or, “Bat-psychology 101 with Professor Jonathan Crane”
or, “Realistic-ish Gritty Batman!”
or, “A Fine Line Between Action-Thriller and Morality Play”
A Prison Somewhere in the Far East:
Prisoner 1 – Hey, clearly foreign inmate, that big guy is going to try to kill you today.
Bruce Wayne – Bring it, big guy! I am insane!
[[The big guy brings it, and the fight ends up involving several inmates; finally guards drag Bruce away and lock him in a very spacious solitary confinement cell to protect everyone else]]
Ducard – Well, Mr. Wayne, when you get tired of beating up criminals for no good reason, come find me and I can offer you a better way to fight injustice. Pick a blue flower and climb up the mountain.
Bruce – Why the hell not? This isn’t working out the way I planned.
Bruce – Okay, I got your stupid flower. Can I join your club or whatever? Actually, what am I asking to join?
Ducard – We are the League of Shadows and we fight injustice.
Bruce – That’s not a clever euphemism for “Society of Assassins,” is it?
Ducard – Um, no, and now I’m going to beat the hell out of you! [[does so]] But it looks like the boss Ra’s Al Ghul over there is impressed enough by you to let you into the Society, I mean, League.
Bruce – Great! I’m sure this well-trained group of ninjas is exactly the kind of people an angry person like myself needs to fall in with right now! So teach me some ninja stuff!
Ducard – No problem. Also, you get psychology lessons!
Bruce – Wait, why?
Ducard – To make you better, faster, stronger. So what do you fear?
Flashback – Wayne Manor:
Young Rachel – I have a thing and you can’t have it!
Young Bruce – Give me the thing! [[he gets the thing]] Now I have a thing and you can’t have it! [[runs away until he falls down a badly boarded-up well]]
Young Rachel – I’ll get help!
Young Bruce – Hurry! It’s scary down here! [[the noise frightens thousands of bats who fly out just to terrify young Bruce; finally he’s rescued by his father]]
Training Camp, Again:
Bruce – I’m afraid of, um, stuff.
Ducard – You must face your fear, defeat your fear, and become your fear.
Bruce – To fight injustice?
Ducard – Of course!
Bruce – You know, this movie is starting to feel more like a morality play than an action movie.
Ducard – Okay, then let’s fight on ice and I’ll insult you by telling you that your father got himself killed!
Flashback – Wayne Manor:
Thomas Wayne – [[who has just extracted his son from the well]] Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again.
Bruce – What? Dad, I just broke my arm! I fell down because the groundskeeper didn’t block the well up right. What are you even talking about?
Thomas – It’ll make sense later. I’ll get you all patched up without taking you to a hospital because I’m a doctor and all.
Flashback – Going to the Opera:
Thomas – I built this rail system for the city to try to help people. It’s important to help people, even bad people, because they’re probably only bad people because they need help.
Bruce – Um, okay.
Flashback – Opera:
Bruce – Dad, all the bat-people are scaring me. Can we go?
Thomas – Sure. And instead of walking out the front door, we’ll take the side door into the heavily graffiti’ed and badly lit alleyway even though it doesn’t make logical sense.
Joe Chill – Give me your money!
[[Despite Thomas’s best efforts to keep the situation under control, Chill panics and shoots both Thomas and Martha, leaving little Bruce an orphan]]
Flashback – Police Station:
Jim Gordon – My only purpose here is to show you some sympathy and set up our relationship for the rest of the movie.
Bruce – Um, okay. Thanks for being nice.
Chief – Don’t worry, little guy. You lost your parents but we caught the guy who did it.
Training Camp, Again:
Ducard – The lesson here is that you can have no sympathy for a criminal. Ever. Anyone who has ever committed any crime deserves absolute justice.
Bruce – But I had to steal to survive after I ran away from Gotham. I learned that crime isn’t always absolute.
Ducard – Yes it is! That’s totally the point of the Society, I mean, League. So why didn’t you kill your parents’ murderer? Oh, is there going to be another freakin’ flashback?
Bruce – I know, right?
Flashback – Wayne Manor:
Not-As-Old Alfred – Sir, please tell me you didn’t leave Princeton to do something stupid?
College Bruce – Of course I am. But if you’d sent me to a qualified therapist after I watched my parents senselessly die, maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.
Not-As-Old Alfred – Yeah, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that at the time.
Flashback – Joe Chill’s Parole:
College Rachel? DA Rachel? Isn’t she a little young to be working in the DA’s office? – Anyway, Bruce, I hope you’re not going to do something stupid today.
College Bruce – Um, maybe.
Chill – I’m really sorry, your Honor, for killing those people. So, can I go now?
Judge – Sure, you’ve convinced me.
[[Chill is killed by a mafia hitman]]
Younger Rachel – Falcone had him killed! I knew that would happen!
College Bruce – I was going to kill him anyway.
Younger Rachel – You’re an idiot. You have wealth and privilege and you were going to waste all that on a petty act of revenge. Look at all these poor people here! And Falcone controls the underworld. His actions created Joe Chill and will create more like Joe Chill. So go tell him what you think!
College Bruce – That is a terrible idea! I’ll do it!
Flashback – A Modern Speakeasy, I guess:
Younger Falcone – Oh, the Wayne kid. Here’s the deal. I run this town and you can suck it with your outrageous fortune and financial and political connections and the ability to buy and sell everything in my criminal empire three times over.
Bruce – Are you actually telling the Gotham City equivalent of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs that there’s nothing I can do to topple your criminal empire? Seriously? You can bribe judges; I can finance their re-election campaigns. You can launder money and I can ask my buddies to have the FBI look in on you. You can launder money and I can ask my buddies to have the IRS to audit you. Even freakin’ Al Capone couldn’t get away from the IRS. If I applied myself, you’d be up on charges of tax evasion in five years.
Younger Falcone – Yeah, I know, I really come across as an idiot here.
Bruce – Yeah, well, I don’t even think about my already existing superpower (cold hard cash) and instead get really mad!
Younger Falcone – Ooo, you’re angry. Whatever. Get the hell out of my bar.
Training Camp, Again:
Bruce – Where we were again? I’m losing track with all the flashbacks.
Ducard – Instead of using your money, connections, and intelligence to take out Falcone in a perfectly legal, if slightly lengthy method, you chose to run away from Gotham City and get yourself imprisoned so you could learn to fight.
Bruce – Yeah. Okay, so where I am now?
Ducard – You’ve learned that you must be a psychological terror to effectively fight crime.
Bruce – Sure, if you say so.
Ducard – Now I’m going to drug you and then you’ll have your final exam. A passing score is you don’t die.
Bruce – Harsh.
[[The blue flower makes a psychotropic hallucinogen which makes the whole not dying thing not particularly easy, but Bruce prevails]]
Ducard – Excellent! Now you can help us in our plan to destroy Gotham City.
Bruce – Say what with the who now?
Ducard – Gotham City is decadent and corrupt. We’re going to destroy the whole city as a sign to the world that injustice and crime will not be tolerated. Also, you have to kill this farmer who murdered his neighbor to prove your loyalty.
Bruce – Um, so all this ninja-psychobabble spiel you’ve been giving me was to brainwash me into joining your League so I could help you kill millions of people?
Ducard – Pretty much. So kill this guy and let’s get on with it.
Bruce – Yeah, I’m really not down with this ‘kill everyone’ style of justice, so I’m going to have to destroy your League here. [[proceeds to burn down the training camp, kills Ra’s Al Ghul but saves Ducard’s life]]
Bruce – So, Alfred, I’ve decided to stay in Gotham and make it a better place. So I’m going to become a costumed vigilante crime-fighter.
Alfred – Did you hit your head very hard while you were away?
Wayne Industries, Applied Sciences Department:
Bruce – Okay, so that Earle guy is clearly running my company. I’ll take care of him later. First, some stuff.
Lucius – I have stuff. All military-grade prototypes that were never put into production. What do you want them for?
Bruce – Spelunking.
Lucius – Right, my fault for asking. Look, take whatever you want, but don’t assume I’m an idiot.
Bruce – Okay.
Wayne Manor, Underground Caverns:
Bruce – This will make a great spot for my headquarters as a vigilante crime-fighter. I need to get some more stuff, though. Alfred, do you have a problem with this clear insanity?
Alfred – Oddly, I have absolutely no problem going along with this madness.
Rachel – Dr. Crane, I think you’re working for Falcone and getting his goons let out of prison on an insanity plea!
Crane – You’re very astute, self-righteous, and don’t have a very good survival instinct. That is going to get you in trouble very soon.
Crane – I’m tired of helping out your goons. My boss is coming into town and he won’t be happy with you risking the entire operation. Also, Rachel Dawes is asking way too many questions. I told her it was going to get her in trouble.
Falcone – Okay, I can do that for you.
Bruce – I need an ally, and you’re the best cop in the city.
Gordon – Allies don’t threaten allies.
Bruce – Just tell me what Falcone’s up to.
Gordon – Drug smuggling. But we can’t catch him. Even if we did, he’s got all the judges bribed.
Bruce – I’ll handle that.
Flass – Mr. Falcone, you’ve got me, your crooked cop, overseeing this drug shipment. Why are you even here? Isn’t this too great a risk?
Falcone – I just want to make sure the job is done right.
[[Finally Batman shows up in his own darn movie! He beats up all the thugs and even catches Falcone, who doesn’t the sense to leave the scene when the trouble starts]]
Rachel – Okay, threatening men, I have a tazer!
[[Batman saves her and gives her some pictures]]
Rachel – Wow, this has turned weird.
Alfred – Don’t forget, you have to play the part of a spoiled billionaire or people will wonder about you.
Bruce – I’d rather sleep.
Alfred – I’m sorry, sir, you have to go party it up.
[[Bruce does so later but of course Rachel catches him at the worst possible moment and tells him he’s a terrible person]]
Bruce – Argh, this duel life thing sucks! At least I got Falcone!
Falcone – Okay, Crane, just to prove I am the idiot I came across as in the beginning of the movie, I’m going to demand you let me in on the big plan in the works or else I tell the cops everything I know. I’m also totally confident you won’t kill me.
Crane – You really are an idiot. I don’t have to kill you. Look at my neat Scarecrow mask!
Falcone – What the hell?
[[Crane gasses Falcone who comes down with the screaming heebie-jeebies and thus is completely unable to testify]]
Batman – Falcone isn’t talking. Who else is there?
Gordon – Dude, why are you at my house? That’s creepy.
Batman – Who else knows something?
Gordon – You can try my crooked partner. [[Batman vanishes]] Is this going to become an unsettling trend?
Mean Streets of Gotham:
[[Batman easily finds Flass and hauls him up for some good old-fashioned, pants-wetting interrogation]]
Batman – Where are the drugs!?
Flass – Dude, is that your Batman voice? It wasn’t that bad before. Now it’s like you’ve smoked like a million cigarettes and are trying to talk with a bunch of rocks in your mouth.
Batman – Where are the drugs?!
Flass – Okay, so this is what you’re sticking with. Fine, fine, I guess. I mean, we aren’t all Kevin Conroy.
Batman – Dude, this is hurting my throat to talk like this. Answer the damn question!
Flass – Okay, here’s the relevant information. Good thing Falcone’s not talking or someone might try to kill me for telling you this.
Batman – The drugs are in stuffed bunnies? Okay, fine, whatever.
Crane – Burn everything.
Batman – I’ll stop you!
Crane – And I’ll give you a dose of my fear-toxin! [[does so]] And then I’ll light you on fire! [[does so]]
[[Batman runs leaping out the window and lands on the ground; he stops, drops, and rolls, and the heavy rain helps put him out]]
Gothamite 1 – So, that guy’s like, on fire. Should we help or something?
Gothamite 2 – Feh, no, of course not. This is Gotham City! I’m waiting until he’s dead so I can steal his wallet.
[[Batman manages to get to safety and Alfred picks him up]]
Bruce – That suuuuucked. How did I survive?
Lucius – Alfred called me and I developed an antidote.
Bruce – What about my secret identity?
Lucius – You don’t think I didn’t figure out what you were up to the day Batman first showed up in the Gotham newspapers?
Bruce – Yeah, that’s a fair point.
Alfred – So I got everything ready for your birthday tonight.
Bruce – Yeah, I need to get to Arkham and figure out what the hell Crane is really up to.
Rachel – Okay, Dr. Crane. I want Falcone released into the custody of the police. I want him to go to county medical where we’ll figure out what you drugged him with.
Crane – Sure, fine, but first I’ll show you what’s really going on. [[people are dumping a chemical into the water main]]
Rachel – Hey, now I can go to the police and tell them what you’re doing! Wait a minute; you’re going to kill me, aren’t you?
Crane – Totally.
[[Rachel tries to run for it but gets a big dose of fear toxin in the face and is reduced to a blithering idiot]]
Batman – I’ll save you anyway! [[starts beating up the goons and gives Crane a dose of his own fear toxin]] Who are you working for?!
Crane – Ra’s.
Batman – He’s dead. Who are you working for?
Crane – I’m going to mentally check out now. Bye-bye.
[[Batman gathers up Rachel, bypasses the cops, and has a very long chase scene in the Bat-tumbler before escaping to the Bat-cave; he gives Rachel the antidote, instructions she may or may not remember because she’s just been poisoned (!), and sedates her before telling Alfred to take her home]]
Bruce – So, Lucius, it looks like a hallucinogenic chemical was dumped in the Gotham City water supply but it’s only dangerous in an airborne form. Good thing there’s nothing that can vaporize water on a large scale, right?
Lucius – There is the microwave emitter that was stolen from Wayne Industries a few weeks ago.
Bruce – Damn it!
Ducard – Also, I’m actually Ra’s Al Ghul and I’m still going to kill your city by drugging everyone with Crane’s fear toxin.
Bruce – Double damn it! Okay, people, I’m a drunk insulting idiot and I want you to get the hell out of my house right now! [[people do so]] Seriously, don’t kill my city.
Ghul – We’ve been over this. No mercy and no compassion. I’m going to burn your house down and leave you for dead. Laters!
[[does so, but luckily Alfred saves him]]
Ghul – Load that thing on the train and head for the heart of the City. But first, we’ll bust open Arkham so the cops are busy.
Rachel – Sgt. Gordon! Batman gave me the antidote to the fear toxin. There’s a dose for you and then a dose to synthesize a cure for everyone else.
Gordon – Great! Now you get off this island!
Rachel – No! That’s not enough drama!
[[the microwave emitter does its thing and basically reduces the Narrows to the scene of a zombie apocalypse]]
Crane/Scarecrow – Hahahahaha!! I’m going to kill you now!
Rachel – [[tazes him and he falls the horse he was riding]] Loser.
Batman – Gordon, take the car! Do as I say! I’ll take on Ra’s!
Gordon – That is a sweet ride. [[Heads out of the Narrows to follow Batman’s instructions]]
[[Batman boards the train of death]]
Batman – I’m not going to let you kill my city!
Ra’s – Okay, when I said, ‘become fear’ and ‘become a symbol,’ dressing up like a nocturnal mammal wasn’t really what I meant. You took my crazy talk to a different level of crazy. Also, is that your Batman voice?
Batman – Argh! Fight now! [[they do so]]
Ra’s – It turns out that the League is responsible for the Depression in Gotham that allowed people like Falcone to come to power, so in a roundabout way, I am responsible for your parents’ death. Also, we couldn’t allow idealists like them live anyway.
Batman – Dude, the more you talk about injustice and justice the less sense your whole League makes. I mean, what the hell? You’re destroying people to save people? Why not just save people? You’re not just crazy, you’re a hypocrite too!
Ra’s – But I’m going to win once we get to Wayne Tower and this thing vaporizes the entire water supply!
[[Gordon blows up the train supports so the train cannot possibly reach Wayne Tower]]
Ra’s – Okay, that is a problem.
Batman – I’m going to jump off this train before it crashes. I’m not going to kill you, but I’m not going to save you either.
Ra’s – Isn’t that kind of hypocritical too?
Batman – Yeah, probably, but I don’t really care at this point and neither does the audience.
[[Batman escapes and there are awesome explosions as the train jumps the tracks and does a ton of property damage]]
Rachel – Although we’ve had very little chemistry or screen time, it turns out that I love you.
Bruce – Awesome.
Rachel – However, since I also know you’re Batman because you told me, we can’t be together because you’re clearly insane. But if you sane up again, call me.
Bruce – Bummer.
Earle – What the hell is going on here?
Bruce – It turns out I didn’t forget about how you took over my company behind my back so I bought it up again and you’re fired. And I gave Lucius your job.
Lucius – Haha, loser.
Batman – I like the spotlight.
Gordon – Thanks. Listen, I think things are looking better for us cops, so if it’s all the same to you, let us handle the mundane stuff.
Batman – What about me?
Gordon – Well, there are a whole bunch of escaped inmates from Arkham who are still wandering the streets. That drug probably didn’t help them. Here’s one you can look into.
Batman – So you’re saying you want me to deal with the weird stuff?
Gordon – Pretty much.
Batman – I can do that. Hey, this appears to be a clue to the main villain in the sequel.