The Dark Knight returns grittier than before in Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking Batman Begins…
The One Where: Orphaned billionaire Bruce Wayne travels the world in a bid to train his mind and body to their peak so that he may clear up the corruption of Gotham City. But when he returns home and becomes Batman, he finds a deadly threat waiting for him.
Star Turns: Batman Begins boasts the best cast of a Batman movie since Returns. I would argue that yet again the actor playing Batman – the nonetheless terrific Christian Bale – is swamped by fantastic supporting turns. Liam Neeson is, well, Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard, Michael Caine is bloody brilliant as Alfred and Gary Oldman is the screen’s best Commissioner Gordon. I really love Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow, though. His cameos in the sequels were always welcome.
Best Bits: My favourite parts of Begins generally revolve around Gotham itself. The portrayal of the city is absolutely perfect here – it’s a believable place, but still brilliantly stylised as a hotbed of institutionalised corruption and poverty. You can really believe that a man would be driven to try and protect this place (and equally why someone would believe it needs to be destroyed). It’s a shame that this characterisation fades into the background somewhat with the sequels, as here it is the most vibrant comic book movie setting ever.
Verdict: A personal favourite of the Dark Knight trilogy. The staggered tiers of villains structure really works (Falcone > Scarecrow > Ra’s Al Ghul) to prevent it getting bloated, but for once the narrative is actually about Batman’s journey. It’s not flawless – Rachel Dawes is a little insipid and her romance with Bruce is the weakest part of the movie – but, on the whole, it’s a gritty take on Batman which stills retains its comic book sensibilities. Something else I would argue the later films lose somewhat.
Holy fascinating trivia, Batman! For a long time it was rumoured that Christian Bale had originally auditioned for Robin in Batman Forever. The actor later clarified this (and his distaste for the character) by saying: “I would bloody never have auditioned to play Robin!”