Batman: Eye of the Storm is a 2015 superhero action-thriller film written and directed by Guy Ritchie. Much like its predecessor, it features an ensemble cast of Michael Fassbender, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sir Ian McKellen, Jessica Chastain, Andy Serkis, Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Romijin, Kevin Spacey and Liev Schreiber. The film follows the previous film, where Batman is forced to face a self-corrupting Gotham law system and the mechanical schemes of the enigmatic Riddler.
Just like its predecessor, the majority of the film was shot in New York, since Gotham is based on New York. The scenes in Arkham Asylum were all artificial set-pieces, and the climactic sewer sequence was filmed also in a studio with set-pieces that Ritchie had a hand in designing. The casting of Leonardo DiCaprio was decided when DiCaprio voiced interest in playing a Batman villain, and Ritchie originally planned for him to play the Joker. However, he immediately likened DiCaprio to the Riddler instead and, upon reading the script, the cast agreed with this decision, while Andy Serkis was an immediate choice for Killer Croc because of his past motion-capture performances.
The film opened in IMAX cinemas in the UK, US and Middle-East in November 2015 and was a box-office success, grossing over $1.4 billion out of its $215 million budget and thus surpassing the previous film. It was acclaimed by critics for its CGI, special effects, action, score, direction and the performances of Fassbender, DiCaprio and Serkis. Fans also acclaimed it for its incorporation of comic-book elements and original storylines (Particularly that of the Riddler).
Arkham Asylum is internally ripped apart by a massive riot, in which several prisoners escape while most of them kill one another. One of them, Waylon Jones (Better known as Killer Croc), is a mutant who was born with the physiology of a lizard, causes havoc in the underground areas of Arkham and breaks out several of the solitary confinement prisoners, including a former assassin and master escapist named Copperhead. The GCPD arrive and battle the prisoners, trying to dissolve the riot. Bruce Wayne, as Batman, also arrives and dispatches several of the prisoners, until he comes across Killer Croc. The two of them fight, and Bruce discovers that Killer Croc is stronger than he expected. He retreats and Killer Croc escapes the asylum through the waterworks.
In the aftermath of the riot, Gordon discovers the carnage caused by Killer Croc and puts the GCPD on full alert. The next day, Bruce Wayne moves his business interests at Wayne Enterprises to the development of legal and ethical scientific experiments. One of his scientists, a young and eccentric man named Edward Nygma, idolises Bruce and aspires to create a device that reads and manipulates the human brainwaves in order to measure their intellectual potential. When he brings this to Bruce, Bruce is interested because it will secretly enable him to differentiate criminals more easily. However, when he brings this to Alfred and to the board of directors, they point out ethical issues with manipulating other people's brainwaves. Bruce brings this to Edward, and explains that he has disapproved of the thesis. This enrages Edward, who melodramatically begs reconsideration from Bruce, but is rebuffed publicly.
Bruce has the technology destroyed, but Edward reveals privately that he has a duplicate prototype of the technology that he names ThinkTank. Humiliated by being rejected by his own idol, Edward slowly descends into insanity and develops an alternate personality which he calls the Riddler - he becomes obsessed with proving himself the cleverest man in Gotham, believing that intellectual worth surpasses moral boundaries. As the Riddler, he hacks into the CCTV systems of Gotham and sees Killer Croc, whose appearance and abilities appear to fascinate him greatly. Meanwhile, Julie Madison goes on a date with Bruce on a cruise around New York, where she proposes to him. He accepts, but is hugely conflicted about it.
Meanwhile, Julia is faced with her rival in Harvey Dent, Gotham's district attorney who is convinced that criminals deserve a second chance. She and Harvey lock horns during one hearing for a criminal called Carmine Falcone, during which Harvey judges her being wrong about criminals with his father's two-headed coin. Julia requests Harvey's dismissal from court because of his insubstantial opinion, but this is rejected and she is embarrassed by Harvey's triumph. She orders Harvey to be investigated, but finds that his record is clean. Meanwhile, Bruce is hugely fascinated by Harvey's ideology and work ethic, seeing him as a possible hero for Gotham - it is established by Alfred that Harvey is somewhat a seperate incarnation of Bruce himself.
The Riddler meets Killer Croc in an alley and forges an alliance with him, under the promise that the Riddler will provide him with a cure for his mutation. Killer Croc identifies Copperhead, who makes a deal with the Riddler to be a part of his plan on the condition that Copperhead can keep a massive percentage of the resulting fortunes, enabling her to live comfortably and peacefully. The Riddler instructs Copperhead to break into several banks and laboratories in order to steal required technology for ThinkTank. Killer Croc, meanwhile, ambushes a tanker entering Gotham and singlehandedly sinks it, stealing the technology that it was carrying and bringing it to the Riddler. En route, Killer Croc is cornered by Gotham police officers and shot multiple times, but he survives and Copperhead kills the police officers by poisoning them. Bruce arrives on the scene and Copperhead fights him, scarring him across the face.
The fight is interrupted when Harvey Dent orders a military squadron to attack the three of them, which prompts Bruce to escape while Killer Croc destroys a pursuing helicopter and Copperhead commandeers another one to escape. The Riddler is joyous about the chaos that has been caused, and orchestrates a trap for Salvatore Maroni, a powerful mob boss, before attacking Maroni and blackmailing him into raiding Gotham Police Department. During the raid, Maroni is injured by a bullet to the leg and arrested. When Gordon confronts Harvey about the military raid, Harvey reveals that he has employed Gordon's rival Harvey Bullock, who has an ideology that surrounds brutality towards criminals. Bullock clashes with Gordon while they try to use their own initiatives in bringing down Maroni's men.
Bruce returns to Wayne Manor, only to collapse from the scar that Copperhead left him, which was poisoned. With Alfred's aid, Bruce narrowly manages to create a cure for Copperhead's poison from the contents of his kitchen, but the scar makes him realise that Copperhead is too dangerous to fight the same way a second time. Copperhead brings her scarring of Batman to the Riddler who, while in the guise of Edward Nygma, notices that Bruce Wayne has the exact same scar on his face. He realizes that Bruce Wayne is Batman and opts to destroy Batman as well. He leaves a trail of criminal activites all over Gotham, each of them with complex puzzles and riddles that hang hostages' lives in the balance. In every riddle, a recorded message from the Riddler rants that he is superior in intellect to Batman.
This trail eventually leads to Arkham Asylum, where Killer Croc attacks him. They fight through Arkham and out into the streets, where Bruce identifies him as Waylon Jones and realises that the Riddler has manipulated him with the prospect of looking normal for once in his life. Killer Croc wrecks a school bus during the fight and endangers the people inside, but Bruce stops him and the GCPD, with Bullock at the head, arrive and rescue the passengers. Killer Croc is then struck with a rocket-propelled grenade and is visibly damaged by the impact, but he escapes in the explosion. Bullock turns the police officers present against Bruce, but he evades them and escapes in the Batwing. The Riddler commandeers a helicopter and pursues Bruce, and after an intense chase through Gotham, the Batwing is damaged and Bruce sets it to self-destruct and eludes the Riddler through an ejector seat.
The Riddler is infuriated by being outwitted by Batman and decides to try and destabilise Bruce Wayne before defeating him. During Maroni's trial, Maroni is given a small cask of acid by Bullock as an option of suicide, but during the trial he learns that his wife has turned ill and that he must escape justice to try and keep her alive. When the Riddler, as Edward Nygma, is present at the trial, Maroni realises that the Riddler knew this would happen and decides to plead insanity, proving so by throwing the cask of acid in Harvey Dent's face. This causes a massive uproar in the court, during which Gordon shoots Maroni and kills him. The Riddler escapes unidentified and laughs, hinting that he planned for Maroni to do this.
Killer Croc is conflicted about his fight with Batman, and is inspired by the sight of the children on the bus when he'd attacked it. He reveals, through monologue, that he had the condition since birth and was violently ostracised from other children because of his condition. When he was taken to Arkham, he had tried to commit suicide by drowning himself but found that he could survive underwater. He is concerned about the justice that it would serve by the Riddler's plan to control other people, since he has been a victim of his own condition and mentality since he was born. He is tempted to kill the Riddler but refrains.
Gordon is arrested for killing Maroni, and Bullock tries to dispose of him by having him sent to Blackgate Prison, but he comes out of the trial cleared of all charges on the suggestion of a hospitalised Harvey Dent. When Gordon is released, Bruce confronts him as Batman for killing Maroni, but accepts that Maroni deserved what he received. He and Gordon observe security footage of the trial and discover the eye contact between Maroni and Edward Nygma, and Bruce suddenly recognises Nygma as the Riddler. He tries to find Nygma, only to find evidence that Nygma had killed himself. However, Bruce understands that this is not in Nygma's nature and knows that the Riddler has faked his own death. At Nygma's house, Copperhead attacks Bruce again, but Bruce overpowers her and, when she tries to attack again, she accidentally stabs herself with her own claws and dies of her own poison.
Julia discovers Copperhead's body with Bruce, as Batman, standing over her. She thinks that Batman has killed her, and tries to apprehend him but Bruce uses tear gas to avoid her and take Copperhead's body. This leads to the assumption that the Riddler and Batman are in league and Bullock leads an independent hunt for Batman, dismissing Gordon. With Copperhead killed, the Riddler proceeds to instruct Killer Croc to attack Wayne Manor. Alfred wounds Killer Croc by throwing a steel dart in one eye, only to be knocked unconscious and nearly eaten, but Bruce appears and threatens him with a blowgun that contains darts laced with Copperhead's poison. Knowing that Copperhead's poison would definitely kill him, Killer Croc leaves.
Julia is captured by the Riddler and subjected to experimentation by the Riddler, who connects her with ThinkTank. As a result, he gains control over her mind and releases her. Julia visits Bruce and, through her, the Riddler threatens Bruce with his own identity, tirading that Bruce had humiliated him and his intellect and now Edward Nygma will be avenged - either the Riddler will snap Julia's mind, or Bruce will come out as Batman. Bruce agrees that Batman will be unveiled, and the Riddler leaves Julia's mind. However, when Bruce, as Batman, reveals his plan to Gordon, Gordon lies publicly that he is Batman, and the Riddler is tempted to kill him for being a loophole by Bruce. Bruce threatens to bring all hell down on the Riddler unless he destroys ThinkTank and turns himself in.
Outraged at being intellectually stalemated by who he believes to be his intellectual inferior, the Riddler destroys ThinkTank but reveals that he has already set up a working, completed duplicate in Wayne Tower. He leads Killer Croc to raid Wayne Manor, but Bruce leads him into the sewers underneath Gotham. The two of them fight through the pipes, with Killer Croc apparently having an advantage due to being used to such an environment. However, Bruce has laid a trap for Killer Croc and traps him in a huge metal net. While Killer Croc is held down, Bruce explains that the Riddler lied to him and that there is no cure. A furious Killer Croc joins forces with Bruce and they move to attack the Riddler at Wayne Tower.
Realising that Bruce Wayne has outplayed him again, Nygma activates ThinkTank, which attacks the minds of hundreds of Gotham citizens and leaves them in a vegetative state. Killer Croc confronts the Riddler, and manages to destroy ThinkTank with his bare hands, but the machinery collapses on top of him and crushes him. The Riddler despairs at the destruction of ThinkTank and flies into a rage on Bruce, who beats him to a pulp until he hangs the Riddler outside a smashed window of Wayne Tower. The Riddler prompts Bruce to let him fall, but instead Bruce spares him and challenges him to carry on living in the knowledge that his intellectual inferior has beaten him.
Gordon takes the Riddler, screaming, to a reconstructed Arkham Asylum, where the villain is diagnosed with extreme depression, and in private laments that 'the Bat' has beaten him so climactically. ThinkTank's technology is entirely destroyed, and Killer Croc is buried personally by Bruce, who meets with a recovered Julia at his parents' cemetery. Bruce takes the blame for what the Riddler did, since he humiliated him. He agrees to marry her but, so they don't have secrets between one another, he reveals that he is Batman by showing her the Batcave. Initially shocked, Julia realises that Bruce Wayne saved her life several times and she pulls him into a passionate kiss.
Carmine Falcone comes home to find that his house has been ransacked. He finds his wife and children dead, and a figure standing over them, facing away. The figure turns around and reveals himself to be Harvey Dent, with one side of his face scorched. Falcone tries to reason with Harvey, but Harvey produces a gun and aims it at Falcone. He then takes out his father's coin, which has been lightly scarred on one side, and flips the coin in one hand - it lands on heads, and Harvey aims at a terrified Falcone - the gunshot can be heard just as the screen turns black.
- Michael Fassbender as Bruce Wayne/Batman: Gotham's Dark Knight, who spends his nights fighting criminals and overthrowing the mob whilst protecting the citizens of Gotham. He is both feared and hated by the mob and by the GCPD, who all are determined to unmask and kill him. Outside of his life as Batman, Bruce Wayne is a lazy and irritating playboy who owns Wayne Enterprises, Gotham's most powerful business company. He has extended his interests to scientific kinds, which brings him at odds with Edward Nygma, prompting him to become the Riddler.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Edward Nygma/The Riddler: An arrogant, schizophrenic monomaniac who suffers from an inferiority complex and believes himself the intellectual superior of everyone else. He begins as an aspiring, if eccentric, scientist who is fascinated by the concept of controlling the minds of others. After Bruce Wayne, his idol and alleged intellectual equal, deposes his experiments as unnatural, Nygma is left outraged and becomes the Riddler, an unpredictable psychopath who is out to prove himself the cleverest man in Gotham.
- Sir Ian McKellen as Alfred Pennyworth: Bruce Wayne's butler, who has raised Bruce since birth and is his only confidant in his identity as Batman. Alfred is trustworthy, but idealistic and conflicted constantly about Bruce's life as Batman conflicting with his sanity and the possibility of Bruce leading a normal life. Sir Ian considered playing Alfred in this incarnation, considering Alfred's role in the film to truly be 'Batman's batman'. He was pleased with Alfred's expanded role in the film, and felt that the character had been better honoured than in the previous film, by Ritchie's imagination.
- Hugh Jackman as Police Commissioner James Gordon: The police commissioner of Gotham city, and the only man in the GCPD who believes that Batman is a force for good in Gotham and is willing to work secretly with him. While unaware of Batman's identity, Gordon trusts and confides in him to clean up the streets of Gotham, but his faith is shaken when the Riddler's plans land him in prison for cooperating with Batman.
- Jessica Chastain as Julie Madison: An ambitious and intelligent lawyer who is faced with having to deal with the criminals that Batman incarcerates, and is put at odds with Harvey Dent, who believes that criminals all deserve a fair chance. In this film, it is revealed that Julie's father was murdered by the mob and she was orphaned at ten years old, which is why she is convinced that all criminals are scum. She is Bruce's girlfriend and eventually an unofficial ally of Batman, after Dent is attacked in court by Salvatore Maroni.
- Andy Serkis as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc: A patient at Arkham Asylum who was born with a disease that gave him the physiology of a huge lizard, attributing him with superhuman strength and healing but destroying his sanity. He is a violent and volatile creature who serves as the Riddler's lieutenant under the promise that the Riddler will give him a cure for his condition. Andy Serkis was immediately chosen for the role based on his previous, acclaimed work with motion capture, especially King Kong and The Lord of the Rings.
- Rebecca Romijin as Copperhead, a prisoner at Arkham who was experimented on until she was gifted with inhuman dexterity and flexibility, and she became an assassin working for the Riddler under the promise that she would be allowed to live in peace in Gotham with a huge fortune to live in pleasure. She is a master escapist and contortionist, whose weapon of choice are metal poisonous claws.
- Kevin Spacey as Harvey Dent, an idealistic lawyer and Gotham's District Attorney. He is Juli Madison's antithesis, in that he believes that all criminals deserve equal alternative chances, while she believes that criminals are an infection. During a hearing for Salvatore Maroni, the mob boss is pressured by the Riddler into burning Dent's face with acid, hospitalizing him and leaving him with permanent burns.
- Liev Schreiber as Salvatore Maroni, a cruel but cowardly mob boss who is blackmailed by the Riddler into placing himself in prison where he can be placed in Arkham as the Riddler's spy there. After attacking Harvey Dent with acid under pressure from the Riddler, Maroni is gunned down by Commissioner Gordon, which was orchestrated the whole time by the Riddler.
- Misha Collins as Harvey Bullock: Commissioner Gordon's rival and work nemesis, who is both proficient and belligerent in nature. He believes that criminals are all an infestation and is convinced that brutality and fear is the way to break the mob, which puts him at odds with Gordon.
- Michael Nyqvist as Carmine Falcone: A mob boss who is tried by Harvey Dent, but escapes justice. At the end of the film, Harvey kills him to signify that he has become Two-Face.
The film surpassed its own budget in a month in the Middle East, grossing $300 million. It grossed $758, 500, 390 in the United States. In the UK, it managed to gross $327, 460, 620, thus ultimately grossing $1,385,961,010 worldwide. As a result of this, it became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2015, failing to ultimately surpass Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, but it faced a dramatic increase in March 2016, increasing by $245, 030, 190, leading to ultimately holding $1, 630, 991, 200 worldwide.
Batman: Eye of the Storm received widespread acclaim from critics and fans alike, with many considering it a drastic improvement over its predecessor. Critics praised its complex characters, action, score, special effects, CGI, Ritchie's direction and the performances of Fassbender, DiCaprio and Serkis. It holds a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 532 reviews, with an average score of 9.4/10, with the consensus reading: "In a surprise rebound from Guy Ritchie, in this brilliant, riveting and powerful story of the Caped Crusader battling against another menagerie of villains, with a hypnotic performance by Andy Serkis and pristine direction by Ritchie himself".
Film critic Mark Kermode of The Guardian awarded the film 4 out of 4 stars, describing Batman: Eye of the Storm as "a relentless, powerful and magnificent story that balances a furious villain, a complex hero and several unerringly convincing characters amping up the stakes." He praised the performances, script and sets, especially those surrounding the final battle. Peter Travers, who previously reviewed The Dark Knight, called the film "The Shawshank Redemption of Ritchie's Batman series" and lauded the performances of Jackman, Fassbender and Serkis. He described Fassbender's performance as "invigorating", and saying that the mantle of Bruce Wayne fitted him like a glove. He also praised Ritchie's direction and the film's production value, as well as the computer-generated imagery surrounding Killer Croc, calling it "Serkis' Second Skin". In a public interview, Ritchie himself claimed that the production of the film was "terrifyingly hard, but eventually the result was like a roller coaster for us all".
The performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Andy Serkis received universal acclaim, with DiCaprio praising Serkis as "a massive presence in the film that surpassed even Michael's character, and made even Ritchie afraid to approach him afterwards". Jack Nicholson, who is not entirely unknown for his role in Batman films, voiced that he admired DiCaprio, saying that "DiCaprio's debacle would have been having to portray such a cartoonish villain, but he surprised us all with a nerve-wracking, even frightening performance that turned him into the golden goose of the movie". Quentin Tarantino, who had previously volunteered unsuccessfully to co-direct the film, acclaimed Serkis as "one of the most lifelike characters in the entire film", and praised his ability to convey a complex creature that's as complicated as he is ugly.
Joel Schumacher attempted to sue Guy Ritchie for deriving certain elements of the film from his own adaption Batman Forever, but he eventually refrained out of respect for Ritchie and the crew and because it was pointless to try and sue Ritchie for making his own reimagination of Batman and the Riddler. He eventually managed to enjoy the movie, and considered Ritchie and Fassbender to be the glowing contributions to the story. In addition, David Benby pointed out that the most underrated performances in the entire movie belonged to Jessica Chastain, Hugh Jackman and Kevin Spacey, and voiced that he was looking forward to the inevitable display of Spacey as Two-Face.
It was announced six months after the film's release by Guy Ritchie that there would be a sequel to the film, entitled Batman: Game of Fate, and announced that Fassbender, Chastain, Jackman, McKellen and Spacey would be reprising their roles. He also announced that he would include Daniel Cudmore, Kristen Stewart and Charles Dance, but refused to divulge what roles they would play.