Nolan's Batman: The Key Components that Defined a Legacy in Batman Begins

As The Dark Knight Rises' release date finally swoops in to close view, we look at the key decisions Christopher Nolan made in Batman Begins which set the tone, mood and register for the best superhero franchise ever.

You're on a strict diet: no Batman for an hour.

Over an hour. One hour. That's how long it takes Nolan to show Bruce Wayne in a Batman suit. Even in a film with a slightly elongated runtime, that still leaves just eighty minutes to spend on a 'Batman film'. The decision proved to be one of the most important ever made in the franchise. With an hour spent in the company of Bruce Wayne, the superhero's human qualities are brought to the fore and the emotional and moral journey that has led to a man choosing to dress up as a bat is established. The first hour is crucial in establishing two of the points below ('moral centre' and 'multiple villains') and 'sells' the franchise as very not like a comic book. No boss battles, no capes or cowls. Just a man on a very special journey.

Establishing a moral centre.

Often overlooked, Rachel is an incredibly crucial character in the first two films of Nolan's franchise. It is she who points out, to a (badly costumed) young Bruce Wayne, that cold hard vengeful death will get him nowhere. She literally slaps the idea out of him, leading directly to his confrontation with Falcone and his dash for the ship which leads to his training in foreign lands. Without Rachel, the moral centre of Batman - no guns, no death - just doesn't come in to being. It's an incredibly clever way of using character to introduce one of the lynchpin elements of the comic book.

Hello Spider-Man 3. This is how you actually handle multiple villains.

Scarecrow, Zsasz, Falcone, Ra's al Ghul. All established Batman villains. All handled in a way that makes logical sense for the film's narrative. Zsasz works for Falcone, Falcone works for Scarecrow, Scarecrow works for Ghul. Batman has personal interactions with two of them before they become the villains of the main plot and Rachel's dealings with Scarecrow make up a third. Zsasz is, in a way, a genius choice of character; a nice Easter Egg for fans, kept in the background so he doesn't clutter up the narrative. Multiple villains isn't necessarily a problem. It just is if you throw them all together in a big structureless mess.

Looking sharp.

The Tumbler, the batsuit, the batcave, the city, the mansion. Empire looked at most of these elements here but they're worth mentioning as a collective: together they form the look of Nolan's series and without them the film loses realism and threat. The ultimate examples of how well everything works together can be seen in several individual moments, where the elements mesh. The Tumbler highway chase, for example, ends much too quickly, Batman back in his cave where five seconds earlier he was in the city. It doesn't matter. You go with it because the style fits. Notice too the design during the final riot, from the moment The Tumbler jumps over the bridge onwards. It's a city in chaos, on both sides of the river, long before The Joker's invasion in the subsequent film.

Save something for later.

No Joker, no Riddler, no Catwoman, no Bane. Commissioner Gordon isn't even a Commissioner until part way through the next film. Nolan doesn't need them. He knows that his first priority is to establish the iconicity of the hero, before he moves on to the more famous villains and set pieces. The film works with a collection of bandits non-comic book readers have probably never heard of, leaving Nolan big things to use to follow up with later.

Batman Begins is out on BD Triple Play now.

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