In an interview with Hollywood.com, producer Michael Uslan compared Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever (1995) to the comics, saying:
"Batman Forever, to me, clearly was the Batman from about the mid-1940s till the early 1960s. It was Bill Finger’s scripts of Batman and Robin punching their way through crime through a grotesque gallery of supervillains, jumping across giant typewriters as they battle them."
Screenwriters Lee and Janet Scott Batchler have stated they read the 1939-1940 comics by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the then contemporary Knightfall story arc, and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986) for inspiration.
The influence of these stories is clearly evident in the finished film. The movie also has many additional parallels with other comics not cited by the filmmakers. Some of these are doubtless the product of coincidence, but in this feature we're noting as many parallels as possible in order to highlight the consistencies between Schumacher's movie and the source material it adapts.
BATMAN FOREVER AND THE COMICS
As in the comics, the Two-Face in the movie is governed by fate. He uses a coin flip to determine the outcome of important decisions. If the coin lands good side up, the old Harvey will spare his victim. But if it's scarred side up, then the murderous side of his personality gets to take over.
Two-Face's back story in the film is the same as in the comics. He was formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent, scarred in court when crime boss Sal Maroni hurled acid in his face. Batman tried to stop Maroni, but failed to do so in time to help Dent. The physical and psychological scarring resulted in him becoming Two-Face. The flashback in the movie where we see this happen is exactly the same as the original scene from 'The Crimes of Two-Face' (Detective Comics #66, August 1942).
The look of Boss Maroni in the film also matches his appearance in the comics. In this example from 'Free Faces' (Detective Comics #563, June 1986), note how Batman grabs Maroni's arm when he throws the acid, just like he does in the movie and Detective Comics #66.
In the Golden Age comics there were actually two Two-Faces. The first was Harvey Kent, who to all intents and purposes was the same as the modern version of Two-Face. Kent was eventually cured, underwent plastic surgery and resumed a happy normal life. He and his wife were even guests at Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s wedding, as were Clark and Lois Kent. This highlighted the flaw of having two major DC universe characters called Kent (the wedding story was even called ‘The Kill Kent Contract!’ and the plot revolved around confusion as to which ‘Kent’ was targeted by the villain).
So from the Silver Age onwards Two-Face was renamed Harvey Dent. The second Golden Age Two-Face was Paul Sloane, an actor who sustained a similar injury to Kent and adopted his predecessor’s modus operandi as his own.
The movie begins with Two-Face robbing the second bank of Gotham on the second anniversary of the day Batman captured him. The first crime Two-Face ever pulled in the comics was also a bank robbery. He traditionally commits crimes in accordance with a 2-motif. The robbery of the second bank on the second anniversary of his capture is consistent with that pattern.
In 'Eye of the Beholder' (Batman Annual #14, 1990), Two-Face refers to himself in the first person plural. He also does this throughout the movie.
Two-Face’s goons addressing him as "Face" is likely a nod to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986).
As is the scene of Batman dangling from Two-Face’s helicopter.
The scene of Batman hanging from the helicopter could also be a reference to Marv Wolfman’s Batman: Year Three (1989). This story took place in the wake of Jason Todd’s death and told, via flashbacks, the origin story of Dick Grayson’s Robin. The opening action sequence sees Batman hanging onto a rope attached to a helicopter in an endeavour to capture its occupants. The Helicopter pilot tries to shake him off, at one point attempting to swing him into a tower. The sequence ends with Batman plunging into the waters of Gotham harbour while the villains escape.
This scene is also visually similar to the cover of ‘Once Beaten, Twice Sly!’ (Batman #314, August 1979).In the film, Two-Face tries to kill Batman by crashing the helicopter into a statue bearing an uncanny resemblance to New York City’s Statue of Liberty. The Gotham City of the comics has been shown to have a similar landmark called ‘The Statue of Freedom’, as seen here in ‘Into the Den of the Death-Dealers!’ (Detective Comics #411, May 1971Two-Face's parachute is marked with a red and black yin-yang symbol. This is more or less identical to the emblem on the side of Two-Face's dirigible in Matt Wagner's Batman: Faces (1992).
The next day Bruce Wayne sees the Bat-Signal in the sky while he is at work. He quickly gets to the Batcave using a secret tunnel linked to his office. When Bruce Wayne moved into his penthouse in the seventies comics, he had a secret elevator linked to a subbasement of the Wayne Foundation Tower that served as a secondary Batcave. This may have been the inspiration for the tunnel in the movie.
Batman races to police headquarters, only to find that it is Chase who has summoned him. This scenario, where a woman misuses the signal to summon Batman for her own purposes, also happened in ‘Hot House’ (Legends of the Dark Knight #42, February 1993).
Elsewhere, Edward Nygma is embarking on his own criminal career. His origin story in this movie – revolving around his desire to get revenge against his former employer – is reminiscent of his origin in Batman: The Animated Series, as told in the episode ‘If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?’
Nygma ties up his supervisor, Fred Stickley, using green rope. In the Riddler’s debut story – ‘The Riddler’ (Detective Comics #140, October 1948) – he ties up one of his victims using special puzzle rope.We also hear him say "Riddle me this..." for the first time in this scene. The Riddler in the comics often says this before proposing his latest conundrum.
Nygma then proceeds to send Bruce Wayne a series of riddles pieced together from newspaper clippings.