Maggie McMuffin got drunk and rewatched Batman Begins. This is the result.
I’m in the process of moving. I was going through my movies, tossing stuff out, and when I got to the animated adaptation of Year One it was a no-brainer to put it in the ‘thrift store’ pile. I wasn’t a fan of the movie, I wasn’t a fan of that story. When I first and only read the trade I was left feeling meh and wondering how this could have once been groundbreaking. How it could have, years later, led to the kickoff of a franchise that changed the face of superhero films.
And then, while going through the other two-and-a-half shelves of Batman-related properties I realized I didn’t even own Batman Begins.
The Burton/Schumacher box set, three seasons of two animated shows, Dark Knight andDark Knight Rises, 8 DCUA animated features, four DCAU animated features including two VHS tapes and a repeat title, Batman ‘69, a porn parody and… I don’t own Batman Begins. I don’t think I ever did. I can’t even say I loaned it out because there’s not even a space for it. It’s just not there.
But considering my ambivalence towards Year One is that any shock?
(Note: The day I was supposed to submit this review I was packing more stuff and foundBatman Begins tucked away with yet more cartoons and movies I don’t care about. So while it is not true that I never owned a copy of that movie it may as well be.)
When I first saw Batman Begins in theaters at the tender age of 15, I was also left feeling meh. I immediately wanted to go home and watch Batman ’89, a movie I have since decided is a great Burton movie but a shit Batman movie.
Every time I rewatched Batman Begins in later years I would just want to watch Mask of the Phantasm. It’s an animated film which, as far as I and a bunch of other nerds are concerned, is the absolute best Batman movie ever made. And it was released in theatres so you can’t even tell me it doesn’t count. Go watch it on YouTube right now.
Ten years ago, watching the film on IMAX, I felt crowded. I knew nothing about cinematography but I knew filming fight scenes up close in the dark is not effective. I didn’t catch all the references (this was before I got into the comics) but something felt wrong. This wasn’t MY Batman. Maybe it was growing up on The Animated Series. Maybe it was having nostalgia for Batman ‘89 and Batman and Robin. Maybe it was that I can’t stand Katie Holmes.
But it didn’t grab me.
To this day, the only remarkable thing about this film to me is the soundtrack and that’s because I lost my virginity to the second half of this movie on a later viewing and, let me tell you, that soundtrack makes fucking for the first time feel really exciting.
I would tell someone to stop distracting me they really have to watch this part during Mask of the Phantasm. I would stop mid-blowjob for parts of Dark Knight. I would masturbate in the theatre to Tom Hardy’s masked face in Rises if I wasn’t too lazy to touch myself and skeezed out by PDA.
But getting up halfway through Begins for sex? Easy.
Hell, I would leave after Cillian Murphy’s scenes were done to drive across town and eat a mediocre bagel.
My point is that I just don’t like it too much.
But like Year One it did start something. Without Begins we wouldn’t have Dark Knight, which is easily the best of Nolan’s trilogy and really the film that launched the superhero renaissance. A note about how I’ve changed since seeing this film. At 14 when it came out I was staunchly against dating or any romantic entanglements, cynical towards all forms of love. When I watched this film again I did it after making my current partner let me make him dinner so I could show off my cooking. He traded dinner for wine and as a result I ended up watching Batman Begins kind of drunk. So in lieu of an actual article or recap, we’re gonna Hemingway this shit and just have sober me write notes (parenthesized italics) about the synopsis and commentary drunk me wrote.
SO MANY BATS. IN CASE YOU FORGOT THAT’S HIS THING.
AND THE BATS MAKE A BAT.
(I had actually never noticed that Nolan doesn’t use title cards. I will admit that is cool because it’s not like Batman needs an introduction.)
Flashback to falling in the well because Rachel Katie Holmes won’t let baby Bruce see an arrowhead so he steals it. Fucking rich boy. Yeah you fall in that well. You deserve that.
Rachel shouts for her mom and Alfred. I guess Bruce’s parents aren’t around.
Oh god, time change. Why Nolan. Learn linear storytelling. Bruce is now in…Asia. China? Tibet? Nolan doesn’t care why should I?
(Nolan not caring about specific Asian countries continues throughout the series. Beginning here with a really white-washed fake-out Ras Al Ghul and continuing with a white washed Bane and Talia Al Ghul in Dark Knight Rises. Nolan is a man who can make a film about four separate and distinct layers of consciousness but couldn’t give a fuck about being more specific about which area of fucking Asia we are in or, you know, casting people of color to play characters of color. Not cool, man. Not cool.)
Oh, it’s a prison. And Bale has the cheekbones to prove it. He’s also snarky about the food and gets punched out. Now begins the story of white men being better at martial arts than Asian people.
“You’re not the devil. You’re practice.”
(That line is hella Batman though. Snarky Batman is my favorite Batman. Again, seeAnimated Series.)
Bruce Wayne goes to prison but learns nothing from the experience and proceeds to put more people in jail for the rest of his life.
Oh man, a fight in daylight! How great would it be if more things were shot like that? I know how great it would be. It would be as great as Fury Road. WITNESS.
Bruce does not play well with others, gets thrown in his cell with TOTALLY NOT RAS AL GHUL. THIS IS HENRY DUCARD. HE IS TOTALLY NOT RAS AL GHUL (NRAG), YOU GUYS.
I love Liam Neeson’s elf ears.
NRAG gets him out and tells him to go pick a flower and carry it up a mountain. ONLY BRUCE KNOWS BRUCE’S LIFE, NRAG. SHUT UP.
Bruce gets the flower after hiking across a glacier.
HOW IS POISON IVY NOT THE VILLAIN NEXT FILM? THIS IS THE NEEDLESS DEATH OF A FLOWER.
(It’s not in my notes but I do remember making my partner pause the movie here so that I could tell him about Poison Ivy’s intro episode in The Animated Series and how it was literally her seducing, fake engagementing, and trying to kill Harvey Dent for making a flower go extinct and the show carried that fact through all four seasons. I would like to point out here that if someone watching this movie with me took a drink every time I made us pause so I could talk about The Animated Series they would quickly be as drunk as I was.)
Oh hey it’s fake RAG. He’s actually Asian.
Note: The attempts at realism ended in cartoonishness. If you have a cartoon (TAS) that is rooted in humanity and real moments, it adds weight to the cartoonishness. But if you have reeealism it just makes the cracks show more. Especially when you’re not actually going for realism but ’90s ideas of cooooooool.
(This was something my partner pointed out and drunk me yelled about. The reasons Nolan’s films aren’t actually realistic is because they’re trying to be realistic but have to be a bit cartoonish because they’re about a goddamn dude dressing up as a bat because no one made him go to therapy as a kid despite his family being super rich and able to afford mental health care. Trying to make a cartoon plot real is going to make the weak spots show. But if you have something based in that cartoon concept and you instead fill it with humanity and character growth it allows the cartoon bits to feel real and whole. And let’s face it, Nolan’s films aren’t actually realistic. They’re gritty. There is a HUGE difference between gritty, which is a genre aesthetic that DC films have since beat into the ground because the company largely spent ten years after this film hating fun and joy, and actual realism. There’s a reason superhero comics are supposed to be allegories and modern myths and not, you know, a fucking how-to manual on how to deal with your problems.)
I M DRUNK BTW.
(In case you forgot)
oh it’s a fear flower. Bruce has to face and overpower his fears. “DEATH DOES NOT WAIT.”
OH SHIT THIS WAS PRE-ACTION NEESON. HE HAD IT IN HIM ALL ALONG.
(At this point drunk me got really sad about Natasha Richardson. Her untimely and tragic death in 2008 was what led to Liam Neeson throwing himself into any and all projects he was offered as a way to deal with his grief. It’s the reason we have the current image of Liam Neeson. I had totally forgotten that at this point he was still respected actor Liam Neeson which means this movie qualifies for one of my favorite things: amazing British actors putting on serious performances for silly material.)
NRAG fucks up Bruce. “You are afraid. Not of me.”
WHAT IS BRUCE AFRAID OF? MYSTERY OF THE AGES. IT’S PROBABLY RESPONSIBILITY.
Back to the well in the past. Bruce has calmed down. Single father Thomas Wayne jumps down to get him. Alfred is trying. ALFRED IS SHAFTED HERE.
“Why do we fall? To get back up.”
(Ten minutes in: First Phantasm rant about origins stories.)
OH HEY, PEARL NECKLACE. Martha continues not speaking but being pretty. HOW CAN YOU FRIDGE THE WOMAN IF YOU MAKE THE MAN SO MUCH MORE, NOLAN?
Why does his dad looks like James Woods?
“Your mother has no lines.”
(Not but seriously FUCK CHRISTOPHER NOLAN. Bruce Wayne had two parents killed in front of him. Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace is a goddamn focal point of the Crime Alley story. She was there, too. She loved Bruce, too. But this film doesn’t give a shit about her. And Nolan has repeatedly fridged women in his films so I don’t see why he would shaft her. But it continues in the next film where father/son relationships take precedence over canon because in Dark Knight Jim Gordon is all worried about Two Face killing his son and not his daughter. And while Gordon does in fact have a son in canon, you cannot tell me that he’s more important than BARBARA GORDON. I don’t even care if it was because he didn’t want there to be an entry for sidekicks, he gave us a Dick Grayson stand in Dark Knight Rises and I am just really pissed about this erasure of women who are important to Batman in favor of stories about father/son relationships.)
THEY DON’T SEE ZORRO, THEY SEE FAUST. OF COURSE A KID GETS SCARED.
(Here I went on a rant not about The Animated Series but about Batman: The Brave and the Bold which, despite being a very lighthearted cartoon based off of the silver age comics (Crazy Quilt shows up, you guys), has the most fucking stone-cold heartbreaking version of Crime Alley I have ever seen. They told that story FOR THEIR CHRISTMAS EPISODE AND KIND OF MADE IT BRUCE’S FAULT. It was fuuuuuuucked.)
“It is irresponsible to take what is no more than a ten year old to what is a, if this is Goethe’sFaust, that is a three-hour opera. He is gonna have nightmares. Waynes, I’m sorry, you deserved your death.” (Partner’s commentary. I agree. That opera was terrifying.)
Editor’s Note: The opera is Mefistofele, but the point still stands.
SHE HAD A LINE. “WHAT’S WRONG BRUCE?”
(MARTHA WAYNE GOT ONE LINE, YOU GUYS. ONE LINE AND A SCREAM.)
And now Bruce can have survivor’s guilt. Thomas tries to stop the mugger. It’s an accident. Then Martha dies first. Bruce only cares about dad. Then Gordon is there. Just for a moment. The empire is waiting for you, Bruce. Rachel leaves. Alfred will be mother and father now because Alfred is the literal best. Alfred tells Bruce it wasn’t his fault. Clearly it doesn’t stick but hey he tried.
(Alfred is the literal best human being Bruce will ever meet. Alfred gives me so many heart feelings and Michael Caine plays the shit out of how much he cares for Bruce.)
BACK TO FEAR MOUNTAIN.
The prison beard is shaved. NRAG says Bruce can be invisible and engage 600 men. Smoke bomb! Become more than a man. “Crime cannot be tolerated. Criminals thrives on the indulgence of society’s understanding.” NRAG DOES NOT FUCK AROUND AND GOES FOR BIG GUNS.
IT WAS YOUR DAD’S FAULT, BRUCE.
Stop goading him, NRAG
“The impossible anger strangling the grief until the memory of your loved one is just poison. And then one day you find yourself wishing they had never existed so you would be spared the grief.”
NRAG tells us about his wife.
(Again, while I disagree with a white man being cast as Ras Al Ghul, Liam Neeson does a good job with the script and knowing what he’s talking about, since it’s covered in Dark Knight Rises, makes this scene more poignant. It also starts showing how Bruce and NRAG are different people. Because even though Bruce isn’t dealing with his grief in a healthy way, he’s at least trying to honor his parents (okay, his dad) and prevent tragedy from happening to other people whereas NRAG kind of seems to resent people in his past for making him feel things. Batman is often written as being emotionally shut off so that he can get the job done so it’s kind of nice to have a reminder that his mission of justice is based off of wanting to keep people alive and happy rather than just going around scaring the shit out of people. Side note: You know which version of Batman has him having a heart and showing care when it’s called for? YOU SHOULD KNOW BY NOW.)
Why does Bruce not mourn his mother? Thomas Wayne might as well be a single father.
(Drunk me could not let this go and sober me won’t either. FUCK YOU, NOLAN.)
Vengeance is a hell of a drug. Except Bruce can’t avenge his parents.
BABY BRUCE’S HAIR. SWEET COLLEGE BABY BOY HAIR.
Bruce is not going back to Princeton because they hate him. He’s staying home. Alfred insists that his father is dead and he should be in the master bedroom. Bruce is like NO. And Alfred has feelings, you ungrateful brat.
Rachel and Bruce apparently used to drink condensed milk. ??? Katie Holmes looks sweet and isn’t too bad. Nolan and his screenwriter David S. Goyer can’t write women so women in his films can’t be good. Rachel is understanding.
THEY KEPT THE NAME JOE CHILL.
Chill’s lawyer is bringing up good points about the justice system and desperation and junk. Bruce just stands and leaves.
THIS IS ACTUALLY GOOD.
What? A woman killed him? Who is that random lady in this sea of sausage?
(The whole courtroom scene is good. I like adaptations of Gotham that actually talk about how fucked the economy is there and how it drives people to crime. I like that Joe Chill is repentant but never asks for forgiveness or makes excuses. I like that Bruce is still angry but hasn’t figured out what to do with it yet and honestly considers shooting his parents’ murderer but can’t do it. This scene does a good job of establishing Batman’s issues with guns and having that be a root thing for Bruce even before he starts beating people up and then later realizing that there are other options for going on his crusade that don’t just end with killing people. We don’t actually follow through with that on this film but, hey, they had a moment.)
(Drunk me didn’t note that this following bit of dialogue is between Rachel and Bruce, post Chill getting killed at the courthouse.)
“You’re not talking about justice you’re talking about is vengeance.”
“Sometimes they’re the same thing.”
“Justice is about harmony. Vengeance is about making yourself feel better.”
(YES. PEOPLE CALLING OUT BRUCE WAYNE FOR BEING SELFISH IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS.)
Oh man the recession was a thing wasn’t it? These movies really tried talking about that.
Bruce can’t kill Chill. Rachel hits him for having the gun.
“Your father would be ashamed of you.”
Bruce throws the gun away because CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. GUNS BAD. BRUCE GOOD.
Oh yeah I forgot that Nolan’s film are always filled with British actors trying to be American. Bruce stands up to Falcone and Falcone points a gun at him. “That’s power you can’t buy. That’s the power of fear.”
“People from your world have so much to lose. You think because your mommy and daddy got shot you know the ugly side of life. You don’t know desperate.”
YES. CALL OUT HIS CLASS PRIVILEGE.
OH MY GOD I FORGOT HOW LONG IT TAKES TO GET TO CILLIAN MURPHY. WHY IS HE NOT HERE YET?
Bruce gives his coat away to a homeless dude and disappears. It’s a nice coat.
“First time I stole so I wouldn’t starve I lost many assumptions about the nature of right and wrong.” BRUCE IS LEARNING.
(Seriously, if your version of the Batfamily doesn’t include members of it having varying degrees of understanding for people committing survival crimes get the fuck out of my face.)
HA. He stole from himself to learn a lesson.
(Which means he didn’t actually steal and he still gets to keep the moral high ground. That’s a cop out.)
Now take the fear tea and live, Bruce! Feel your anger rage through you like a cleanse! RAGE CLEANSE.
“You must bask in the fear of other men.”
Now let’s go through a gauntlet. Embrace your worst fear, Bruce! Get to the box! Become one with the darkness, Bruce! OH FUCK BAT BOX. OH FUCK, JESUS.
Oh god this movie is boring. But it is about Batman, really and truly. And Batman is the Ted Mosby of Gotham. I just don’t care.
(Sober me also doesn’t care. Batman is my least favorite Batman character and once I realized this movie is all about Batman I suddenly understood why I hate it.)
Bruce beat NRAG. Fake RAG (FRAG) claps. They speak Urdu according to subtitles. “We have purged your fear. You are ready to lead these men.”
But first, kill this dude.
NO. “Your compassion is a weakness your enemies will not share.”
“That’s why it’s so important.”
One good thing about the whitewashing is that it’s not some white guy taking the moral high ground against a foreign man of color.
That said, do better Nolan.
Gotham in particular sucks. The whole wide world and Gotham is the worst.
BRUCE IS GONNA BURN THIS PLACE DOWN MOTHERFUCKERS.
“What’s necessary, my friend.” Should have called him old chum but whatever it’s not my movie. Let’s just only do shout outs to Frank Miller I guess.
FRAG is good at fighting but gets crushed by falling roof.
(“is this movie half over yet?” “It’s like a third of the way over.” “That’s okaaaay. I guess.”)
(At this point I had hit peak drunk and peak boredom. I remember literally fidgeting like a small child and whining about the movie being too long even though this movie is actually pretty short.)
Bruce is off a cliff with NRAG and pulls him up. Only white guys live. Because. BECAUSE.
Bruce leaves him in the rubble with an old man who says he’ll say Bruce saved his life.
Bruce goes to a private jet and Alfred is there to greet him. MONEY IS AWESOME YOU GUYS.
Bruce wants to show Gotham that the people own it. But not as Bruce. Because a symbol is better. “I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.”
(That would have been fucking great if Gotham was left with a Batman at the end of the trilogy instead of Bruce somehow not dying in a bomb and then retiring to France.)
Alfred gets that this is also about protecting people. “Rachel? I was thinking of myself.” GOOD. ALFRED IS BEST. YOU SNARKY MAGNIFICENT BASTARD.
Bruce was declared dead because you were gone for seven years dude. Good thing Bruce left everything to Alfred. Is that how laws work? Note: Ask Dizzy.
CILLIAN MURPHY IS HERE.
oh god he is so pretty
And he’s defending Zsasz. Easter Egg!
He keeps putting people in Arkham who work for the mob. And Rachel’s boss is not happy about her yelling at him about it.
Bruce is costume designing and sees a bat. IDEA!
Let’s go spelunking.
Everytime stupid blue eyes (Cillian Murphy) takes off his glasses it is scary. SBE is working for a mysterious someone. He’s also wary of Rachel and tells on her. SBE is so calm and so oddly fuckable.
(Ten years later and I still really have a thing for Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane. Which is not the healthiest choice I’ve made. Then again I also couldn’t shake my love of Hugh Grant playing assholes so I guess when my partner said ‘Maggie likes stupid blue eyed boys’ he was kind of right and since I know he’s reading this I’m gonna tell him right now he can shut his stupid blue eyed trap.)
Back to Wayne Industries. I don’t care.Blah blah weapons. Blah blah Bruce is back. Rachel learns this, too. Everyone knows now. And now Morgan Freeman. I forgot he’s good.
(“What does it look like in reality? Not as much fun.”)
Lucius Fox also is just the best at ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
I wish he said he was doing competitive spelunking. Much better cover.
That cave is so full of shit and toxic.
The Waynes were so nice they were a stop on the underground railroad.
(Actually I think this was when I hit peak drunk and bored.)
Now we get a proper introduction to Gordon, the hero of Gotham. He’s no rat.
(This movie is actually really good at pacing out introductions.)
Bruce fake gun-points him and asks what it takes to get rid of Falcone.
That is not how you partners, Bruce. I’m glad this is keeping his habit of deputizing people without being open about stuff.
And he does not stick the landing.
BASE Jumping is an acronym? LEARNING.
(“There’s no Batman yet so what does Lucius think he’s doing?”)
(Oh wow I was drunk during that part. So, uh, we meet Gordon and Batman just makes him promise to stay good and help out. I love Jim Gordon more than I love Batman. Jim Gordon is a good man in a shit city who tries to do good all the fucking time and tries to do it without, you know, running around beating the shit out of people. And Lucius is just funny as well as technologically useful as all shit. Also, I still don’t know what BASE jumping stands for but apparently when I was drunk I was really excited about the acronym.)
Editor’s Note: Building Antenna Span Earth
(You should want to fuck during a movie because it’s so damn hot you just can’t stop not because you’re bored and your partner never wears pants.)
(Okay, as I mentioned earlier, I lost my virginity to this film. And it’s not so much that I imprinted on it and it now makes me want to have sex. It’s that I now know that there is always a better option than watching this film. You know how some people say if they had to choose between sex and pizza they’ll always choose sex? See, that’s not a clear-cut answer for me. But Batman Begins and sex? I know that I’m gonna enjoy most sex more than I enjoy this film and hopefully the sex won’t take up two hours of my life telling an inferior version of a story that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm tells in less time and with better everything.)
(We are an hour in and there’s no Batman.)
They ordered 10,000 masks. Are they molded to his face? Are they already styled that way? What the fuck are the long fingers? This montage is weird.
First Batman scene, we don’t see him. He’s just grabbing people and there’s horror music. It’s cool. Falcone tries to run but NOPE.
“Nice coat” is legitimately funny.
Rachel is walking home and gets accosted. She thinks she scared the dude but, nope, it was Batman. Batman tells her that she scared Falcone.
(You’re not cool enough to ever physically defend yourself Rachel and you’re gonna get fridged next movie but you pissed off a mob boss enough to get a hit put out on you so good job on that moxy!)
Bale’s Bat-Voice here is not that bad.
(It really isn’t! I don’t know why Bale pushed it so much further in the next film. It works here. It’s great. Top notch work, Bale.)
Anyway they strung Falcone up like a bat signal. “What the hell is that?” GOOD QUESTION. Vigilantes are unacceptable.
Rachel is all excited about justice and her boss is kind of ‘meh.’
(Rachel is a real hero and deserves so much more than she gets.)
Alfred won’t let Bruce sleep in. Poor baby. He gets up and does push-ups. Alfred tells him he has to get a cover story.
Oh and there’s our MacGuffin. The water thing. They lost it.
(It’s a giant hand wavey microwave thing that vaporizes all the water around it. But only the literal water. Like, despite being 70% water humans won’t be affected by it at all.)
Bruce Wayne shows up with blondes. They jump in the fountain. WACKY.
Bruce is good at the jerkass rich boy thing.
FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE.
(See it’s funny because Bruce Wayne jumped in the fountain too and there was this band back in the day and shut up it’s funny.)
Rachel dresses more conservatively for a night on the town than she does for work.
Dr. Crane is meeting Falcone. YES. THIS SCENE. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR IT.
Falcone tries scaring Crane and brings up experiments and Crane stays calm. “Would you like to see my mask?” is the best. THE BEST.
Playing Crane so understated really works.
(No but really, this is my favorite scene in the entire film, possibly the entire trilogy. I’m not really attached to any other version of Scarecrow. I don’t hate him, I just don’t care. But Cillian Murphy playing him as very calm rather than some screaming fear acolyte is BRILLIANT. And him taking off his glasses to explain the mask and getting noticeably excited but still being more understated than any other character in the film is effective and all the more terrifying. As much as I have issues with this film and find it boring, I will watch it just to get to this scene because it is perfection.)
Gordon only has a son. Fuck you, Nolan.
(TAKE A DRINK EVERY TIME I CURSE NOLAN/GOYER FOR ERASING OR UNDERSERVING FEMALE CHARACTERS.)
I do remember my dad saying this is the first time he heard Batman yell in a movie. Billy just said the same thing.
(It’s true. Bruce just screams at this guy and normally Batman is acted all sullen and shadowy. It’s a good choice and, you know, if you’re trying to instill fear in someone, running them up the side of the building and yelling into their face is a great way to accomplish that.)
“Do I look like a cop?” NICE.
I like how the cops aren’t covering they just don’t know what’s in the box and don’t want to know.
(Purposeful ignorance is an important skill to have if one hopes to survive in Gotham.)
I think this was around the point where I started losing my virginity. It just feels like it. Or maybe I’m just bored.
Playing with Batman fucks kids up.
Bruce gets gassed! “You look like a man who takes himself too seriously.” And then puns! And also setting him on fire.
Again, cartoon did it better because WILL POWER BRUCE.
(There’s an episode of The Animated Series which was basically a 20-minute version of this segment of the film.)
ALFRED IS CRYING. NO MY HEART WHY NO.
Bruce recognizes this shit. Lucius is here, too. He took Bruce’s blood.
“I just wanted you to know how hard it was.”
This movie is funny. This movie is not too grim dark.
Rachel brings Bruce a present. She can’t come to the birthday party because her boss is missing. He’s probs dead.
(Reasonable guess when one works the justice system of Gotham.)
Rachel is going to Arkham, which is in The Narrows. Rich people fear it.
Awww, her gift was the arrowhead.
The batarangs do not match the chest logo and that bothers me.
Falcone is just crazy now.
Rachel don’t buy that.
“There is nothing conveniENT about his symptoms.” nice clipped ‘T’ there. Rachel has a moment of being like ‘you’re so creepy’ without actually saying it. She is not for medical care for criminals.
(This movie is really bad about mental health and kind of just says everyone is faking it. Dark Knight does a little better if I remember correctly but this film just has people on all sides saying criminals need punishment and having us only see people feign mental illness to get out of that, save for Falcone being driven mad by the fear gas. It’s not good.)
Crane shows her the medicine room and dumping fear junk in the water and then the chase is on! It is a short chase and then he drugs her. Rachel responds very silently.
“He’s playing James Spader in Pretty in Pink!”
(My partner yelled that and I can’t remember if it was accurate because everything in this film is becoming a blur.)
Crane knows the cops are a safer bet than The Batman. He also says that Rachel was given a concentrated dose. Criminals are scared of the Batman because they are a superstitious and cowardly lot.
(At this point I am forcing myself to keep watching this film because I know Cillian Murphy is almost gone forever.)
Then we get RAG’s name and Crane is just so calm under his gas. Like he trained for it.
(Again: CILLIAN MURPHY IS KILLING THIS ROLE.)
Cops are also scared of Batman. BUT NOT JIM HERO COP GORDON.
Weaponized bats are cool and you should do it more often.
But if he ripped off the heel of his shoe won’t his balance be off now?
(This moment is a literal scene from Batman Begins where Bruce sets off some sonar to attract a swarm of bats. It’s effective but seriously Bruce tears off the heel of his boot, which is a good half an inch or larger, and just tosses it away. There’s no way that’s not going to affect your gait.)
Doesn’t matter because car chase.
SO MUCH PROPERTY DAMAGE. TRYING TO BABYSIT HIGH RACHEL. WHO IS DRUGGED. SO LET’S TAKE HER ON A CAR CHASE WHILE DRESSED AS A BAT. Katie Holmes acts this appropriately.
HOW DID HE PRACTICE FOR THIS? HE CANNOT HAVE DRIVEN LIKE THIS BEFORE.
(This is literally the first time we see Bruce using this outside of his initial test drive at Wayne Industries. And while the victory is in the preparation and Batman is a master of training there has been nothing in this film to indicate he was able to practice drive this. LET ALONE THROUGH BUSY CITY STREETS AND OVER ROOFTOPS.)
Bruce losing his Batman voice as he worries for Rachel is a good bit of understated acting.
All of Gotham is drugged but you have to breathe it so I guess we’re okay.
Rachel is fine now. No effects.
“I don’t have the luxury of friends.”
(Especially not in this universe where you don’t even get proper sidekicks or a relationship with your mother.)
And then he knocks her out and goes upstairs to his party.
Alfred scolds him and says people could be killed. We have entered a Batman who doesn’t so much not kill as not intentionally murder.
“It can’t be personal or you’re just a vigilante.”
“I don’t care about my name.” Alfred does. Alfred cares about Bruce’s dad. Just his dad. Not his mom. No one cares about Martha.
(Fuck you, Nolan.)
And we get Crane latching onto Scarecrow. He’s for it and he doesn’t give a fuck.
Party mingling about business and crime. Bruce tells Lucius to break into the company and make more antidote.
And there’s RAG! For real this time! “I warned you about compassion, Bruce.”
RAG challenges Bruce to get rid of his guests and Bruce does by being a shit. Way to go Bruce! This isn’t even him faking. He really hates these people.
(I love this speech because it’s just Bruce going all Holden Caulfield on the crowd and calling them phonies and sycophants. It’s even better since while it’s Bruce getting people out so they don’t die, it’s also kind of Bruce taking the opportunity to tell the unhelpful rich to fuck off. WINNING.)
Crane thought they would hold the city ransom. But instead it is to watch it destroy itself.
Arkham break! I love a good Arkham break!
Crane gets let out and given his mask.
(Scarecrow actually has a really good arc in this film, given how little screen time he gets. It feels like a nice progression from eccentric doctor to full out costumed villain.)
RAG is like I made you and shit, you are the best but now you are weak and suck balls.
Wait so they made Gotham shitty and then got mad at it for being shitty and then wasn’t burning fast enough? Or was it just a size thing?
(I’m sober and I still don’t understand this logic but it wouldn’t be a Nolan film without some convoluted backstory that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.)
Alfred saves Bruce! Oh now he cares about his legacy. Or half of it. Because Martha still doesn’t get love.
Rachel does not take shit, gets antidote to Gordon.
Some guy pushes kid Joffrey away via face and it pisses Rachel off. She now gets that it’s not the real cops. THERE GO THE DRUGS. PANIC AT THE NARROWS.
(There is a lot of women screaming but no women on screen.)
(I hate Horse Cops. They are my least favorite of cops)
Crane is Scarecrow now. Gordon is alone save for Batman. Rachel is a babysitter.
WEAPONIZED MONORAIL. WHY MUST YOU WARP SUCH A THING OF BEAUTY INTO A KILLING MACHINE?
Rachel tazers Crane in the face and he is gone. Rachel has a gun now and is facing off against Zsasz. Batman steals her thunder.
(Again: Rachel is never allowed to physically defend herself and is literally exploded in the next movie.)
“It’s not who I am underneath but who I am that defines me.”
This line would be better if he had an heir at all.
Everyone attacks Batman because he is terrifying.
(I have reached the point in this film where I am talking to Captain America. Your film is great Cap. Also this movie is only 90 minutes. Like an hour forty. Movies used to be shorter.)
(My partner has a Captain America poster in their room so when I say I started talking to Captain America I mean I literally got so tired of this film that I held a conversation with Captain America.)
Monorail is almost there. RAG and Bruce fight. Lots of smashing.
“I won’t kill you but I don’t have to save you.” YES YOU DO. YOU DO HAVE TO SAVE HIM, BUT PUT HIM IN JAIL THIS TIME.
(No, but seriously. This is an issue I also have with Burton’s films. Batman choosing not to save someone is the same as condemning them to death. It makes Batman an active participant in their death. And that’s not Batman save for like one or two huge and major moments like the Darkseid thing. You can’t have Batman give up on his compassion because even if he is a curmudgeonly shit, he doesn’t want people to die ever ever ever and will keep his most hated enemies alive even though they keep breaking out and hurting everyone from random civilians to his crime fighting family. Batman just going ‘out!’ to RAG and letting him die is a fucking terrible choice that goes against this film building up Bruce as being compassionate towards humanity despite a compelling need to punch most of it and it’s bullshit.)
Lucius is a BAMF, Bruce closes up the well. Rachel comes over and she knows man. She knows. They reconcile over the gun thing from ten years ago. Rachel is like ‘man I used to love you and it was great and there was hope but…nope.’ She kisses him. Says a thing about masks. She gets that Bruce is the mask. Also nips. Such nips.
(Rachel being the one to say no to Bruce is so much better than the usual route of ‘I can’t be with you because you’ll get hurt.’ Rachel, you are underserved in most of this franchise but I am glad you got to be the sensible one here.)
More father flashbacks IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW.
(Drink every time there’s a woman with a speaking role. You will end the movie sober.)
BAT SIGNAL. GORDON GOT A PROMOTION. The Narrows is lost. That sucks. Crane and inmates are gone. Gordon discusses criminals evolving. ‘You’re wearing a mask and jumping off of rooftops. Take this guy.’ Joker card.
YAY IT’S OVER I CAN HAVE SEX.
As you can see, my ambivalence towards this film hasn’t changed in ten years but my lifelong love of The Animated Series and Mask of the Phantasm grows stronger with each passing year. And, you know, this movie has some good points. Most of them are Cillian Murphy but there are nuggets of strong storytelling and character work in this film as well as a kickass supporting cast of British actors trying to be American. Like most Batman stories and the really well-written ones, the ensemble is incredibly important and fleshed out. Even though this franchise continuously tries to make Batman out to be a loner, it still gives him a shining support system he can’t do this without and that’s nice.
It would just, you know, be nicer if it didn’t come at the cost of ignoring the fact that Batman has women in his life who can take care of themselves or who matter to him at all.
Again, if you want a film that does that, and covers Bruce’s origin story, and handles Batman’s early days and him growing not just into Batman but a better, more bitter Batman, please go watch Mask of the Phantasm. It’s still low on women, featuring just the one, but it turns the love interest trope on its head in multiple ways and also she’s basically Katherine Hepburn in Gotham City.
Or you can keep watching this too. That’s the beauty of Batman is that he’ll always be out there, in many forms, kicking ass and refusing to deal with grief in a healthy way.