Batman: Year One
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Batman: Year One can be found here.

What is Batman: Year One?

Batman: Year One is a direct-to-video animated film released as part of the series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies produced by Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Brothers Animation, and distributed by Warner Home Video. It is co-directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery (who both previously co-directed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths).

The story follows the first year of Bruce Wayne's time as Batman and is adapted from the comic book story arc written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli with Richmond Lewis. It was originally published in issues #404 to #407 of DC Comics' Batman comic book from 1986-1987. The story was then first reprinted in graphic novel form in 1997 and has remained in print since.

The Batman: Year One graphic novel was at one time planned to be adapted into a live-action film, helmed by director Darren Aronofsky from a screenplay by Frank Miller. That project was eventually passed by Warners who instead went with Christopher Nolan and his film Batman Begins, which borrowed many story elements from Batman: Year One.

Batman: Year One was released on October 18, 2011 from Warner Home Video on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for download. It also had its world premiere at the 2011 year's Comic-Con on July 22 at 8:00 PM in Ballroom 20, followed by a panel discussion with cast and crew.

This is in keeping with Frank Miller's original graphic novel. When Miller began working on Year One he was given the task of restarting and reinventing the origins of Batman as they would be depicted in monthly Batman comic books for years to come. One twist he choose to take was to alter the origin of Catwoman. Miller reinvented her not only by changing her race but making her a prostitute who turns to masked crime as way to rise out of her lowly place in life. However Miller's choices for Selina Kyle did not turn out popular and many future Batman writers and editors choose to retcon away these changes in future monthly issues of Batman comic books. In fact her race was reverted to white almost immidately, while the prostitute backstory has slowly come and gone over the course of many years.

An African-American Catwoman may bring to mind Halle Berry's depction of the character in Catwoman, but it is worth noting that, long before Berry's version in 2004 or Miller's version in 1986, Eartha Kitt portrayed the character in five episodes of Batman from 1967 to 1968.

Actually, there is some controversy over whether or not Miller intended Selina to be African-American in Batman: Year One. Selina isn't colored with a particularly dark skin-tone, nor does she have any distinctively African-American features. Miller could have just as easily been portraying her as Latina or with no particular ethnic background.

The animated version of Batman: Year One is entirely faithful to Frank Miller's original comic book story to the point that differences are almost negligible. It is by far and away the most faithful adaptation of all DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Almost no scene is missing and nothing is depicted out of order from the original. Some scenes are shortened and some are lengthened for the needs of telling a story on film, but everything that happens in the comic happens in the movie.

The only scenes missing from the comic include a minor moment of Bruce Wayne skiing and monologuing to himself after the tenement bombing scene. Another missing element is Gordon mentioning that a clothing store was broken into, apparently by Batman after his escape from the police, and a suit taken with the appropriate money to pay for it left at the register; it's an act of honesty that leaves Gordon even more conflicted about the vigilante.

A few minor scenes are also added:

The scene of criminal Skeever being interrogated by Gordon, before his attorney takes him away did not appear in the comic. The scene afterward where Skeever is attacked by Batman in his apartment is from the comic, except that Skeever is shown snorting cocaine.

After Bruce Wayne meets Gordon and his wife at Wayne Manor the scene of the loose girl reappearing and asking if Wayne is going to do anything with her was added. This makes it much more clear that Wayne hired her simply for the ruse of his lifestyle.

The biggest scene change in the film happens in the final chase between Wayne/Batman, Gordon and the kidnappers. In the comic book Wayne takes a random civilian's bike in order to catch up while in the movie he takes to the buildings and the side of a truck.

The artisic depiction in this scene is that Wayne's face is covered in shadow from the garage lights. This is the same way that Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli depicted the scene in the graphic novel. However, in the graphic novel when Batman says he will not let Gordon's baby die he immediately leaves the parking garage, not waiting for Mrs. Gordon to lower the gun. In the movie Mrs. Gordon and Batman look at each other for a few moments before she lets him go. It may be hard to believe that shadows over Wayne's eyes would be enough to hide his identity but this was a choice the filmmakers seem to have made.

In the context of the movie a few things may have kept her from connecting Wayne and Batman at that moment. First she does not even know that the man in front of her is Batman, simply that he is a man in a motorcycle jacket promising to save her son. Although Gordon seems to know it's Batman later it's likely the Gordon's would not discuss such a harrowing experience to any length afterward.

Also Wayne uses a distinctively different demeanor in the persona of playboy Bruce Wayne and as Batman. His voice slightly changes and his face hardens. This keeps people from noticing who he is even when wearing the Batman mask. Even though Mrs. Gordon met Wayne earlier at his manor and had time to study his face she was very disgusted by his playboy behavior and may never connect the two faces because of that. Also, realize her infant has just been kidnapped and there is nothing else she is thinking of at the moment.

It is also probable that she will later connect the faces in her mind but may be thankful enough to the heroic figure never to bring it up.

There are a few scenes and ideas that appear in Batman: Year One that also appear in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, like Batman using live bats to make his escape from the SWAT, Gordon being an honest cop working under a corrupt commissioner, the Falcones being a powerful crime family and the ending in which the Joker is discussed but not seen.

Keep in mind that the graphic novel of Batman: Year One first appeared in 1986, while Batman Begins is from 2005. Christopher Nolan, like any director or screenwriter making a major superhero movie, is allowed to draw from the entire history of comic books. He borrowed elements from many other Batman stories, including The Man Who Falls and The Long Halloween.

Any similarities between the animated version of Batman: Year One and Batman Begins is because they were in Frank Miller's graphic novel first. In fact Batman: Year One is a completely faithful adaptation of the graphic novel.

It is not expressed explicitly during the film, but it is likely that this film is set in the mid-1980's. The "Batman: Year One" comic books, from which this film was adapted, were published in 1987 and were an attempt to modernize the characters origins and mainstream continuity. The car designs appear to be similar to cars that would have been on the roads at that time period. Near the end of the film a storefront can be seen for a VHS / Beta rental store. VHS videocassettes were popular from the 1980's all the way through to the start of the new millenium, but Betamax videocassettes would have been very uncommon in the United States as early as the late 1980's.

Note: Bruce Wayne has a flashback to 18 years prior to the current events taking place in the movie.He and his parents are walking out of a theater that was playing "The Mark of Zorro." Over the years this film, in relation to the character's origins, has fluctuated between the 1920 Version starring Douglas Fairbanks and the 1940 version starring Tyrone Power. This would effectively place the film in 1938 or 1958. This is incongruous with other evidence within the movie regarding the timeline. There is also a third fictional version starring the fictional Douglas Fairbanks / Tyrone Power amalgamation, Tyrone Fairbanks, that has no definite release date. For the sake of this film's timeline, the fictional Tyrone Fairbanks version is the most likely version of the film that was playing at the theater in Bruce Wayne's flashback.

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