Y’all, I am so done. I am such a DC movie fan at this point, there’s no turning back–and Batman Begins tipped me over the edge.
My profuse apologies to friends who are diehard Marvel fans. I think Marvel movies are good, but DC movies are great. I really like Captain America, but neither it nor The Avengers had the same affect on me as the two DC films I’ve seen thus far. Hey, if I, who grew up on classic/historical/fantasy films, am this interested in the lives and fortunes of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, then there’s something about this storytelling that I like.
I know that’s not the popular opinion among most people my age right now, but hey, I reckon most people think I’m weird and backwards and out-of-step anyway 😛
With that said, let me give you my thoughts on Batman Begins. I’m outlining it the same way as I did with my Man of Steel review: synopsis, what I didn’t like, what I did like, and a brief overview of the characters.
(A few small comparisons between Man of Steel and Batman Begins are inevitable in this post. But I’ve got a Batman/Superman post in the works so I’m trying not to steal my own thunder, haha.)
Batman Begins, like Man of Steel, is an “origins” film. We are introduced to Bruce Wayne as a carefree little boy who, while playing with his friend Rachel Dawes, stumbles into a cave. A flock of bats terrify him out of his wits, creating a phobia he carries with him into adulthood. As a boy, he also witnesses the murders of his parents, who are robbed and shot by a desperate criminal.
Wanting to figure out how he can fight crime, Bruce learns to think like a criminal and even works with criminals–until he’s discovered by a man calling himself Ducard, a member of the mysterious League of Shadows. Ducard teaches Bruce how to be a ninja and to master his fears, but after Bruce falls foul with the League, he returns to America and decides to fight injustice on his own. He won’t take the law into his hands, but he will fight for the defenseless.
What I didn’t like about Batman Begins
There’s some humanism . . . pretty subtle, but there nonetheless. One of the prevalent quotes in the film is, “Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves up.” Unlike in Man of Steel, where the humanism is more along the lines of “Everyone has the potential to be a force for good, i.e., there’s good in all people, i.e., no such thing as total depravity,” in Batman Begins it’s more like “Humans can pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”
Also, God’s Word is the source of true justice, and you can’t change a city from the inside out without the Gospel. Neither truths are acknowledged in Batman Begins.
There were also a few bad words. But only a very few.
What I did like about Batman Begins
Anyone who’s been following this blog knows I’m a strong believer in keeping the baby and throwing out the bathwater. So now that the bathwater’s gone, let’s cuddle the baby 😉
There’s a strong conservative message of noble individuals using their wealth to improve the economic health of their society. Another major lesson is that it doesn’t matter how you were raised or what you aspire to be, but it’s your actions, how you live out your principles, that tell the world where you stand. There’s also clear distinction between true justice vs. personal revenge.
The flawed but admirable hero defends/protects innocent people, but refuses to take the law into his own hands. The heroine is strong and capable, but feminine and determined to stand up for what’s right no matter the cost. There’s also a wonderful example of a father having a profound, positive influence on his son. Perseverance, hard work, and respect for life are upheld as good character qualities.
Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale)
I didn’t expect to like Bruce as much as I did. I thought he was going to be a jerk, so I was pleasantly surprised to find he’s a really good character! Although he has some very real struggles at the beginning of the film, he has a real desire to defend the innocent and become an example to decent people who are too intimidated by rampant corruption to stand up for what’s right.
Bruce is a hard worker: he builds his own super-suit and fashions his old cave of terrors into his secret hideout. He perseveres through some intense physical training, a big necessity if he’s going to be fighting and trussing up criminals through the night. Another admirable character quality is his respect for his father’s memory and for Alfred, his butler and father-figure.
His alter-ego, however, is that of a brainless playboy. (No inappropriate scenes in this film, though, related to that.) This façade irritates his friend Rachel, who insists that what Bruce does with his life will define who he really is.
The scene where Bruce reveals himself to Rachel, then, was very poignant.
Now I’m really, really upset that Christian Bale won’t play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. He’s so perfect in the role. Ben Affleck, don’t you dare mess this up.
Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine)
As the butler of Wayne Manor, Alfred becomes Bruce’s father-figure after Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered. He’s one of the few who knows Bruce’s secret identity and even helps Bruce build the Bat-suit.
I think Alfred may very well be my favorite character. His loyalty and affection towards Bruce is precious. Not only that, but he has some of the best lines in the whole film–all delivered in the most charming British accent.
Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes)
This girl! Now this is my kind of heroine. She’s smart, courageous, and principled, but possesses a beautiful, tender heart as well. I started cheering when she tasered a villain and comforted a frightened little boy with motherly compassion–in a single scene!
Rachel, like Alfred, has a profound influence over Bruce, but in a different way. Alfred is the kindly father/grandfather figure who gently encourages Bruce. Rachel, by contrast, is the steely-eyed childhood friend (and possible love interest) who isn’t afraid to stick her finger in his face and tell him what’s what. But even if she has to be stern with him, Rachel loves Bruce and knows he’s destined for great things.
My sole quibble with Rachel is that her relationship with Bruce didn’t have a satisfying conclusion. Why are you kissing the poor guy when you’re about to tell him you can’t carry on a romance with him until he gives up the cape?! Grumble-grumble. She needs to sit down with Lois Lane and get a few pointers on the subject of romance and incognito superheroes. It can be done, Rachel.
(Note: I’m watching The Dark Knight right now–review upcoming–and I don’t like Rachel’s character in that one at all. She’s like a completely different person. Switching actresses on me didn’t help, but her personality isn’t even the same. So if you ever hear me saying wonderful things about Rachel Dawes on this blog in the future, be aware that I’m talking about Rachel in Batman Begins.)
Dr. Crane/Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) + Ducard (Liam Neeson)
Dr. Crane/Scarecrow was kinda . . . underwhelming? The psychiatrist alter-ego gave me the creeps just because he was so sleazy. You knew he was working for the Mob and it was maddening to think that criminals were getting off scott-free because Dr. Crane was declaring them insane.
Scarecrow was not terribly scary for me. He was intimidating, to be sure, simply because he could make people really insane! But I’ve seen worse in The Lord of the Rings, and besides, I’m much more afraid of the Joker right now.
This character was the biggest surprise of the film–such a surprise, in fact, that I, who am usually dubbed The Spoiler Queen, refuse to give away anything! I’m sure there are other people out there who haven’t seen it yet, so I’m not going to ruin it for them. Suffice it to say that when The Surprise hit us, we all nearly jumped off the couch shouting, “WAIT, WHAT?!”
It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Batman Begins was a fabulous introduction to the character for me. It was a very well-done, engaging, and meaningful film that I thoroughly enjoyed and one that definitely deserves a re-watch.
Age recommendation: my 13-year-old sister watched this but did cover her eyes for some of the Scarecrow scenes. Definitely not recommended for younger viewers. Thanks to more realistic, gritty situations (murders, drug lords, government corruption) Batman Begins is darker than Captain America or even Man of Steel.
And yes, I now love Batman. Um, excuse me while I set up my handy-dandy tomato shield, just allow me to keep talking. I love Batman very much, he’s shot up very high on my Favoritism Scale. I’m very glad to have him.
I must confess that Superman is still my favorite superhero.
(*covers head, waits for the pelting tomatoes to stop*)
But Batman is a CLOSE CLOSE CLOSE second! I all but got down on my knees the other morning with folded hands and asked Emily if that was permissible. She benevolently assured me it was, and so did TJ. So there. It’s allowed.
(*lowers shield, flicks tomato gunk off, and skips happily into the distance*) 😉