Chances are that if you really liked The Batman and were really fond of the elements that feel so rare in superhero media, you likely are not in the mood to watch another comic movie. The rich legacy of films from which The Batman drew from makes it much more likely you want to see something else. Three-hour detective procedurals. Politically cognizant thrillers with immense rewatch value. These are the landmark movies you should be on a mission to see after watching The Batman
1. Se7en (1995)
Matt Reeves obviously has a certain deference to Fincher. Out of the two Fincher films that inspired The Batman, Se7en certainly feels like the more direct inspiration. Both films feel like trips through hellscape cities, made indescribably more haunting by the bleak imagery and foreboding score.
The Batman has the same twists and turns that make Se7en such a delightful watch, and Paul Dano’s version of The Riddler follows in the meticulous footsteps of John Doe. Both him and Doe, after all, perform their horrendous crimes in order to reveal broader truths they think society neatly covers up. Gotham is a slightly more nightmarish version of the city found in Se7en, and both films just very much scratch the specific itch of a detective movie where the hero must go through the rings of hell to catch an insane bad guy. Perhaps no film on the list matches the vibe of Batman like this one.
2. Zodiac (2007)
Zodiac does not have as much of an influence over the style of The Batman, but it still is a useful text for the movie. The Batman similarly stretches its runtime over a beefy period and cuts no corners in showing the methodical process the hero takes to foil the villain. They are both detective epics. Both have big moments, but the sensationalist aspects feel earned thanks to all the patient work both Fincher and Reeves doe beforehand.
Zodiac is the ideal follow-up if you really dug the slowed down pace of The Batman, and how precise it was in following the world’s greatest detective countering Riddler’s ambitions.
3. JFK (1991)
JFK is not an essential part of The Batman’s identity. Oliver Stone’s behemoth of a detective movie is a far cry from the oppressive mysteries offered by Fincher but that makes this no less of a fantastic film to watch after The Batman. JFK is even more persistent than The Batman is to explore the danger of political corruption. Both it and The Batman provide cynical outlooks and have seemingly men of seemingly impregnable morals go up against a villain that cannot be easily thwarted.
Despite Oliver Stone being a pessimist through and through, Garrison’s rousing speech at the end of the movie is no different a call to moral arms than Batman standing triumphantly at the end of his own film. They are films that tell the story of heroes and hope to leave a message that inspires change for a better tomorrow. And both are three-hour monsters of filmmaking that fly by.
4. All the President’s Men (1976)
It is the detective story stripped of all its glory. All the President’s Men is the ultimate procedural, a no-nonsense type of filmmaking that nonetheless inspires conversation thanks to its ever-important subject matter. It is the type of movie where even the main characters play second fiddle to the hunt of information itself, the ever so elusive trail left by the Nixon administration.
This is not the movie to watch if you want the same excitement and action present in The Batman. It is, however, an absolute must watch who love to see all the different types of detective stories present on film. This is the one that you will fall in love with if you do not care about all that pesky character development and families that detectives have to deal this with other movies. If you want simply the thrill of the hunt and want to see the origin of detective movies as we know them today, this is must-see.
5. Chinatown (1974)
The ultimate neo-noir. Chinatown may be the neo-noir that tears down the myths of the 1940s noirs the best. Good guys do not always win. The pit of corruption knows no bounds. It can continuously expand and expand with no end in sight. Nicholson’s performance as Jake is outstanding and Dunaway matches his excellence. It has just the right balance if you appreciated The Batman’s mix of detective intrigue and romantic tension. Dunaway is an all-time great femme fatale, working off what is commonly said to be the greatest screenplay of all time.
It is endlessly quotable, unpredictable from start to finish, and uses every conversation as power struggle between Jake and the city he has to confront. Everyone is an enemy. Every success is beyond cathartic as it brings us closer to an end somehow more disgusting than the initial corruption presented to us. Chinatown is so good it might as well be recommended after any movie, but its crystal-clear influence on The Batman makes it an even better watch for fans of the new movie.