I never thought I would ever say that the Batman comics remind me of Renaissance portraits of war, suffering, and loss but they often do especially in the Dark Knight series. For example on page 101, panel 1, we see a depiction of Batman on his knees in covered by grey sewage after a tumultuous battle against a member of the mutants. Not only is the position reminiscent of depictions of Jesus struggling on his way to the cross but it reminds me of the depiction of the Prisoner or Martyr by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri in (1591-1666).

Batman & Prisoner
Batman & Prisoner

Similarly, page 91 shows a stoic Batman holding a young Robin in his arms. Although I am unable to find a direct comparison, many renaissance pieces show men, especially as statues, in strong sturdy positions and figures that are meant to epitomize masculinity. Robin transforms into a damsel in distress in the arms of his guardian, Batman. Int his way Robin’s identity is transformed as much as Batman’s is.

Poseidon by Michelangelo
Poseidon by Michelangelo
Batman holding Robin (Page 91)

 

Furthermore, page 13 showcases a distressed batman under the lamplight where his parents were shot and killed. This same kind of melancholia and depression can be seen in many renaissance art and statues as they were trying to depict human emotion. Batman, The Dark Knight really takes this renaissance motifs and implements them into the gritty and dismal life of a broken, former superhero.

(Left) “Depressed Statue” in Jardin Des Tuileries of Paris (Right) Bruce Wayne, page 13

Lastly, When Batman holds the general wrapped in the American flag on page 69 it is a clear  homage to La Pietà by Michelangelo-1499. La Pietà was commissioned for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilheres and it depict Jesus on the lap of his Mother after the Crucifixion. Perhaps Frank Miller wanted to represent the loss of an important figure that stood of something in the book and also the loss of patriotism.

(Left) La Pietà by Michelangelo (Right) Batman, page 69