Batman Begins plot discussion [OPEN SPOILERS!]

Went to see a midnight showing of Batman Begins last night.

Capsule review: WOOOOOO!

To elaborate – this one didn’t disappoint at all. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not up on the minutiae of the Batman comics, so I’ll just make a couple more general observations.

A smart, smart Batman movie, with some surprising things worked pretty artfully (and seamlessly) into the Batman mythos. Some paratextuality with surprising sources, old and new. The first part of the movie could have easily been mistaken for an update of The Shadow. Wealthy Young Man About Town trains with mystics in the orient (“The League of Shadows”) where he learns many martial arts skills, include the ability to make himself “invisible.” The psychology of this film is Jungian, which is a bit quaint clinically but great for art. Here, Batman is Bruce Wayne’s Jungian Shadow – a supressed aspect of his self, and a personification of his greatest fear.

The most surprising allusion, for me, was to Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. The unnamed blue flower of Batman Begins bears a striking resemblance to Mors Ontologica, the blue flower from which a sinister syndicate is synthesizing and distributing Substance D – a powerful hallucinogen which, given enough exposure, is totally mind-destroying. Smaller exposures of both substances have the unusual side effect of inducing dissociative disorders. In Batman Begins, inmates of Arkham Asylum’s exposure to this “weaponized hallucinogen” (what a great line that was) is offered as a partial explanation for the rise of supervillians. (Makes me wonder what’s in Rachel’s future? Not Catwoman, surely?) Anyway, one more Scanner Darkly thing - vaguely spoilerish:When Bob/Fred is introduced to the blue flower, he is using the name “Bruce.” :cool:I think it’s really cool that two of the biggest releases of 2005 share the slight connection.

I also like the way Stately Wayne Manor was made to stand as a model of Bruce’s psyche. Burn the respectable face of it down, and rebuild it – after fortifying the subterranean “foundation.” Nice.

As for more regular stuff – best batsuit ever. Best gear ever. Christian Bale? Best Batman ever. Michael Caine? You know. Best ever. Gary Oldman was fantastic as Gordon. (I didn’t recognize him until his second scene. Whoa.)

Funniest part of the entire movie – the way the Scarecrow was dispatched. Screaming like a little girl. Bwahahahahaha!

How significant is Ra’s Al Ghul’s screentime?

Do Ra’s and the Scarecrow survive the film?

Out of curiosity, are Commissioner Loeb and Lt. Flass set up as corrupt, as in the comics?

Ra’s Al Ghul’s screentime makes up a pretty small percentage of the film, on balance – but certainly significant. We saw him crushed, we saw someone else with his funny beard, and Liam Neeson strongly implied that he was able to merge with the Force and overcome death. (Or perhaps that Ra’s Al Ghul “immortal” aspect is his ideology.)

The Scarecrow totally survives, but I’m sure he doesn’t like to talk about it. :smiley:

Loeb and Flass are clearly shining examples of graft and corruption. It’s suggested that Gordon is the One Honest Cop in Gotham – or at least the only one that Batman is aware of.

I have heard there’s a bone tossed at the end for setting up a sequel - care to comment on that, if you noticed such?

Pretty standard sequel-bone–

There’s a little epilogue that establishes that Gordon is moving up in the ranks, and that the tide is turning – but he’s worried about Batman’s aid resulting in “escalation.” “You wear a mask – they wear a mask. You wear armour – they wear armour.” He worries that many dangerously insane criminals escaped from Arkham Asylum. (It’s nicely established that Arkham is mainly a mob-run scam to keep their boys out of jail by having them declared insane – except that everyone in the place is being used as test subjects for this mind-warping drug synthesized from the blue flower.)

Anyway, Gordon mentions this one guy that’s concerning him: Wears a lot of makeup, tears shit up. Always leaves a calling card. (An evidence baggie with a Joker from a very nice deck is held up.) Batman: “I’ll look into it.”

Excellent. Seems like pretty standard adaptation of Batman : Year One crossed with a dash of The Shadow. Which is good.

So, any other nods to Bat-continuity? Harvey Bullock or Dent?

If there were explicit references to Bullock or Dent, they went over my head.

With hindsight, Rachel works at the D.A.'s office, though Dent may have had a line or two while I was ogling her gams. There was at least one morally ambiguous character there that I remember. Didn’t get a name.

Victor Zasz appears briefly. The movie also leaves a job opening for a new D.A., so I imagine Harvey Dent could step right in. Gordon has a wife and family, glimpsed briefly in one scene at his house, so presumably little Barbara Gordon was in there. I’ll have to see it again to see if there’s a little girl there.

Also, there’s an unnamed little blond boy who lives in The Narrows who my husband speculated could become Jason Todd. That’s pure speculation though. :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t Dick Grayson make more sense?

Nah, Dick was a Circus performer. Jason was a street-tough.

No, Dick was a dark-haired circus performer (so carny yes, slum-dweller no) and he’d need to be a bit older unless the movies want to depict some serious child endangerment. I think people will accept a tennaged Robin, but not a 10-year-old. The kid in the movie is pretty young, I’d say 8-9 now, but given a few years he might grow up to be a crafty young street punk while a slightly older Dick Grayson sees his parents die, becomes Robin, then becomes Nightwing.

Ah, of course. :smack:

One amusing glitch in Bruce Wayne’s sense of justice is that he refuses to execute a man, but then torches the place, which in all likelyhood caused the guy a much more painful death either from burns or from running out into the wintry countryside and freezing to death. I don’t recall any evidence the murderer character survived.

Also, Bruce casually trashes six guys in the prison, before he gets all Karate Kid-i-fied, yet there wasn’t any real indication that during his travels “to study the criminal mind” that he picked up any brawling skills. He was, of course, angry all the time, which I guess helps a little.

As for Liam Neeson’s character, I don’t quite buy into any mystical notions of immortality. I just get the impression that he was Ra’s al-Ghul and the real head of the League while Ken Watanabe was playing a decoy leader. Possibly the truth would have been revealed to Bruce had he done the slice-o-matic deed. The League’s motivation is a bit strained, though. What trashed London wasn’t some criminal conspiracy but (if Neeson was referring to the events of 1666) a major fire, which did in fact leave the city, after extensive rebuilding, much stronger than before. Driving the population of Gotham insane, though… hu’uh?

Anyhoo, trivial nitpicks aside, it was an immensely enjoyable film and Bale is about ten times better at the role than Keaton, Kilmer and Clooney combined. Tragically, Holmes is about ten times worse than any of Bassinger, Pfeiffer, Kidman and… well, Thurmond was pretty bad, too.

So, keep Robin out (possibly have an older sidekick go straight to being Nightwing), let’s see Batman do some actual detective work (that is kinda what Bob Kane and Bill Finger had in mind), some fight scenes that aren’t all blurred and in extreme close-up, and let’s aim for a World’s Finest movie in 2012 (after each character has had two new solo films) in which Batman thinks Superman is a dork and Superman thinks Batman is a psycho, but there’s mutual respect. I’d love to see a scene like:

Batman reacts to a sudden movement in the shadows, flings a batarang at it. Superman casually catches it, examines it.
Superman: These things are kind of cool. So, what are you up to?
Batman: What the hell are you doing in my city?
Superman: Hey, relax. I heard there was some trouble. [looks around] This place is really gritty, isn’t it?
Batman: Compared to Metropolis? The only reason they call it the city of the future is that they have to keep rebuilding it after one of your stupid battles.
Superman: Now hang on a moment…
Batman: [throws a batline, swings away]
Superman: [sighs] This city is so rude.

I agree that this was really enjoyable, though a bit too long for my taste, and the fight scenes often more annoying to me than gripping. Great cast, excellent performances, wonderful sets, and just the right mix of humor and seriousness.

I love the scene with Bale, Freeman and Caine after Bruce Wayne’s recovery from the weaponized hallucinogen. Great dialogue, beautifully executed.

I got a chill when Gordon turned the Joker card over, even though I could see it coming a mile away.

Really good music, too.

I loved the Tim Burton movies and this one was miles above either of them. Best Batman movie ever. Perhaps the best comic book movie ever. I’m going to see it again, which is more than I did for Spiderman, X-men or Star Wars.

One hang up though:


Batman defeats Ras Al Ghul(Liam Neeson) on the train. He says he won’t kill him but doesn’t have to save him. Don’t you think this is the same as killing him? It’s kinda like pushing someone off the roof and saying you didn’t kill him, the ground did. I think I would have been happier with a “Ras Al Ghul gets himself killed” type ending.

Except Batman didn’t put Ras on the train.

I’m not reading any spoilers. I just want to know if there’s enough Christian Bale onscressn to make me happy, or does he have to wear the bat thing most of the time? Rwwwwr. He looks hot, either way.

He doesn’t become Batman until part way through the movie, and he’s out of costume plenty of time after that. So as another Christian Bale admirer I assure you that you get plenty of time to ogle him… I mean enjoy his acting talents.

There is not enough screen in the world to hold the Christian Bale. But we do get to see a lot of him unobscured by mask. Well, alot but not any naughty bits, of course. Hafta watch American Psycho for any sort of flesh.