Follow TV Tropes


Film / Batman Begins

Go To
Falcone: What the hell are you?!
Batman: I'm Batman!

Batman Begins is a 2005 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan and adapted from the Batman comics. The first live-action film starring the Caped Crusader since 1997's Batman & Robin, and a Continuity Reboot for the franchise, it marked the start of Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy.

The film opens In Medias Res with Bruce Wayne incarcerated in a prison in Bhutan, where a man named Henri Ducard arranges for Bruce's release and offers him a place in Ra's al Ghul's League of Shadows. Ducard trains Bruce in the way of the Ninja — and in overcoming fear — while Bruce explains his Back Story. Upon discovering that Ra's intends to have Bruce lead the League of Shadows into Gotham City so the League can destroy it, Bruce renounces the League and lays waste to its mountaintop temple.

Bruce returns to Gotham after his training comes to its abrupt end; he vows to take back the city from the criminals and prove that Gotham is not beyond saving. To accomplish his goals, Bruce combines his League of Shadows training, obscene wealth, old fear of bats, and access to his company's R&D projects to turn himself into a vigilante crimefighter. The Batman makes his grand entrance by bringing mafioso Carmine Falcone to justice, but in doing so, he discovers that Dr. Jonathan Crane has disturbing plans for Gotham City involving large quantities of a fear toxin — and that Crane works on orders from someone far more dangerous than Falcone...

Followed by The Dark Knight.

It's not who I am underneath, but what I trope, that defines me:

    open/close all folders 

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Flass tells Gordon that him insisting on being the Token Good Cop makes Dirty Cops like himself nervous. Gordon retorts, "I'm no rat!" then mutters, "In a town this bent, who's there to rat to, anyway?" which makes Flass crack up.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Cillian Murphy is a considerably more attractive version of Jonathan Crane's original gaunt, long-faced look from the comics.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Flass in the film is overweight and slobbish, whereas in the comics he was tall, blonde, well-built and tidy.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original comics, Henri Ducard was simply a ruthless mercenary who served as a Secret-Keeper for Batman upon learning who he was. In this film, he's the Big Bad and the real Ra's al Ghul.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Martha Wayne usually has brown or black hair in the comics. Sara Stewart portrays her as a blonde.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Ra's al Ghul (and the League of Shadows) is the one who trained Bruce Wayne in the ninja techniques that he uses as Batman. In the comics, Ra's had nothing to do with Bruce's origin or training, though he was a great foe, and the real Ra's in this film, Henri Ducard, did have a hand in Bruce's training in some versions of Batman's origin story.
  • Alliterative Title: Batman Begins.
  • All of Them: Bruce, in response to a homeless guy asking who was going to come looking for Bruce: "Everyone."
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Ra's al Ghul is mentioned to have 412 daughters, one of whom like her comic's incarnation is revealed to be named Talia, in the novelization. He also indicates that Even Evil Has Standards that he adheres to. Since this comes from the novel, the only bit confirmed as canon is the mention of Talia.
    • There's also a subplot where Bruce tries to find out more about Ra's, but circumstances keep interfering and it's suggested that Ra's is responsible for such circumstances.
    • An earlier holder of the title Ra's al Ghul is revealed to have contributed to Hitler's defeat in the journal that kicks off the first chapter of the novelization.
    • Before becoming Harvey Dent's assistant, Rachel Dawes was appointed the acting district attorney and, at 30, the youngest district attorney in Gotham's history after Carl Finch's body was discovered.
  • Anachronic Order: Played with. Bruce's backstory up until his final exam with the League of Shadows is told non-linearly through a series of flashbacks during his Training Montage. Once the backstory catches up with Bruce in the mid-east prison, everything is in chronological order.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The League of Shadows has been responsible for numerous Historical In-Joke incidents.
  • Answer Cut: Lucius Fox takes over Earle's job as CEO of Wayne Enterprises, and Earle asks "on whose authority?" Cut to Bruce Wayne reading a newspaper.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Don't be afraid".
    • "Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up"
    • "You always fear what you don't understand"
    • "All that is necessary" or "What is necessary"
    • "You never did learn to mind your surroundings""
    • Bruce: "Haven't given up on me yet?/You still haven't given up on me?" Alfred: "Never."
    • "It's not who you are underneath. It's what you do that defines you." Rachel says this to Bruce after he returns to Gotham from his training and later when Rachel asks Batman his name he says "It's not who I am underneath. But what I do that defines me." to reveal his identity to her.
  • Artistic License – Biology: After Bruce falls into a frozen lake during a training session, Ducard tells him to focus on keeping his chest warm because his extremities "will take care of themselves." This is the exact opposite of how the human body works when cold, and Christopher Nolan himself worried people would freeze to death in real life by taking Ducard's advice.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The microwaving of Gotham's water supply to such a temperature that the steam bursts pipes. Why worry about the Scarecrow's fear drug? Worry about how many citizens got steam-cooked...
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: This one is probably unintentional on behalf of Japanese actor Ken Watanabe:
    Ra's Al Ghul: [Gotham] is beyond saving and must be arrowed to die!
  • Asshole Victim: In Bruce's perspective, Joe Chill.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most of the gear from Applied Sciences that Bruce uses to become Batman are very powerful. The Nomex survival suit can stop a knife and anything but a straight shot, but bean counters thought a soldier's life wasn't worth the $300,000 price, rendering it too expensive to be viable for mass production. It's well within the means of a multi-billionaire on a crusade against injustice, however.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mr. Zsaz. Though he's pretty quiet during his small amount of screen time, the tie-in video game displays him as very much so. It is hinted in the movie as well, since he has some of the tally mark scars he cuts on himself every time he kills someone in the comics. Also, he comes at Rachel and a young boy with a knife in the Narrows when the Narrows are flooded with fear gas.
  • Badass Boast:
    • A prisoner talks himself up to Bruce Wayne, but Bruce responds with a boast of his own:
      Prisoner: You are in Hell, little man, and I am the devil!
      Bruce Wayne: You're not the devil... you're practice.
    • "I'm Batman" — the ultimate badass boast.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Supposedly most of Gotham's police and judicial officials are portrayed as corrupt. Rachel, Gordon and Loeb are the only apparent exceptions to this.
    Batman: You're a good cop. One of the few.
    • This exchange with James Gordon is a good example (though you might assume Loeb is fairly incompetent):
      Jim Gordon : We need reinforcements! TAC teams, SWATs, riot cops!
      Loeb: Gordon! Gordon! All the city's riot police are on the island with you.
      Jim Gordon: Well, they're completely incapacitated!
      Loeb : [talking to Gordon on walkie-talkie] Gordon... there's nobody left to send in.
    • The words are barely out of his mouth before Batman proves him wrong by boosting the Tumbler across the river.
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: The shot produced by Joe Chill's revolver is a little bit louder than it really would be. Then again, it happens in a flashback, so more likely it being so loud reflects the trauma the incident had on Bruce.
  • Batman Gambit: Ironically, it is the League of Shadows who execute one when they release the prisoners in Arkham Asylum. As soon as the majority of the police force moves in to recapture the escapees, the League proceeds to gas the entire area with the fear compound.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Not so much Batman himself (though the citizens under the influence of the fear gas see him as a monstrous bat), but the sequence wherein he calls upon a massive swarm of his namesake as a diversionary tactic for the SWAT team. Works wonders!
  • Bat Scare: Bruce suffers one when he falls into the future Batcave as a young boy. He later weaponizes this trope as "backup".
  • Batter Up!: Alfred tests out a sample Batman cowl by hitting it with a baseball bat; the cowl shatters, which Alfred determines is due to a problem with the graphite mixture.
  • Battle Butler: Alfred takes out a League of Shadows assassin with a golf club in order to rescue Bruce from the burning Wayne Manor.
    Alfred: I hope you're not a member of the fire brigade.
  • Beard of Evil: Ra's al Ghul sports the Fu Manchu of villainy, as does Ducard.
  • Beat: There's an absolutely hysterical one of these during the League of Shadows' attack on Arkham Asylum. Two patients are sitting in a cell together, when Batman breaks in through the door. He awkwardly moves between the two inmates with an apologetic "excuse me" (still in his Batman voice!) before leaving through the cell's window. There's a brief pause, and then the two prisoners just look at each other with expressions that scream "Oh, we're definitely in the right place."
  • Beta Outfit: Bruce starts out with an armored ninja costume before settling on the bat motif.
  • Big Bad: Ra's al Ghul is behind Gotham's economic decay and tries to deliver the final blow to the city in person.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Gordon calls for reinforcements in the fear gassed Narrows, Commissioner Loeb replies there is no else to help (he is wrong). At that exact moment, the Batmobile roars in to the rescue.
    Jim Gordon: We need reinforcements! TAC teams, SWATs, riot cops!
    Loeb: Gordon! Gordon! All the city's riot police are on the island with you.
    Jim Gordon: Well, they're completely incapacitated!
    Loeb: [talking to Gordon on walkie-talkie] Gordon... there's nobody left to send in.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Bruce Wayne has a party on his birthday. Unfortunately, Ra's al Ghul comes to his party, burns down his mansion, and attempts to drive all of Gotham insane, leaving Batman to stop him.
  • Bitch Slap: When Bruce reveals the revolver he had planned to kill Joe Chill with at the courtroom, Rachel gives him not one, but two of these.
  • Blackmail: Subverted. Falcone tries to blackmail Jonathan Crane but ends up getting a dose of fear toxin for it.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: The League of Shadows does this during Bruce's birthday party. Ra's al Ghul doesn't even attempt to disguise himself; he gives Mrs. Delane his name and asks to see Bruce.
  • Blood from the Mouth: From the decoy Ra's al Ghul, during the destruction of the compound.
  • Body Double: How Ra's al Ghul appears immortal.
  • Bookcase Passage: Activated by piano keys.
  • Break the Haughty: Happens twice to Carmine Falcone.
    • When Batman makes his first appearance. Compare the untouchable crime lord smugly lecturing his underlings not to probe too deeply into the "secrets of scary people" with the terrified old man cowering in the back of a limo trying to load a shotgun with shaking hands a few minutes later, and who then finds himself pulled through a sunroof, headbutted into unconsciousness, and tied to a spotlight surrounded by the drugs he was smuggling into the country.
    • Then in prison a few scenes later, Crane reduces him to a lunatic in an insane asylum mumbling "Scarecrow... Scarecrow...".
  • Brick Joke:
    • Before starting work on his Batman persona, Bruce pays a homeless man for his coat; while he plans to burn his, the homeless man insists he keep it, saying that it's a "nice coat" and repeating it to himself after Bruce leaves. When he publicly debuts as Batman to intercept one of Falcone's drug shipments, he sees the same homeless man and simply tells him, "Nice coat." He's quite delighted to hear it.
    • "Didn't you get the memo?" See Ironic Echo below.
  • Broken Aesop: Bruce Wayne, in his training to become Batman, is ordered to kill a criminal that the League of Shadows arrested, but he refuses since he decided he will not be an executioner. The moral is If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!, but to escape the temple without having to kill the criminal, he intentionally burns the whole temple down, presumably killing many people there, maybe even the criminal he was ordered to kill in the first place.
  • Buddy Snaps First: Bruce Wayne, fourteen years after his parents' murder, attends the court hearing of the culprit Joe Chill. Chill is able to get paroled and freed when he testifies against crime lord Carmine Falcone. Bruce, angered by this turn of events, has already hidden a gun inside of his coat sleeve and intends to kill Chill outside of the court hall in revenge. Fortunately, what saves Bruce from enacting his plan and ruining his own life is the sudden appearance of one of Falcone's henchpeople, as she emerges from the crowd of reporters covering the case, and fatally shoots Chill.
    Henchwoman: JOE! HEY JOE! Falcone says 'Hi'!
    [she shoots Joe Chill through the chest]
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Falcone tries to blackmail Jonathan Crane. As noted above, it doesn't go well for Falcone.
  • Burying a Substitute: The film's novelization has Bruce Wayne burying the clothing he wore while training with the League of Shadows because it has some of Ducard/Ra's al Ghul's blood on it, and that bloodstain is the only thing he has to mark the Evil Mentor that was almost a second father to him.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Inverted; Bruce makes fun of his alter-ego while establishing his rich idiot persona.
    Bruce: Well, a guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues.
  • Calling Card: The joker playing card seen in The Stinger.
  • Calling the Cops on the FBI: Scarecrow orders his men to call the cops when Batman shows up, knowing they'll go after the vigilante and let them go.
  • The Cameo:
    • Tim Booth from James has a small non-speaking role as lesser known Batman villain, Victor Zsaz.
    • Character actor John Nolan, the director's uncle, appears at Bruce Wayne's birthday party.
    • Actress Lucy Russell appears as a guest as a restaurant.
    • Actor Jeremy Theobald appears as a water board technician.
    • Actor Shane Rimmer appears as The Older Gotham Water Board Technician
  • Cathartic Exhalation: The engineers monitoring the water mains in response to the pressure drop.
  • Car Cushion: Batman lands on a car when he jumps from a the window in his burning suit.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The blue flower.
    • The fact that the monorail beams follow the same route as the water mains, and that the hub for both is located under Wayne Tower.
    • Subverted with the weak first batch of Batsuit masks. It seems like foreshadowing for Batman's mask breaking, but it never comes back up, unless it's meant to foreshadow events in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • All of the features that Fox describes when Bruce is trying out the Tumbler (its use to jump over rivers, and the rampless jump boosters) come in handy during the car chase and to get into the narrows after the cops have raised the bridge.
    • The secret elevator to the Batcave comes in handy during the climax.
  • City Noir
  • *Click* Hello: Played with. When Batman covertly introduces himself to Jim Gordon at the GCPD, we're initially lead to believe that he's put a gun to the back of the sergeant's head, complete with an audible click, to keep him from raising the alarm. This being Batman however, it's soon revealed to be a bluff; he's actually holding a stapler.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Currently the last Batman movie to receive one. It's okay if you haven't heard of it; it didn't come out with much fanfare, and was more of an original story packaged with reprints of classic Batman stories.
  • Composite Character: Henri Ducard is a mentor of Batman just like his comic counterpart, but he's also the real Ra's Al-Ghul.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Batman has the easiest time against dozens of gangsters and hundreds of cops, a much harder time against a few League of Shadow operatives, and the hardest time against just Ra's. Justified in that the League of Shadows has had the same combat training Batman did, and Ra's is the one who taught him.
  • Continuity Snarl: Considering that Bruce Wayne's canonical birthday is February 19, the novelization reveals an apparent several-month gap between the Wayne Manor fire and the commencement of the rebuilding (which started in the fall with the sealing of the Batcave), as well as an apparent nine-and-a-half month gap between the end of this movie and the arrival of The Joker (which Batman was alerted to at 11:30 PM on December 1). It's worth noting that according to Word of God, The Dark Knight takes place (and was released) in July of 2008–and several months after the end of Begins.
  • Cool Car:
    • The Batmobile of this franchise differs, because Nolan departs from the traditional "sleek sport roadster" of previous Batman adaptations, going instead for the Tumbler, or "Fast Urban Military Combat Tank That Comes In Black". It does retain the jet engine with afterburner common to most Batmobiles though.
    • And Bruce Wayne also drives a Lamborghini for those occasions where he puts on his "Millionaire Playboy" façade in public. When dropping it off with a valet, the valet quips "Nice car," and Bruce tells him "You should see my other one."
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Earle turns to be out to be one of those. While he isn't as bad as some other examples of this trope, but he did steer Wayne Enterprises away from its founder's vision, reassigned Fox to Applied Sciences, and he later fired Fox for asking too many questions about a stolen microwave emitter. Didn't you get the memo?
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: Ra's al Ghul confronts Bruce at his home while he's holding a party. Bruce has to find a way to evacuate the party without attacking.
  • Cover-up Purchase: Bruce and Alfred are ordering the components which will eventually be assembled into the batsuit:
    Alfred: Of course, they'll have to be large orders to avoid suspicion.
    Bruce: How large?
    Alfred: Say, ten thousand.
  • Crapsack World: Gotham is pictured as one.
  • Creator Cameo: Producer Larry Franco appears as a cop during a chase scene.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Bruce's suits and gadgets are mostly prototypes that his company shelved for various reasons.
  • Crooks Are Better Armed: The film justifies this trope, setting up a theme of escalation for The Dark Knight.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Bruce's fight in the prison near the beginning of the movie. He totally wipes the floor with "the Devil" and his pals.
  • Darker and Edgier: A very successful example of this trope. This was a definite shift away from the previous films; the world of Batman goes from being camp and over-the-top to dark and gritty. Even the humor is much more toned down.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Various characters show signs of this, though Lucius Fox is the most apparent, like in his conversation with Bruce Wayne about the Nomex bulletproof survival suit.
      Lucius Fox: So what's your interest in it, Mr. Wayne?
      Bruce Wayne: I want to borrow it. For, uh, spelunking.
      Lucius Fox: Spelunking?
      Bruce Wayne: You know, cave diving.
      Lucius Fox: ... you expecting to run into much gunfire in these caves?
    • Alfred Pennyworth might qualify too, though not to the same extent as in the sequel.
      Alfred: What's the point of all those push-ups if you can't even lift a bloody log?
    • Jonathan Crane as well.
      Rachel Dawes: Dr. Crane, do you really believe that a man who butchers people for the mob doesn't belong in prison?
      Dr. Crane: Well, I would hardly have testified to that otherwise.
    • Ra's al Ghul:
      Ra's al Ghul: [seeing Batman in full costume for the first time] Well, well. You took my advice about theatricality a bit... literally.
      • and
      Ra's al Ghul: Now if you excuse me, I have a city to destroy.
    • And of course, Bruce gets several zingers in.
      Alfred: But Master Wayne, the guests will be arriving!
      Bruce: Keep them happy until I arrive. Tell them that joke you know.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Ra's knows Bruce's identity as the Batman from the start, but ends up dead by the end of Begins.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Inverted, The League of Shadows plans to use Bruce and his connections to help burn Gotham to the ground. Bruce promptly turns against the group when he finds out.
  • Deducing the Secret Identity: The League of Shadows arrives at Wayne Manor to confront Bruce. It's never said how they figured out he was Batman, but the context of the movie implies that it was obvious to them; the oligarch that they trained in combat and tactics returns to his home city, and shortly afterward a masked vigilante utilizing the League's fighting style and tactics and armed with very expensive gear appears.
  • Devil Complex: During his brief time in a prison in Tibet, Bruce Wayne is attacked by the leader of the local prison gang, who boasts that "You are in Hell, little man, and I am the Devil!". Bruce finds the whole intimidation attempt comically overblown, and fights off both him and multiple other men simultaneously.
    Bruce: You're not the Devil. You're practice.
  • Dirty Coward: This is exactly what Falcone is when you take away all of his mafia mojo.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Carmine Falcone seems to be the root of Gotham's problems, as The Don of the Gotham Mob, but he's really just a patsy for the League of Shadows, via the Scarecrow. He's captured and driven insane while his bosses continue their schemes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Joe Chill's death scene looks remarkably like the death of JFK's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald: he's being escorted under guard when someone steps out of the crowd and shoots him in the chest.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Inverted. Bruce Wayne starts out driven by rage and guilt. The League of Shadows teaches him to use his head.
  • Dream Intro: The movie starts with a Flashback Nightmare by Bruce, retelling his first encounter with bats when he was a little kid. The nature of this sequence is slightly given away by the echoing voices.
  • Due to the Dead: At the end of the novelization, Bruce buries Ducard, or what was left of him after the monorail crashed, next to Thomas Wayne.

  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The odd, almost memetic, gravelly voice Christian Bale uses when Wayne is in his Batman persona is very pronounced in the two sequels, but in this film Bale hardly uses the gravelly voice at all, he mostly only speaks in a slight whisper.
    • The title doesn't have Dark Knight in it, unlike the two others.
      • Conversely, this is the only film with Batman in the title.
    • Bruce is also more loose with his Thou Shalt Not Kill code. While he doesn't directly murder people, he seems to be okay with Murder by Inaction. Although this makes sense if you consider it is the beginning of his career as a hero and is still refining himself. He is more reckless and violent through the movie than what he would become later.
    • The chest-emblem on the main bat-suit does not match the film’s signature bat-symbol. Rather than having the main “Dark Knight” symbol of the trilogy, bat-suit’s chest-emblem looks similar to the future Batman: Arkham Series by Rocksteady. This would be fixed in the following film in which Batman gets a new suit with an emblem the matches the trilogy signature bat-symbol.
    • There's much more usage of comic-style visuals through the use of CGI to create the Narrows and the gothic-inspired monorail, which seem much closer to the stylized Gotham of the 90s films. The sequels would totally eliminate this (aided by the Narrows and the monorail both being destroyed in this film's climax) in favor of making a Gotham that looks completely like an ordinary modern city.
    • Related to the above, the film in general is much more fantastical. While Begins isn't too out there, it still features a secret mystical cult of ninjas, a specialized fear toxin that makes you hallucinate your worst fears and the aforementioned stylised Gotham City, making it a more elevated and "comic-booky-y" film than its two sequels, The Dark Knight especially. Even when the League of Shadows show up again in Rises they're more depicted as N.G.O. Superpower mercernaries rather than as ninjas.
  • Entitled Bastard: Inverted with Ra's, who wants Bruce to kill him instead of save him.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: When the two girls who accompany Bruce strip down in the middle of an upscale restaurant and start bathing in a fountain, he excuses their behavior to an outraged maitre'd with "They're European" and a shrug.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • According to the novelization, Ducard does not like the idea of using nuclear weapons to implement his plans, and at the start of the book it's clearly stated that he (or, at least, a predecessor in the role of Ra's) tricked Hitler into losing World War II simply because he believed Hitler was too much of an extremist. Now, in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane plans to destroy Gotham with a nuclear bomb, and Bane's nuclear goals may have factored into his excommunication for excessive extremism...
    • A slightly ambiguous example occurs in the first conversation between Jonathan Crane and Carmine Falcone, when the subject of what to do about Rachel Dawes comes up. Crane requests not to know the details, but it's not made clear whether this is due to moral indignation or whether he simply wants to maintain plausible deniability. Falcone seems to believe it's the latter (which, seeing as Crane is a sadistic torturer who enjoys making people suffer, isn't exactly an unreasonably conclusion to take) and is clearly not particularly impressed by what he views as Crane's hypocrisy, thus making it a case of this trope for him as well (since he is, at least, honest throughout the movie about what a huge bastard he is).
      Falcone: I'll buy her off.
      Crane: Not this one.
      Falcone: Idealist, huh? Well, there's an answer to that too.
      Crane: I don't want to know.
      [Falcone smiles cynically]
      Falcone: Yeah, you do.
  • Event Title: Batman Begins.
  • Evil Costume Switch: When Ducard is revealed to be Ra's al Ghul, his suit is black while it was previously blue or brown.
  • Evil Mentor: Henri Ducard/ Ra's al Ghul. He inducts Bruce Wayne into the League of Shadows and teaches him the skills of combat, camouflage, and how to strike fear into the minds of criminals. Their methods are ultimately too extreme for Bruce, as they would prefer to kill all criminals without mercy and even destroy entire cities they deem too corrupt to survive with everyone inside. Even near the end, the real Rha's Al Ghul calls Bruce his greatest student, and voices his regret that Bruce is not "saving" Gotham along with him by destroying it.
  • Evil Plan: The League of Shadows' plan to Mercy Kill Gotham, though Bruce defeats them early in the movie. But since he saved Henri Ducard, AKA Ra's al Ghul, they try to destroy Gotham again.
  • Exact Words:
    • Batman uses this to justify letting Ra's al Ghul die after defeating him on the monorail, giving him the choice between getting off the monorail and dying in the imminent crash.
      Batman: I won't kill you... [throws one Batarang out the window and detaches a monorail car with another before preparing to jump out] but I don't have to save you.
    • Earlier, Ducard tells Bruce that he's stronger than his father. Bruce remarks Ducard never knew his father. Ducard doesn't deny it, instead emphasizing Bruce's own anger and will in comparison to his father's. Ducard didn't know Thomas Wayne personally. But, he knew of him as one of Gotham's leading citizens when the League of Shadows struck Gotham 20 years earlier. He knows of him because the deaths of Thomas and Martha ironically and unwittingly derailed their original attack.
  • Expospeak Gag: After Lucius Fox finishes explaining exactly how he derived the antidote for Crane's fear toxin to save Bruce's life:
    Lucius Fox: I analyzed your blood, isolating the receptor compounds and the protein-based catalyst.
    Bruce Wayne: Am I supposed to understand any of that?
    Lucius Fox: No. I just wanted you to know how hard it was. Bottom line, I synthesized an antidote.
    Bruce Wayne: Could you make more?
    Lucius Fox: You planning on gassing yourself again, Mr. Wayne?
    Bruce Wayne: Well, you know how it is, Mr. Fox. You're out at night, looking for kicks, someone's passing around the weaponized hallucinogens...
    Lucius Fox: I'll bring what I have. The antidote should inoculate you for now.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Trapped on a train that's about to crash and explode, Ra's al Ghul simply sits back and slowly closes his eyes.
  • Faceless Goons: The League of Shadows.
  • Face Your Fears: A major theme. Ducard teaches Bruce to conquer his own fear, Falcone outright gloats about using fear to get his way, Batman actively exploits the fears in others and Scarecrow uses hallucinogens that cause his victims to be consumed by their fears.
  • Failed State: Invoked by the League of Shadows. R'as al-Ghul claims credit for attempting to weaponize economics to collapse Gotham City in the film's backstory, having viewed it as a Soiled City on a Hill. Thomas Wayne's philanthropic efforts, and then his death inspiring the rest of Gotham's Blue Bloods to contribute, threw a Spanner in the Works, prompting the main plot of the film, where the League weaponizes Jonathan "Scarecrow" Crane's fear toxin to achieve the same end.
  • Finish Him!: After being defeated at the end of the film, Ra's expects Bruce to kill him. He adheres to his one rule... by forcing Ra's to choose between getting off the monorail and dying in the imminent crash.
    Batman: You'll never learn to mind your surroundings!
    [Batman turns the tables and pins Ra's al Ghul to the ground]
    Ra's al Ghul: Have you finally learned to do what is necessary?
  • Firing Day: Lucius loses his job at Wayne Enterprises due to merging departments. Bruce later reinstates him by giving him Earle's job.
    Didn't you get the memo?
  • Flight Is the Final Power: after spending the film learning to combine his martial arts training with high-tech weaponry, Batman surprises the League of Shadows with a new trick during their attack on Gotham City: a glider suit that gives him controlled flight, allowing him to pursue Ra's Al Ghul's train.
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: Inverted. Bruce has to pick a rare blue flower at the base of a mountain and then carry it to the monastery at the top. The blue flower is the basis for the League's hallucination.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: Batman gliding off a rooftop and just past the camera, his cape cloaking it with black.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the flashback where Bruce returns to Wayne Manor for the first time as an adult, he tells Alfred that it just reminds him of the dead and he'd as soon see the whole place demolished. He comes around on that opinion, only for the Manor to be demolished by the villains in the lead-up to the film's climax.
    • Bruce's pretend-drunken rant mentions "two-faced friends" that "smile through their teeth".
    • Ducard's story during Bruce's early training about his late wife's murder. This becomes very important come The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Freudian Excuse: Henri Ducard's apparent reason for becoming a Knight Templar.
    Henri Ducard: I wasn't always here in the mountains. Once I had a wife... my great love... she was taken from me. Like you, I was forced to learn there are those without decency, who must be fought without hesitation, without pity.
    • The circumstances behind the death of Ducard's wife are revealed in The Dark Knight Rises - she was prison raped and murdered, and this was after giving birth to Talia.
  • Funny Background Event: When Commissioner Loeb is talking to Gordon during the climax, he's using another cop's chest-mounted radio and we can see the poor guy being dragged back and forth as Loeb paces around.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Several songs on the soundtrack are named after species of bat, containing six listed in order as:
  • Fun with Homophones: The leitmotif for Ra’s al Ghul is titled Lasiurus, as in Lazarus.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: After he has trained with the League of Shadows, Bruce's mentor asks him to do this as a show of his commitment after his last test. Namely, executing a prisoner who killed a fellow farmer for his land. Needless to say, the future Batman refuses, causing said mentor to later remark on his lack of 'courage to do all that is necessary' in comparison to himself and his plan to destroy Gotham to scare the rest of the cities in the nation into reforming. Towards the end, Batman does get Ra's at his mercy, and is asked again whether he now had that courage. He doesn't kill Ra's, but instead leaves him to die in the derailing monorail that he himself had set in motion. However Bruce seems perfectly fine with killing people indirectly since in the very scene where he refused to execute an individual he blew up the building everyone was in to get away, likely resulting in more than a few casualties including the person who was tied up to be executed as well.
  • Gilligan Cut: Bruce spots a camouflage-painted military vehicle in the Applied Sciences department.
    Bruce Wayne: What's that?
    Lucius Fox: The Tumbler? Oh, you wouldn't be interested in that.
    [Cuts to Bruce driving the Tumbler around an open warehouse floor, with Fox riding shotgun and smiling nervously]
  • Golf Clubbing: Bruce's way of making a surprise entrance to Wayne Enterprises is to flirt with the secretary and then get caught by Earle teaching her Office Golf. Also how Alfred deals with a League of Shadows member when he rescues Bruce from his burning mansion.
  • Graceful Loser: Henri Ducard. When he is beaten and then left by Bruce in the crashing monorail, he just closes his eyes and accepts death.
  • Guilt Complex: Bruce Wayne has a major case of this, blaming himself for getting his parents killed — as a little boy, he had asked his parents to leave a performance of the opera Mefistofele due to the performers triggering his fear of bats, resulting in them going through what is now called "Crime Alley" and their paths crossing with the mugger Joe Chill.
  • Hands-On Approach: Bruce with the secretary in the Office Golf scene.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Joe Chill is killed because he knows about Carmine Falcone's criminal activities.
    • Falcone himself got a face full of fear gas years later after trying to blackmail Dr. Crane with the information he had on Ra's operation.
  • Hellish Horse: How Scarecrow and the horse he stole from a mounted police officer appears to a young boy affected by the fear compound during the finale.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: A headline after the battle at Wayne Manor: "Drunken Billionaire Burns Down Home"
  • The Hero's Journey: Bruce leaves his home of Gotham as a college student, spends years wandering the world to understand the criminal mind until he's trained to use his new skills by the League of Shadows, and then returns to Gotham to utilize these skills to save the city from the corruption that drove him out in the first place.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Batman performs this on Flass, repeatedly dropping him mere inches away from the ground and then lifting him back up with his batclaw.
  • Historical In-Joke: Ra's says that the League has worked to restore the world to balance throughout history as human civilization achieved decadence around the world, and claims credit for the 410 AD sacking of Rome, the Black Plague, and the Great Fire of London.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Jonathan Crane is poisoned with his own fear toxin after trying to hit Batman with it again.
    • The League fails in its plans and Ra's gets killed because Batman used skills they taught him to save Gotham.
    • Earle gets bought out of controlling Wayne Enterprises through the exact same financial tricks that he attempted to take control in the first place.
  • Hope Bringer: At the end of the film, Gordon tells Batman that, for the first time in a long time, there's hope on the streets of Gotham, thanks to him.
  • Horrifying Hero: Batman is really scary, especially when he first goes into action, hanging upside down to drop down on mooks, grabbing them from right next to their buddies, and scaring one guy so badly he screams. Ra's and the League of Shadows, however, are immune to this effect, as they are familiar with his tactics (they're the ones who trained him, after all).
  • Hummer Dinger: The tumbler is essentially a wheeled tank (and described as such by one of the cops attempting to pursue it).

  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Rachel's less than thrilled reaction to Bruce planning to murder Joe Chill to avenge his parents is steeped in this.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: A word of advice to people like Joe Chill: if you're trying to rob a couple at gunpoint and just want to get your hands on whatever it is you want from them (e.g. wallets and jewelry), never put your finger on the trigger. There's a good chance your gun will go off if your finger twitches at the slightest movement.
  • Impersonating an Officer: As Ra's al Ghul puts it, Bruce Wayne is trying to defend "a city so corrupt [the League of Shadows] infiltrated every level of its infrastructure. Effortlessly." How effortlessly? The district attorney, Carl Finch, is shot dead by a henchman posing as a police officer. In the finale, Ra's sneaks the microwave emitter into the Narrows in a SWAT truck, and his henchmen are posing as SWAT officers.
  • In Medias Res: The film opens with Bruce Wayne being held in a Chinese prison, and we don't find out the circumstances leading up to it until later. This is in line with Nolan's style of non-chronological narratives.
  • Incomprehensible Entrance Exam: To join the League of Shadows, Bruce Wayne is told to retrieve a mysterious blue flower from a remote mountain and then deliver it to a secluded monastery with no indication of what the flower might be for or even what's expected of him there. For good measure, once he actually arrives there, he's made to participate in a fist-fight with his mentor, despite being exhausted to the point of collapse
  • Institutional Apparel: The asylum inmates' orange jumpsuits.
  • I Own This Town: Carmine Falcone points out to Bruce Wayne all the government officials in the bar they're at — cops, a judge — then points a gun at Wayne's head and says that he could shoot him right there without any consequences at all.
  • Ironic Echo: Several of them.
    • "It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you." Said first by Rachel Dawes to Bruce Wayne when Bruce was trying to explain that his Millionaire Playboy persona was all an act. Bruce later repeats it to Rachel ("It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me"), as Batman, when she asks who he is.
    • "Mind your surroundings." Said first by Henri Ducard to Bruce Wayne while the two are sparring on ice in Bhutan ("Always mind your surroundings"). Said later by Ducard to Bruce while he is burning down Wayne Manor ("You never did learn to mind your surroundings"). Batman finally repeats it to Ducard ("You'll never learn to mind your surroundings!") when the train they're in has its rails out ahead of them and Ducard fails to notice this until it's pointed out.
    • "It's a bit technical, but the key thing is our company's future is secure." Said first by Earle to Bruce when they were discussing the purchases of stock in their company. Bruce later repeats it to Earle when trying to explain why he's taking a more active role in the company. Made better by the fact that Bruce says "my company".
    • "Didn't you get the memo?" Said first by Earle to Lucius when firing Lucius. After Bruce Wayne gives Earle's job to Lucius, Bruce Wayne explains why he has the authority to do so, (providing the above Ironic Echo) and once Bruce is finished talking, Lucius says "Right you are, Mr. Wayne" and then looks at Earle, takes off his glasses, and asks "Didn't you get the memo?" This provides two ironic echoes in a row.
    • "Don't be afraid, Bruce." Said first by a dying Thomas Wayne, trying to comfort Bruce. Later said by Ducard during the train fight when he pins Bruce/Batman and starts strangling him.
  • It's All My Fault: When Bruce was a boy, he blames himself for getting scared the night his parents were murdered. stating that if he hadn't been scared and had them leave the theater, then his parents wouldn't have been shot. Alfred is quick to assure him that the only one to blame for that is Joe Chill.
    Alfred: It was nothing you did, it was him and him alone.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: The aftermath of Bruce's parents' funeral is shown, along with their headstones. It is raining and the traditional black umbrellas abound.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: The League of Shadows believe Gotham is this, comparing it to ancient Rome in its decadence. The city has grown intolerably corrupt and must be destroyed, so that balance can be restored to the world.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Given that Bruce Wayne is the richest man on the planet, it's no surprise that he attended Princeton, which he enjoyed, but noted that "they don't feel the same way."
  • Kick the Dog:
    • A member of the League of Shadows, disguised as a SWAT team member, pushing away a frightened lost child.
    • Also Falcone, when he berates Bruce and has his goons beat him and throw him out of the restaurant they're in.
  • Knight Templar: The League Of Shadows as a whole, really. Beyond well-intentioned extremism, their attitude leads them to dismiss all of Gotham as beyond saving, and to use this to justify using Crane's fear-toxin to drive them to kill each other. Ducard claims they exploited Gotham's corruption in order to pull this off in the first place; at no point does it seem to occur to them that it probably would be a better idea to focus their efforts on simply confronting Gotham's criminal elements instead.
  • Left for Dead: Ra's Al Ghul leaves Wayne to die in his burning mansion. Too bad for him.
  • Lemming Cops: The car chase plays this straight: Despite Batman's "no killing" creed (which the cops don't know about), many cops engage him in a high speed chase through the Loop, along highways and through back streets, as he's trying to rush a dying Rachel to the Batcave so he can give her the antidote. Over the course of the chase, we have the Tumbler drive over and crush a police car to start things off. Then, in the later parts, you wonder why the dispatcher doesn't call off the chase even after Batman uses a combination of caltrops and quick maneuvers to take out several police cars with multi-car pileups. When Bruce does get back to the Batcave and is admonished by Alfred for his reckless driving, (Alfred has been following the news reports of the chase), Alfred tells him "It's a miracle no one was killed." Er, yeah.
  • Let the Past Burn: The film's Darkest Hour is when Ra's al Ghul incapacitates Bruce Wayne, then sets Wayne Manor on fire and leaves Bruce to die there. Continuing his father's legacy (in this case, making Gotham a better, safer city) is one of Bruce's major motivations. Bruce is convinced at that moment that he's completely ruined Dad's legacy, and the destruction of his father's house is a very concrete representation of that.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Batman in his cave, gearing up for the final battle.
  • The Lost Lenore: During their training session on the ice, Ducard reveals to Bruce this is why he joined the League of Shadows. His beloved wife was taken from him years ago and her murder made Ducard realize that there are monsters out in the world who must be fought without hesitation or pity. While it's treated as exposition and a character development moment for Ducard in this film, the full story of what happened to his wife is finally explored in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Made in Country X: The parts for Batman's mask have to be reordered because the graphite content was wrong, making them fragile.
    Alfred: In the meantime, I suggest you avoid landing on your head.
  • Made of Iron: The bats that are summoned to keep the police distracted have no trouble breaking through glass windows.
  • Madness Mantra: "Scarecrow... Scarecrow..."
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Crane shares several traits of the trope.
  • McNinja: Batman himself. Plus the League of Shadows in Begins are quite a diverse group. When the League returns as an antagonist in The Dark Knight Rises, they are still ethnically diverse.
  • The Man in Front of the Man: Bruce, entering the League of Shadows, is introduced to Ra's al'Ghul, looking every bit the namesake, with his adjutant, Ducard. But before long it becomes clear the big man is a Decoy Leader and "Ducard" is the true Ra's al Ghul. Misdirection is, after all, one of the League of Shadows' prime tricks.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • When Rachel asks who Batman is, he replies with the same words she previously had berated him with while he was acting like a vapid playboy, saying that despite his assertions he's not that person underneath, his actions are what should define him.
      Batman: It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.
      Rachel: Bruce?!
    • "Why do we fall, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
    • Also with Alfred, the same exchange occurs between him and Bruce in the anachronic opening, and after Wayne Manor burns, immediately after the above:
      Bruce: Still haven't given up on me?
      Alfred: Never.
  • Media Scrum:
    • When Bruce is in the police station after his parents' death, we can see shots of police holding back the reporters who want to talk to him.
    • When Joe Chill is released, he is surrounded by a gaggle of reporters throwing questions at of whom is an assassin for Falcone sent to kill him.
  • Mercy Kill: Henri Ducard, alias Ra's al-Ghul claims that wiping out the citizens of Gotham is this.
  • Millionaire Playboy: Invoked; it goes hand in hand with Batman's Secret Identity.
  • Mind Rape: Dr. Crane deliberately does this to his patients.
    • Mind Rape also happens to Falcone at the hands of Dr. Crane; and ironically Batman gases Crane with his own toxin; removing any sanity that Crane had and leaving only the fear-obsessed Scarecrow.
  • Mook Horror Show: Whoever designed the predator levels of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City must have loved the warehouse scene. It's got Falcone's goons steadily getting more and more freaked out as Batman picks them off one by one.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Bruce Wayne reveals to Rachel Dawes that he was considering avenging his parents by shooting Joe Chill, who murdered them. Rachel then slaps Bruce twice.
    Rachel: Your father would be ashamed of you.
  • Mr. Exposition: A bit part exists to quickly recap the train situation as it's happening. After it blows up spectacularly, Gordon cheers, so anyone who hasn't been paying attention knows that it's a good thing.
    • Also, Rachel does a lot of Expospeak early on.
  • Murder by Inaction: How Batman gets around the issue of not killing Ra's al Ghul: simply leaving him to die on the train while it crashes, though it's hinted that he was also giving Ra's every chance to escape by himself.
    Batman: I won't kill you... but I don't have to save you.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Whilst being questioned by Batman, Crane throws out a line directly quoted from Batman: Haunted Knight.
    • Crane's method for widely distributing the fear toxin is through the pipes under Arkham Asylum, an approach the Scarecrow also used in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Dreams in Darkness".
      • Crane also gets gassed in Batman's presence and hallucinates him as a demonic creature in another Animated Series episode, "Nothing to Fear".
    • "I'm Batman", as delivered to Falcone.
    • If you pause and look carefully at the evidence bag with the Joker playing card at the end of the film, you can see that the name of the registering officer was J. Kerr, one of the Joker's known aliases in the comics.
    • When Bruce Wayne is "introduced" to Ra's al Ghul at his party, he finds himself facing a bald Asian League of Shadows member who could be a younger version of their supposed leader. In the comics, Ra's al Ghul has immortality because he uses the Lazarus Pit to rejuvenate his youth.
    • One cop says "Who is this guy?!", just like another cop in Tim Burton's film.
    • Also for the 1989 Batman, Flass's Adaptational Ugliness makes him look far less like the comic Flass (tall and muscular, ex-military, clean-cut white hair, clean-shaven) and much more like the corrupt officer Max Eckhardt (long-haired, shorter, overweight and mustachioed) from that film.
    • At Victor Zsasz’s trial, Dr. Crane formally refers to him as “Mr. Zsasz”, which happens to be the character’s supervillain moniker in the comics.

  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ra's al Ghul translates in Arabic to "Head of the Demon". Ra's is obviously not one of the heroes with that name.
  • Near-Villain Victory: If Bruce hadn't been saved by Alfred from his mansion and Gordon hadn't been able to blow up the monorail tracks; Gotham's citizens would have all been driven insane or killed each other due to Scarecrow's fear toxin and Ra's al Ghul's plan.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles:
    • Ducard's training, where he hides among his followers while Bruce stalks him, everyone dressed in ninja gear.
    • Batman's mask is ordered in several parts, each from a different overseas company in orders numbering thousands to avert suspicion.
      Bruce: Well, at least we'll have spares.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A lot of promotional material made Scarecrow look like he would be the Big Bad, when in the full film, he's more of a secondary antagonist, acting as a go-between for the Falcone mob and the League of Shadows while advancing the latter's plans in secret.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bruce's decision in the climax to leave Ra's to his death in the plunging train will come back to bite him in the ass a decade later.
    • Towards the end of the Second Act, Bruce taking out Crane and his goons at Arkham. Sure, it allows him to rescue Rachel and stops any more toxin from being dumped into the City's water supply. But with Crane's operations now exposed, it also forces Ra's to accelerate his timetable for destroying Gotham.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Carmine Falcone's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Bruce Wayne gives him the idea of becoming Batman.
    • Moreover, Falcone has Joe Chill shot before Bruce himself has a chance to, ensuring Bruce's anger will continue to seek an outlet.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Thomas Wayne still works as a doctor at the hospital despite his estate being worth billions. Bruce also qualifies, when he's not engaging in frivolous pursuits in order to maintain his image as a Millionaire Playboy.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: Rachel is offended that Bruce is still dwelling on the murder of his parents and had planned to murder Joe Chill, and she slaps him for it.
    Rachel: Your father would be ashamed of you.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Alfred on top of Rachel in the car.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The film shows Bruce learning the importance of doing such to maintain his cover; he also feigns a drunken temper tantrum in order to stealthily evacuate the guests from his manor.
  • Office Golf: Played for Laughs when Bruce Wayne walks into Wayne Enterprises and successfully charms the secretary in a matter of seconds.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Averted by Ra's al Ghul when Batman swoops down to confront him. In contrast with the terrified reactions of Batman's previous opponents, Ra's al Ghul nonchalantly remarks:
      Ra's al Ghul: Well, well. You took my advice about theatricality a bit... literally.
    • Also averted when he realizes Batman intends to crash the train, as well as leave him there. Ra's al Ghul just closes his eyes.
    • Played straight on the other hand by Crane. After getting hit with his own fear gas, just looking at Batman completely freaks him out.
    • Bruce Wayne actually has this reaction when a guest at his party introduces him to, what's his name, Ras?
  • Outrun the Fireball: Twice.
    • Wayne saving Ducard from the exploding house of the League of Shadows.
    • Wayne and Alfred making it into the elevator before the family building blows up.
  • Playing Drunk: Bruce is holding a social event in Wayne Manor when Ra's al Ghul threatens the entire building. Bruce, thinking quickly, pretends to be drunk and moody and insults everyone until they decide to leave.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • As Bruce approaches Joe Chill to kill him and he's swarmed by reporters, a female assassin emerges from the crowd with a gun:
      "Hey, Joe! Falcone says hi."
    • Crane before setting Batman on fire:
      "You look like a man who takes himself too seriously. In my professional opinion, you need to lighten up."
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Jim Gordon might not be a dirty cop, but he covers for the dirty cops on the force and does effectively nothing to curtail their illegal activities and participation with the mob, even angrily protesting "I'm no snitch!" when it's suggested that he might cooperate with those trying to stop said corruption. But he was kind to Bruce Wayne after his parents got shot, so obviously Batman knows he's a good person.
    • Although, as Gordon himself says, whom could he snitch the corrupt cops to? Gotham is almost hopelessly corrupt. Him saying he is not a rat seems more like a way of protecting himself and his family in particular from the threat of his partners. Besides, Bruce investigated him before contacting him. The fact Gordon is all too ready to help Batman when he proves himself a force of good shows the kind of person he is.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Dr. Jonathan Crane; AKA Scarecrow.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Courtesy of Ducard: "The training! is! nothing! Will! is everything!"
  • Put Them All Out of My Misery: Depending on how you interpret Ducard's expressed attitude towards Gotham and his Freudian Excuse, he may be type 3 or type 4 of this.
  • Race Lift:
    • In the superhero film featuring Batman, white actor Liam Neeson plays Ra's al Ghul, who is traditionally depicted in Batman comics to be of Arab descent.
    • In the comics, Commissioner Loeb is white. He is played by black British actor Colin MacFarlane in the film.
  • Ramp Jump: The Tumbler, from the rooftops onto a bridge and across the river to reach The Narrows.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Falcone easily defangs Bruce Wayne's attempt to confront him and dresses him down for his delusions about the world:
    Falcone: Now, you think because your mommy and your daddy got shot, you know about the ugly side of life. But you don't.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Earle reassigned Fox to Applied Sciences to keep Fox from causing troubles for him.
    • Reassignment Backfire: This makes Fox the most valuable person for Bruce as he's overseen the creation of most of the tech that Bruce needs for Batman. And at the end of the movie, Bruce appoints Fox new CEO to replace Earle.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: An unusual example. Ra's al Ghul finds Bruce Wayne in a Third World prison and sets him on the path to becoming Batman, though they ultimately betray each other.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Batman won't kill Ra's al Ghul... but he doesn't have to save him.
  • The Reveal: Henri Ducard is actually Ra's al Ghul and though Bruce saved his life, The League of Shadows will still attempt to destroy Gotham under Ra's command.
  • Revenge Is Not Justice: Discussed, fourteen years after Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered, he returns to Gotham City to attend the public trial of Joe Chill, who agreed to cooperate with Gotham's DA in taking down the Falcone crime family in exchange for early release from prison. When Rachel Dawes, Bruce's childhood friend and the DA's assistant, tries to dissuade Bruce from going (as she was the one who was going to drive him to the trial), Bruce firmly insists on going, as unbeknownst to Rachel, Bruce had fully intended on killing Joe Chill himself. Shortly after the trial's conclusion, one of Falcone's hitmen gets to Joe and kills him before Bruce could. Frustrated that Falcone had escaped justice again, Rachel and Bruce later discuss how Falcone managed to pull it off, which Bruce noted that he should thank Falcone for it, only for Rachel to point out that what he wanted was revenge, not justice, and imported the importance of an impartial judicial system, which Bruce complains as being broken. Disgusted, Rachel drives Bruce up to a diner that Falcone frequents, making sure to drive him by the countless homeless encampments along the way to show Bruce just how bad Gotham's crime families have been making things for Gotham citizens and how much they're destroying everything Bruce's parents have fought for, and pointing out that Joe Chill himself was a victim of Falcone's criminal empire, despite his crime. She then promptly slaps Bruce after he reveals the revolver he planned to kill Joe Chill with, and tells him how ashamed his parents would be of him. Bruce ultimately takes the lecture to heart, and it's the starting point on his journey to becoming The Dark Knight.
  • Ripping Off the String of Pearls: When Joe Chill robs the Waynes, he yanks Martha's pearls off her neck before shooting her.
  • Roof Hopping: Batman does this with a car (well, the Batmobile), much to the consternation of the police.
    Cop 1: Where's he going?
    Cop 2: He's on the roof.
    Cop 1: What street is he taking?
    Cop 2: He's not on a street. He's flying on rooftops!
  • Rule of Pool: Played With when Bruce and two dates enter a fancy restaurant. The two air-headed bimbos almost immediately take their shoes off and jump into the fountain fully clothed, with Bruce joining them after buying the hotel.
    Maitre D: Sir, the pool is for decoration, and your friends do not have swimwear.
    Bruce Wayne: Well, they're European.
    Maitre D: I'm going to have to ask you to leave. [Bruce writes him a check] It is not a question of money.
    Bruce Wayne: [gives him the check] Well, you see, I'm buying this hotel, and uh, setting some new rules about the pool area.
  • Rule of Scary:
    • Alfred asks Bruce "Why bats?"
      Bruce Wayne: Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread.
    • Crane's scary scarecrow mask.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Bats at multiple points in the film. Batman goes from just being afraid of them, to surrounding himself with them in the batcave, to later summoning them against the SWAT officers when they surround the building he's in.
    Thomas Wayne: Do you want to know why they attacked you? It's because they were afraid of you. All creatures feel fear.
    Bruce Wayne: Even the scary ones?
    Thomas Wayne: ESPECIALLY the scary ones.

  • Sackhead Slasher: This film's iteration of the Scarecrow just wears a burlap sack combined with a gas mask on his head along with ordinary civilian clothes rather than his full costume from the original comics.
  • Saved for the Sequel: The unresolved romance between Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes.
  • Save the Villain: Bruce saves Henri Ducard when his lair explodes. Later, Henri Ducard returns as Ra's Al Ghul to destroy Gotham and tells Bruce that he warned him about compassion. After Ra's al Ghul and Batman's last battle, Batman leaves Ra's al Ghul to die as the monorail crashes.
  • Say Your Prayers: One could see Ra's/Ducard's Obi-Wan Moment as this as well.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: When a pair of goons sent by Falcone attack Rachel, she fights with them and draws her taser. When one of the guys runs away, she thinks it's because of her, not having noticed that Batman is behind her and had effortlessly beaten down the other thug.
  • Scary Scarecrows: This version of The Scarecrow goes for the sackhead slasher look.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!/Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: A heroic example of both happens at the same time at one point. When a maître d' tries to 86 him for letting his two companions skinny-dip in the hotel's pool area, Bruce simply buys him off.
    Bruce: Well, you see, I'm buying this hotel and... setting some new rules about the pool area.
  • Secret Identity: Deconstructed; although Bruce has one, it’s practically impossible for him to hide it from everyone else, even when they are not Secret Chasers actively looking to know who the Batman is. The ones who find out all decide to be Secret Keepers, or even Secret Secret Keepers:
    • The Big Bad immediately knows Batman is Bruce Wayne because he was his Evil Mentor.
    • Alfred, Bruce's butler, helps Batman every step of the way.
    • Lucius Fox, the Omnidisciplinary Scientist that provides Batman with his gadgets.
      Lucius Fox: If you don't want to tell me exactly what you're doing — when I'm asked, I don't have to lie. But don't think of me as an idiot.
    • Batman reveals his identity to his Love Interest Rachel. She becomes another Secret-Keeper.
  • Secret-Keeper: Bruce ends up with three of them by film's end: Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox and Rachel Dawes.
  • Self-Deprecation: Bruce Wayne mentioned that Batman "clearly has issues". Justified since he kinda has to do that in order to maintain his secret identity as Batman, and he does have issues with bats.
  • Sequel Hook: In the final scene Gordon tells Batman that now that Gotham has a masked hero, masked villains are appearing too. He then provides him with evidence of one such villain: a Joker card.
  • The Shangri-La: The headquarters of the League of Shadows.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Shrink: Dr. Jonathan Crane is, as it turns out, a villainous example of the trope.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: During the climax when the Narrows is gassed over, the immune Rachel shepherds a little boy terrified out of his mind due to the fear gas. Scarecrow charges in and gives his villainous diatribe and freaks out the kid even more (see Hellish Horse above)... until Rachel shuts him up with her taser and sends him away screaming like a ninny.
    • During their fight aboard the train, Ra's dismisses Bruce's abilities, only for Bruce to shut him up with a pretty good rejoinder. It's made even better by the sudden look of apprehension on Ra's' face at how much he's underestimated his former student.
      Ra's al Ghul: Familiar. Don't you have anything new?!
      Bruce: How about this?! ( catches the blade of Ra's sword-cane between the spines on his vambrace and then pulls his arms apart, snapping it)
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Henri Ducard thinks Bruce Wayne's belief in Thou Shalt Not Kill is pointless and that criminals should be executed. Later, he tells Bruce that Gotham is too corrupt to save and believes that Gotham should be destroyed; rather than Bruce's belief that there are good people in Gotham who can fix it.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Ducard attacks Bruce while he's still exhausted from climbing the mountain, pointing out that Death is not going to wait until he's ready for it.
  • Smuggling with Dolls: The Mafia under Carmine Falcone are shown to be using stuffed animals to import street drugs and the League of Shadows' hallucinogens, with different types of animals going to different dealers.
  • Smug Snake: Carmine Falcone is easily the most arrogant and contemptuous villain in the movie. At least Crane is fairly polite, and Ducard acts respectful to Bruce Wayne. Falcone, on the other hand, acts so smug that he ends up being arguably easier to hate than Crane and Ducard despite doing much less damage.
    • During the "secrets of scary people" scene, Flass warns Falcone that there's something going on and they should bail. Falcone just sits there in his car for a little while, then decides to get up to see for himself what's going on... namely, that Batman's beating up several of Falcone's goons at the same time. Apparently even with this going on right in front of him it takes him a little while to figure out that Batman's someone to be feared. So, he decides to get back to his car to get a gun. Too late.
  • Soft Glass: See Made of Iron. Batman is also able to crash through one of the monorail trains windows without any harm.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: Gotham City is this from the point of view of Henri Ducard and the League of Shadows.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Bruce and Alfred use a series of cords on a nearby piano to open the secret door to the Batcave inside Wayne Manor.
  • Spanner in the Works: The deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne ended up being this for the League of Shadows. The League's plan to destroy Gotham through an artificially-created economic depression was working perfectly up until the Wayne murders. Their deaths finally shocked Gotham's wealthy and powerful into action and the City recovered just enough to endure. The League had to wait nearly 20 years before trying again.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: First subverted as Bruce Wayne stumbles out the window and falls (very painfully) down a stairwell after gaining Gordon's trust. So he asks Fox to develop his batsuit wings, so he can make a quicker and smoother exit by gliding off rooftops. Once he puts on the suit, he does this flawlessly several times throughout the rest of the movie.
  • Stealthy Mook: the League of Shadows gives their members martial arts, ideological indoctrination, and stealth as part of their training, and we see League members pop out of seemingly nowhere during Bruce Wayne's Training Montage.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Batman greets Gordon with this line after appearing suddenly on his back porch.
  • Superhero Origin: Deconstructed; notice that Joe Chill kills Bruce Wayne’s parents, but the police catch him quickly and he goes to prison. But then he gets out because he agrees to testify against Carmine Falcone, who orders Chill killed before he can say anything, and the cops—paid off by Falcone—are unwilling AND unable to deliver justice to him. Carmine Falcone gives Bruce Wayne a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that forces him to begin The Hero's Journey, then he is trained by the League of Shadows and outsmarts Earle to become the Batman. A possible explanation is that Gotham was a Cornered Rattlesnake and it is trying to produce a superhero to survive: Notice that all of the forces oppressing Gotham were Threshold Guardians that created the Super Hero that will fight them.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: During the Batmobile chase with the increasingly frantic cops.
    Cop: It's a black... tank!
  • Sword Cane: R'as al Ghul carries one in the finale.
  • Symbolic Weapon Discarding: After his parents' murder, Bruce Wayne acquires a revolver with the intent to shoot Joe Chill, only to see Chill shot by one of Falcone's agents. Later, Rachel angrily chastises him when he shows her the gun, saying his father would be ashamed of him. Shaken by the exchange and realizing that he almost became just like the man who killed his parents, he throws the gun into the harbor and confronts Falcone, which leads to his journey to eventually become Batman.
  • Taking the Bullet: Thomas Wayne throws himself in front of his wife in the opera back alley to protect her from Joe Chill. Doesn't work.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Batman gives Crane a dose of the same fear-inducing toxin that Crane had previously used to attack both Batman and Rachel. He even uses the trope phrase.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Bruce Wayne says he ought to tear down Wayne Manor. The villains end up doing that for him.
    • "You think I can't defeat two of your pawns?" / "As you wish." More mooks promptly appear.
    • Ra's showing up at the birthday party and telling Bruce that he should have let him die. Guess what happens when Ra's gets trapped on the train later?
  • That Man Is Dead: Crane, after being exposed to fear gas.
    Crane:Doctor Crane is not here right now. But if you'd like to make an appointment...
  • Think Nothing of It: Batman's "you will never have to [say thank you]" philosophy.
  • Thought You Were Dead: As Bruce Wayne spent several years Walking the Earth without contacting anyone back in Gotham, he has been pronounced legally dead and Alfred controls the Wayne estate. Alfred being Alfred, he is immediately willing to return it all to Bruce when he is back in Gotham.
  • Three-Point Landing: Batman does this at some point.
  • Training Montage: "The Will To Act" is downright epic.
  • Trainstopping: Subverted. When the monorail carrying the vaporizing device to the center of the network of water mains has to be stopped, Batman has the track destroyed instead of trying to stop the train.
  • Tranquil Fury: Bruce's reaction to Ducard's revelation that the League of Shadows was responsible for the Gotham Depression — meaning that they're not only responsible for the suffering and despair that's consumed Gotham over the last 20 years, but they indirectly responsible for the deaths of Bruce's parents.
  • Two Roads Before You: One to bats, one to just groups of people.
  • Ultimate Final Exam: In the final test of his worthiness to join the League of Shadows, Bruce is dosed with a hallucinogenic compound derived from the blue flower he retrieved from the mountain, and then challenged to find Henri Ducard in a crowd of masked League members before Ducard can find him - the challenge being to resist the hallucinations and maintain discipline while simultaneously avoiding discovery. For good measure, it's wrapped up with a Deadly Graduation in which Bruce is encouraged to murder a criminal.
  • Unfazed Everyman: When the Tumbler parks by Wayne Tower, a bum walks up to it and comments "Nice ride!" Then it fires rockets into a nearby bridge support. The bum's response is to only stare at it like, "What was that?"
  • Ungrateful Bastard: At first Bruce seems to take this view of Ra's al Ghul when he visits the birthday party with clear intent to continue his plan of destroying Gotham. It's actually an inversion - Ra's states Bruce would have done better to let him die, as it would have defeated the plan entirely.
    Ra's: I warned you about compassion, Bruce.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Since it's Arkham Asylum, the sight of a man dressed as a bat blasting his way into your cell and through to the next one with miniature mines doesn't rate so much as a raised eyebrow from the two inhabitants of said cell.
  • Vigilante Execution: Done to Joe Chill. Subverted: the "vigilante" (really a hitwoman paid by Falcone) was stopping him from testifying against a mob boss, and the real enraged victim, Bruce Wayne, never got a chance to kill him. Bruce Wayne is also asked to do this to signify his graduation into the League of Shadows.
  • Villainous Face Hold: Inverted; Batman does this to terrorize Scarecrow. After forcing Scarecrow to inhale his own fear toxin, Batman grabs his jaw and back of the head, and interrogates him on his employer. During this process, Scarecrow hallucinates that Batman is made of tar.
  • Water Source Tampering: A variant: Scarecrow laced Gotham's water supply with his fear toxin for months, without anyone realizing it. The toxin had no effect in this form. It needed to be absorbed through the lungs to have an effect—the bad guys' ultimate plan was to use a microwave emitter to vaporize Gotham's entire water supply, thereby exposing the whole city.
  • We Can Rule Together: Ra's al Ghul tries to get Bruce Wayne to join him in his homicidal crusade:
    Ra's al Ghul: You were my greatest student. It should be you standing by my side, saving the world.
    Batman: I'll be standing where I belong. Between you and the people of Gotham.
  • Wham Line: After Bruce sends Fox away from his party to take care of the antidotes before Ra's al Ghul touches down...
    Mrs. Delane: Bruce, there's somebody here you simply must meet.
    Bruce Wayne: Not now, Mrs. Delane.
    Mrs. Delane: Now, am I pronouncing this right — Mr. Ra's al Ghul?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Alfred admonishes Bruce for reckless driving when saving Rachel from the fear toxin.
      Alfred Pennyworth: When you told me your grand plan for saving Gotham, the only thing that stopped me from calling the men in the white coats was that you told me it wasn't about thrill-seeking.
      Bruce Wayne: It's not.
      Alfred Pennyworth: [pointing to news coverage of Batman leading the cops on a car chase and crushing a few cars] What do you call that?
      Bruce Wayne: Damn good television.
      Alfred Pennyworth: It's a miracle no one was killed.
      Bruce Wayne: I didn't have time to observe the rules of the road, Alfred.
    • Rachel gives Bruce a brief but angry "Reason You Suck" Speech and a slap when he reveals that he planned to avenge his parents by gunning down Chill in cold blood.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Falcone taunts Bruce by telling him that he talked with Joe Chill about the murder of Bruce's parents, and Chill told him that Thomas Wayne died begging for his life like a dog. This is a lie (and Bruce knows it since he was there when it happened), plus a major Kick the Dog moment for Falcone.
  • Xanatos Gambit: When Batman encounters Ra's al Ghul in the train, Batman starts jabbing at the train's controls with a knife, to make it look like he's trying to stop the train (he actually locks the controls). However, he already sent Gordon ahead in the Batmobile to knock out an incoming segment in the train's elevated tracks, such that the train would be destroyed if it wasn't stopped.
    Ra's al Ghul: You're just an ordinary man in a cape. That's why you couldn't fight injustice, and that's why you can't stop this train.
    Batman: Who said anything about stopping it? [...] You'll never learn to mind your surroundings!
  • You Can Never Leave: Implied; when it looks like Bruce will refuse the League of Shadows Evil Plan, Ducard's voice takes on an urgent tone as he offers Bruce the sword, telling him there's no turning back.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: A frequent theme of this movie.
    Flass: The bears, they go straight to the dealers?
    Falcone: And the rabbits go to our man in the narrows.
    Flass: What's the difference?
    Falcone: Ignorance is bliss, my friend. Don't burden yourself with the secrets of scary people.
    Flass: Scarier than you?
    Falcone: Considerably scarier than me.
  • You Killed My Father: Played with; turns out the League of Shadows created the economic depression that led to the crime wave that killed Bruce's parents. And averted with Joe Chill, who's shot dead by a mob assassin before Bruce has a chance to kill him.


Batman Begins

Batman introduces himself to the criminals of Gotham.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / TerrorHero

Media sources: