Christopher Nolan has taken Batman from the very beginning and used it as a medium to re-tell the tale of one man’s life, and explore the psychology of what makes him tick. Diving deeper into the psyche of humanity, Nolan’s Batman franchise has become more than just a tale of theatricality, more than just an entertaining flick to catch during the summer months, Nolan has effectively brought a sense of cinematic value to the Batman franchise on the silver screen, and he never ceases to disappoint.
Nolan took the famous comic character easily seen as outrageous, outlandish, or improbable, and jumped head first into the psychology of Bruce Wayne. He takes us on the journey of a man that holds emotional motivations many of us can relate to and understand which is what makes a billionaire dressing up as a bat, seem realistic. It simply works, because there is a foundation set in reality that feeds off of Bruce Wayne’s emotions and motivations.
The Batman series effectively became a dark drama that is set to take us through the course of a man’s entire life, and the actions that grew to define him.
A Legend Is Born
From the very beginning of the Batman trilogy, fans knew they were in for something special. Nolan started by telling the origins of a child witnessing his parents murdered in front of him, the weight of that guilt, and how the trauma has shaped his entire life.
“Alfred, it was my fault Alfred, I made them leave the theatre, if I hadn’t gotten scared.”
Bruce’s guilt defines him over the years, as he grows into a young man with one idea plaguing him, to murder the man who stole his parents away. His childhood friend Rachel Dawes reveals that the man is set to get early release from prison, and Wayne simply can’t let it stand. Gun in hand, ready to put a round into him, the opportunity is stolen away. Bruce quickly finds himself staring into the face of the desperation that claimed his parents life, and the legacy that is crumbling to pieces.
“You care about justice? Look beyond your own pain Bruce, this city is rotting, they talk about the depression as if it’s history, and it’s not, things are worse than ever down here…Falcone may not have killed your parents Bruce, but he’s destroying everything they stood for.”
Nolan sets us up for understanding the motivations that force Bruce to run away from the city he knows, the wealth that waits, and luxuries of a privileged life. Without this pivotal scene Bruce would never have transformed into the lethal weapon he becomes. His journey stems from a simple idea of understanding desperation, and it all evolves from the mobster Falcone.
“That’s the power of fear… People from your world have so much to lose. Now, you think because your mommy and your daddy got shot, you know about the ugly side of life, but you don’t. You’ve never tasted desperate. You’re, uh, you’re Bruce Wayne, the Prince of Gotham; you’d have to go a thousand miles to meet someone who didn’t know your name. So, don’t-don’t come down here with your anger, trying to prove something to yourself. This is a world you’ll never understand. And you always fear what you don’t understand.”
So Bruce leaves, abandoning his identity in order to understand desperation and fear. Travelling the world he steals to survive, he becomes a part of a society he has never understood and gains the attention of The League of Shadows.
“No, no, no. A vigilante is just a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification. He can be destroyed, or locked up. But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely.”
“A legend Mr. Wayne.”
Nolan plants the seed into the minds of the audience from the beginning that Bruce Wayne will become something greater than himself. This theme not only radiates throughout both of the films so far, but in our minds as well. He creates the concept that Batman isn’t simply a man dressed in a costume, but rather an idea that an entire city grows to fear. Criminals dread the day they encounter the Bat, because to them, he isn’t just a man.
Bruce’s training with the League of Shadows not only found Batman nerds everywhere having simultaneous nerdgasms in the theatre, but provided a foundation of reality for a completely ridiculous concept. His skills are developed, refined, and perfected in the snowy mountainside. As a result, we believe that he can disappear in a second, take on multiple enemies, and perform the grand actions he does. We’ve seen it, and seeing is believing.
Ra’s A-I mean Henri Ducard gives Bruce a powerful idea that shapes the origins of Batman. He provides him with a means to take back control of the city and strike fear in the hearts of those who prey upon the fearful.
“Theatricality and deception are powerful agents; you must become more than just a man in the mind of your opponent.”
These words have echoed truth throughout the films, whether it is Bruce dressing as a Bat to strike fear in criminals, The Joker creating chaos throughout Gotham, and Bane’s upcoming takeover of Gotham that will surely bring every fan to their knees, as the trilogy finally ends.
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