“If you make yourself more than just a man, then you become something else entirely: a legend Mr Wayne”
That’s a key line from the beginning of Batman Begins, spoken by Henri Ducard ( Liam Neeson) to Bruce Wayne in a Chinese prison. It’s not just a statement to Bruce Wayne to kick start his transformation into Batman, but a statement from Christopher Nolan into how he’s going to start and end his Batman trilogy.
With Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and, soon to be released, The Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan has broken down the Batman legend and mythology into three key segments: Fear (Batman Begins), Ethics (The Dark Knight) and, potentially, Pain (The Dark Knight Rises).
After the abomination of Joel Schumacher’s Batman And Robin, Christopher Nolan took the problematic task of re-launching Batman as a franchise and most importantly, as a character. Batman Begins was heavily influenced by Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner (1982). The design of the Narrows is taken from Scott’s vision of 2019 Los Angeles, with wires hanging from buildings and the claustrophobic sense of escalation throughout Gotham City. Rutger Hauer, who stars in both films as Mr. Earle (Batman Begins) and Batty (Blade Runner), is a specific fan boy reference.
With Batman Begins, Nolan intelligently focused on Bruce Wayne’s descent into the criminal underworld, how they operate, how it could be infiltrated and eventually exploited. Simultaneously, emphasising on Bruce Wayne’s guilt – feeling responsible for the death of his parents – and his fear of bats. Wayne’s fear of bats stems from his guilt, this gives him the motivation and drive to fight fire with fire against the criminal underworld and to save Gotham City.
Wayne learns his martial arts skills from The League Of Shadows (who may become more prominent in latest instalment?) and how to use theatricality and deception to enhance the criminal underworlds perception of Batman. As Bruce Wayne goes through his training and initiation with The League Of Shadows, he fights against his fear of bats and begins to develop his own moral compass and compassion, by not killing a murderer – “That’s what separates us from them”
As Bruce Wayne develops his arsenal, through Lucius Fox and Wayne Enterprises, he begins to create the Batman persona as Alfred questions him.
Alfred: Why bats master Wayne?
Bruce: It’s time my enemies share my dread.
In his first outing – capturing Carmine Falcone and his assailants – Batman uses the darkness to protect himself and to create an aura of terror, dread and anxiety: Batman has projected his fear onto the criminals. This is the first imprint of the Dark Knight legend.