Is there anything better than sitting down by the fireplace on a cold day, wrapping yourself up in a nice warm blanket, and reading a book? It’s one of life’s simple pleasures, to be sure, and the good folks at Insight Editions are always offering some stellar reading material.
This year is no exception, as they have three brand new Batman-themed books available, and an updated edition of one of their most popular titles as well. So whether you’re looking to capitalize on your love of a major motion picture, want something the whole family can enjoy, or have been looking for what could be the greatest Batman reference book ever published, Insight has you covered.
The Batman and Joker script books
You can’t deny the impact that Batman has on the box office. This past spring, the Matt Reeves directed film The Batman debuted after years of anticipation, proving to be a critical darling, well-received by the public, and a massive financial success for Warner Bros. 2019’s Joker was a bit more divisive with critics and fans alike, but with its impressive $1 billion box office haul and 11 Oscar nominations– two of which were wins: Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor, and Hildur Guðnadóttir for her haunting score– it certainly left an impact on a lot of people.
You can’t really have a movie without a script, though, and Insight Editions are offering some gorgeous script books for the two hit films. I’ve seen a few “complete scripts” sold in stores before, and even own a paperback copy of my favorite movie’s script myself, but these are a cut above anything I’ve seen before. The hardcover binding is incredibly durable, and dare I say even classy. Not to speak derisively about other script books, but these don’t look or feel like they’re thrown together to make a quick buck. No, they look designed, intentional, as if they’re meant to sit alongside novels and other literary works.
Each book opens with some nice, lengthy interviews with the directors of each film. Of the two, I found Matt Reeves’ discussion about The Batman to come across as warm and conversational, as you can tell making this movie was a life-long dream finally realized. Discussion Joker, conversely, Todd Phillips comes across as more clinical and focused, praising the technical craft and input from Phoenix in the making of the film. Both interviews are easy and informative reads either way, and really get you in the mood for the scripts that follow.
The Oscar-nominated Joker script from Phillips and Scott Silver is promoted as the “final shooting script” for the film, while Reeves and Peter Craig’s script for The Batman is simply called the “shooting script,” though no matter the draft it matches the final film pretty closely. It’s really interesting following along in the book with each respective film to see what changed in the final cut, whether it’s a slightly altered line or a bit of outright improvisation. Some of the more ambiguous moments from the films are further explained too, like the scene in The Batman where the Caped Crusader injects himself with adrenaline and totally not Venom. It’s right there on the page, my friends.
Perhaps most impressively, each book has high-resolution photos from each movie, not the grainy black-and-white images you used to find in film novelizations but full color, crisp and clear images that showcase each film’s stunning cinematography. Further proof that these script books had a lot of thought out into them, and have a ton of appeal for fans of the characters and those who are fascinated by the filmmaking process itself.
Batman Returns: One Dark Christmas Eve
For something a little more seasonally appropriate that’s also suited for a wider audience, you can’t go wrong with Batman Returns: One Dark Christmas Eve. Released just this past Fall, this is an incredibly creative and fun little book, which adapts Batman Returns into an illustrated storybook. Set to the tune and rhythm of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” writer Ivan Cohen’s script has some brilliant turns of phrase as he hits all of the main story beats from the 1992 film, which is definitely a Christmas movie no matter what anyone says. J.J. Harrison’s illustrations complement Cohen’s writing, successfully recreating familiar scenes from the film while adding his own personal touch to some of the designs. In particular, Max Shreck looks appropriately ghoulish, and the Penguin is kind of adorable, not gonna lie.
Handsomely bound, highly entertaining, and without a doubt Christmassy, Batman Returns: One Dark Christmas Eve is the perfect book to add to your holiday reading rotation.
Batman Returns: One Dark Christmas Eve: The Illustrated Holiday Classic is avaialble from Amazon.
Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight
Originally published in 2019, there’s hardly a better example of a comprehensive and readable book about Batman’s history than Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight. Writers Andrew Farago and Gina McYntire delivered a massive, exhaustive, yet altogether entertaining compendium that not only recounts Batman’s origins and history in comics, but also his impact on popular culture as a whole. From comics to television to games and films and beyond, there’s hardly a stone left unturned or corner of Batman’s history that’s left untouched in this hefty tome.
While the original version of this book is out of print, a new edition will be released on December 6 with two brand new chapters and information about this year’s film The Batman. If you missed out on snagging a copy the first time around, then make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice and add this to your Christmas wish list. There’s so much material from before that makes the book worth owning, and enough has happened in the past three years to justify the need for an updated edition. Plus, the foreword from Michael Keaton, preface by Denny O’Neil, and introduction from Kevin Conroy are still intact, which adds a bittersweet note as the latter two legends have passed since the book as originally published.
I know that we’ll say that certain items are necessary additions to every Batfan’s collection, and we mean it every time, while recognizing that not everyone can get everything. Pound for pound, Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight has as much information about Batman as you could possibly want as a fan, and touches on enough aspects of Batman’s history and goes into enough detail on each topic that a case could be made that it’s the only book that’s essential to own, if you could only have one book specifically about Batman. It’s that good.
Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight in Comics, Film, and Beyond is available from Amazon.
Disclaimer: Insight Editions provided copies of each book for this gift guide and previously published reviews.
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