Speaking with Collider, Bruce Timm talked about Christopher Nolan having already borrowed from Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One” for his own film “Batman Begins,” but the animator and producer doesn’t think one invalidates the other. As Timm puts it, Nolan was very influenced by the “Year One” comic, but he still changed a lot of it, and left a lot of it unadapted. “I’ve always felt that there’s enough stuff still in the original comic that they didn’t do that allows us to make the film faithful to the comic without adding or changing anything so that’s what we did.”
The key word here is faithful. “Batman: Year One,” like most DC animated movies (but especially the early ones) translates the comic almost 1:1; not as faithfully as to damage the source material the way something like “Watchmen” did, still following the story verbatim. The result is a movie that feels like a complete adaptation but doesn’t tarnish nor erase the original comic.
As Timm adds, the Nolan films may have borrowed from the comics, but there is a lot they couldn’t do, a lot that a medium-budget animated movie can do that a mega-budget summer tentpole movie simply can’t.
“There is still a kind of larger-than-life element to [Nolan’s] movies even just in terms of what the Batmobile does or some of the gadgetry or even the sequence in ‘Batman Begins’ where Batman goes to Tibet to learn, you know, the skills to become Batman. To me, that’s like already a step removed from the gritty, down-to-earth realism of ‘Batman: Year One.'”
By comparison, “Batman: Year One” features an urban location, no world traveling, and just mobsters and crooked cops as villains.