Batman: Break of Dawn is a 2014 superhero action-thriller film written and directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Michael Fassbender, Nathan Jones, Sir Ian McKellen, Jessica Chastain, Hugh Jackman, John Goodman and Eric Bana. It is based on the characters from DC Comics created by Frank Miller, and surrounds the story of Bruce Wayne, alternatively known as the Batman, as he comes across his hitherto greatest threat in the ruthless mercenary named Bane.
Inspiration for Batman: Break of Dawn derived primarily from when Guy Ritchie read and analysed the Knightfall series in the Batman comics, considering it to be a pivotal part of the Batman mythos because it proved that somebody could beat an individual like Batman. He immediately considered Michael Fassbender for the role of Batman, and Fassbender recommended several other of the cast members to consist of the supporting characters, and when Ritchie began writing the film he derived inspiration from actual interviews with DC Comics writers and illustrators.
The film opened in November 2014 and was extremely well received by critics and fans of the comics, with considerable praise for Fassbender's performance, the action sequences, score, cinematography, story, intensity and Ritchie's direction. It was nominated for twenty awards, and won seventeen of them, several surrounding the performance of Michael Fassbender. It was a box-office triumph, grossing over $946 billion out of its $360 million budget, and a sequel entitled Batman: Eye of the Storm was written for 2015, with Fassbender, McKellen, Jackman and Chastain reprising their roles.
A young Bruce Wayne wakes up in hospital from a seizure and is visited by Police Commissioner James Gordon, who explains to him that, on his way back from a theatre production that the Waynes had funded, a thug named Joe Chill robbed and murdered his parents, and he collapsed from shock. Chill was pursued by Gordon and shot while resisting arrest, along with three known co-conspirators. Bruce Wayne is devastated by this and Gordon assures him that everything will be alright. Meanwhile, a young boy is residing in a prison cell when he learns that his father, who is revealed to be Joe Chill, was murdered. He becomes enraged and immediately trains to escape the prison to avenge his father.
Twenty years later, Bruce Wayne has taken an alternate persona as a masked vigilante known as the Batman, who terrorises Gotham's underworld by thwarting criminal enterprises and bringing dozens of powerful and dangerous criminals to the police independently. In the eyes of the public, Bruce is an irresponsible and unremarkable playboy, as a result of Bruce's ingenious development of a dual identity. Batman is idolised by the people, feared by the mob and hated by the police, who see him as a brutal vigilante. When Bruce Wayne disrupts a meeting between mob bosses at Arkham Asylum and personally arrests several of their key members, they put a bounty on his head.
Bruce meets with his girlfriend Julie Madison one night and she reveals that she has become a lawyer in a very successful firm, which delights him. Julie and Bruce bond, since they haven't met in ten years, and Bruce becomes interested to know that Julie is investigating the family business of powerful crime boss Oswald Cobblepot, otherwise known as the Penguin. Cobblepot has placed a bounty on the head of the Batman, meaning that the police and the mob are close to cooperating in hunting down the Batman. Julia is unaware that Bruce is the Batman. When Bruce returns to Wayne Manor, he learns from his butler Alfred Pennyworth that there is a shipment of illegal supplies being sent to Cobblepot that night.
As Batman, Bruce attacks the convoy and easily defeats all of the men transporting it, but it proves to be a decoy and Batman follows the genuine shipment to find that it is being commandeered by a huge mercenary named Bane. Bane meets with Cobblepot and arranges to trade his shipment of an unnamed drug, in exchange for the loyalty of his entire mob. Cobblepot agrees with Bane, concerned by Bane's immense size and strength. Bane turns and detects Batman, ordering his men to open fire on him. Batman resists the gunfire due to his armour and fights Bane's men. While he does this, Bane leaves with Cobblepot via speedboat and Bruce pursues them in his aircraft the Batwing.
Bane devises a plan with Cobblepot to remove Batman from the equation, and they orchestrate several criminal activities of major repercussions across Gotham, distracting Gordon from being able to deal with the shipment of the substance. Meanwhile, Bruce brings a phial of the substance back to the Batcave and Alfred helps identify it as Venom, an illegal and extremely addictive super-steroid that induces nigh-incapacity for exhaustion and superhuman strength, which explains Bane's immense size. Bane hires an assassin named Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, to assassinate Commissioner Gordon. Lawton attacks Gordon's house while his family are still present, alerting Gordon to return from his hunt for the Venom shipments and try to protect his wife and children.
Bruce is also alerted to Lawton's attack by his access to the CCTV systems of Gotham and comes to Gordon's aide. When he arrives, he is forced into a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse with Lawton while trying to protect Gordon and his family. During this, Gordon manages to shoot Lawton's eyepiece and Bruce incapacitates the assassin by breaking his legs. Lawton is arrested by Gordon just as Bruce leaves and Cobblepot, while vying for his release, secretly has Lawton murdered in police custody to protect his own identity. Lawton's death, which is blamed on the incompetence of police security, angers several mob bosses against the police, and Cobblepot is joined by Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni. As a result, Cobblepot is consequently the most powerful mob boss in the whole of Gotham.
However, Gordon and Bruce are both handicapped in recovering from Lawton's attack when Bane and Cobblepot orchestrate even more chaos in multiple prison riots and street brawls across Gotham between the rival mob bosses as they fight over loyalty to Cobblepot or to themselves. Bruce is forced to deal with the chaos and brawls all night, as Bane planned, and he finally manages to neutralise most of the mobs, but just as midnight arrives Bruce learns that Julia's house has been attacked by Bane himself. Bruce travels to Julia's house and confronts Bane, who knocks out Julia with nerve gas. Bane reveals he knows of Bruce's true identity and sees Bruce's father as responsible for his father's death. Bruce, initially shocked by this information, fights Bane, who easily beats Bruce and incapacitates him by dropping a piano on top of him, damaging his spine.
Bruce alerts Alfred remotely to his location and Alfred rescues him from the scene of the fight, and Bruce discovers that his spine has been damaged so hard that he can barely walk. He is left shaken and furious with himself for being beaten by Bane, and asks Alfred to run a background check on the mercenary. He learns that the man was a prisoner at an unnamed prison that experimented on inmates. He was the only one to survive the experiments, which tested immense doses of Venom on him - the result left him permanently addicted to the drug, since it gave him a megalomaniacal sense of power that he had always lacked in the prison. He escaped the prison using his newfound strength and transformed its inmates into his own personal militia, going on an independent war on the rich and powerful. Bruce also learns that Joe Chill was Bane's father, who escaped and abandoned his son to live in prison and was ultimately killed by Gordon.
Now understanding Bane better, Bruce opts to go out and fight him again, but is stymied by his own injuries. He decides to try and train to repair his damages, but Alfred advises against it because it would only damage him even further. Instead, Bruce opts to create a specialised Batsuit that supports his spine better. Meanwhile, Bane wreaks havoc on Gotham, having several rich and powerful officials across the city violently evicted and publicly humiliated and beaten, some of them killed. Cobblepot terrorises the police with his newfound police power and stages an attack on Wayne Tower, which becomes successful and he downloads all of the Wayne fortunes. As a result, Bruce is unable to create the ultimate Batsuit.
Cobblepot captures Julia and plans to keep her as his mistress, but Bane disapproves because it dissuades his focus on their dominion over Gotham. Cobblepot and Bane argue, with Cobblepot insisting that the plan was his and that he is the superior in authority. The argument causes Cobblepot to plan to dispose of Bane behind his back, and Julia tries to use this information to destabalise their union. She betrays Cobblepot's plan to Bane, who reveals to both her and to Cobblepot that the latter was never a lasting element of the original plan and that Cobblepot was only needed in order to help destabalise the Gotham police and to give Bane dominion over the mob. Cobblepot shoots Bane, who survives and breaks Cobblepot's neck with one hand, declaring that his services are no longer required.
With Cobblepot dead, Bane enlists the loyalty of the man's bodyguard, Victor Zsasz, who leads Bane's raids on the revolting citizens of Gotham. Gordon leads a police rebellion against Bane, but they are defeated easily because they lack numbers and, when Bane himself enters the fight, Gordon orders his men to retreat. Julia sees this and tries to contact Bruce, who is enraged by what Bane has achieved. He succeeds in creating a new, mechanical suit that supports his spine and interrupts Zsasz's arrest of Gordon and his men. Bruce saves Gordon from execution and fights Zsasz, even diverting Gordon's aim when Gordon tries to shoot the man in the head. Zsasz uses this as a distraction and aims a knife to Bruce's eye, but Bruce breaks his wrist in self-defence and defeats Zsasz by suspending him from Gotham bridge during the fight.
Bane is enraged by Zsasz' defeat, and shocked by the return of the Batman. He makes a televised demand for Batman to come and face him one last time, and this works in his favour because the citizens of Gotham, desperate for an opponent that can kill Bane, echo Bane's demands for Batman's return. Bruce is exhausted by his fight with Zsasz and Alfred heatedly objects to Bruce confronting Bane again, but Bruce defends that he is the only one who truly knows how to defeat Bane. He disrupts a speech by Bane, defeating several of Bane's men and prompting the Gotham police, led by Gordon, to defeat the rest of them. Bane retreats into hiding before Bruce can pursue him and Bruce is diverted by having to rescue Julia from capture at Wayne Enterprises. While Bruce battles with her captors, Bane secretly triggers a poison gas attack in the building to kill Julia anyway, but Bruce uses his own breathing mask from the Batsuit to protect her as he carries her out of the building.
Bane resurfaces in Gotham Police Station and attacks Gordon, but Bruce intervenes and prompts Bane to pursue him to a construction site where Bane is forced to fight more carefully because his massive size is impractical to the confined space of the construction site. Bane and Bruce fight through to the top of the construction site, where Bruce triggers a trap that he had previously set for Bane, which releases a cloud of smoking gas that blinds Bane. Using this to his advantage, Bruce severs the device that injects Venom into Bane's body, depleting him of his strength and endurance. While Bane convulses, Bruce voices that he plans to return Bane to the prison he emptied. Bane, his mind rattled by the Venom depletion, hallucinates that Bruce possesses monstrous, batlike features and tries to attack him. Bruce and Bane are knocked from the top of the construction site and, while Bruce glides to safety, Bane falls to his death and his body is shattered on impact.
Bane's forces are arrested and sentenced to imprisonment, and Bruce quickly recovers his family's fortune and helps to repair the damage done to the city by the mercenary. He then cremates Bane's body and has all of the Venom destroyed, despite temptation to take some for himself. Julia meets with Bruce outside of Wayne Manor, where she confesses that she believes the Batman saved her as much as he saved Gotham, and that she is determined to discover his identity. As Batman, Bruce meets with Gordon, who explains to him that he is the only man who is involving himself with Batman - the rest of the police is hunting for him.
Victor Zsasz limps into his cell at Arkham Asylum, where his silhouetted cellmate paces around him, questioning him about his confrontation with Batman. When Zsasz attacks his cellmate, whose face is still shadowed, the man points out that he has 'very unique friends' at his disposal, and Zsasz looks up and his expression turns frightened as a huge (Off-screen) creature lurks around the outside of the cell, its scaly tail sloping the bars as the creature growls hungrily.
- Michael Fassbender as Bruce Wayne/Batman: On the outside he is an irresponsible and conceited businessman and playboy and the head of Wayne Enterprises, but in actuality he is Batman, a fiercely determined and formidable vigilante who fights criminals by utilising his own fear of bats against his enemies. Michael Fassbender's casting as Batman was the most criticized, considering his acting style and, of all things, his hair colour, but once he was cast Fassbender remarked that the role was incredible to play, and remarked 'Batman isn't something you wear like a glove - it's something that you attach like an eye to a socket'.
- Freddie Highmore as Young Bruce Wayne
- Nathan Jones as Bane: A huge, brilliant and pitiless mercenary who was once the orphaned son of Joe Chill until the latter's death from murdering Thomas and Martha Wayne. He is a massive Venom addict who, as a result of his relentless dose of the drug, has developed superhuman strength, durability and inability for exhaustion. He becomes obsessed with trying to overthrow the 'aristocracy' of Gotham because poverty was all he knew and shaped him and his father into beggars. Nathan Jones was chosen over Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista, since his depiction would be considered more convincing.
- Colton Shires as Young Bane
- Sir Ian McKellen as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman's grandfatherly and wise butler and only surviving father figure. Alfred is kind, but pragmatic, blunt and extremely stubborn, considering the mantle of Batman as both dangerous, but necessary, and is deeply unsettled by the possible effects it could have over Bruce, having helped raise him since he was born. Sir Ian's casting was lauded by fans, and McKellen himself remarked 'It was a deceptively interesting experience to portray Alfred, because he's one of the most overlooked characters of the lot, so you can mould him to your own design and everyone can love it'.
- Jessica Chastain as Julie Madison: Bruce's girlfriend and sister figure, a lawyer who is highly interested in the Batman and determined to discover his identity. She is a skilled and compassionate lawyer, and Bruce considers her to be the softer, more innocent incarnation of him. When interviewed, Chastain denied that her character was a damsel in distress and more an epitome of what Bruce could have if he weren't Batman, and the irony of the fact that she is determined to discover Batman's identity upsets him.
- John Goodman as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin: An ambitious, cruel and merciless mob boss who is obsessed with becoming the most powerful gangster in all of Gotham, which leads to him making an alliance with Bane. Cobblepot's megalomaniacal obsession with becoming 'king of Gotham' leads to him attempting to conspire against Bane, which leads to Bane murdering him. Goodman claimed that he hugely enjoyed the role of Oswald Cobblepot, because the character's furious and authoritative mentality was simply 'electric' to depict.
- Hugh Jackman as Police Commissioner James Gordon: Gotham's empathetic, determined and workaholic police commissioner who is disgusted at the power that the mob bosses have maintained, and the GCPD's incompetence at handling it. Gordon is extremely resourceful and courageous, working with Batman because he knows that Batman is a resource that can truly cleanse Gotham of its criminal infestation.
- Eric Bana as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot: One of the world's greatest assassins, an expert marksman who is renowned for taking up almost impossible marksmanship scenarios for his own personal challenge. He is an elusive assassin who is hired by Cobblepot to kill James Gordon.
- Yuri Kolokolnikov as Victor Zsasz, Oswald Cobblepot's sadistic and efficient bodyguard who is famous for scarring himself every time he kills someone. He is a skilled fighter, especially with knives, and eventually goes on to serve Bane after Cobblepot's death. Yuri Kolokolnikov was chosen based on his physical similarities with the original characters, and he seemed physically sufficient for the role - a role that demanded considerable physical presence and ferocity.
- Simon Armstrong as Joe Chill, the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne and Bane's father.
- Melanie Paxson as Mrs. Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's wife.
- Lion Falcioli as Junior Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's son.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as the unnamed prisoner who confronts Victor Zsasz at the end of the film.
On June 20, 2014, Ritchie announced that the film would be released in 3D and IMAX 3D on November 14, 2014. Premieres took place in the UK, US and Canada. The film is rated PG-13 for constant sequences of action and violence, intense scenes of threat and danger and brief bloody moments.
Batman: Break of Dawn received hugely positive reviews from critics, audiences and fans, with praise for Ritchie's direction, the story and action sequences, and Fassbender's performance as Bruce Wayne. The review aggregator film site Rotten Tomatoes reported a 89% approval rating, based on 216 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The consensus reads: "With the unlikely casting of Michael Fassbender, the wise selection of Sir Ian McKellen and the perfect choice of Nathan Jones, Batman: Break of Dawn boasts a pristine cast, a gripping story and a mesmerising depiction of wrath and ruin". On Metacritic, as of November 20th, the film receives a score of 88 out of 100, and Cinemascore granted it an A.
The action sequences received widespread acclaim for their use of the set-pieces, camerawork and realism, especially the final fight between Batman and Bane, which several crew members viewed as enjoyable to watch when they viewed the end result. The cinematography and screenplay in the film was well received, with Wally Pfister receiving extreme praise for his work at solidifying the sheer scope of the film. In addition, the film's political themes, especially surrounding the mob-war storyline, was praised for not feeling excessive in the film and actually contributing to showing certain aspects of several characters.
The performance of Michael Fassbender as Batman was well received by fans, which was ironic because they had a polarised reaction to his casting choice, considering him physically incompatible with what Batman was supposed to look like. On his review of the film, John Flickinger awarded the film an A-, remarking "This film is the definition of awesome - it gets almost everything right, the action, the casting, the villain, the portrayal of the characters from the comics, and I really enjoyed Fassbender's work playing Bruce Wayne. He did a phenomenal job, and I thought he was actually awesome as the Caped Crusader", and praised the portrayal of Bane (A villain of whom he is a massive fan of). With that said, both Nathan Jones, Hugh Jackman and Sir Ian McKellen's performances were praised, with Sir Ian McKellen being called "subtle, clever and fascinating" by Christopher Nolan. Nathan Jones was viewed as "intimidating and powerful of presence" by director M. Night Shyamalan.
Val Kilmer claimed that he enjoyed the film and its dark, mysterious and brutal themes and atmosphere. He highlighted the performances of Fassbender, McKellen and Jones, calling the latter "A perfect villain for such a brutal, visceral and powerful film". However, the film did not escape certain criticism, especially considering how it diverted from the original Knightfall storyline, despite the claim that it was inspired by that storyline. Batman fan James Keaton commented that "This film gives us a spectacular cast and a gripping set of fights, but fails to deliver on the inspirational and powerful comic story that it promised to portray". In addition, he considered Jessica Chastain too old to be a proper girlfriend of Bruce Wayne, but this opinion was subsided soon.
In a single week, the film managed to surpass its own budget of £356 million. In North America, it grossed over $356, 550, 450. Its gross in South America was insubstantial to this, only grossing $224, 300, 420, but this quickly rose and, combined with its over-$350 billion gross in the UK box office, eventually grossing $946, 854, 760 worldwide.
Awards and Nominations
The film received twenty award nominations and succeeded in winning seventeen of them. It received an award nomination for Best Superhero Movie, Best Action Movie, and won for Best Editing (Brenner), Best Score (Williams), Best Stuntwork and Best Cinematography (Pfister). Fassbender was nominated for Best Actor, and won for Most Dramatic Performance, Best Hero, Best Anti-Hero and Best Fantasy Actor. Nathan Jones won Best Villain, Best Supporting Actor, Best Scene-Stealer and Kid's Choice for Favourite Villain, whilst being nominated for Best Actor and Choice Movie Villain. The film also was nominated for Guild Awards for Best Writing, The Holy-Sh*t Scene of the Year (Bane breaking Batman), Best Picture, Best Director (Ritchie), Best Script, Best Screenplay and Best Film. Finally, Jessica Chastain won Best Heroine, Best Supporting Actress in an Action Movie and Choice Movie Actress and Sir Ian McKellen won Most Emotional Performance and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Line (I have served the Wayne family tea and cakes for longer than I can remember...and now I'm fixing up broken spines!).
Batman: Break of Dawn was announced by Guy Ritchie to be the first of, hopefully, four planned films, with the sequel announced to be entitled Batman: Eye of the Storm, and it was announced that Ritchie would return to direct, with Fassbender, McKellen, Chastain and Jackman officially reprising their roles.