Why is Batman afraid of bats?
The Batman Project
Title: Batman Begins
Director / Screenplay: Christopher Nolan / Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer
“Why bats, Master Wayne?” - “Because they scare me. And my enemies should share my fear. "
A fall into the depths changes everything. Bats attack young Bruce Wayne from a disused well. Henceforth they are his demons that plague him, symbols of his fear. It is this fear that drives him out of the performance of the operetta “Die Fledermaus” and makes his parents fall victim to a robber. This fear turns into a feeling of guilt, which makes him restless, worries him and makes him get lost in the world.
To tell the story of Batman as a fall into the abyss of fear is obvious. Director Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer develop this story almost organically from this key experience. The theme of fear runs like a red thread through the entire film: The bats, Batman as her incarnation and fearful figure, the hallucinogen from the blue poppy, Scarecrow as the villain and master of fear.
The motif works so well because there is hardly a stronger one. Identification is easy because everyone knows fear and, like any hero's journey, it's basically about overcoming it. The process of fighting criminals in a bat costume, which is actually absurd because it is unrealistic, is understandable because it is logical. You have to become someone, something else, a symbol in order to grow beyond yourself.
That is the second merit of Batman Begins: The film creates the impossibility of anchoring the cartoon character in reality. He succeeds because he first tells the story of a man, Bruce Wayne. It takes an hour, about half of the film, to see Batman in costume. It's the better, the stronger half. You are introduced to the figure, you learn what drives it and how it becomes what it should be. An educational story: Bruce Wayne's years of apprenticeship and wandering in one.
The whole film is geared towards credibility. This is particularly evident on the threshold of becoming Batman. The costume doesn't come out of nowhere. Every work step is meticulously documented. Instead of putting on tights, Wayne assembles armor piece by piece. One part comes from the Wayne Enterprises pool, prototypes of military accessories that never went into series production. The mask is ordered in pieces from two different companies and in large numbers in order not to arouse suspicion. Wayne makes the batarangs himself. Everything is out to serve a purpose. For every gadget there is a history or a scientific explanation. More than ever, the figure is grounded, anchored in reality, as if one really had to send her on the hunt for criminals.
These efforts should actually be doomed to failure because a comic figure works best in its medium - the previous adaptation attempts have at least confirmed that. But with Batman Begins they work for the first time. At the same time, Nolan and Goyer make use of the comics as much as Year Onehow it helps the recognizability without being enslaved by the restrictions of the canon. This is the great achievement of this work of reconciling film and comics.
Finally, the third merit consists in the Narrative economy. Not only because you save the most important villain, the joker, for later (and do well with it), but also because you introduce important opponents and at the same time associate them with a purpose. Jonathan Crane is not only a psychiatrist but also the director of Arkham Asylum. His Scarecrow-Mask is not a costume, but a means that, in experiments with hallucinogens, serves the purpose of increasing the fear of his guinea pigs. The figure thus not only stands for fear, but also for the madness, cynicism and corruption in Gotham.
It is a stroke of genius Ra’s al Ghul with the figure of Henri Ducard to connect and thus initially to make Wayne's teacher. The opposition between the two only begins when the views on the right course of action in the fight against crime diverge. Both want the same thing - just by different means. We understand both of them. And the conflict is also charged personally, as Batman ultimately has to fight his spiritual father. A bigger drama is hard to imagine.
Film music is also economical. Unlike Danny Elfman's legendary Batman main theme, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard reduce the theme music to two long tones. Later Zimmer will bring the Joker to just one, unbearably elongated and distorted tone.
All of this creates stringency, density and tension. This is where the strengths of Batman Begins, they make the film one of the most significant superhero films since X-Men. In his pioneering nature he is even more significant than the successor, The Dark Knight, in whose shadow he unfortunately stands.
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