|“||It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.||„|
|~ Batman's most famous line as he reveals his true identity to Rachel Dawes|
Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne, is the titular main protagonist of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. He is a billionaire socialite who dedicates himself as the protector Gotham City, as its the highly trained costumed vigilante under the alias of Batman.
Bruce Wayne is a brooding, troubled man, but he is also extremely brave and willing to put his life on the line to defend the lives of others. His sense of justice prevents him from killing criminals, though he clearly grapples with this belief as it often leads to the deaths of countless others. He's been known to get extremely aggressive when interrogating his enemies, going as far as to drive one insane and cripple several others.
Bruce's sense of grief can lead him into very extreme bouts of depression. When his parents died, at first he thought it was all his fault. Later on, he directed his rage towards his parent's killer. After losing his childhood friend and love of his life Rachel Dawes, he became more and more reclusive. He also becomes more suicidal at this point, rushing headfirst into fights that might very well kill him.
Despite his faults, Bruce is still a decent human being who believes in the goodness of others and strives to make life better for everyone. He has a dry sense of humor and has fairly convincing acting skills which help draw suspicion away from himself. Despite his daytime image as a reckless playboy, he invests in several charitable contributions and fundraisers, his philanthropic nature being a trait his parents taught him. This makes him stand out among the other socialites of Gotham who care only for themselves.
When he was eight years old, Bruce Wayne fell into a cave where he encountered a swarm of bats. His father rescued him though Bruce developed a fear of bats; his father later told him that though people fall, they always have the strength to get up. During his childhood he also formulated a friendship with Rachel Dawes.
Late one night at a performance opera Mefistofele Bruce got frightened by a scene featuring a bat-like monster which reminded him of the bats in the cave, and asks his parents to leave. Outside the theater, Bruce's parents were both killed in a robbery by mugger Joe Chill; Thomas' last words to his son were to not be afraid. Bruce was later found by the police and was comforted by Sergeant James Gordon, and Commissioner Loeb told him they caught Chill. Bruce blamed himself for his parents' murder: had he not been frightened, the Waynes would not have encountered Chill, though the butler Alfred Pennyworth assured him that it wasn't and that it was Chill's fault.
Return to Gotham City
After coming of age, Bruce returned to Gotham City from Princeton University intent on killing Chill, whose prison sentence was being suspended in exchange for testifying against mob boss Carmine Falcone. One of Falcone's henchwomen, however, killed Chill. Bruce told his childhood friend Rachel Dawes about his foiled plan, and she expressed disgust for his blind vengeance without regard for justice. Bruce confronted Falcone, who tells him that he was ignorant of the nature of crime, so Bruce decided to travel the world to understand the criminal mind. After nearly seven years, he was eventually detained in Bhutan for theft (ironically of Wayne Enterprises cargo), where he met Henri Ducard. He invites Bruce to join an elite vigilante group, the League of Shadows, led by Ra's al Ghul. Bruce was freed and traveled to a mountaintop to begin his combat training with the League, who - unbeknownst to Bruce - intended to use him to destroy Gotham. Bruce passed all the League's training, overcoming his childhood phobia in the process, but when ordered to execute a criminal and learning of their plan to destroy Gotham, he turned on the League, destroying their headquarters. Ra's al Ghul died and Bruce rescued an unconscious Ducard from the wreckage and left his mentor at a nearby village.
Bruce Wayne returned to a Gotham City that is mostly ruled by Falcone and begins plotting a one-man war against the corrupt system. He sought the help of Rachel, now an assistant district attorney, and police sergeant Jim Gordon, who consoled him in the aftermath of his parents' murder. After reestablishing his connections to his father's company, Wayne Enterprises, Bruce was able to acquire, with the help of former board member Lucius Fox, a prototype armored car and an experimental armored suit. He also established a secret base in a cave underneath Wayne Manor.
In his new Batman costume, he disrupted a drug shipment by Falcone and left the mob boss tied to a searchlight, forming a makeshift Bat-Signal. He also disrupted an assassination attempt on Dawes, leaving her with evidence against a judge on Falcone's payroll. While investigating the "unusual" drugs in the shipment, Batman was stunned by sinister psycho pharmacologist, Dr. Jonathan Crane AKA The Scarecrow, who sprayed him with a powerful hallucinogen. Alfred rescued Bruce, who received an anti-toxin developed by Fox. The Scarecrow later poisoned Rachel after showing her that the toxin, which was harmful only in vapor form, was being piped into Gotham's water supply. Batman saved her and gave Crane a "Taste of his own medicine" by gassing him with his own gas. He then demanded Crane to tell him who he was working for in which Crane told him was Ra's al Ghul but Batman refused to believe him. The police entered Arkham Asylum and arrested Crane while Batman escaped with Rachel. After administering the antidote to Rachel in the Batcave, he gave her two vials of it for Gordon – one for the detective to inoculate himself, and another to mass-produce for the city's population.
During his birthday party in Wayne Manor, Bruce was confronted by a group of League of Shadows ninjas led by Ducard, who revealed himself to be the real Ra's al Ghul, and that the man killed earlier was a decoy. Ra's, who had been conspiring with Crane, planned to destroy Gotham by distributing the toxin undetected via Gotham's water supply and then vaporizing it with a microwave emitter stolen from Wayne Enterprises. Bruce, tricking his guests into leaving, fought briefly with Ra's while the League of Shadows set fire to Wayne Manor. Bruce escaped the inferno with Alfred's help just as the manor is destroyed.
Batman arrived at the "Narrows" section of Gotham to aid the police in battling psychotic criminals, including Crane, who the League set free from the asylum. Rachel was confronted by but warded off Crane; Batman rescued Rachel when more criminals went after her. Batman reveals his identity to her while leaving Gordon in control of the Batmobile to stop the elevated train that was being used to transport the vaporizer to the city's central water hub. Batman battled Ra's aboard the train, then escaped just as Gordon toppled the elevated line using the Batmobile's missiles, leaving Ra's to crash to the ground with the train. Following the battle, Batman became a public hero. Bruce gained control of Wayne Enterprises and installed Fox as CEO, firing Earle. However, he was unable to hold onto Rachel, who cannot reconcile her love for Bruce Wayne with his dual life as Batman. Gordon, newly promoted to lieutenant, unveiled a Bat-Signal for Batman. Gordon mentions a criminal who, like Batman, had "a taste for the theatrical", leaving a Joker playing card at his crime scenes. Batman promised to investigate it. As Batman left, Gordon mentions that he hadn't thanked Batman for what he has done. Batman replied that Gordon will never have to, and flew off into the night.
The Dark Knight
The night that the Joker and his thugs rob a mob-owned bank, multiple Batman impersonators interrupted a meeting between mobsters and the Scarecrow. The real Batman showed up and subdued everyone, but injuries suffered during the confrontation led him to design a new, more versatile suit of armor. Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon contemplated bringing new district attorney Harvey Dent in on their plan to eradicate the mob, and the possibility that Dent will become the hero to the people that Batman could not be. The next day, Bruce Wayne, presumably due to his late night, ended up sleeping during a business proposal from a Chinese mobster account named Lau. He later revealed that he deliberately allowed for Lau to come so he could get a closer look at his numbers, having already suspected that his business methods were dirty. At the same time, Bruce Wayne and Harvey both competed for the love of Rachel Dawes. Lau informed gang leaders that he had taken their money to Hong Kong to prevent the police and the district attorney from seizing it in an imminent bank raid.
After Batman successfully abducted Lau in Hong Kong and delivered him to the Gotham City police, the mobsters agreed to pay the Joker half of their money in return for killing Batman. When the Joker began killing off public officials, including Commissioner Loeb, despite the best efforts of the police and Batman to stop him, Wayne decided to turn himself in to the police. Before he could do so, Dent publicly admitted to being the Batman to draw the Joker out of hiding for the real Batman to capture. The Joker attempted to kill Dent during transport, but Gordon and Batman intervened in time to stop and arrest him.
With the Joker in custody, Batman interrogated the Joker until he revealed that Rachel and Dent have been kidnapped and taken to opposite sides of the city, far enough apart that Batman would not have time to save both of them. Batman sped off to save Rachel, while Gordon and the police headed after Dent. Unknown to them, the Joker had switched the locations, sending Batman after Dent and Gordon after Rachel. Batman arrived and rescued Dent just as both buildings exploded, although the left side of Dent's face was burned during the explosion. Gordon did not reach Rachel in time and she died in the explosion. It was then revealed that the Joker escaped with Lau and that the Joker planned to be caught. The Joker burned Lau along with the mob's money. In the hospital, Dent was driven to madness over the loss of Rachel, which he blames on Batman, Gordon, and the Joker. The Joker freed Harvey from the hospital and convinced him to exact revenge on the cops, mobsters, Gordon and Batman. While "Harvey Two-Face" confronted the corrupt cops and the mobsters one by one, flipping a coin to decide their fates, The Joker planted explosives on two ferries of evacuees and gave the passengers on board the chance to destroy the opposing vessel, one full of prison convicts and another with civilians, in order to save their own lives. Batman tracked the Joker to an uncompleted skyscraper. Batman prevented the Joker from blowing up the ferries when both vessels' occupants decide they would rather not sacrifice the lives of the passengers in the other vessel for their own.
Following a brief hand-to-hand fight which ended when the Joker pinned Batman in a scaffold, Batman threw the Joker off of the scaffold but saved him by grappling him. The Joker acknowledged that Batman really was incorruptible, but that Dent was not, and that he had unleashed Harvey's madness upon the city. Though Joker lost the fistfight, he would win "the battle for Gotham's soul". Batman found Gordon and his family with Dent at the building where Rachel died. Two-Face proceeded to judge Batman, himself, and Gordon's son through the chance of a coin flip, which he saw as the only fairness left in the world. Two-Face shot Batman in the stomach and judged himself innocent, but before he could determine the boy's fate, Batman tackled him over the side of the building, saving Gordon's son, but injuring his leg in the process. As Dent lay dead on the ground, Batman and Gordon decided that the Joker would win if anyone found out about Dent's corruption and madness. Batman convinced Gordon to let him take all the blame for Dent's murders in order to preserve the former district attorney's image as Gotham's hero and give the city hope. As Gordon destroyed the Bat-Signal, a manhunt was issued for Batman.
The Dark Knight Rises
It has been eight years since Bruce Wayne has been Batman; having retired from the crime fighting lifestyle following his decision to take the blame for Harvey Dent's crimes. He has become reclusive for the past three years, rarely leaving Wayne Manor, and has been seen by few people in Gotham city. In addition he rarely has contact with Wayne Enterprises, choosing to leave the operations of the company to Lucius Fox, following a green energy fusion reactor project that was deemed a failure and had depleted most of his fortune. He has developed multiple medical problems in the years since his tenure as the Batman and has been forced to walk with a cane; his leg was injured in the fall off the ledge after rescuing Gordon's son in The Dark Knight.
On the eighth anniversary of the Dent Act, which led to over 1,000 inmates in connection to organized crime being locked up without parole at Blackgate Prison, the celebrations are held at Wayne Manor but Bruce only watches from a distance. As this is happening a maid, later to be revealed as Selina Kyle, is stealing Bruce's mother's pearl necklace from his private quarters. Bruce sneaks up behind her and confronts her, but she overpowers him and escapes with the necklace.
During an investigation of the safe, Bruce discovers that the real target was his fingerprints and not the necklace. He returns to the Batcave for the first time in years and runs an analysis, only to be confronted by Alfred who asks him to move on with his life, which he hasn't done since he lost Rachel.
Opting to retrieve his mother's pearls, Bruce begins to track the thief via a GPS locator that was planted onto the pearls. He follows her to a gala where he encounters Miranda Tate and later Kyle herself. As he cuts in on her dance, Selina wonders why he didn't call the police. Bruce hints that he has a "powerful friend." She informs him that she only became a thief because she had to, but now she wants a fresh start so she can do what she wants to. Selina assumes that Bruce generally doesn't care about the world, but he counters that she's assuming too much. After she hints of "a storm coming", he takes the pearls back, but Selina is able to steal his car by claiming to be his wife.
Shortly afterward, Wayne is visited by John Blake at Wayne Manor who tells him about the attack on James Gordon, revealing to him that he knows that he's Batman. Blake also lost his parents at a young age, and learned how to hide the anger, similar to putting on a mask. He warns him about another threat known as Bane and asks him again to return as Batman. As Blake leaves, Bruce has Alfred make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist at the same hospital Gordon is at. First, he meets with Lucius Fox regarding Wayne Enterprises, and is shown the Applied Sciences division, which is off the books. After learning that the cartilage in his knees has completely depleted, Bruce uses this opportunity to break into the Commissioner's room with a mask on and Gordon tells him about the underground army Bane is building.
Returning to the cave, Bruce puts on a sophisticated leg brace which returns his ability to walk without a cane. Against Alfred's advice, he dons his cape and cowl again and goes out to Gotham. As this is happening, Bane goes to a stock exchange and uses Bruce's stolen finger prints to place a number of risky investments in his name.
Bruce now as Batman chases after Bane and his mercenaries; however, he causes more problems with the police force opt to pursue him rather than the criminal as he was still the accused murderer of Harvey Dent. Batman escapes into the Bat, a giant aerial craft made by Lucius Fox, and flies away. He finds Selina Kyle holding John Daggett hostage and sees a group of Bane's thugs making their way towards her to kill her. She and Batman fight off the thugs until Bane himself appears, causing them to flee. Surprised that Batman is the "powerful friend," Selina informs him that she sold Wayne's fingerprints to Daggett. She quietly sneaks away, just like Batman would have.
Bruce goes back to the Batcave and is confronted by Alfred, who now refuses to help him as he's "buried enough members of the Wayne family". Alfred threatens to quit if Bruce doesn't hang up his suit. Bruce retorts by saying he has nothing outside of Batman and that Rachel Dawes, his childhood friend, was going to be his future. Alfred then tells Bruce about the letter to Bruce from Rachel saying that she was going to marry Harvey Dent even if Bruce stopped being Batman and that he burned it to spare Bruce the pain. Bruce becomes angry and accuses Alfred of lying and tells him to leave, to which Alfred does in grief. Awaking the next morning, Bruce is stunned to learn that Alfred is no longer at the manor. Fox meets him there to tell him that not only is Bruce bankrupt, but Wayne Enterprises is losing money fast due to Bane's use of Wayne's fingerprints and that he needs to rely on Miranda Tate now or Daggett will gain control of the company. They decide to reveal the green energy project to Tate which was, in reality, a fully operational fusion reactor that was capable of powering Gotham for an indefinite period but could easily be converted to a nuclear bomb. Tate agrees to accept guardianship of the Reactor and Wayne, while at a meeting at Wayne Enterprises, is forced to remove himself from the board as he is no longer in a position of leadership over the company. After a brief meeting with Selina regarding Bane, he returns to the Manor to find Tate there waiting. The two share an intercourse before Wayne leaves to find Bane.
Exploring the underground tunnels, Batman and Catwoman eventually locate Bane's hideout. Kyle has, however, double-crossed the Batman and locks him in a chamber with Bane himself. Kyle is surprised when Bane reveals Batman's true identity. Batman then starts to fight Bane, clearly losing to his superior strength and the fact that the mask he wears provides him with a drug that allows him to feel little to no pain. Batman still continues to fight and even uses an EMP device to turn off all the lights; however, this has no effect on Bane due his birth and molding in darkness and his undergoing the same training with Ra's al Ghul as Bruce Wayne. Bane quickly finds and beats Batman even further, punching him hard enough to break his mask. To add insult to injury, Bane triggers explosives above them, revealing themselves to be right below Applied Sciences. The League then takes possession of the Tumblers. Finally, Bane breaks Batman's back over his knee Bane orders his men to take Bruce Wayne to the Pit, a prison Bane controls in the Middle East.
Bruce awakes from his unconscious state and finds Bane looking over him, informing him that he is going to complete what Ra's al Ghul started and is going to force Bruce to watch Gotham's destruction. He tells Wayne that he will be kept alive until Gotham's destruction, at which time he will be allowed to die with Bane specifically stating "You have my permission to die" at the time of Gotham's destruction. A doctor, who is also an inmate in the prison, says that he is going to help fix his back and hangs him up until Bruce can learn to stand. Bruce, while doing this, has a vision of Ra's al Ghul who tells him that he has a child and an heir. Bruce believes it to be Bane. Bruce later regains his ability to stand and sees men trying to escape the Pit. He tries to do so himself, but is too weak. He starts training, but continues to fail. While Bruce is resting for his next attempt the doctor that lives next to him tells him the story of how the child became incarcerated in the Pit and later escaped. Bruce realizes, from the story, he must attempt to escape the same way the child did. He tries a final time, remembering his own fall into the cave, and reaches a ledge where all fall. Bats fly out of a hole next to his head and Bruce feels a surge of strength go through him and he leaps off the ledge and grabs hold of the next standing stone. He continues his climb upwards and makes it out of the Pit, dropping a long rope down to give the other prisoners a way to escape.
He travels back to Gotham where he finds out that things have gotten much worse. He finds Selina, who saved a child who was being mugged, and tells her that he could help give her the Clean Slate - a device capable of removing all traces of a person from official documents and databases. The device was supposed to be her payment from Daggett, who claimed the software didn't exist. He agrees to give it to her on the condition that he helps him free the cops that have been trapped underneath the city. She reluctantly agrees and Bruce allows himself to be captured in order to locate Fox, who helps him get back his equipment from the Warehouse and a disruptor that will prevent the bomb from detonation. Upon retrieving his gear, Batman goes to the river in order to rescue Commissioner Gordon. Defeating the thugs, he tells Gordon to light a flare and put it on the fuse which leads up to a giant bat shape on the bridge, much to Bane's surprise.
Batman then rescues Blake and they liberate the cops from the sewers. Blake is tasked with evacuating as many people as they can. The freed police start an all out war in the middle of the streets and Batman and Bane confront one another on the steps of Gotham's City Hall. Batman starts to gain the upper hand as he starts punching away at Bane's mask, damaging it to the point it (temporarily) no longer functioned. He saves Miranda who had been taken hostage and interrogates Bane to tell him who has the trigger which will set off the bomb that would destroy the city, paraphrasing Bane's own taunt in the pit. Miranda then appears and stabs Batman between the ribs, before telling him that she is actually Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul. She revealed that she was the child who climbed out of the pit and that the man who helped her was Bane who was later rescued by Ra's for saving his daughter. She fixes Bane's mask and Bane straps a rope around Batman's neck. Batman pleads with her not to set off the bomb but she ignores him as she only wanted revenge upon the man and the city that destroyed her father. She presses the trigger, to no avail, as Gordon had gotten the disruptor to the bomb. She leaves to go find the bomb and make sure it detonates, as it is only minutes away from exploding.
Bane is about to kill Batman when Selina comes through on the Batpod and shoots Bane, killing him. Batman uses the Bat and flies after Talia while Catwoman goes after the escort tumbler vehicles. After the Tumblers are dealt with, Batman blasts the truck head-on, causing it to crash down on a lower level street. Talia, who is mortally wounded, tells him that she overrode the bomb so that nothing could stop it and flooded the compartment holding the stabilization equipment. Batman realizes that she is telling the truth and that it needs to be taken somewhere safe; realizing the only option is to take the bomb into the Atlantic Ocean. Selina kisses him goodbye and Gordon asks Batman who he is and he tells him by reminding him of the night of his parent's death: "A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulder to let him know that the world hadn't ended." As Gordon realizes the Batman's identity is Bruce Wayne, Batman flies away with the bomb attached to the Bat. The city watches in horror but also joy as Batman flies away with the bomb, making it to a safe distance before the bomb detonates.
Life After Death
Following the apparent death of Batman, he is identified as a hero and a statue is erected in his honor in the center of city hall. Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, a small memorial service is held in Bruce Wayne's honor by the few men that knew the truth of his identity as Batman, made up of Alfred Pennyworth, John Blake, Lucius Fox, and Commissioner Gordon. A short while afterwards, Lucius Fox discovers that the Bat, which had a failing autopilot, had actually been repaired six months prior. Alfred, at a cafe in Florence, recalls his dream he had during Bruce's first disappearance regarding finding him happily at a cafe in Italy with a wife and maybe a couple kids. As Alfred sits he looks around to find Bruce sitting with Selina across the cafe. He smiles and nods at him, as does Bruce, having finally found peace and happiness. Bruce had also passed his legacy to Blake who presumably took over as Batman.
|“|| Jim Gordon: I never said thank you!|
Batman: And you never have to!
|~ Batman and Lieutenant Gordon|
|“||I see now what I have become, to stop men like him!||„|
|~ Bruce about the Joker|
|“|| Catwoman: You don't owe these people anymore, you have given them everything!|
Batman: Not everything! Not yet...
|~ Batman and Catwoman|
|“||People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol... as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.||„|
|~ Bruce Wayne|
|“||Sometimes the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.||„|
|~ Batman willing to take the blame for Two-Face's crimes.|
|“||A hero can be anybody. Even a man doing something as simple as reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders, to let him know the world hadn't ended.||„|
|~ Batman cryptically revealing his identity to Jim Gordon.|
- When he climbs to escape from The Pit, the scene is similar the scene when Kyle Leblanc climbs to escape from Kravavi prison.
- Josh Hartnett, Ashton Kutcher, Heath Ledger, Cillian Murphy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Duchovney, Hugh Dancy, Billy Crudup, Henry Cavill, Eion Bailey, Joshua Jackson and Steven Pasquale were all considered for the role before Bale was cast. Nolan liked Murphy's audition however and cast him as Scarecrow, Heath Ledger would go on to play the Joker in The Dark Knight and Cavill would later play Superman in the DCEU.
- Christian Bale was previously considered for the role of Robin in Batman Forever.
- Christian Bale's active dislike of his uncomfortable Batman outfit helped his performance as the Dark Knight as he was perpetually in a foul mood when wearing it.
- Although Christian Bale performed many of his own stunts, he wasn't allowed anywhere near the Batmobile for Batman Begins.