In Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), it becomes very clear, very quickly that Gotham City is filled with corruption. But it’s not just the mob bosses, gangsters and thieves that are the city’s big problem; it is also the cops.
The Gotham City Police Department has a weak link – an officer who values money over duty. That officer is Lieutenant Max Eckhardt, as played by William Hootkins.
In Batman ‘89, Eckhardt is a bad cop – but who is he, and why does he look/feel so familiar to Bat-fans? In this post, I answer those questions.
Who is Max Eckhardt?
Max Eckhardt is a seasoned cop. He understands the system, and how to work around it.
In Batman ‘89, Eckhardt is not only a seasoned cop, he’s also a dirty one. He takes bribes, looks the other way, and has developed an unhealthy association with Gotham crime boss, Carl Grissom.
Eckhardt’s position on the Force is beneficial to Grissom. The crime boss knows that with Eckhardt in his pocket, and for a price, he is able to circumvent trouble.
He uses Eckhardt to his advantage – and Eckhardt knows it. But the Lieutenant is happy to oblige, as long as he gets paid well.
Is Lieutenant Eckhardt supposed to be Harvey Bullock?
Those who have watched Batman ‘89, probably have a big question regarding Max Eckhardt: Is he supposed to be Harvey Bullock?
If you’re not quite sure who I mean, let me explain.
Harvey Bullock is a Gotham City Police Detective, who has appeared in Batman comics since 1974. Although Bullock is one of the good guys, his unorthodox approach to the law sometimes puts him at odds with the Caped Crusader.
In terms of his physical appearance, Harvey Bullock looks very similar to Max Eckhardt. Both are scruffy, disheveled, overweight cops, who look like they haven’t showered in a long time.
Are Bullock and Eckhardt supposed to be one and the same? No, not quite.
It is fair to say that Eckhardt and Bullock share similarities and you would be forgiven for thinking they are the same characters, albeit with a name change – but they are not the same.
Max Eckhardt is a character who was created by Batman ‘89 story writer, Sam Hamm. Eckhardt shares a strong physical resemblance to Bullock, but he is NOT Bullock.
In fact, Eckhardt also shares similarities with another Batman character: Arnold Flass. Flass is a corrupt Gotham City Police Detective who made his first appearance in Batman issue #404 in 1987 – two years prior to Eckhardt’s debut in Batman ‘89.
Arnold Flass has appeared on screen, most notably in Batman Begins (2005), where he is shown to be ‘on the take.’ So, this is something he shares with Eckhardt.
Is Eckhardt supposed to be Flass? No – again, there are similarities, but Eckhardt is NOT Flass.
Max Eckhardt is an original character, but one who is influenced by Harvey Bullock and Arnold Flass. He is inspired by these police officers, but he is a separate character altogether.
I hope this information on Lieutenant Eckhardt has proved useful. Should you want further information on characters and situations from the Batman movie series, please take a look around I’ll Get Drive-Thru or alternatively check out one of the recommended reads below.