Directed by Christopher Nolan
Quick synopsis… Following the brutal murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne trains with a shadowy organization and returns to a corrupt Gotham City to deliver justice. Armed with his new skills and endless resources, he assumes a new identity and a war on crime.
- You know, a lot of people point to Batman & Robin and call it one of the worst movies ever made.
- I’m one of those people.
- But without it, we may never have gotten Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
- Honestly, it’s a story we didn’t necessarily need.
- Showing the world Batman’s origin again?
- Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know that Bruce Wayne watched is parents gunned down in a random act of violence when he was still a child?
- There are certain pop culture references that are just accepted as common knowledge at this point…
- Clark Kent is Superman. Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. Kim Kardashian is obnoxious.
- You know… things like that.
- In this version of the origin, we are given a grittier and more realistic take on the character.
- It’s almost as if Nolan got his hands on the franchise and asked, “What if Batman existed in the real world?”
- Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is in a sort of self-imposed exile.
- He’s out in the world, picking fights and getting himself thrown into prisons before he’s approached by
Qui-Gon JinnHenri Ducard (Liam Neeson).
- Ducard represents Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows.
- They want to recruit Bruce to be a tool in their army, eventually sending him back to Gotham in order to bring the city down.
- Interspersed, we’re shown flashbacks to Bruce’s childhood.
- Falling down a well, he discovered the Batcave.
- Well… it would eventually be the Batcave.
- And he’s terrified by the swarm of bats that fly at him when their habitat is disturbed, leaving him with a paralyzing fear of bats.
- This means that going with his parents to see Die Fledermaus doesn’t go so well.
- Leaving the opera early leads to that fateful back alley encounter with Joe Chill.
- Young Bruce blames himself for his parents’ death.
- As a young adult, Bruce drops out of college, returning to Gotham with a horrible attitude.
- His intention, returning home, is to confront his parents’ murderer, who has copped a deal for a shorter sentence in exchange for info on crime boss Carmine Falcone.
- Bruce intends to shoot Joe Chill… But one of Falcone’s people does it first.
- When his childhood friend and assistant DA, Rachel (Katie Holmes), finds out about Bruce’s plan to kill Joe, she lectures him on the difference between justice and revenge.
- Bruce then makes his way to confront Falcone, letting him know he’s not afraid of him.
- It’s at this point that Bruce vanishes from the face of the earth.
- As an adult, Bruce receives more training in hand to hand combat and stealth tactics from Ducard and the League.
- But when, as a final test, Bruce is instructed to kill a farmer-turned-murderer in the name of justice, he refuses.
- This Batman will bring justice to the people of Gotham, but he will not kill.
- And so, of course, he basically kills the man he believes is Ra’s Al Ghul and burns down the League of Shadows’ compound.
- He does save Ducard, though… so I guess there’s that.
- Bruce returns to Gotham, pretty much returning from the dead.
- Consulting with Alfred (Michael Caine) and Wayne Enterprises R&D Director, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Bruce creates the persona of Batman.
- “Bats frighten me,” he tells Alfred. “It’s time my enemies share my dread.”
- In present day Gotham, Falcone has an Arkham psychiatrist in his pocket, Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cilian Murphy), who has Falcone’s men declared insane so they can avoid prison by way of Arkham Asylum.
- Not sure how that’s better, but okay.
- When Batman is exposed to Crane’s fear toxin, he realizes that it’s something he was exposed to when training with the League of Shadows.
- This brings Bruce to connect Crane/Scarecrow with Ra’s Al Ghul who, as it turns out, didn’t die.
- Because he was really Ducard all along!
- Crane has been pumping liquefied fear toxin into Gotham City’s water mains for weeks.
- The League of Shadows and Ra’s Al Ghul come to town with a stolen piece of Wayne Enterprises tech designed to vaporize all water within a certain distance of the device.
- Their plan is to cause all the water mains to explode, vaporizing the fear toxin, turning Gotham’s entire population into a terrified mob that will destroy the city for them.
- Batman confronts Ra’s on the train as they ride into the heart of the city, vaporizing the water lines as they go.
- Making it impossible for Ra’s to escape with his life, Batman states that he won’t kill him, but he doesn’t have to save him either.
- Uh… that’s just killing him by not acting.
- A Batman who really wouldn’t kill would have saved the bad guy and turned him over to the proper authorities.
- Otherwise, why develop that relationship with James Gordon (Gary Oldman)?
As Batman movies go, this one is pretty good. Not my absolute favorite, though. We’ll get to that one later on this list. Next week, I’ll be watching the movie that was once thought to be the final Star Wars movie: Return of the Jedi.