixties. Here’s an example from ‘Batman’s Marriage Trap’ (Batman #214, August 1969). In this scene Batman and Robin attend a beauty contest where the winning girl gets a date with batman himself. It’s the kind of media-friendly antics the darker Batman would never indulge, but the sixties Batman was only too happy to go along with.
The Bat-credit card.
This is really bothering me, but there’s something nagging at my memory telling me I’ve seen this in a comic. I can’t remember which one, so it might just be my memory playing tricks on me. But I could have sworn I once read a comic where Batman produced a credit card from his utility belt. He may have used it to force a locked door or something, but I can’t remember the exact issue. Nevertheless my gut tells me the Bat-credit card does exist in the comics. If anyone can find evidence of this, please post it.
When Poison Ivy first appeared in ‘Beware of -- Poison Ivy!’ (Batman #181, June 1966) she made her debut at a weird pop art display showcasing models with peculiar names. Ivy shows up and upstages the other women, introducing herself as the most beautiful of them all.
Batman is instantly enamoured with her, and finds himself distracted to the point that it’s impeding his work. This creates some friction between him and Robin. But in the comic Batman is the one who becomes obsessed with Ivy, while Robin is the one who tries to warn him.
Batman punching a bad guy through a drum is typical of the wacky fight scenes from the Pre-Crisis comics.
Bruce Wayne is haunted by the memory of Ivy and starts to hallucinate about her when he is with his girlfriend. Batman’s encounters with Ivy often bring about these kind of obsessive hallucinations. A good example would be Ivy’s second appearance in the comics in ‘A Touch of Poison Ivy!’ (Batman #183, August 1966).
Bruce’s girlfriend in the movie is Julie Madison. In the comics, Julie Madison was an actress and Batman’s first girlfriend. She first appeared in ‘Batman Versus the Vampire’ (Detective Comics 31, September 1939) where she was introduced as Bruce Wayne’s fiancée. The movie makes several references to her and Bruce getting engaged, and those are likely nods to their short-lived betrothal in the comics.
Bane visually resembles his comic counterpart.
I won’t bother addressing Bane’s origins in the comics as Gotham Alleys already did a great job of that in a recent blog entry. http://gothamalleys.blogspot.com/2011/02/bane.html
Needless to say the Bane in the move is a significant departure from the comic version.
However, I mentioned in another thread that Bane in this movie is similar to a character called Evan. Evan was a chauffeur/henchman that served Ivy during a story arc in the early eighties. When he first appeared he was called ‘Evan’. Later he was referred to as ‘Ivor’. It’s possible they’re two separate characters, but since they’re so similar in appearance and personality, and since they both appear within the same story arc, it seems more likely the writer simply changed his name in between issues.
In ‘A Sweet Kiss of Poison’ (Batman #339, September 1981), Ivy disguises herself with a wig in order to manoeuvre in public without being recognised. Note Evan/Ivor driving the car.
Once disguised, she is able to get close to Bruce Wayne and cast her influence over him.
This story arc is finally resolved in ‘Monster, My Sweet!’ (Batman #344, February 1982). In this story Ivy’s moustachioed chauffer – now referred to as ‘Ivor’, but apparently the same guy she’d previously called ‘Evan’ – is transformed into a giant half plant/half human monster.
He is slavishly devoted to Ivy, communicates in short simple sentences and calls her ‘mistress’. She commands him to attack Batman and the two of them do battle.
Ivy mutated Ivor as part of her experiments to try and create a plant/human hybrid.
And now a piece of trivia I wasn’t previously aware of. Golum, the gang leader in the Turkish baths, was played by Doug Hutchison (A Time to Kill, The Green Mile, Punisher: War Zone). I always remember Hutchison for his portrayal Eugene Victor Tooms, the liver-eating serial killer from the first season of The X-Files. I only recently found out he was in this movie.
Not a comic reference, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
Meanwhile Barbara Gordon has discovered the Batcave. This scene seems to be another nod to Pepe Moreno’s Digital Justice. When the new Batman and Robin enter the old Batcave in this comic they find a Max Headroom-style computerised version of the original Batman talking to them through the Batcomputer. The computerised Batman explains that he anticipated someone might take up the mantle and has prepared costumes and equipment for his successors.
Elsewhere, Batman and Robin fall into Ivy’s trap. Over the years Ivy has developed a seemingly supernatural ability to control vines. Here’s an early example of her setting vines on Batman to crush/strangle him to death. This is taken from the aforementioned Batman #339.
The confrontation between Ivy and Batgirl in the movie showcases the former’s skills at unarmed combat. These too are evidenced in Batman #344.
In this issue she is also shown using a vine like a whip, snaring an opponent’s ankle the way she did in the movie.
Going back to Batman #139, the first time Batgirl appeared in costume was when she came to the aid of Batman, Robin and Batwoman, all of whom had been incapacitated by a villain. Batgirl sprang through a window and helped them.
At first they didn’t realise who she was under the mask. But then she explained that she’d discovered her aunt’s secret identity and taken the initiative of creating one for herself. Also note that the Betty Kane Batgirl didn’t wear a full cowl like Barbara Gordon did, instead sporting a simpler eye mask that left her blonde hair exposed.
Later in the film Batgirl wears a cowl reminiscent of the Barbara Gorgon Batgirl’s costume. She is also shown riding her Batgirl-cycle, the signature vehicle of the Gordon Batgirl since her debut in 1967.
The plot about Mr. Freeze trying to freeze Gotham with a giant freeze-cannon is taken from ‘The Glacier Under Gotham!’ (Batman #375, September 1984).
A lot of people question Batman’s sudden change of costume towards the end of the film. The comic adaptation explains that the new Arctic suit is resistant to extreme cold, including Mr. Freeze’s freeze-gun.
Batman in the comics has a variety of different costumes for different environments, including special thermal suits for cold climates.
The idea of Freeze being incapacitated after having his suit damaged is one used many times in the comics.
‘Hot House’ (Legends of the Dark Knight #42-43, 1993) ends with Ivy playing he loves me/he loves me not in her cell.
And as for Alfred’s/Aunt Harriet’s illness – in Detective Comics #373 Batman and Robin are able to defeat Mr. Freeze and take his freeze-gun to the surgeons at the hospital. They then use it in a cryosurgical procedure to save Aunt Harriet and the story ends with her making a full recovery.
And on that happy note I’ll end this overlong analysis.