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Literature / Before the Batman

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I am the shadows. I am vengeance. I am the Batman.

Before the Batman: An Original Movie Novel is an all-ages superhero prequel tie-in book to the 2022 film The Batman, based on the Batman mythos by DC Comics.

With the film proper opting to focus on a Batman during his second year of crime-fighting, this novel jumps within the early years of Bruce Wayne. Readers are clued into how he built the Batmobile, his interest in detective work, and his relationship to Gotham City among other details. On the flip side, the rise of Edward Nashton's The Riddler is explored in his own coming-of-age tale.

Published by Penguin Random House, the book was released on February 1, 2022, ahead of the film's March 4 release.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Canon Foreigner: Dax is a female street racer introduced in this story, who doesn't appear to have an exact comic-book counterpart.
  • Cool Car: Before being rechristened as the Batmobile, Bruce's vintage Dodger Charger-like vehicle was modified by him to outclass the fancier sports cars of his rich peers.
  • Driven to Villainy: Edward's side of the story covers how he became so vengeful in his youth. Growing up in the old Wayne Manor, reformatted into an orphanage, young Edward despised the rich and powerful, his current predicament, and wasn't a people person. During one of his delivery routes, he was nearly hit by careless rich racers, driving him to plant a bomb in Dax's car's exhaust pipe to disrupt the races. It only escalates from there.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • During their daily morning spars, Alfred jokingly refers to Bruce as "Brucejutsu" regarding his fighting style. Bruce naturally isn't a fan.
    • Edward is referred to as "Ed-weird" by his orphanage peers.
  • Origins Episode: This novel serves as one to The Batman (2022), which decided to skip over the usual origin establishing moments featured in previous Batman outings. Bruce isn't the only one who receives this treatment, as Edward Nashton's descent into radical vengeance is also covered.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: After being caught by the police for speeding, Bruce reveals that he hates this trope. The officers recognizing him as rich, decide not to give him a speeding ticket, knowing he would just pay it off without learning a lesson. However, Bruce would rather be treated like any other denizen in the same situation.
  • Shared Universe: Downplayed, as while Dax offhandedly mentions that she may be able to get work at LexCorp in Metropolis, there is no effort made to actually integrate the setting into a larger DC Universe beyond that nod.