Batman creator Bill Finger cites 1926’s silent crime thriller “The Bat” as one of the primary inspirations for Batman. And it’s easy to see where he draws his influences from. The Bat in this film is actually a criminal and a master one who steals from the rich. Like Batman he has a bat beacon, he brands all of his calling cards with a bat shaped symbol, The Bat dresses up like a giant bat with a cape and all, and rather than a utility belt, he wields a utility bag where he stores his tricks and supplies including a bat shaped grappling hook. The similarities just don’t stop there. The Bat climbs tall buildings with his ropes and uses the rooftops as his stalking grounds, lurking in the darkness.
“The Bat” as a whole is a very clever and entertaining mélange of a horror movie, a crime thriller, a whodunit, and a dark comedy with elements that bring together a group of people in a mansion trying to uncover the secret of the Bat. Meanwhile, just like a certain Dark Knight, The Bat uses theatrics and shadows to frighten his victims in to submission and keep them from delving too deep in to his identity. The Bat is an agile and swift criminal who can literally squirm out of any situation that presents itself, and he’s never above murdering when someone foils him.
“The Bat” has potential to be a marvelous crime thriller should it ever garner a modern remake, but for a silent film and very early thriller, it’s absolutely entertaining and filled with sharp performances and a really memorable final scene that shows that fox can very much be outfoxed. If you’re a Batman fan, be sure to check this out not only because it’s rooted in Batman mythos, but because it’s just so damn good. It’s a surprisingly great murder mystery with a very dazzling and charismatic villain who appreciates the art of the crime and loves the thrill of the get away. It’s easy to see how and why Bill Finger was so inspired to create the Dark Knight, and this is a film very much worth visiting if only to glimpse at how superior crime thrillers were in the silent era as opposed to modern cinematic offerings.