When the character of Batman was first created, is there any indication that it was inspired or influenced by vampires?

In-universe, here is a description of how Batman chose his identity, from the article on Batman on the Batman Wikia:

“Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot”, Wayne remarks, “so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible...” As if responding to his desires, a bat suddenly flies through the window, inspiring Bruce to assume the persona of Batman.

A creature of the night, black, terrible; a man who could become a bat: this sounds familiar. The same description could apply to Dracula.

Other similarities between Batman and vampires:

  • They both rely on illusion and fear.
  • If you allow for Batman’s technology, they both have superhuman strength.

Batman stated that he was trying to play on criminals’ superstitions, and assuming a vampire-like persona could be a good way to scare a superstitious person.

One of Batman’s first enemies, in Detective Comics #31, was The Monk, a vampire, so the early authors were at least thinking about vampires near the time of Batman’s introduction.

Also, Batman has become a vampire himself on occasion. See this question and the article on vampires at the Batman Wiki.

Are these similarities coincidental, or was Batman conceived partly as a human, crime-fighting analogue to Dracula?

Perhaps the idea for the character was simply to choose a symbol which could scare his enemies. Still, lots of animals are potentially scary, and he became Batman rather than, for example, Snake-man.

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    While your theory makes a lot of sense, I can't find any immediate support for it. Kane's original character looked a lot less like a bat and more like a version of Superman until he adopted Bill Finger's suggestions, darkening up his uniform and giving Batman a proper cape. Pulp characters like Doc Savage formed part of the inspiration. Still, your idea resonates on an emotional level and I wouldn't be surprised if there is evidence somewhere of his vampiric DNA. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 3:42
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    I’m not sure whether my point about vampires using powers of illusion to terrify their enemies applies to vampires from that long ago. I feel like it’s a common enough ability in modern vampires, but I don’t know whether vampires from before 1939 (when Batman was introduced) had that ability.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 4:36
  • Although it is not shown on camera, Dracula's ability to transform into mist, fog and a bat is certainly terrifying in the 1931 film, and that's close enough to an illusion to count, IMHO. Interestingly, in the novel Dracula could walk around in daylight, but without his powers. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 4:50
  • I would point out that Batman has innumerable origin stories, and they're not all going to match up with vampire mythology as nicely as that quote. But I don't know the DCU well enough to spin that into a full answer.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 5:22
  • 1
    Check out this video
    – ibid
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 6:03

4 Answers 4


Bob Kane, the creator of Batman, found inspiration in several sources, and it seems that he did not specifically set out to create a human, crime-fighting analogue to Dracula. However, one of his influences was Dracula.

Kane’s initial idea was a superhero with bird wings. From Batman: The Complete History by Les Daniels, page 18:

When Kane sat down at his drawing board in the Bronx, he immediately sketched in a figure similar to Superman’s... Then he ... began experimenting with variations in the costume. He tried a pair of bird wings, perhaps inspired by an alien race in one of his favorite strips, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon.

Hawkmen from Flash Gordon
Hawkmen from Flash Gordon


From Batman: The Complete History, page 144 (emphasis mine):

There has always been a subliminal association between vampires and Batman; this was a hero who was designed to frighten his foes, and Bob Kane admitted that one of his inspirations was Bela Lugosi’s performance in the 1931 movie Dracula.

The Bat

Also, as rosesunhill points out in his answer, another inspiration for Batman was the 1930 film The Bat Whispers. That film is about a criminal called The Bat, who turns out to be an ordinary man, but the other characters in the story suspect at times that the Bat is supernatural.

I wasn’t able to find a copy of The Bat Whispers online, but it was based on a 1920 play, The Bat, which was novelized in 1926. The novelization makes no mention of vampires or Dracula, but the characters do suggest that the Bat is supernatural. A batlike, supernatural enemy lurking in the dark is reminiscent of vampires in much the same way that Batman is, but this isn’t a direct reference to vampires. It does fit in nicely with Batman’s stated desire to terrify superstitious criminals, however.

Da Vinci’s ornithopter

As mentioned in Doc Type’s answer, another of Batman’s inspirations was an ornithopter designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Someone flying this machine would be a sort of mechanical bat-man, with no particular association with vampires.

From Batman: The Complete History, pages 18 and 20:

From his boyhood reading, he [Bob Kane] recalled the ornithopter, a flying machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci. This device was essentially a glider, with wings built like those of a bat.

da Vinci’s ornithopter
Picture from Wikipedia

Other influences

Doc Type’s answer and Batman: The Complete History mention other inspirations including Zorro, but the influences above were the closest batlike or vampiric influences I could find for Batman.


The original concept of Batman was developed by writer/artist Bob Kane. Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, a Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a bat-winged flying machine, and his own imagination, Kane sketched an early version of the character. Taking his idea to writer Bill Finger, they further developed the concept.

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    Reading a bit further on that page, “Kane was inspired by the flying machine of Leonardo Da Vinci, a movie he had seen called The Bat and of course, Bela Lugosi’s 1931 film Dracula which featured a “man-bat” in its opening credits.” If that page is correct, maybe Kane was inspired by various “bat-men”: Da Vinci’s machine, The Bat, and Dracula, rather than being inspired by vampires specifically.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:43
  • @amaretto did I answer your question?
    – Doc Type
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:49
  • I’m looking for a bit more than that. The next paragraph after the one you quoted mentioned Dracula specifically. It would be interesting to see that mentioned in a more reliable source.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:50
  • @amaretto Woking on it.
    – Doc Type
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:51
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Doc Type
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:54

We're getting close to a Batman/vampire connection.

The book The Horror Film, on Google books, describes the play The Bat, as toying with the idea of the supernatural and vampires, even though the title character is revealed to be simply a criminal. Roland West turned the subsequent novel version into the 1926 film of the same name. enter image description here

He then remade it as a talkie in 1930 as The Bat Whispers and Bob Kane cited that film as one of the inspirations for Batman. enter image description here


Does that get us close enough?

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    Interesting. It’s hard to say how much The Bat had to do with vampires without reading the play, and I can’t find any plain text copies of it. I did get a scanned PDF of it from a link on Wikipedia though.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:48
  • I'm not sure that the play will do much more than suggest a connection, but I'm impressed that you're going to read it. Let me know what you think? Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 17:36
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    YouTube has the 1926 silent film available here: youtu.be/15zlF9obMEg - not suggesting, just mentioning! Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 17:43
  • @amaretto, You're the one who dotted all the eyes. I just pointed the way. You should have first dibs on writing it up. Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 20:51
  • OK, I wrote something up. Thanks for your research. The Bat does sound pretty similar to Batman, although I haven’t read or watched any of the various adaptations yet. Apparently, the play The Bat was itself an adaptation of The Circular Staircase, a book written in 1908.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 3:55

Maybe the original concept of Batman was only marginally influenced by Bela Lugosi's Dracula? I mean there's no way you could say, "Batman flying through the night" in 1939 and someone not say, "Oh you mean like Dracula?". If I remember rightly whoever owned the Dracula copyrights in the 20's/30's were fiercely protective of them and wouldn't allow anyone to use the material in whole or adaptations unlicensed. This even led to all copies of an unlicensed movie being supposedly destroyed (but not all thankfully). I certainly believe saying your character was heavily influenced by Dracula at the time would have pricked up ears in some quarters. You can hardly think of "man-bats" without thinking of the 1931 and derivative vampire movies since. Maybe subsequently the character became more influenced by Dracula because the core similarities were all too obvious.

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