The film opens with a shot of the Gotham City skyline at night. The camera is taken to be the point of view of a bat as it flies through the city streets and the credits play. It eventually settles on a movie theater as a wealthy couple, Thomas and Martha Wayne, leave a showing of The Mark of Zorro with their young son, Bruce. As they walk home through a dark alley, a mugger emerges from the shadows and holds the Waynes at gunpoint, demanding that Thomas give up his wallet. After Thomas does so, the mugger requests that Martha give him her pearls, and then reaches for them. Thomas demands that the man take his hands off of his wife and attacks the mugger, who fires a shot into Thomas' stomach. Martha begins to scream, causing the mugger to shoot her in the chest before running away. As Bruce kneels next to his father, Thomas uses his last breath to tell Bruce not to be afraid. It then starts to rain as Bruce sobs over the lifeless bodies of his parents. Suddenly, Bruce Wayne, now an adult, wakes up in bed, revealing what we saw to have been a nightmare.
Bruce, unable to sleep, sits in his study in silence. Suddenly,a bright light appears in the sky, projecting the image of a bat. Bruce gets up and goes down to the secret cave beneath Wayne Manor, where he changes into his alter ego; the Batman. Batman takes off into the night on his endless crusade against injustice and encounters a gang of thieves in the middle of a robbery. After defeating them and tying them up, Batman vanishes into the shadows.
Edward Nygma, a nerdy and eccentric Wayne Enterprises employee, is on the verge of perfecting his new invention, which could possibly change the world; a machine that can enhance the human brain. However, Roland Daggett, Nygma's corrupt superior and a member of the Wayne Enterprises Board, wants to steal Nygma's invention. When his first attempt fails, Daggett sends a gang of thugs after Nygma on his way home from work. Nygma's world is changed forever when he is saved by Gotham's legendary protector; Batman, the dark knight.
Nymga becomes obsessed with Batman, to the point that he creates a new identity for himself, The Riddler, and uses the Bat Signal to summon Batman one night. Here, Nygma reveals to Batman that he wants to be his partner. Batman rebuffs him, however, and vanishes. Nygma, dejected and broken, returns home and trashes his apartment in rage.
The following day, a quiet and reserved Nygma returns to work, trying to keep face, only to learn that Daggett has been pulling strings and gotten him fired. Nygma becomes violent and must be dragged away by security. Later, Nygma learns that Daggett has revealed Nygma's invention to Bruce Wayne and has taken credit for himself. Nygma finally snaps and decides to take his revenge using his new identity as the Riddler.
As the Riddler, Nygma begins to play mind games with Daggett and other members of his inner circle, eventually starting to kill them off one by one. Meanwhile, Batman and police commissioner James Gordon are investigating the murders and it isn't long before Batman makes the connection between the killings and Nygma.
Nygma kidnaps Fred Stickley, one of the men who conspired with Daggett, and locks him in the basement of a run down factory owned by Wayne Enterprises. He sends a cryptic message to the police to taunt them, but Batman deciphers it and identifies Stickley's location. Gordon leads a squad of men in and they rescue Stickley before he can be killed by Nygma's trap. Nygma, by this point insane, counts Gordon as his enemy and sets out to eliminate him.
When Daggett realises the true nature of what is happening, he demands police protection, only to be arrested by Gordon. The remaining conspirators are also rounded up thanks to Stickley's confession (although Stickley himself is killed in the hospital by Nygma, who uses an epidermic needle on him when no one is looking).
Gordon returns home, only to find that his daughter Barbara has been kidnapped by Nygma, who has taken her to his former lab at Wayne Enterprises. Gordon and the police pursue him, and Gordon heads up alone while the police wait below. When Nygma is about to kill either Barbara or Gordon in revenge, Batman crashes through the window. Nygma, enraged, attacks him while Gordon and Barbara escape into the elevator. In a last ditch effort, Nygma tries to cut the elevator cord and kill them, but Batman rescues them before Nygma's plan can come to fruition. Nygma himself then falls on top of the elevator as the rope finally snaps, plummeting several stories down the shaft and taking Nygma to his death.
Afterwards, Barbara is seen writing in her diary about her experience with Batman and how she hopes that one day they will cross pathes again. Gordon meets with the hero on a rooftop and thanks him for saving his daughter, before the Bat Signal appears in the distance and Batman jumps into the night, forever Gotham's watchful protector.
Eric Bana - Bruce Wayne/The Batman
Geoffrey Rush - Alfred Pennyworth
Bryan Cranston - Commissioner James Gordon
Emma Stone - Barbara Gordon
Billy Dee Williams - Lucius Fox
Michael C. Hall - Edward Nygma/The Riddler
When the Superman reboot was announced in late 2010, Warner Bros. and DC confirmed that they would be creating a cinematic universe based on their characters in hopes of creating a Justice League movie. The universe would begin with the Superman film, and the second film announced to be a part of the universe was a Batman reboot.
Based on his work on films such as Road to Perdition and Skyfall, Sam Mendes was selected as the director. Mendes was reportedly thrilled to be taking part in the construction of the universe and was especially happy to be overseeing the Batman reboot.
Next, James Vanderbilt, based on his work on Zodiac and The Amazing Spider-Man, was hired to write the film's script. He talked with Mendes and they both agreed that they wanted a slightly older Batman then Christian Bale. The casting directors remembered this when selecting the cast. Mendes stated in interviews that the tone and atmosphere was heavily inspired by the animated series.
Eric Bana was the first actor cast. Bana had previous experience with comic book movies as he had appeared in Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk. Bana's casting was met with a mix of praise and criticism by some fans, but the studio stood by their decision. Next, two important members of the supporting cast were chosen; Geoffrey Rush and Billy Dee Williams as Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox respectively. Both also had experience with comic book movies; Rush had voiced Tomar-Re in the 2011 film Green Lantern and Willaims played Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman" film. Williams was reportedly overjoyed to be returning to the series, joking that they may get tommy lee jones and him to fight off, referencing the casting change for batman forever. Some fans were weary of Rush, an Australian actor, portraying the traditionally British Alfred. However, Rush had played British characters before and played Alfred in a similar way.
As soon as the reboot was announced, Bryan Cranston was a fan favourite for the role of James Gordon. Cranston had previously voiced the character in the animated Batman: Year One film and was reportedly interesting in reprising the role. The fanbase's reaction to his casting was overwhelmingly positive, with Cranston commenting on Twitter that he was honoured to get such a reaction. Emma Stone was then announced to be playing his daughter; Barbara Gordon. This fueled speculation that Batgirl, Barbara's alter ego in the comics, might appear in the film, but when the film was released it became clear that she was only appearing as Barbara.
The most anticipated casting was kept to last; who would be playing the Riddler. Amongst those reportedly considered were Johnny Depp and Guy Pearce (Pearce later went on to appear in the film's sequel as Black Mask). After much speculation and waiting, the actor was revealed to be Dexter star Michael C. Hall, who was met with overwhlemingly positive comments on his casting.
A big part of the film was design, as the creators wanted to set it apart from previous Batman films and make it unique. The most important aspect was the design of the Batsuit. The suit's design was based on the Batsuit which had appeared in "Arkham" video games, with a black bat symbol on a grey bodysuit. The cowl was given the white pupiless eyes from the comics, to make the suit look unique, as well as adding a yellow outline around the symbol mirroring the yellow oval used in the comics, and making the cowl and cape a very dark navy blue.
The Riddler's design was also based on the Arkham games. He is depicted as wearing a green suit with small question marks covering it, along with a green hat and a long question mark cane. The Riddler also wears purple gloves and a purple tie.
The one bit of design that set this batman movie apart from the others is that gotham city has a similar design to metropolis from superman reborn, which itself was inspired by batman the animated series, a art deco, retro futuristic city, though to set it apart from metropolis it was done in a style more suited for a film noir, which many have argued is the tone where batman is the most natural.
The film was a huge success, amongst both critics and fans, usually scoring around 8.5/10 to 10/10. The performances of Eric Bana and Michael C. Hall were highly praised. Captain Logan from the review show Superhero Rewind said that he "fell in love with the film in the opening shots of Gotham." Internet reviewer James Rolfe said that the film was everything he had wanted in a Batman film, while Doug Walker stated that he was left satisfied as a Batman fan. Angry Joe considered the film "the best Batman movie to date."
The Batman was followed by Shadow of the Batman, which introduced the characters of Harvey Bullock, Vicki Vale, Victor Fries/Mr Freeze and Killer Croc. A second sequel followed, Legend of the Batman, which added Dick Grayson AKA Robin to the mythos as well as the villain Black Mask. Eric Bana also went on to portray Batman in World's Finest opposite Armie Hammer as Superman.
Who is the Batman?
He is Vengeance. He is the Night. He is the Batman.
Welcome to Gotham City.
Riddle me this.
Hey diddle diddle, time for a riddle.