Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in "The Dark Knight Rises" when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.
While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.
Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said "I am the Joker" when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger's Joker at one point in 2008's "The Dark Knight." Holmes also booby-trapped his apartment, a favorite technique of the Joker.
There are more parallels. In Frank Miller's iconic 1986 comic book series, "The Dark Knight Returns," the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying "smile gas." Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.
In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, "Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out."
Seventy-one people were shot during today's early morning massacre; 12 have died.
Christopher Irving, author of "Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics," cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today's tragedy.
"There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don't think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence," he said.
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