Darker, grittier and more grounded than ever before, Batman Begins ushers in a new era and new take on the Caped Crusader. Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman strips the character to the core and goes back to comic-book roots, this is the Batman movie I have been waiting for!
We have seen Thomas & Martha Wayne die in Crime Alley in the previous four films, however the origin story is still the same in Batman Begins yet somehow different. In the movies before it all we saw was the tragic death of Bruce Wayne’s parents via flashbacks. In Batman Begins we actually spent time with a young Bruce Wayne and his parents before their death, spending time with a younger Bruce Wayne and his parents fleshes out the love Bruce had for his parents making the impact of their death more meaningful. We then see a proper origin story where Bruce Wayne abandoned his responsibility in Gotham to find himself as he sets off on a journey to become something greater than just himself. On his journey he is trained by the League of Shadows, being pushed to the limits as he returns to Gotham to become Batman. What makes this film work so well is that it is something we haven’t seen before from a Batman film, seemingly grounded in reality, a great take on Year One Batman and as dark as the character can be, this is how Batman should be.
Christopher Nolan steps into the directors chair, somewhat an unknown director at the time with just Memento and Insomnia under his belt. Delving into the psychological state of characters seems to be his forte as we explore the psyche of Bruce Wayne and what makes him tick as he becomes Batman. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman was a stroke of genius, Bale seemingly plays the playboy idiot of Bruce Wayne with enough conviction which is made even more impressive as his facial expressions change to seriousness – such as Batman’s persona when no one is around. Michael Caine as Alfred is a role he was born to play, Caine is fantastic as Bruce Wayne’s butler. Acting as a father figure to Bruce Wayne as the character ties into the film’s themes about the meaning of perseverance and getting back up when being knocked down, and playfully giving Bruce Wayne a hard time with his little quips. Batman Begins hosts a whole range of villains such as Carmine Falcone, The League of Shadows, Ra’s Al Ghul and Scarecrow. Each villain is balanced throughout the film and each serves a purpose to the story and the origin of Batman. Cillian Murphy is frightening as Scarecrow and Liam Neeson is the perfect mentor and foil for Bruce Wayne/Batman as Ra’s Al Ghul.
Shot on location in the depths of Chicago really brings Gotham City to life. Gone are the days of large extravagant buildings and gothic vibes. Instead we are introduced into a more realistic city scale where crime and corruption takes center stage. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard compose the musical score in Batman Begins and they both knock it out of the park. Never before has a Batman theme and score embraced the character so well. The intensity and stakes can be felt as “Molossus” plays in the background while Batman is driving into action.
Batman Begins ushers in a new era of storytelling for the Batman character by becoming just as dark as the character himself. Christopher Nolan has struck gold in this tone and is something that is explored even further in the films to come.