Batman Begins is a 2005 superhero action film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Christian Bale as Batman, along with Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson, and Rutger Hauer. The film reboots the Batman film series, telling the origin story of the character and begins with Bruce Wayne’s initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, and his journey to becoming Batman. It draws inspiration from classic comic book storylines such as The Man Who Falls, Batman: Year One, and Batman: The Long Halloween.
After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Batman on screen following the 1997 critical failure of Batman & Robin, Nolan and David S. Goyer began work on the film in early 2003 and aimed for a darker and more realistic tone, with humanity and realism being the basis of the film. The goal was to get the audience to care for both Batman and Bruce Wayne. The film, which was primarily shot in England and Chicago, relied on traditional stunts and miniatures—computer-generated imagery was used minimally. A new Batmobile (called the Tumbler) and a more mobile Batsuit were both created specifically for the film.
A young Bruce Wayne falls down a well and is surrounded by bats. Bruce then awakens from this nightmare of his past, and is revealed to be a prisoner in Bhutan. He is approached by Henri Ducard, who speaks for Ra’s al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows, and invites him to train with the elite vigilante group. The narrative returns to Bruce’s childhood, to the fateful night he witnessed his parents’ murder by a mugger named Joe Chill. Chill is later arrested, and Bruce is taken home and raised by the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
Fourteen years later, Bruce returns to Gotham City from Princeton University, intent on killing Chill, whose prison sentence is being suspended in exchange for testifying against crime boss Carmine Falcone. Before he can act, however, one of Falcone’s female assassins posing as a reporter kills Chill. Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s childhood friend and now an assistant district attorney, is disgusted with Bruce’s intent, telling him his father would be ashamed of him. That night, Bruce confronts Falcone, who tells the young man that his criminal empire is invincible because it runs on fear and Bruce, being the “Prince of Gotham”, would never understand this because he has never felt real pain and suffering. Inspired, Bruce decides to travel the world for several years, learning the various ways of the criminal underworld, before himself becoming a criminal and being arrested. After receiving a mysterious offer, Bruce trains with the League of Shadows, learning the arts of stealth, armed and unarmed combat, and how to “turn fear against those who prey on the fearful”. After Bruce’s training with the League of Shadows, Ra’s and Ducard tell Bruce his purpose: He must lead the League to destroy Gotham, which they believe is corrupt beyond saving. Bruce, however, says that Gotham can still be saved, and refuses. He battles Ra’s, burning the temple in the process, before making his escape. Ra’s is killed by falling debris, but Bruce saves an unconscious Ducard and returns to Gotham.
Falcone now dominates the city. Bruce enlists the help of Sgt. Jim Gordon, one of the city’s few honest police officers, and befriends Lucius Fox, a former board member of Wayne Enterprises. Fox helps Bruce acquire a prototype armored car and an experimental armored suit. With Alfred, Bruce finds another entrance to the cave under the well and creates a workshop, modifying his equipment to take up the identity of Batman. On his first night out as a vigilante, he intercepts a drug shipment, captures Falcone and provides Rachel with the evidence to indict him. Meanwhile, a worker at Wayne Enterprises, which now manufactures weapons, reports that one of their prototype weapons has been stolen from a cargo ship. The weapon was a powerful microwave emitter, designed to vaporize water. Falcone and his men are transferred to Arkham Asylum with the help of the hospital’s corrupt administrator, Dr. Jonathan Crane, who has been paying off Falcone to ship a toxic hallucinogen into Gotham City. Crane works with the toxin in his experiments, using his patients as guinea pigs. When Falcone demands a bigger share from prison, Crane gasses Falcone with the same toxin, literally driving him insane with fear. While investigating the drugs, Batman encounters Crane, who also sprays him with the fear toxin. Alfred rescues him, using an antidote developed by Fox. When Rachel travels to Arkham to investigate Falcone’s insanity, Crane shows her that the toxin has been introduced into Gotham’s water supply from Arkham for weeks (it is only harmful in vapor form), and then sprays her. Batman douses Crane with the toxin and interrogates him; Crane claims to be working for Ra’s al Ghul, despite his apparent death, but before Batman can ask further, the police invade the asylum. Batman escapes with Rachel in the Batmobile, and after a lengthy car chase, he takes her to the cave, where he inoculates her and gives her two vials of antidote to pass on to Gordon – one for himself, the other for mass production. Crane, Batman explains, was only a pawn in a much larger scheme.
At Bruce’s birthday celebration at Wayne Manor, he is confronted by Ducard, who reveals himself to be the real Ra’s al Ghul, and has now arrived in Gotham personally to destroy the city. He had conspired with Crane to poison Gotham’s water supply with the toxin, and now plans to vaporize it with the stolen device from Wayne Enterprises and cover all of Gotham in the poison, causing mass hysteria from the hallucinogen. Ra’s reveals the League of Shadows has acted to stop corruption for centuries, and had even attacked Gotham before. They had created an artificial depression to financially cripple the city, but the deaths of Bruce’s parents (for which the League of Shadows can be considered indirectly responsible) inspired the wealthy to take action. After Bruce pretends to be drunk to get everyone to leave, he and Ra’s fight. Ra’s’ men burn down the mansion, release all the inmates at Arkham, and vaporize the water in the mains around the area. Although Wayne Manor is destroyed, Bruce escapes the inferno with help from Alfred. Rachel delivers the antidote to Gordon and wards off Crane, now calling himself Scarecrow, with a taser. Batman reveals his identity to Rachel and then has Gordon drive the Batmobile to Wayne Tower, the central hub of the Gotham elevated rail system. Ra’s boards a train, planning to take the vaporizer to the main water-line hub at the tower and set off a chain reaction that will vaporize the entire water supply. Batman confronts Ra’s on the train and the two fight. During their battle, Ra’s realizes that Batman was never trying to stop the train, but instead sabotage it so it couldn’t be stopped. Gordon destroys the elevated tracks. Batman escapes the train as it crashes, leaving Ra’s to die.
Following the battle, Batman becomes a public hero and Bruce gains control of his company, having secretly bought a majority of its stock shares. He fires the former unscrupulous and greedy CEO, William Earle, and replaces him with Fox. However, he loses Rachel, who cannot bring herself to love both Bruce and Batman. Gordon, newly promoted to lieutenant, shows Batman the Bat-Signal and mentions a costumed criminal who leaves Joker playing cards at crime scenes. Batman promises to investigate, and disappears into the night.
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First Published: Jan 1, 2012 – Last Updated: Jul 9, 2013