As movie geeks on social media (aka “Movie Twitter”) prove time and time again, there are no cinematic details too big or small or really really small is not worth a thorough analysis.
See the glut of theories that have sprung up in the wake of the release of The Batmanthe DC Comics reboot directed by Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson that follows a younger, more emo Bruce Wayne we’ve never met just two years into his secret life as a vigilante and still reeling from the double murder of his parents which he witnessed in his childhood.
It is revealed in the film that Bruce’s parents, Thomas and Martha, were killed 20 years before the events of the story, a week that begins on Halloween and ends on Election Day. Anyone who’s ever read a Batman comic or seen a Batman movie knows that the Waynes were killed by a mugger or mugger in an alley after leaving the Monarch Theater in downtown Gotham.
Make the assumption, then, that the theme of the detective Batman takes place in the fall of 2021, internet sleuths have theorized and threading which 2001 real-world movie the family watched together before that fatal attack.
The first such hypothesis to gain popularity came from CNN’s Josh Billinson, who postulated that it was “very likely” that they went to see Shrek, the age-appropriate animated mega-hit (Bruce would have been around 10 at the time) that opened in May 2001 and went on to spawn its own franchise. Over 250,000 Twitter users have “liked” the [idea].
Last weekend, however, comedian and TV writer Mike Drucker – admittedly unaware of Billinson’s viral tweet – arrived at another conclusion. Since the movie implies that the Waynes were killed in October 2001, it’s possible they’re out of Zoolander, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s beloved male model comedy that debuted in late September. (For the record, Twitter user Scott Simpson make the same claim weeks earlier.)
As Drucker argues after being made aware of Billinson’s message, the early summer release Shrek would not yet be in theaters in May. “In fact, according to my research, they were murdered a few days before Shrek was released on VHS and DVD,” Drucker States.
From highest-grossing films in October 2001, Zoolander is probably the most logical, even though it has been rated PG-13. This seems more likely than the top three earners of the month awaiting it: training day, Don’t say a word and Serendipity.
Of course, there were a few other movies in theaters that month that might have done the trick in inspiring a day of Wayne family fun. The Mafia Comedy Turkey with Chris Kattan Corky Romano, anybody? (Probably not, but that would make these murders even more tragic.) Max Keeble’s big hit? It was kid-friendly, even though the world collectively forgot this movie existed until that very moment.
But wait! It turns out there’s a wrinkle to Drucker’s detective work, too.
As noted in the comments to Drucker’s tweet, documentarian Ben Crew—Letterboxd famous for meeting his wife on their mutual love of Mank – pointed out that Bruce states in his opening narration that the date is ThursdayOct 31.
That would put the current year at 2024, not 2021, meaning Bruce lost his parents in 2004.” The Wayne family saw shark story that fateful night,” Crew says decisively of another animated hit released by DreamWorks, which opened on October 1, 2004.
But wait again! As a commentator points out to the crewit is shown in The Batman that Thomas Wayne was running for mayor in 2001, which means the people of Bruce were actually killed that year.
Do you still have a headache?
It’s almost as if Reeves and company haven’t mapped out this extremely vital detail of his masterpiece. (We reached out for comment and expect a reply in no time, i.e. never.)
But it probably wasn’t Shrek. Or Zoolander. Or shark story. Not even Corky Romano.
In fact, if Reeves thought about the movie the Waynes watched together that fateful night, maybe he defaulted to the canon, the hero who inspired Batman creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane, and the film they have watched since Frank Miller’s. 1986 comic Return of the Dark Knight: the swashbuckler of 1940 The Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power. This is the movie the Waynes come out of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justicealso, even if the marquee of the monarch in 2019 Joker listed 1981 Zorro, the Gay Blade (with Brian De Palma’s Switch offwhich they certainly did not see together).
by Tim Burton Batman ignored Zorroinstead of going with the fictional musical Limelight Frenzy. At Christopher Nolan’s batman beginsthey skipped the movies altogether, instead of going to the opera (Mefistofele), which at least felt on-brand for the affluent Waynes.
But the black-masked vigilante Zorro, we’ve known for a long time, inspired Bruce Wayne to become Batman.
Who would he have become if he had looked Shrek Where Zoolander?
Watch Reeves, Pattinson and their teammates talk The Batman: