Batman Begins is a 2005 superhero film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, written by David S. Goyer, and stars Christian Bale as Batman. The film notably uses a higher number of practical special effects than most big-budget mainstream films.
Batman Begins was the fifth live-action Batman movie since 1989 and was a reboot to the superhero's film franchise. It tells the origin story of the character as he takes on crime for the first time in Gotham. It is a significantly darker film, studying the character's inner struggle between justice and vengeance.
Batman Begins was released on June 15, 2005. It received high praise from critics and general audiences, being considered by many as the best of the series, with praise for Bale's performance. The film is followed by a 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, currently in pre-production.
The film opens with a young Bruce Wayne playing with his childhood friend, Rachel Dawes. In the course of a game, Bruce falls down a well where he is attacked by bats as they fly up and out of the well into the sky. Years later, Bruce awakens from a nightmare of these events and is revealed to be a prisoner in an unnamed Asian country. After being attacked by six men in the breakfast queue, he is put into solitary confinment and gets approached by Henri Ducard, who speaks for Ra's al Ghul leader of the League of Shadows. Ducard claims to understand what drives Bruce, and offers the younger man - who, in his relentless pursuit to understand the criminal mind, has lost his way - a purpose in life. Released the next day, Bruce travels to the top of the a mountain to reach the headquarters and begin his training with the League of Shadows. Earlier, the 8-year-old Bruce is rescued by his kindly father, Thomas Wayne. Bruce begins having nightmares about bats. One night, the Waynes go to a production of the opera Mefistofele, where Bruce is frightened by the portrayals of bat-like demons. After begging his father, Bruce and the family exit into an alley where they are confronted by an armed mugger, Joe Chill, who shoots and kills both the Wayne parents, Thomas and Martha. Moments later, Bruce is comforted by James Gordon when Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb enters the scene to tell Bruce that Joe Chill has been arrested for the murder of his parents. Bruce is taken home by the family butler Alfred Pennyworth, who raises him in the absence of his parents.
When Bruce becomes a young man, he drops out of his first year at Princeton University and returns to Gotham. Joe Chill is murdered immediately after agreeing to testify against mob boss Carmine Falcone. Bruce had been planning to kill Chill, but was robbed of the opportunity when Chill was killed by a female mob operative passing as a reporter. He reveals his intentions to Rachel, who is interning with the Gotham District Attorney Carl Finch, and she gives a lecture on the difference between justic and revenge. After realizing his own naivete to the differences between justice and vengeance, Bruce confronts Falcone in his restaurant, but he gets taunted for being unprepared and beaten. He then steals away on a cargo ship, and travels the world for nearly seven years, seeking the means to fight injustice, but he is immediately mistaken for a criminal by Asian police. After Bruce's training in the League of Shadows, Ra's and Ducard tell Bruce his purpose; that he must lead the League to destroy Gotham because that it is so full of crime. Bruce refuses to become a murderer and battles Ra's before making his escape. Ra's is killed in the battle, but Bruce manages to save an unconscious Ducard and return to Gotham City.
Things have gotten worse in Gotham, however; Falcone's crime syndicate dominates the city. Sgt. Jim Gordon is one of the few honest police officers in the city. Bruce stealthily enlists the help of the reluctant Gordon, and befriends an unjustly demoted senior company researcher, Lucius Fox of Wayne Enterprises, recruiting him as his armorer in order to gain body armor that makes up his costume and a prototype armored car. That night, a drug shipment overseen by Falcone is smashed apart by a presence who easily overpowers the thugs employed by Falcone. Falcone, terrified and alone, is trapped in his car, only to be brutally dragged out - and thus becomes the first person to come face to face with Batman. The police then arrive and arrest Falcone, who is helpless as he is tied to a light that in the night sky, shows a bat-like shadow. Later, easily overpowering one of the assassins targeting Rachel Dawes, he provides Rachel with evidence capable of indicting Falcone. And while Falcone is in jail, and his deal with dirty district attorney goes raw, Dr. Jonathon Crane introduces Faclone with "fear gas" that makes someone so afraid and panicked that he or she goes insane, seeing their worst fears take form through hallucinations. While investigating the "unusual" drugs in the shipment, Batman is stunned by Dr. Jonathan Crane ("The Scarecrow") - who sprays him with a highly potent fear nerve gas. Bruce is saved by an anti-toxin developed by Lucius. Crane later summons Rachel to Arkham Asylum and shows her that the panic and fear inducing toxin has been introduced into Gotham's water supply from Arkham for weeks, and once Rachel is infected, Crane demands to know who else suspects him. Rachel is saved by Batman, however, after administering the antidote. He later gives Rachel a vial for Gordon.
Later, Bruce is confronted by the League of Shadows and Henri Ducard, who reveals himself to be the real Ra's Al Ghul. He has arrived in Gotham personally to destroy the city - conspiring with Crane to poison Gotham's water supply with the toxin, vaporizing it with a stolen device from Wayne Enterprises. As such, Ra's intends to spread the panic across Gotham. Bruce and Ra's fight while Ra's henchman begin to burn down Wayne Manor after Bruce tricks everyone to leave after being rude, pretending he was drunk to save them. Meanwhile, the other henchmen of Ra's Al Ghul release all the inmates at Arkham. Although Wayne Manor is destroyed, Bruce escapes the inferno thanks to the help of Alfred. Rachel and Gordon - both inoculated - quickly become the only two people in the Narrows not driven insane. Before going for Ghul, Batman lets Rachel know he's Bruce Wayne, by quoting a phrase she told him before. Then he enlists Gordon to drive the Batmobile to the central hub of the Gotham subway - Wayne Tower. Ra's has already boarded the train; his objective is to send the water varporizer on the train to a major water hub almost right under Wayne Tower, then vaporize nearly all of Gotham's water supply. Bruce confronts Ra's on the train as Batman. They battle and Batman eventually defeats Ra's, and as Gordon destroys the subway line - thus preventing the hub of the water supply from being vapourised - Batman escapes the subway car, leaving Ra's to crash into the tower and Ghul is (presumably) killed in the explosion. Following the battle, Batman becomes a public hero, and Bruce gains control of his company and installs Fox as the CEO, firing Mr. Earle, the previous CEO. However, Bruce is unable to hold onto Rachel, who, despite having fallen in love with Bruce, cannot reconcile him with Batman. Gordon still expresses some reservations about Batman's role as he may lead to a form of escalation in the type of crime that Gotham will face, even though Gordon made a Bat-Signal for Batman without any criminals on it. To prove his point about his reservations, Gordon explains that a new criminal that has "a taste for the theatrical" like Batman. He leaves a Joker playing card at all of his crime scenes. Batman promises to look into it.
- Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard
- Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
- Gary Oldman as James Gordon
- Katie Homes as Rachel Dawes
- Cillian Murphy as the Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow
- Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
- Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone
- Ken Watanabe as Ra's al Ghul
- Mark Boone Junior as Detective Arnold Flass
- Colin McFarlane as Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb
- Linus Roache as Thomas Wayne
- Sara Stewart as Martha Wayne
- Richard Brake as Joe Chill
- Tim Booth as Mister Zsasz
- Rutger Hauer as Earle
- Gerard Murphy as Judge Fadon
- Larry Holden as Finch
Many characters in Batman Begins had been previously established in Batman canon.
- Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman: Bruce Wayne is a Gothamite billionaire whose parents were killed by a mugger when he was 8 years old. Traveling the world for nearly seven years years, he returns to Gotham. At night, Wayne becomes Batman, Gotham City's undercover vigilante protector, to defend the city from the crime that got his parents killed.
- Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth: Alfred Pennyworth was the trusted butler to Bruce Wayne's parents, who continues his loyal service to their son after their deaths. He is Bruce Wayne's strongest confidante.
- Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes: Rachel Dawes is a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who works as an assistant to Gotham City's District Attorney and fights against the corruption in the city.
- Gary Oldman as James Gordon: James Gordon is a member of the Gotham City Police Department and one of the few uncorrupted cops in Gotham City.
- Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow: Dr. Jonathan Crane is a psychiatrist who works at Arkham Asylum who has developed fear-inducing toxins to take on the persona of the Scarecrow.
- Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox: Lucius Fox was a high-ranking Wayne Enterprises employee who was demoted to working in the company's Applied Science Division. Fox supplies Bruce Wayne with much of the gear necessary to carry out Batman's mission and is also promoted to CEO when Wayne re-possesses the company.
- Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard / Ra's al Ghul: Ra's al Ghul is the leader of the League of Shadows who impersonates his own right-hand man, Henri Ducard, for misdirection and trains Bruce Wayne to become a warrior. His methods and ideology are more extreme than the one Wayne embraces.
- Ken Watanabe as Ra's al Ghul (Decoy): The decoy Ra's al Ghul is a member of the League of Shadows who impersonates the role of leader for the organization, actually held by Ra's al Ghul under the guise of right-hand man Henri Ducard.
- Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone: Carmine Falcone is a ruthless gangster who rules Gotham City with an iron fist, having many of the city's authorities in his pocket.
- Linus Roache as Thomas Wayne: Thomas Wayne was Bruce Wayne's father, killed by Joe Chill when his son was 8 years old.
- Sara Stewart as Martha Wayne: Martha Wayne was Bruce Wayne's mother, killed by Joe Chill when her son was 8 years old.
- Rutger Hauer as Mr. Earle: Mr. Earle was the CEO of Wayne Enterprises who makes the company go public in the long-term absence of Bruce Wayne.
- Tim Booth as Victor Zsasz: Victor Zsasz is one of the many detainees of Arkham Asylum who goes loose in Gotham City's Narrows following Batman's showdown with Ra's al Ghul.
In September 2003, director Christopher Nolan was reported to be considering Billy Crudup, Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, Hugh Dancy, Joshua Jackson, and Cillian Murphy for the role of Bruce Wayne. On September 11, 2003, Warner Bros. Pictures announced by press release that Christian Bale had been cast as the next Batman. Director Nolan said of Bale, "He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for." Since he had lost a great deal of weight in preparation for his role in The Machinist, Christian Bale hired a personal trainer to help him gain 100 pounds in the span of only a couple of months to help him physically prepare for the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman. This effectively shattered the record of 70 pounds set by Vincent D'Onofrio in 1987 for his role in Full Metal Jacket. At first he went well over the weight required (taking literally Nolan's instructions to "get as big as you can"), and when he was first introduced to the crew there was concern over whether he'd look right for the part. However, Bale worked hard to lose the excess weight, and was ready in time for filming.
Nolan decided against Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Red Eye) for Batman, but instead cast him to portray villain Dr. Crane/The Scarecrow. On the same day of Murphy's announcement, Michael Caine said in an interview that Nolan was considering Viggo Mortensen for the role of the film's villain, not yet announced. Actor Chris Cooper had been offered the role of Jim Gordon, but turned it down since the character did not meet his expectations.
Departure from canon
In the film, Ra's al Ghul's organization is called the League of Shadows. In the DC Universe, the organization is known as the League of Assassins, and also called Brotherhood of the Demon in an early issue. In addition, the character Ra's al Ghul was introduced in the film before Robin had yet to appear, which was reversed in the Batman comics. Furthermore, Ra's al Ghul was Arabian in the comics, where the real Ra's al Ghul, who used an Arabian decoy for misdirection, might actually be European.
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne's personal history differed from comic canon. In the comics, Bruce Wayne's decision to wage war on crime followed almost immediately from the deaths of his parents. Wayne had spent his entire childhood and young adulthood honing his mind and body to the task. He might have studied crime (presumably during his brief tenure at Princeton), but he did not begin his serious training until reaching young adulthood. Bruce's motivations to use the bat as his totem differed markedly as well. In most of the comics continuities, a chance encounter with a bat (flew into his study window etc.) after his training had been completed caused Bruce to take on the personality of "Batman". In the movie, this stemmed from his childhood phobia of bats, which he was forced to confront during his training.
At the end of Batman Begins, Batman told Ra's al Ghul prior to the crash of the train they were riding that he wouldn't kill the villain, but he didn't have to save him, either. In the comics, Batman followed the moral code of preserving the lives of even his most ruthless foes, though darker comics such as Batman: A Death in the Family and various films depart slightly from this.
- Characters from Batman Begins (Movie)
- Other things related to Batman Begins (Movie)
- Movie Gallery: Batman Begins (Movie)
Links and References
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