How 'The Batman's Best Scene Was Inspired By A Classic Action Movie
While much of the film involves characters quietly conversing at bafflingly dimly-lit crime scenes, there are some truly exciting action setpieces to be found in The Batman. Perhaps the most thrilling of which is the Batmobile chase in which the Caped Crusader speeds after The Penguin, who drives a Maserati in this iteration, which seems like a pretty big step up for a character we previously saw living in the sewers with a bunch of circus folk.
A lot of The Batman’s pre-release hype concerned director Matt Reeves’ cinematic influences, including films like Chinatown, The Godfather, and Se7en. In interviews, Reeves claimed that the car chase was inspired, perhaps not surprisingly, by William Friedkin’s The French Connection; which is pretty much the most iconic movie car chase of all-time, beloved by all … Except for those innocent New Yorkers who were almost run over during the filming.
But it seems like the bigger influence may have been another Friedkin scene, from a less-heralded movie that features an arguably even better car chase: 1985’s To Live and Die in L.A. Which is about a secret service agent desperately trying to get revenge on a stylish counterfeiter played by Willem Dafoe. In The Batman, Penguin, followed by Batman, turns onto a highway, driving against the flow of traffic, dodging cars and jackknifing trucks. Which distinctly recalls the anxiety-inducing highlight of To Live and Die in L.A.
The To Live and Die in L.A. chase is so awesome, specifically because Friedkin was working under the shadow of his previous work; he even told his stunt coordinator that if the new scene didn’t top the chase from The French Connection, it would be cut from the movie. The sequence was shot for six weeks at the very end of the production, which some actors presumed was because if something bad happened to one of them, “they’ve still got a movie.”
The Batman chase also ends the same way that the To Live and Die in L.A. chase begins, with two partners roughing up a suspect under an overpass. Not to mention that both movies feature John Turturro in supporting roles as a double-crossing crook. But for some reason, To Live and Die in L.A. has never been publicly cited as an influence, possibly because most of the film’s advertised reference points are ‘70s noirs. At the same time, Friedkin’s movie is so ‘80s that it was literally scored by Wang Chung, as evidenced by this music video in which they record the title song while somehow simultaneously writing said song and also watching the movie.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter!
Top Image: Warner Bros./MGM