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“The Dark Knight” Analysis

Story Analysis Description

*Analysis based off work of Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell and Syd Field

*Special thanks to Movieclips for their clips below

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CHARACTERS

Protagonist: Bruce
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of failure and letting parents down
Personal: Joker, Rachel, Harvey
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, heroism
Character Characterization: Gotham’s savior
True Character: Insecure and flawed
Turn: Gotham’s dark knight
Antagonist: Joker
Desire Conscious: Throw Gotham into chaos
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, order
Character Characterization: Crazed killer
True Character: Anarchist mastermind
Turn:
Harvey
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious: Find fairness and balance
Conflict Levels Inner: Ego, anger
Personal: Joker, mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Chaos, Gotham city
Character Characterization: Gotham’s white knight
True Character: Filled with vengeance
Turn: Psychopath
Gordon
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Fears of losing family
Personal: Joker, Family, Harvey
Extra-Personal: Gotham, chaos
Character Characterization: Good cop working to save the city
True Character:
Turn:
Rachel
Desire Conscious: Choose a lover
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Heart and mind
Personal: Harvey, Bruce
Extra-Personal: Gotham and crime
Character Characterization: Assistant DA trying to figure out life
True Character:
Turn:
Lucius
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Moral qualms
Personal: Bruce, Reese
Extra-Personal: Crime, Gotham
Character Characterization: CEO tech guru
True Character:
Turn:
Gotham City
Desire Conscious: Regain spirit
Unconscious: Find morality
Conflict Levels Inner: Morality
Personal: Mobsters, cops, Batman, Joker
Extra-Personal: Chaos
Character Characterization: Eager for hope
True Character: Terrified and chaotic
Turn: Willing to believe in good
Alfred
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Fears of letting Bruce down
Personal: Bruce
Extra-Personal: Gotham, Chaos
Character Characterization: Old, kind mentor
True Character:
Turn: Willing to hide truth to save Bruce
Principle of Antagonism Positive Justice – Batman defeats Joker Pessimistic Half-justice – Harvey pretends to be the Batman
Negative Injustice – Joker causes chaos Negation of Negation Injustice in guise of justice – Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes
Controlling Idea:
Justice prevails because our inner morals are strong.

PLOT

Inciting Incident Gordon teams up with Harvey Dent and unites him into the cohort with the Batman
Act One Climax Lao gives the police the mobsters he can, cleaning the streets of crime
GAP Joker causes chaos and deepens the stakes for Gotham
Progressive Complications Joker continues to escalate the war against Batman, testing the fortitude of Dent, Gordon and Bruce
Midpoint Joker is apprehended
Act Two Climax Harvey becomes Two-Face
Act Three Climax Batman takes down Two-Face
Resolution Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes

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HERO’S JOURNEY

ORDINARY WORLD Batman hunts down the criminals of Gotham
CALL TO ADVENTURE Batman teams with Gordon and Harvey and agrees to bring in Lao
MEETING THE MENTOR Bruce talks with Alfred and Lucius
CROSSING FIRST THRESHOLD Batman abducts Lao
TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Bruce teams with Gordon, Lucius and Harvey while Joker emerges
REFUSAL OF THE CALL Bruce volunteers to turn himself in to stop the Joker
APPROACH TO INMOST CAVE Batman confronts the Joker in the cell after his capture
ORDEAL Bruce loses Rachel as the Joker escapes
REWARD Bruce learns about what he must do to stop the Joker
ROAD BACK Bruce confronts his old friends, Gordon and Harvey
RESURECTION After being shot by Harvey, Batman rises to save Gordon’s family
RETURN WITH ELIXIR Bruce realizes what the Batman is and must be

ARCHETYPES

HERO Bruce
SHADOW Joker
MENTOR Alfred
ALLY Gordon
HERALD Joker
THRESHOLD GUARDIAN Lao
TRICKSTER Joker
SHAPESHIFTER Harvey

THEMES

HEROISM AND IDOLISM What is the concept of a hero? The idea of a hero may be more important than the hero him/herself.
JUSTICE AND CHAOS Batman, Gordon and Harvey each seek a form of justice for their own particular reason: Bruce, to avenge his parents, Gordon, to protect his family and Harvey, to fulfill his ego. This quest for justice comes with a price for each of them. The Joker is an agent of chaos. His form of anarchy seeks to devolve humanity into a lesser creature while the trio seeks to elevate mankind through a moral code.

STORYLINES

Batman, Gordon and Harvey Saving Gotham
Rachel Chooses Harvey or Bruce
Joker Takes Over the Mob
Bruce and Alfred
Harvey Becomes Two-Face
Gotham’s Soul
Gordon Protects His Family
Lucius Directs Bruce’s Morals

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SCENE BREAKDOWN

Scene #1 Bank Heist
Protagonist Joker
Desire Steal Money
Antagonist Mob men
TP Joker has the bus take out the last henchman
Value Power
Role Introduction of the antagonist. Joker Inciting Incident occurs offscreen: it is a mystery why he causes chaos, but something in his past has set him on this course
Analysis The introduction of the Joker sets up his mysteriousness and ability to incite chaos. We don’t know who he is or what he necessarily wants. His plan to rob the bank is indicative of the maniacal scheming he will use to torment Gotham throughout the course of the story. We realize that this is a formidable antagonist.
Scene #2 Batman Tracks Down Crane
Protagonist Batman
Desire Stop crime
Antagonist Crane and his hooligans
TP Batman crashes onto the car top
Value Justice
Role Introduction of protagonist, Gotham Inciting Incident: Batman arrives to save the city, but Gotham is unsure of him
Analysis We are introduced to the Batman: dark, intimidating and turning the tide against crime. And we are introduced to Gotham City, which itself serves as a character in the narrative, a being who seeks hope against the scourge of crime, but is highly malleable.
Scene #3 Batman and Gordon Talk
Protagonist Batman
Desire Convene a strategy
Antagonist Indecision
TP They decide to focus on crime and not the Joker.
Value Justice
Role Show alliance between Gordon and Batman. Gordon’s Inciting Incident occurs offscreen and sets him on his course: Protect his family and by extension, Gotham.
Analysis We are introduced to the relationship between Gordon and Batman. They are allies, trusting and dedicated. They also get their first glimpse of the Joker, whom they brush off.
Scene #4 Bruce and Alfred
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Come up with plan to save Gotham with Alfred
Antagonist Mob presence
TP
Value Justice
Role Alfred Inciting Incident occurs offscreen: Alfred pledges to take care of Bruce after his parents are murdered
Analysis We see how Alfred cares for Bruce as he tends to his wounds and how they work together towards a common goal. Alfred worries about Bruce the man, rather than Batman the superhero. The separation between the two is something only Alfred understands and Bruce’s fragility will be tested.
Scene #5 Harvey In Court
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Take down Maroni
Antagonist Maroni
TP Harvey survives assassination attempt
Value Justice
Role Introduce Harvey- strong, committed to justice, going after crime, pompous. Rachel Inciting Incident Offscreen: Harvey proposes to her, setting up her choice between Bruce or Harvey.
Analysis We are introduced to Harvey and Rachel. Harvey is cocksure and dedicated, perhaps too much. We identify this as a character flaw even though we’re attracted to it.
Scene #6 Gordon and Harvey Meet
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Establish trust
Antagonist Distrust
TP Gordon gives Harvey names of the banks
Value Trust
Role Saving Gotham Inciting Incident: Crime in Gotham is terrible and Batman/Harvey/Gordon need to stop it. Harvey Inciting Incident: Harvey decides to take on the mob through their money.
Analysis Harvey and Gordon are wary of each other, not sure if they can trust one another. Harvey’s history at internal affairs shows that he is not the shiny posterboy he portrays himself as. A small bit of trust between them opens the door, but their unease will define their relationship.
Scene #7 Bruce and Lucius
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Get a new suit
Antagonist
TP
Value Friendship
Role Lucius Inciting Incident takes place offscreen: Spurred by respect for Bruce’s father, Lucius commits himself to helping Bruce.
Analysis We are introduced to the relationship between Bruce and Lucius, one of the few other ally relationships Bruce has. Lucius serves more as a moral compass than compassionate mentor, helping Bruce realize the consequences of his reach.
Scene #8 Dinner Out
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Feel out Harvey
Antagonist Harvey
TP Bruce decides to throw Harvey a fundraiser.
Value Trust
Role Saving Gotham Plot: Recruiting an ally in Harvey
Analysis We are introduced to the love triangle between Bruce, Rachel and Harvey as well as the Batman and Harvey’s roles as dual knights for Gotham. Even though Harvey doesn’t realize it, Bruce is recruiting him to join his alliance with Gordon to save the city.
Scene #9 Mob Meeting
Protagonist Joker
Desire Make a deal with the mob
Antagonist Mob bosses
TP Gamble puts a bounty on the Joker’s head
Value Power
Role Joker starts his plan to take Gotham
Analysis We again see the Joker manipulating the system to his advantage. The mob bosses, desperate to stop the Batman as well as Gordon and Harvey, acquiese to his lunacy, not understanding the depths of their own actions.
Scene #10 Batman, Gordon and Harvey
Protagonist Harvey/Bruce/Gordon
Desire Figure out plan to take out mob
Antagonist Mob
TP Batman agrees to bring back Lao
Value Justice
Role The trio attempts to gain the upper hand.
Analysis The trio moves to figure out their next move after their plan to steal the mob’s money goes awry. Trust needs to be built up between them in order for them to take down the mob.
Scene #11 Bruce Plans
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Get ready for Lao take down
Antagonist Logistics
TP Batman boards plane to Hong Kong
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham: Planning for Lao’s capture
Analysis With the backing of Gordon and Harvey, Bruce plans to bring in Lao using Lucius and Alfred’s help.
Scene #12 Joker Kills Gamble
Protagonist Joker
Desire Eliminate Gamble threat
Antagonist Gamble
TP Joker Kills Gamble
Value Power
Role Joker consolidating power and backstory
Analysis We again see how the Joker manages to acquire power and use his wits and insanity to his advantage.
Scene #13 Lucius Sets Up Bruce
Protagonist Lucius
Desire Set Up Lao
Antagonist Lao
TP Lucius leaves the compound having set up Bruce’s trap.
Value Justice
Role Set Up Bruce’s takedown
Analysis Lucius, in his devotion to Bruce, helps set the Batman up for his mission.
Scene #14 Lao Captured
Protagonist Batman
Desire Capture Lao
Antagonist Lao and Security
TP Batman absconds with Lao
Value Justice
Role Batman enacts plan to take down the mob
Analysis We see the Batman using his upmost skill to bring in Lao and take out those around him.
Scene #15 Lao Cuts a Deal
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Bring down the mob
Antagonist Lao and Mob
TP Lao agrees to give up clients
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham and Gotham’s Soul Act One Climax: The city believes in Harvey and Batman.
Analysis The fruits of the trio’s efforst comes to a head as Lao gives up the mob and brings Gotham closer to peace.
Scene #16 Harvey Meets with the Mayor
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Put into plan effort to clean streets
Antagonist Gotham
TP Dead Batman shows up
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act One Climax: Harvey becomes the face of hope in Gotham.
Analysis The importance of Harvey to the cause is emphasized. He’s the hero Gotham needs for the mob to be put away for good.
Scene #17 Joker Demands Batman Identity
Protagonist Joker
Desire Set demands
Antagonist The Trio
TP Joker states demand
Value Chaos
Role Joker Act One Climax: Joker puts plan for Gotham into motion
Analysis The Joker makes his first move against the trio, targeting Batman’s identity as a crux to break their spirit. His terror stands in sharp contrast to the good that the trio is trying to accomplish.
Scene #18 Joker Strikes
Protagonist Joker
Desire Cause havok
Antagonist Trio
TP Batman refuses to reveal his identity
Value Chaos
Role Joker putting his first dent into society. Rachel Act One Climax: It’s revealed that Harvey has proposed to her, and Bruce still cares for her.
Analysis The Joker and Batman confront each other for the first time and are able to size each other up. The Joker’s plan to destroy the spirit of Gotham has begun as the deaths of officials pile up and public confidence falls. Harvey also pressures Rachel to decide on his marriage proposal, setting up Rachel’s internal conundrum: Harvey or Bruce?
Scene #19 Harvey Stands Firm
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Keep prosecution going
Antagonist The Joker’s actions
TP Harvey shows up at the precinct, unafraid
Value Justice
Role Show Harvey’s commitment to the plan
Analysis Given the chance to flee, Harvey instead doubles down on the plan to take down the mob. This shows his dedication but also his foolhardiness. His hubris will end up as his undoing.
Scene #20 Bruce Examines the Joker
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Unravel the mystery of the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Bruce realizes that the Joker can’t be reasoned with
Value Justice
Role Show depths of Bruce’s enemy
Analysis Hero and villain examine each other and see themselves in full light. For Bruce, this is a nemesis he has never encountered before; devoid of humanity and thriving on chaos. This deepens the stakes for him.
Scene #21 A Murder Scene
Protagonist Batman
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Gotham
TP They discover the Joker’s next target is the mayor.
Value Justice
Role Batman on the hunt
Analysis We see the first glimpses of Gotham cracking under the pressure of the Joker’s antics. Gordon and Bruce are snapping as the Joker kills and threatens.
Scene #22 Bruce’s Experiment
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Bruce finds the thumbprint
Value Justice
Role Bruce on the trail of the Joker
Analysis Bruce uses his resources to find out the Joker’s hideout, getting a bit of his mojo back and thinking he has the Joker once again on the ropes.
Scene #23 Lucius and Reese
Protagonist Lucius
Desire Protect Bruce’s identity
Antagonist Reese
TP Lucius calls Reese’s bluff
Value Morality
Role Introduce subplot
Analysis Lucius, in his desire to protect Bruce, manipulates an employee to keep Batman’s identity a secret. His devotion to Bruce is an example of his strong character, a factor which will influence their relationship at the film’s end.
Scene #24 Assassination Attempt
Protagonist Joker
Desire Kill the mayor
Antagonist Triumvirate
TP Gordon saves the Mayor
Value Chaos
Role Joker instills chaos into the peace
Analysis The Joker again causes chaos and panic as he nearly kill the mayor and shoots Gordon. The pressure gets to Bruce and Harvey as they each choose drastic actions to find the Joker.
Scene #25 Gordon’s Dead
Protagonist Batman
Desire Mourn and show respect
Antagonist
TP
Value Justice
Role The strain on Bruce grows immense. Gordon Act One Climax: Gordon appears dead, driving them to despair.
Analysis Bruce’s strain is immense. He believes he has lost his friend as a result of their plan and orphaned his family. The stakes grow deeper.
Scene #26 Batman Questions Maroni
Protagonist Batman
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Maroni, Joker
TP Batman realizes Joker will keep killing
Value Justice
Role Batman comes to the realization he must turn himself in to save Gotham
Analysis Bruce’s anger drives him towards harsher and harsher actions. He brakes a man’s ankle, beats up an entire nightclub and pushes against the mob with all of his force. His strict moral code is beginning to bend as the pressures build.
Scene #27 Harvey Questions Lackey
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Lackey, Joker
TP Batman tells him he’ll turn himself in
Value Justice
Role Bruce makes his decision and Harvey starts to give in to the dark side
Analysis Harvey’s boundaries, just like Bruce’s, are being tested, and he is pushing himself closer and closer to being a villain. As Bruce decides to take responsibilities for his viligante actions, Harvey is stuck struggling against his anger, a sign of what will transform in him throughout the story.
Scene #28 Rachel and Bruce
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Connect with Rachel
Antagonist Feelings for Harvey
TP Rachel commits to Bruce
Value Love
Role Deeper love triangle
Analysis Rachel’s internal conflict comes to a head as she must choose between Bruce and Harvey.
Scene #29 Alfred Talks with Bruce
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Reason through choice
Antagonist Pressures to turn himself in
TP Bruce admits he can’t handle the deaths
Value Justice
Role Bruce facing the music
Analysis Bruce talks with his mentor, Alfred, to gain perspective on his choice to turn himself in. Alfred pressuring him to continue as Batman suggests that Bruce is failing at distinguishing between Batman and himself, Bruce’s inadequacies reflecting upon his alter ego. This results in Bruce turning away from his adventure, rejecting his call to adventure.
Scene #30 Harvey Turns Himself In
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Protect Gotham
Antagonist Chaos, Gotham
TP Harvey voluntarily admits to being Batman
Value Justice
Role Harvey Midpoint: Harvey takes the fall for Batman.
Analysis Harvey understands the importance of Batman for Gotham’s soul and voluntarily turns himself in instead of Bruce. His sacrifice again shows his recklessness, but also the importance of Batman as a symbol, in a way, overriding his own importance as a symbol.
Scene #31 Rachel Makes Her Choice
Protagonist Rachel
Desire Choose man
Antagonist Fears of future
TP Rachel leaves letter with Alfred
Value Love
Role Rachel makes choice
Analysis Rachel chooses between Harvey and Bruce, but keeps her choice to herself. Harvey’s sacrifice and Bruce’s acceptance of Harvey’s sacrifice lead her choice.
Scene #32 Harvey Transported
Protagonist Joker
Desire Kill Harvey
Antagonist Batman and police
TP Gordon emerges alive and arrests Joker
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham Midpoint: Peace is saved for Gotham again.
Analysis Through sheer will and luck, the trio is able to trick the Joker and arrest him. For the moment, it seems as though Gotham is saved.
Scene #33 Gordon Returns Home
Protagonist Gordon
Desire Reunite with family
Antagonist Fears
TP Wife accepts him
Value Love
Role Gordon Act Two Climax: Gordon returns home to save his family
Analysis Gordon’s devotion to his family is representative of Gotham. Their ability to hope mirrors Gotham’s.
Scene #34 Interrogation
Protagonist Batman and Gordon
Desire Find Harvey
Antagonist Joker
TP Joker admits his plan and tells them where they are
Value Justice and love
Role Sets deeper emotional stakes for characters
Analysis Batman and Joker are face-to-face, their conversation mirroring the main themes of the story: the role of heroism, belief in people’s inner goodness and moral codes. This scene unifies everything that came before it and sets the stage for everything that will come after. Batman realizes what Joker is and Joker sets the stakes for the rest of the story, a battle that will ultimately resolve the soul of Gotham.
Scene #35 The Explosions
Protagonist Batman
Desire Save Rachel and Harvey
Antagonist Joker’s plan
TP Rachel is killed and Harvey scarred
Value Love and justice
Role Harvey Act Two Climax: Harvey loses everything.
Analysis The Joker exacts a terrible price as Rachel dies and Harvey is scarred. This turn of events will test both Harvey and Bruce, revealing their inner core identities and changing them in profound ways.
Scene #36 Joker Breaks Out
Protagonist Joker
Desire Escape
Antagonist Cops
TP Joker detonates bomb and escapes
Value Chaos
Role Joker Act Two Climax: Joker unleashed in the city again
Analysis The Joker’s maniacal deliberations have paid off as his plan to destroy Gotham’s peace seems to be working. Chaos reigns as the trio and their city lose hope.
Scene #37 Bruce and Harvey Mourn
Protagonist Bruce, Harvey and Alfred
Desire Reconcile loss
Antagonist Emotional loss
TP Alfred doesn’t let Bruce know about letter
Value Love
Role Turning point for characters to change. Rachel Act Two Climax: Rachel chose Harvey, but her death destroys him.
Analysis Both of Gotham’s knights, Harvey and Batman, have radically different reactions to the death of the woman they loved. Bruce is remorseful, needing Alfred’s encouragement to feel justification. Harvey is angry and vengeful. These reactions will define them for the rest of the story as both characters are changed and will transform, Bruce turning back into the guise of Batman for escape, Harvey changing into the villainous Two-Face. Alfred’s love of Bruce is tested as he worries the truth will destroy him.
Scene #38 Gordon and Harvey
Protagonist Gordon
Desire Find out who he can trust
Antagonist Harvey’s depression
TP Harvey condemns himself
Value Trust
Role The old Harvey is gone
Analysis Harvey’s depression and anger becomes evident to Gordon as he realizes that Harvey has lost the inner fight against the Joker. The scene reflects Gordon and Harvey first meeting, but with a drastic switch in tone, from Harvey full of hope to full of despair, Gordon a lens through which the audience can witness the change.
Scene #39 Joker Burns the Cash
Protagonist Joker
Desire Take over the city
Antagonist Mob bosses
TP Joker takes the mob might for himself
Value Power
Role Joker takes control of the mob and has the city in his grasp
Analysis The Joker officially takes control of the mob and sets fire to their wealth. For him, money isn’t important, but his end goal is: chaos. This further illustrates the Joker’s character as beyond reason, more a force of nature than a person. He is a storm about to sweep over Gotham.
Scene #40 Hospital Fight
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Save Mr. Reese
Antagonist Gotham City
TP Bruce throws his car into the lane and saves Mr. Reese
Value Peace
Role Batman and Gordon fighting back against Joker’s take over
Analysis Bruce must now make his choice after he loses Rachel: to continue the fight against the Joker or retreat into depression. He chooses to continue to fight, even saving a man who would have revealed his identity. Gotham now is at the mercy of the Joker, lurching into chaos. Without Harvey to guide the city, madness reigns as citizens try to kill Reese to save themselves. Bruce and Gordon struggle against a raging tide of madness and only their conviction can save the peace they made.
Scene #41 Joker Converts Harvey
Protagonist Joker
Desire Turn Harvey insane
Antagonist Harvey
TP Harvey becomes Two-Face
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act Three Climax: Harvey loses his internal fight and becomes Two-Face.
Analysis Much as Bruce must choose his path after Rachel’s death, Harvey must as well. He is transformed by the Joker’s madness into a new being, Two-Face, a merging of philosophies, from Batman’s, Joker’s and his own, dependent entirely on chance. The duality of the storyline overwhelms poor Harvey. Good and evil, fate and chance, white knight and dark knight, and the choice Bruce made that resulted in Rachel’s death all reflect this newfound madness in Harvey’s soul. Not only have his fears and anger been revealed throughout the course of the narrative, these forces have changed him and now Gordon and Batman must confront what the Joker has created.
Scene #42 Joker Claims the City is His
Protagonist Joker
Desire Take over the city
Antagonist Gotham
TP Gotham falls into chaos
Value Chaos
Role Joker moves to take the city
Analysis With Harvey gone and the city shaken to its core, Gotham is now in the grip of the Joker. His methodology has transformed the city just as it had transformed Harvey. Now it must choose in the final act whether it will believe in the good that the trio had previously sought or the chaos that the Joker instills.
Scene #43 Lucius takes the Mapping Technology
Protagonist Batman
Desire Stop the Joker
Antagonist Lucius and morality
TP Lucius agrees to take the technology
Value Justice
Role Lucius Act One Climax: Lucius directs Bruce to the right moral path. Saving Gotham Act Two: Bruce realizes he can’t break his moral code to stop the Joker and goes to stop him.
Analysis As Lucius has served as Bruce’s moral compass and ally throughout the story, the pressures of saving Gotham have pushed Bruce towards new and dangerous technology. The new mapping system that tracks everyone in Gotham is an affront that Lucius can’t fathom. Lucius helps Bruce realize that evil can seep into him as well and turn him into someone like the Joker if his power becomes too omnipresent. For Bruce, he must realize his limits, much as Alfred warned him about in the film’s opening, and his moral code. It is the only thing keeping him from turning just as Harvey has done.
Scene #44 Harvey Kills Maroni
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Kill Maroni and find the others who betrayed him
Antagonist Maroni
TP Harvey learns that Ramirez betrayed him
Value Justice
Role Harvey has turned to the bad side
Analysis Harvey’s turn into Two-Face is complete as he murders those he considers responsible for Rachel’s murder.
Scene #45 The Boats Choose
Protagonist Gotham
Desire Save itself
Antagonist Joker
TP The boats choose not to detonate
Value Chaos
Role Gotham Act Two Climax: Gotham chooses the good path
Analysis The battle for Gotham’s soul comes to a head as the Joker presents two boats with a choice: explode the other or both die. After much soul-searching, neither boat chooses to sacrifice the other to save themselves, believing in the trio’s ideology rather than the chaos of the Joker. This mirrors Bruce and Harvey’s choice after the death of Rachel with Bruce succeeding and Harvey falling to darkness. This concludes Gotham’s storyline.
Scene #46 Batman Defeats the Joker
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Stop the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Batman Defeats the Joker
Value Justice
Role Joker Act Three Climax: Batman affirms his commitment without breaking his code
Analysis Bruce is given the opportunity to break his code and kill the Joker in an act of revenge. He chooses instead to save him. Bruce’s ethics are unbreakable, despite the Joker’s best intentions. Bruce’s arc ends as Gotham agrees with him and rejects the Joker, for the time being.
Scene #47 Harvey, Gordon and Batman are Shattered
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Achieve revenge
Antagonist Gordon and Batman
TP Batman stops Harvey
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act Four Climax: Harvey is killed. Gordon Act Three Climax: Batman saves Gordon’s family from Harvey.
Analysis The toll of the Joker on the trio is evident. Harvey has gone insane and threatened Gordon’s family. Gordon is wracked with fear over his family’s safety. Bruce is still reeling from the loss of Rachel and the physical toll of his fight with the Joker. Compared to the Inciting Incident, the course of the story has strained all of them. The transformation of Harvey is heart-breaking, the hope of Gotham extinguished in front of Gordon and Bruce’s eyes. In order to save Gordon’s family, Bruce must break his oath and has to kill Harvey. The weight of that choice will be more evident in the next film, but the act itself, as defined over the course of the story, is gut-wrenching for Bruce. The final act of the Joker, will it result in Gotham’s breaking?
Scene #48 Batman Rides Off
Protagonist Batman
Desire Save Gotham
Antagonist Harvey’s actions
TP Batman chooses to take the fall
Value Chaos
Role Batman realizes his role. Alfred Act One Climax: Alfred protects the truth from Bruce.
Analysis The final definition of heroism is defined as Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes. With Gotham’s belief in good in the balance, Harvey remains the city’s white knight, a symbol of hope that will endure long past his death. Batman, however, will take the burden as its villain for the time being, understanding that he can now take the abuse. This stands in contrast to his earlier willingness to turn himself in to stop the Joker. Over the course of the story, he has realized his strength and that Batman truly has no limits. With that, “The Dark Knight” ends.

OVERALL

“The Dark Knight” is an enthralling story of symbolism, heroism and justice. Framed as a sort of quasi-Michael Mann/Godfather movie of crime and corruption, the film smartly utilizes the city of Gotham as a living character in the story and the fight of good and evil is a battle over its soul. Will the city fall into law and order paradigmed by the trio of Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon and Batman or the corruption and chaos harnessed by the Joker? This elevates the film beyond a simple bad guy versus good guy storyline where the villain will blow up the city because of reasons. The Joker is a force of nature whose motivations and history are a mystery, creating a terrifying portrait of a psycho whose ability to cause chaos is impressive throughout the story. His wickedness is a stark challenge to the trio of heroes, each of whom reacts differently to the trials put on them by the Joker. The trio in many ways is similar to the triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus of ancient Rome. Caesar is even referenced in the film by Harvey Dent as one of the ways heroes die and villains survive in the public mind. And just like the breaking of the triumvirate in ancient times, the pressures of the Joker destroy the trio of Gotham. One bends but doesn’t break (the Batman), one hides to protect his family (Gordon) and one transforms into a villain under the pressure. Harvey and Batman are in many ways two sides of the same coin (a reference to Two-Face); one is Gotham’s white knight and the other its Dark Knight. But what Gotham sees is not truth, only symbolism. Harvey, in death, is a stronger symbol for Gotham’s hope than the truth even though he ended up a villain. Batman is seen as a villain because he survives, but he is actually the hero of the story. It is an interesting story arc that transcends the genre.

The film is also an interesting portrait of the post-9/11 mentality. As society deals with the madness of terrorist attacks that venture beyond morality and reason, our response to these perpetrators reveals a core aspect of us: committed to justice or a need to turn to a totalitarian society. This is typified by Bruce and Lucius’ relationship. Lucius serves as Bruce’s Jimminy Cricket in a way, reminding him of the value of a strict moral code to survive such chaos.

Where the script falls short somewhat is the Rachel and Gordon storylines. Rachel is not given a fair enough due as a character and her choice of Bruce or Harvey is superficial compared to the weight of the rest of the story. In addition, Gordon’s role with his family could have been expanded upon with some scenes of his life at home, his relationship with his wife and more information about why he fights. Perhaps his son defends Batman at school and his wife is worried about safety in the city but Gordon promises her that things are going to get better, just wait and see.

Otherwise, the script is a deep, thrilling tale of heroism imbued with modernist and classical themes. The characters are interesting and the arcs make the film a classic of not just superhero film, but modern filmmaking.

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Batman Begins Analysis

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Synopsis: Bruce Wayne, reeling after the murder of his parents, learns the tools necessary to become the Batman.

Protagonist: Bruce Wayne

Desire: Save Gotham and prevent more crimes like the ones that took his parents

  • Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered in front of him.
  • Act One Climax: Bruce decides not to become a criminal and journeys to the Far East to learn how to control his fear.
  • Midpoint: Having trained with Ra’s al-Ghul, Bruce becomes the Batman and takes down the crime lord Falcone.
  • Act Two Climax: The League of Shadows burns down Wayne Manor and leaves Bruce for dead. He overcomes this loss to try and save Gotham.
  • Act Three Climax: Bruce defeats Ra’s al-Ghul and creates the image of the Batman.

Other Storylines:

Alfred Pennyworth

Desire: Protect Bruce

  • Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered and he must take care of Bruce.
  • Act One Climax: Alfred agrees to Bruce’s plan to become the Batman.
  • Act Two Climax: Alfred saves Bruce from the fire and lets him know he’ll never give up on him.

Ra’s al-Ghul

Desire: Destroy Gotham

  • Inciting Incident: Ducard’s wife is taken from him and he embarks on the journey to rid the world of crime.
  • Act One Climax: Ducard takes in Bruce and works to complete his training.
  • Midpoint: Bruce betrays the League and burns down their headquarters.
  • Act Two Climax: Ducard reveals himself as Ra’s al-Ghul and brings the League together again and works to destroy Gotham with fear gas.
  • Act Three Climax: Bruce as Batman defeats Ra’s.

James Gordon

Desire: Save Gotham

  • Inciting Incident: A cloaked figure approaches Gordon and lets him know his plan to restore order to Gotham.
  • Act One Climax: Gordon teams up with Batman to save Rachel from Crane.
  • Act Two Climax: Gordon teams up with Batman again to save the city from Ra’s.
  • Act Three Climax: Batman and Gordon are allies and Gordon creates the Bat signal.

Rachel Dawes

Desire: Help Gotham and Bruce

  • Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered and she sees injustice in the world. She tries to be a friend to Bruce, but he is going through trauma.
  • Act One Climax: Working as an Assistant DA, Rachel works to put criminals in prison. Crane stands in her way.
  • Act Two Climax: Rachel prosecutes crime lord Falcone until he goes insane.
  • Act Three Climax: Rachel helps Gotham during Ra’s attack. Rachel talks with Bruce about his identity as Batman and how the city needs him.

Wayne Enterprises

Desire: Bruce and Lucius look to retake control of the company.

  • Inciting Incident: After the Waynes’ death, Earle takes control of the company.
  • Act One Climax: Earle decides to take the company public and declare Bruce Wayne dead to free up his shares. He moves Lucius Fox, loyal to the Waynes, to a dead end department.
  • Act Two Climax: After Bruce returns and befriends Fox, Earle takes the company public and fires Lucius, looking to take total control over the industry.
  • Act Three Climax: Unbeknownst to Earle, Bruce has bought most of the shares of the company and has installed Lucius as its CEO, pushing Earle out.

Jonathan Crane

Desire: Cause fear

  • Inciting Incident: Unknown- Presumably a traumatic past that leaves him reveling in the fears of others
  • Act One Climax: Crane accepts a business proposition from the League of Shadows to smuggle drugs into the city and contaminate the water supply.
  • Act Two Climax: Crane poisons Falcone.
  • Act Three Climax: Batman poisons Crane with his own fear gas and drives him insane.

Carmine Falcone

Desire: Control crime in Gotham

  • Inciting Incident: Unknown- It drives Falcone to control Gotham through fear and intimidation
  • Act One Climax: Falcone moves to assassinate Rachel Dawes and bring in the last drug shipment.
  • Act Two Climax: Falcone is beaten by Batman and left for the police.
  • Act Three Climax: Falcone is poisoned by Jonathan Crane.

Themes:

Gotham as the Legacy of Thomas Wayne and Bruce Needing to Inherit It

  • Gotham is shown as a thriving metropolis under Thomas Wayne’s tutelage in Bruce’s youth. When Thomas dies, the city dies with him, tying itself in to the Wayne legacy. By accepting Gotham and his father as one cause, Bruce saves both by becoming the Batman.

Fear as a Tool

  • Bruce’s journey is to conquer fear. The fear of the bats in the cave haunts him and comes to represent fear that keeps him beholden in life. Only by conquering fear and learning how it controls him can Bruce hope to flourish after his parent’s death. What Bruce ultimately fears is taking his father’s place and becoming Gotham’s savior. By taking that place and utilizing fear to inflict fear in others to save Gotham, Bruce becomes a master of fear and achieves his destiny.

The Value of Life

  • To Ra’s al-Ghul and the League of Shadows, life has become wasted in Gotham and should end. To Batman and his moral conscience, Rachel Dawes, life need not end but be redeemed. This conundrum between the ultimate purpose of life, to save it or end it, presents an intriguing theme of life’s purpose. Humanity in Gotham is often circumspect. Evil exists and permeates into everyone lives. The desire to save it, exemplified in the film’s heroes, illustrates that mankind at its core is good and worth fighting for.

Scene Breakdown:

  1. Bruce Falls in the Pit
    • A field of bats morphs into a young Bruce Wayne running through the woods after his friend, Rachel. They play finders-keepers with an arrowhead found in the garden. Bruce falls down a well and is attacked by a swarm of bats. Modern-day Bruce awakens after the nightmare of his past. He is in a far-eastern prison.
      • Bruce is presented as the picture of innocence: a kid in a big mansion, rich, playing. This will contrast against the journey he is about to undertake.
      • The arrowhead is a representation of the warrior. By taking it, Bruce symbolically ushers himself into the realm of adolescence and the process of growing up, similar to an Indian initiation. This is further emphasized by his falling down a well, hurling himself into an unknown world, a terrifying world that he initially fears.
    • There’s a slight pause before the rush of bats, this new world leering at Bruce for a moment, the anticipation building in the audience. The bats are terrifying, more a rush of fury than singular beasts. It is not really the bats themselves that terrify Bruce, but what they represent; fear itself and the process of maturation Bruce must undergo as we all must.
  2. Bruce Fights a Horde
    • Bruce is in a Far Eastern jail for an unknown reason. A confidant tells him that a group will attack him and try to kill him. Against six men, Bruce fends them off and is put in solitary confinement.
      • The viewer is kept in mystery about what has happened to Bruce. How has this rich kid ended up in this far away prison with nothing? The mystery keeps us interested as the story is set up.
      • The scene shows Bruce’s strength and his loss. He stands up to an angry horde, beating them off, showing his fighting ability against a seemingly stronger opponent. At the same time, we sense he is rash and fighting without cause. He does not fight for honor or even to survive. He dubs the main fighter “practice.” He is fighting because he can, but even he doesn’t know why.
  3. Bruce Meets Ducard
    • In solitary, Bruce meets a strange man named Ducard. He offers him the chance to join the League of Shadows and find a higher purpose.
      • Ducard sticks out from the mucky surroundings of the prison in his pristine suit and articulate goatee. He represents the apex of fulfillment while Bruce huddles in the mud, dirty and low. Ducard standing over Bruce further shows how much Bruce has fallen morally.
      • Ducard articulates what the audience suspects: Bruce is lost. He fights anything, he has no purpose and he is hiding from the world. Why we still don’t know. The question further keeps us engaged as we wonder how a rich, young, naive boy has ended up in this hell hole.
      • Ducard first articulates what Bruce will become: a legend. He offers him an opportunity to climb out of his wandering and fill his life with purpose. In mythological terms, he is the herald, inviting a young protege towards the fulfillment of an adventure. He will also serve as the mentor and the shadow in Bruce’s journey.
  4. Bruce Climbs the Mountain
    • Bruce climbs the mountain to Ra’s al-Ghul’s fortress, delivering the blue flower Ducard told him to. Ducard tells Bruce that to manipulate the fears of others he must first master his own. He challenges Bruce to combat and Ducard wins easily. Ducard asks Bruce what he actually fears.
      • Bruce passes huge mountains and icebergs as he climbs up to the fortress. The expanse shows the remoteness of Bruce’s location. Symbolically, he is delving deeper into his own subconscious, climbing into his very soul to discover his fear.
      • The temple Bruce enters is a foreign world. He does not belong in it yet.
      • Ducard’s challenge illustrates how far Bruce has to go to become the symbol he wants to become. Bruce has not purged his fear and therefore can not fight against others. This scene is a mirror to the finale of the film. While Bruce fails here, he will succeed in the end.
      • Ducard Act One Climax: Ducard takes in Bruce to purge him of his fear. (Ducard’s Inciting Incident will be revealed later).
  5. Young Bruce Recovers
    • Thomas Wayne rescues his son from the pit he fell into. Bruce has nightmares of bats, but his dad helps him recover. They take the family’s shiny new monorail into the city.
      • Young Bruce has been traumatized by the bat experience. He has felt true fear for the first time, and it is this fear that will drive the rest of his journey. His father becomes his support system, someone he can confide in and who helps him deal with his fear.
      • We see the power of the Wayne family. They are rich, they live in a mansion, they have a butler. We also see their generosity and love. Thomas buys his wife a necklace. He is a doctor. The family invests in public transportation. It serves as an inspiration to Bruce. This generosity and power will intimidate Bruce later on and drive his fear that he is unworthy to take his father’s place.
      • The wealth and power of the Waynes is strong, represented in the family manor, the bright Wayne tower and the new metro train. Once Bruce’s journey changes, these symbols change as well. As Bruce’s soul turns dark, these structures change with him.
  6. The Opera and the Shooting
    • The opera the family goes to features bats, scaring Bruce. He asks if they can go and Thomas acquiesces. Outside, Thomas and Martha are shot and killed by a mugger.
      • Bruce’s inherent fear still drives his actions. Despite the coddling of his father, he is still a scared little boy. His fear leads him to leave the opera and in so doing causes him tremendous guilt when his decision ultimately results in a chain of events that leave his parents dead.
      • The mystique of the opera and the Wayne life are counterbalanced by the decrepit street the Waynes walk out to. This is the world Bruce must overcome, one of muck and vile. The mugger is disheveled and unkempt, a symbol of that vile percolating around Bruce’s life. The location is a further extension of the bats that Bruce has encountered. The alley is even framed as the first bat encounter in the cave, with the two alley streets matching the walls of the cave and the mugger coming out where the bats had been.
      • Bruce Inciting Incident: Bruce’s parents are murdered, leaving him an orphan and in search of a path. He must learn how to conquer the fear inflicted upon him.
  7. Young Bruce Meets Gordon
    • At the police station, Officer Gordon offers Bruce comfort and puts his father’s coat on his shoulders. The police commissioner comes in to tell Bruce that the mugger was arrested.
      • This is the first time we meet James Gordon. He is kind to young Bruce in a way that reveals he understands what he’s going through. His journey will begin later.
      • The act of putting his father’s coat on Bruce’s shoulder symbolizes how young Bruce must become a man now, a man like his father. He is so small in an adult’s coat, showing how much he has to grow to become someone like his father.
  8. The Wayne Funeral
    • Bruce attends his parent’s funeral. Earle, a businessman, tells Bruce that he will be watching over his financial empire. Bruce cries with Alfred.
      • The funeral, fittingly, takes place in the rain. It is obvious what that represents.
      • There’s a shot of Bruce waving good-bye to Rachel from his bedroom window. He appears very small against the huge backdrop of Wayne Manor, again symbolizing how much he has to grow to fill his family’s legacy. His distance from Rachel, his moral compass, also shows how much he has to grow still.
      • Alfred at this moment also becomes Bruce’s surrogate parent. The divide between master and servant melts as Bruce rushes forward to hug Alfred in his despair and Alfred comforts him as a parent would.
      • We are also introduced to Earle. He seeks to use Wayne Enterprises to make a lot of money, disregarding the humanitarian vision of Thomas Wayne. The death of the Waynes set him on his desire.
      • Rachel Inciting Incident: Spurred by the crime of the Wayne’s death, Rachel decides to fight crime through the law.
      • Wayne Enterprises Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Earle decides to change Wayne Enterprises to make money.
      • Alfred Inciting Incident: Alfred must now care for young Bruce.
  9. Bruce’s Training
    • Ducard trains Bruce in the ninja arts. He also reveals a bit of the League of Shadows philosophy: crime can not be tolerated, theatricality is a valuable tool, pushing yourself to the brink is necessary. Ducard tells Bruce that it is his father’s fault for the shooting and that supreme will is the most important thing. Ducard still beats Bruce in combat.
      • The trials of Bruce test his determination. The philosophy of the will to act is drilled into him; only through choosing to act and never wavering from that commitment can Bruce achieve anything. This lesson is his key to becoming the Batman.
      • Ducard laying the blame at Thomas Waynes’ feet is more of a driver of Bruce than the truth. Ducard is testing Bruce again and again, through holding his balance over logs, to swordfighting, always pushing him and testing the will he preaches. Bruce is still behind, unable to catch up to Ducard’s mastery, a child on the ice, slipping and sliding, unable to keep his balance and walk upright.
  10. Ducard Talks about the Past
    • Ducard talks to Bruce about his past. He once had a wife who was taken from him. Vengeance was able to quell his anger.
      • We see more of the nurturing side of Ducard. He cares for Bruce as he tells him how to recover from falling through the ice. He is presented as another father figure to him, someone Bruce looks to for guidance.
      • Ducard’s Inciting Incident is explained here. Off screen, the story of his wife’s death is what drives him. Learning how to deal with his anger and gaining vengeance and teaching others in the same way is his motivation.
      • Ducard Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Ducard’s wife is murdered. He kills her killer, achieving vengeance and now teaches others how to deal with their pains.
  11. Lost Bruce
    • We flash back to young Bruce, returning home from Princeton to attend the mugger’s parole hearing. He espouses his anger to Alfred, telling him he wishes he could burn the whole mansion down. Alfred refuses to give up on him.
      • We see Bruce lost. Princeton doesn’t want him back. He’s angry, his parent’s death leaving him rudderless. Not the physical specimen at film’s opening, he is more of a whiner, a coward unable to see past his own demons. When Alfred offers to prepare the master bedroom, Bruce refuses. He still can not take his father’s place in the world.
      • The mansion is a mausoleum, the furniture cover in drapes. This shows that Bruce his turned his back on the Wayne name. It rots away.
      • Alfred’s devotion to Bruce exemplifies his character. Even though he is not physically a member of the Wayne family, he serves as the caretaker of the estate and a symbol of the Wayne’s legacy. His devotion to the Waynes sets his path to protect and look after Bruce.
  12. Rachel and Bruce
    • Rachel looks over his parent’s things, including a picture of them and his father’s stethoscope. He packs a gun into his pocket. He talks with Rachel about the past and how her boss has instituted a deal for the mugger, Joe Chill’s, release in exchange for information about a crime boss, Carmine Falcone. He is against the decision.
      • Bruce remarks himself how his parent’s belongings are relics. They serve as reminders of a past he is trying to hide. A small flashback to the past shows a young Bruce using his father’s stethoscope to listen to his heart. In a way, Thomas’ heart, his soul, still echoes to Bruce, showing that Bruce can still live up to his father’s legacy. It lives in him.
      • Rachel and Bruce are older now, farther apart. Rachel has her head on her shoulders, working in the District Attorney’s office, trying to do good in the world. Bruce is lost and petulant, planning murder. Her moral compass will become Bruce’s guide as the story progresses.
  13. The Trial and the Aftermath
    • Bruce watches Joe Chill’s court appearance and sees him set free. He waits in the hallway, a gun in his hand, ready to kill his parent’s killer. A woman hired by Falcone instead shoots and kills Chill before Bruce can. Rachel escorts him away.
      • Bruce’s anger is directed right at Chill. His eyes never leave him in the courtroom. Chill himself can not bring himself to look at Bruce, his murder obviously haunting him.
      • There’s a steady buildup to Chill’s murder. Bruce is obviously struggling with the decision to take a life, but his anger drives him. Just as Ducard will later warn him about, if Bruce had murdered Chill, his anger would have destroyed him.
  14. Rachel and Bruce in the Car
    • Bruce tells Rachel that he believes vengeance is justice, but Rachel reminds him that justice is about balance. She tells him that the crime lord, Falcone, is destroying everything his parents held dear and is creating the exact conditions that created muggers like Joe Chill. She drops him off at Falcone’s house, telling him that if he wants to thank him for killing Chill, he can. Bruce reveals that he was going to kill Chill and is not one of Rachel’s good people. Rachel slaps him and tells him his father would be ashamed of him. Bruce hurls his gun into the river.
      • Rachel here also serves as the herald in mythical fashion. She points out the poverty and the crime permeating in the city that his father tried to save and in so doing, pleads for his help. Bruce’s eyes are therefore awoken to the desire to do good, but he is so wrapped in anger and disillusionment that he can’t see his part to play yet. Only after conquering fear can he succeed.
      • Rachel presents Bruce with a choice: to be a good man like his father or to let life bring him down. Bruce, thinking about how the gun he holds would lead him down a similar path to Joe Chill, throws it away and decides to change. His hatred changes from hating one man to an entire system of crime and corruption.
  15. Bruce Meets Falcone
    • Bruce threatens Falcone, who taunts him. He says that he uses the power of fear to have control. He tells him that he’ll never understand the criminal underworld because he is rich and has never tasted desperation.
      • Bruce’s transformed anger directs him to Gotham’s underworld. He realizes that this is a world he doesn’t understand and if he can’t understand what made Joe Chill, how could he beat it?
      • Falcone is a shadow. He uses fear in much the same way that Batman will need to. Bruce is powerless against Falcone’s hitmen and thugs, dragged away and punched. For him to succeed in changing Gotham and becoming something his father would be proud of, he must embark on a spiritual journey.
      • Falcone Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Unknown, but it sets him on the desire to control Gotham.
      • Bruce Act One Climax: Bruce casts off the identity of Bruce Wayne and embarks on the journey to end crime in Gotham.
  16. Bruce’s Test
    • Ducard tells Bruce that what he actually fears is himself and his power to do great or terrible things. He tests him by having Bruce breathe in the smoke of his exotic flower, causing his fears to come to life. Ducard challenges Bruce to catch him in a moving array of ninjas, his fears washing over him.
      • Ducard teaches Bruce the power of fear, using it against him and teaching him how to harness it. This is the same tool that Falcone uses to instill power of Gotham. Bruce learns its value through his trial with Ducard. Through ingenuity and courage, he is able to overcome.
  17. Bruce Reject the League of Shadows
    • Ra’s al-Ghul tells Bruce that to complete his training, he must prove his commitment to justice by executing a fugitive. Bruce refuses. He learns the League intends to destroy Gotham to preserve the dignity of mankind. Bruce breaks out, burning the League headquarters down. He saves his friend, Ducard.
      • Bruce being handed a sword to execute a man is akin to him loading a gun to execute his parent’s murderer. The same cowardly act of injustice stirs in him Rachel’s condemnation. He realizes that he has adopted her worldview and must adapt it to his training rather than let the League’s principles change him.
      • Upon learning of the League’s plans, Bruce chooses to act. He has chosen to save Gotham, utilizing his training with the League and his moral cleansing. His first action: to stop the League from destroying Gotham.
      • Ducard Midpoint: Ducard’s prime student, Bruce, turns against him and destroys the League’s base of operations. Ducard must regroup to complete his mission.
  18. Bruce and Alfred Talk
    • Bruce meets Alfred for the first time after 7 years. He relays his plan to help Gotham, to create a symbol that transcends flesh and blood. Alfred acquiesces to his plan and lets him know that Earle is working to transform the Wayne company for himself.
      • Bruce continues to implement the lessons he has learned in his fight to save Gotham. Both Ducard and his discussion with Falcone taught him the vulnerability of human life and the need to create something elemental to enact change. Bruce has taken this lesson to heart.
      • The relationship between Bruce and Alfred remains strong. Alfred’s desire to keep Bruce safe has permeated throughout the years and gives him the motivation to help Bruce with his plan.
      • The storyline around Wayne Enterprises continues as Earle moves to take full control of the company by declaring Bruce dead and taking the company public, something Thomas Wayne would not have done and something that will taint the Wayne legacy. We will also learn later that Earle has removed his prime competition, Lucius Fox, from the board to expedite the process.
      • Alfred Act One Climax: Alfred agrees to help Bruce enact his plan to save Gotham.
      • Earle Act One Climax: Earle forces Lucius out, declares Bruce dead and moves to make the company public.
  19. Crane Introduction
    • Dr. Crane testifies to get another of Falcone’s thugs put in his asylum. Rachel tries to call him on his apparent attachment to Falcone’s men, but he threatens her. Rachel’s boss, Mr. Finch, tells her to lay off because Falcone is too strong. Bruce listens in.
      • Rachel is still fighting the good fight against Falcone through the courts, but Falcone seems only to have grown in power since Bruce left. He apparently has a new ally in Dr. Crane. Something seems a bit off about him, but the viewer can’t quite figure out what. He is shown in strict headshots pretty much, isolating him, showing how distant he is from the world around him.
      • This scene catches the viewer up to the situation in Gotham. Falcone is in charge, he is using this Dr. Crane to keep his thugs in an asylum instead of prison and Rachel is still fighting him against tough odds. We see the situation through Bruce’s eyes. We learn as he learns.
      • Crane Inciting Incident (Off-Screen): Crane is attracted to torture and madness and fascinated with creating fear. We don’t know why, but something has set him off on his desire to torture others for his own amusement.
      • Rachel Act One Climax: Rachel commits to saving Gotham by fighting the mob.
  20. Bruce Rediscovers the Bat
    • Bruce finds a bat in his house. He returns to the cave of his youth that frightened him so much. Bats swarm him, but he is no longer afraid.
      • Bruce returns to the same fears of his youth, but he has changed. Under the guidance to control his fears from Ducard, when the bats swarm around him, he embraces them, showing the conquering of his fear. He will harness the bats to achieve the liberation of Gotham, turning his fear into strength.
  21. Crane and Falcone
    • Crane and Falcone discuss business. Falcone is bringing drug shipments into the city. Crane’s boss is coming to Gotham. Crane asks Falcone to take care of Rachel.
      • This scene illuminates several important plot points. Crane and Falcone are working together, but Crane works for someone, someone even Falcone fears, and he’s coming to the city. And Crane wants Rachel dead because she is interfering too much. We also get a hint at Crane’s character. He pretends to be a straight-shooter, but Falcone can see that he gets off on being evil.
      • Crane Act One Climax: Crane enlists Falcone to take Rachel out to keep his operation running.
      • Falcone Act One Climax: Falcone moves to keep control of the city.
  22. Bruce and the Family Business
    • Mr. Earle talks about taking the company public. Bruce crashes the meeting and talks with him about his shares. Earle introduces him to Fox.
      • We begin to see Bruce take on his new persona: dumb, obnoxious, womanizing billionaire. This is the shield he will use to deflect any suspicions that he is Batman.
      • Earle moves to change Wayne Enterprises. He is condescending to Bruce and doesn’t view him as much of a threat. Bruce is already manipulating him.
      • Wayne Enterprises Act One Climax: Earle moves to take control of the company once and for all.
  23. Bruce Meets Lucius
    • Lucius Fox introduces Bruce to technology that he could use to turn into the Batman. Lucius agrees not to tell anyone.
      • The viewer can begin to see how the pieces of Batman are put together. Lucius and Bruce’s partnership will bear fruit as the story continues.
  24. Bruce Builds the Cave
    • Bruce sets up lights and navigates the tunnels of the cave under the mansion. He puts together parts of his suits and orders new pieces.
      • The viewer can see how the Batman mythos they are aware of begins to form. They recognize pieces of the character and how Bruce finds them and their importance to his overall scheme.
  25. Gordon and Flass
    • Gordon works with his partner, Flass. He doesn’t take the mob’s money. Bruce disguises himself and talks to Gordon. He learns what he needs to take down Falcone. Gordon tries to catch Bruce, but he runs away.
      • Gordon is an honest cop. He doesn’t take the mob’s money and looks down on those who do. He continues to fight against crime and corruption in Gotham, but is disheartened.
      • Bruce recruits Gordon in his fight against crime. Gordon doesn’t trust this masked vigilante, but seems nevertheless intrigued.
      • Gordon Inciting Incident: Gordon’s meeting with this strange cloaked man alerts him that something is coming to Gotham that could change things.
  26. Bruce and Lucius Continue
    • Lucius introduces Bruce to memory cloth and the Tumbler, further building his arsenal.
      • This scene doesn’t change much about Lucius and Bruce’s relationship, but it shows the continued trust between them.
  27. Flass and Falcone
    • Falcone gives instructions to Flass about the last drug shipment and the ordered murder of Rachel.
      • The viewer now knows that Flass is working directly with Falcone. This takes the level of corruption in the city to a new level.
  28. Bruce Finishes the Final Touches on Becoming the Batman
    • Bruce finishes creating his mask and his wings and various other parts of his costume.
      • Bruce finishes creating his “symbol” for Gotham. His explanation to Alfred underlies how this is a journey long in the making.
  29. Batman Attacks the Drug Point
    • Bruce takes the mantle of Batman and attacks the drug point, beating the criminals and Falcone, leaving him to the police.
      • We can see everything Bruce has built up to this point come to fruition. All the tools of Fox, the training of Ducard and the inner moral compass of Rachel combine to create this new symbol of Batman.
      • Batman is seen less as a man and more as a force of nature. The camera highlights his ferocity and mysteriousness, and we see the Batman from the perspective of the criminals rather than Bruce. This enables us to see what Bruce has created to others.
      • Falcone Act Two Climax: Falcone is beaten and left for the police by Batman.
  30. Batman Saves Rachel
    • Two “muggers” try to kill Rachel. Batman stops them and gives her the evidence to convict Falcone. Gordon arrives at the docks and finds Falcone delivered to him.
      • Bruce’s plan for taking back Gotham begins. He has announced himself as the Batman, delivering a significant blow against organized crime in the city.
      • Bruce Midpoint: Bruce creates the Batman and delivers Falcone to the police.
  31. Fall-Out
    • Police commissioner Loeb condemns the actions of the Batman. Rachel and her boss work to prosecute Falcone.
      • The effects of Bruce’s actions reverberate across the city, testing the loyalties of characters. Gordon and Rachel must figure out how they deal with a vigilante working outside the law.
      • Rachel Act Two Climax: Rachel works with the DA to prosecute Falcone.
  32. Bruce and Alfred Come Up with Alibis
    • Alfred remarks that Bruce needs to come up with a persona to hide the possibility that he is Batman. Bruce agrees, as long as he doesn’t have to learn polo.
      • Bruce being covered in bruises shows that there is a cost to his crime-fighting. As much as he appeared as a force of nature during the night, he is still very much a man.
  33. Wayne Enterprises Loses the Microwave Emitter
    • An employee to Earle announces that a prototype microwave emitter weapon has been stolen.
      • This is purely an informational scene. All we know is that a weapon has been stolen that will pay off later.
  34. Bruce’s Persona
    • Bruce acts like a pompous billionaire playboy in front of the Wayne higher-ups to deter from his true self. He dallies with beautiful women and buys things that don’t belong to him, all part of Alfred’s suggestion. He meets Rachel and tells her that there is more to him, but Rachel tells him that it’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you.
      • Rachel again presents herself as Bruce’s moral compass. His last connection to his childhood, she sees his inner soul in a way no one else seems able to. In a way, she is reminding him not to lose his sense of rightness.
  35. Crane Poisons Falcone
    • Falcone, trying to get put into Crane’s asylum, feigns insanity. To keep him quiet, Crane poisons him with a form of fear serum. Falcone goes insane.
      • The viewer gets a closer look into Crane’s psychology. He is calculating and vicious. He seems to enjoy torturing Falcone and driving him mad, dressing up in theatrics, setting up the situation. For Falcone, his journey is over. Crane has destroyed his mind and therefore his journey.
      • Crane Act Two Climax: Crane poisons Falcone and secures his boss’ wishes.
      • Falcone Act Three Climax: Falcone is driven insane by Crane’s poison.
  36. Batman and Gordon
    • Batman talks with Gordon about the drug shipments. Gordon tells Batman that Flass may know where the other half of the drug shipment went. Gordon lets on that he is trusting Batman more, but has reservations.
      • Gordon starts to trust Batman more now that he knows he is trying to help. With all the corruption around Gordon, he is willing to give a man dressed as a bat a chance to change things.
  37. Batman Interrogates Flass
    • Batman scares Flass into revealing the location of the drugs.
      • The viewer sees again how Bruce uses fear and intimidation to get into the heads of others. Flass rolls over without much push.
  38. The DA is Killed
    • Rachel’s boss is shot dead when he discovers the missing Wayne Enterprises weapon in Gotham.
  39. Batman is Poisoned by the Fear Gas
    • Batman discovers the location of the drugs. Crane is there and poisons Batman with the fear gas. Batman collapses and must be rescued by Alfred.
      • There’s an interesting interaction between Batman and a little boy who sees him on the side of the drug building. In a way, Batman is still young Bruce, fighting to keep his fears away. This appeals to the young boy who sees the same struggle in him.
      • All of Bruce’s fears come rushing back to him when Crane’s toxin hits him: bats, responsibility, the death of his parents. This is a reminder to Bruce that his fears still ultimately drive him. In a way, he is afraid of fear itself and is fighting to keep fear from finding him.
  40. Alfred Tends to Bruce
    • Bruce wakes up from the effects of the toxin. Lucius explains to him what happened and that he has devised an antidote.
      • Bruce appears weak and frail from the effects of the drug, again showing that Batman underneath is still just a man. The viewer can begin to connect the dots into what is happening: who does Crane work for? What is the purpose of the weapon from Wayne Enterprises doing in Gotham? What is this fear toxin?
  41. Bruce and Rachel Reconnect
    • Rachel drops off a birthday present to Bruce: the old arrowhead from their youth. She tells him that her boss is probably dead and that Crane has put Falcone on suicide watch. She rushes to Arkham. Bruce, as Batman, chases after her.
      • The arrowhead represents lost youth for both characters. They remember their past as friends, but are kept apart by their respective duties to the present. Each is fighting crime in their own way and as long as that occurs, they can not be together.
  42. Earle Fires Lucius
    • Earle fires Lucius after he asks too many questions about the missing microwave emitter.
      • The battle for control over Wayne Enterprises takes another turn. Earle has never liked Lucius, viewing him as a protege of Thomas Wayne, whose company he is trying to twist to his own means. The missing microwave emitter is a matter he is trying to hush to keep the company looking good despite the potential damage it could cause. Eliminating Fox gets him one step closer to securing the financial profit he seeks.
      • Wayne Enterprises Act Two Climax: Earle moves to take over the company by removing Lucius and going public.
  43. Crane Kidnaps Rachel
    • Rachel visits Falcone in the asylum and questions Crane’s methods. She witnesses cronies pouring drugs into the sewer system. Crane poisons her with the fear gas and she collapses. Batman and Gordon team up to save her.
      • The viewer knows what Crane is capable of and senses the danger as he goes after Rachel. This creates tension throughout the scene.
      • Crane Act Two Climax: Crane reveals that he is bringing drugs into the city and poisoning the water supply.
  44. Bruce Saves Rachel
    • Batman storms Arkham Asylum to save Rachel. He poisons Crane with his own fear serum and Crane tells him that he works for Ra’s al-Ghul. The police arrive and Bruce uses the cover of bats and the Tumbler to break out and take Rachel back to the Batcave.
      • We again see Bruce use the image of the Batman to instill fear into Gotham. The use of bats and theatrical deception serves him well against the criminals and the police. We again see the Batman through their eyes to see the full effect of Bruce’s scheme.
      • The tumbler’s power and resourcefulness is displayed. This is a setup to the payoff later on in the movie where Gordon must use it to blow up the train.
      • As Bruce rushes past the cells of the inmates at Arkham, one can’t help but wonder that perhaps Bruce himself belongs there. If the crazies think you’re crazy, that should tell you something.
      • Crane Act Three Climax: Crane’s fear gas is turned against him and he goes insane.
      • Gordon Act One Climax: Gordon’s team-up with Batman signals his readiness to take in the Dark Knight’s help.
  45. Batman Talks to Rachel
    • Batman tells Rachel about the drugs in the water supply and how he saved her. He tells her he doesn’t have the luxury of friends.
      • Bruce’s loneliness is illustrated in his distance from Rachel. His Batman cowl keeps them from truly connecting, a barrier between their relationship. When he takes off his cowl when she falls asleep, he appears vulnerable and distant from the camera, showing how he is utterly alone in his new role.
  46. Alfred Chastises Bruce
    • Alfred harshly reminds Bruce that he has to live up to the Wayne family name. Bruce tells him he doesn’t care about his name.
      • Alfred is afraid of losing Bruce to this vigilante he has created. Bruce replies that he doesn’t care about his vestige as a Wayne, echoing the conversation they had in Bruce’s youth. In a way, Bruce is using Batman to escape the mantle of his father. He still feels unworthy about wielding his father’s influence.
  47. The Party
    • Bruce’s birthday party begins. Earle comes to him and tells that with the company going public, the future is secured. Bruce meets Lucius. They figure out that the microwave emitter is going to be used to poison the city. Bruce discovers Ducard, now revealed to be Ra’s al-Ghul, at the party. He threatens him and everyone there. Bruce manages to make his guests leave. Ra’s knocks him and sets the mansion on fire.
      • The mystery is revealed as Ducard presents himself as Ra’s al-Ghul and unveils his plan to destroy Gotham. Bruce must now confront his mentor in order to save the city, but deeper than that, it is also a fight to save his vision of humanity. Is humanity a failed experiement that must be cleansed or is it a race that needs the just rule of law and a moral code to survive? Ra’s vision or Thomas Wayne’s/Rachel’s? Bruce must dig deep within himself to fight for the ideals instilled upon him through family and friends.
      • Ducard Act Two Climax: Ducard reveals his plan to destroy Gotham and sets it in motion.
  48. Alfred Saves Bruce
    • Arkham Asylum’s gates are opened by the League. Alfred rescues Bruce from the fire at the mansion and takes him to the Batcave. Bruce loses hope in himself, but Alfred inspires him to keep going.
      • Alfred takes his role as Bruce’s protector and comes to Bruce’s defense. He will never give up on Bruce.
      • The burning of the Wayne Mansion is hinted at in the beginning of the film. Bruce tells Alfred that he wishes he could burn the mansion down to forget about his past. Now that it is burned down, Bruce worries that he will lose all the remnants of his past. It is this final fear, a fear that Bruce has withheld, that brings Bruce acceptance: his fear of being a Wayne.
      • Alfred Act Two Climax: Alfred saves Bruce and lets him know he’ll never give up on him.
  49. The Final Battle
    • Rachel and Gordon team up in the Narrows as the inmates wreak havoc. Rachel finds the child from earlier and keeps him safe. Batman appears and teams up with Gordon, giving him the tumbler. Batman and Rachel share a moment where he lets her know his identity. Both Batman and Gordon rush and stop Ra’s from finishing his plan.
      • Bruce, reunited in combat with Ra’s, must overcome his failure to defeat him earlier in the story. Ra’s taunts Bruce, repeating that he shouldn’t be afraid, the last words spoken by his father. In a way, Bruce has two fathers, Thomas and Ra’s, one light and one dark, each trying to help him conquer his fear. By defeating Ra’s, Bruce conquers the dark, and by accepting his Wayne name, he embraces the light, becoming one.
      • There is an irony that to save Gotham, Bruce must destroy the monorail. In a way, to rebuild the Wayne legacy, Bruce must physically build back the physical structures that have been demolished: the mansion and the train.
      • Gordon Act Two Climax: Gordon and Batman team up to save the city.
      • Ducard Act Three Climax: Ducard dies as Batman stops him.
      • Bruce Act Three Climax: Bruce saves Gotham and establishes the image of the Batman.
  50. Lucius Reinstated
    • Bruce reveals that he has bought the public shares of Wayne Enterprises and is now once again the owner. Earle has been forced out and Lucius is now the head of the company.
      • With help from Bruce, Lucius retrieves his rightful status. His placement and his connection to Thomas Wayne represent Bruce taking back his family’s name and reputation.
      • Wayne Enterprises Act Three Climax: Bruce takes over the company, reinstates Lucius and forces Earle out.
  51. Bruce Rebuilds the Manor
    • Bruce meets Rachel and promises to rebuild the mansion. She tells him that they can be together once Batman is no longer needed, Bruce Wayne being a facade and Batman being the real person in her eyes. She is proud of him.
      • Bruce’s first act of rebuilding his mansion is sealing up the cave he fell into. This is Bruce healing the hurt that fear inflicted on him.
      • Rachel recognizing that Bruce Wayne is still missing hints that Bruce still has a journey yet to finish. Until Batman’s role in the world is over, they can not be together. As the sequels prove, this is a tragic storyline. However, for the moment, he has regained her trust, trust lost until he cleansed his fear.
      • Bruce finds the stethocope from earlier, remembering his father’s heartbeat. Burned in the wreckage, it may have sent the younger Bruce into a tailspin. But imbued with confidence, Bruce decides to rebuild the house and in essence, his father’s legacy, taking the mantle he had been afraid to embrace for so long.
      • Rachel Act Three Climax: Rachel recognizes Batman and hopes to see Bruce again.
  52. Bruce and Gordon Plan
    • Bruce and Gordon make their plans to bring Gotham back.
      • Gordon now fully trusts Batman, seeing the good he can bring to the city. They are now partners, giving hope not only just to Gordon, but to the whole city.
      • Gordon Act Three Climax: Gordon has hope in making good of the city again as he enlists the Bat signal and accepts Batman.

Overall Analysis:

“Batman Begins” is a terrific film that features a strong connection to the mythic structure of the hero’s journey. The characters are all detailed and necessary, each with interesting arcs that tie into the themes of justice, vengeance and fear. The character examination and journey of Bruce is deep and interesting. The duality of two father figures and their visions really gives the film a rich palette of ideas.

There are a few changes that could have produced a more unified story. Once Bruce completes his training in the League and returns to Gotham, the pace slows as there is not a great internal confrontation to drive Bruce. He has purged his fear and therefore has little left to prove to himself. The process of becoming Batman through the technology and such may be fun to watch, but is not emotionally engaging.

A ticking clock scenario would have proven useful in this instance, something driving Bruce to become the Batman with a deal of pressure. Perhaps the mob has ordered a hit out on the mayor or Bruce sees the young boy of the film abused by his father and needs to save him. In the sequels, this ticking clock scenario is used to great effect with the Joker and Bane’s plans driving the action. Without the League of Shadows storyline in the middle, there is a loss of tension and Bruce is not personally challenged as much. Crane is used somewhat as a challenge to Batman, but he lacks a connection with Bruce and their confrontations never escalate beyond simple hero vs. villain.

In addition, the character of Martha Wayne is given a relatively short stick. She doesn’t really even have a speaking role and her character could have been utilized more to drive Bruce’s anger.

The Earle storyline could have been trimmed somewhat as it is not that important to the overall story or fleshed out a bit more to make it more interesting.

Overall though, the film is a sterling example of what can be accomplished in the superhero genre. Bruce Wayne is a fully dimensional, emotional character that the audience greatly empathizes with, and the film’s themes of personal justice and overcoming fear are heavy and elemental, making the story very memorable and moving.

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ a tribute to the character

Batman is awesome. That is in itself the joke that runs throughout “The Lego Batman Movie.” But even the most awesome character ever needs a little help sometimes to feel whole.

Directed by Chris McKay, “The Lego Batman Movie” focuses on the relationship between Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) and his fear of having a family again. Though he is awesome and the public adores him, Batman is lonely. When he accidentally adopts an orphan named Dick Grayson (voiced by Michael Cera), he is set on the road to accepting family once again.

The film is full of jokes for everyone: kids, adults, Batman-novices and hardcore-Batman aficionados. It is not as strong as the original “The Lego Movie”, with the film serving as more a straight-forward acceptance story and it is pretty easy to see what is coming next. It is also not quite as ingenious, some of the jokes not really landing with the force they should.

But while the plot is rather ho-hum, the icing around the cake is colorful, fun and pleasing enough that the film’s 90-minute run time goes by smoothly.

Batman is a cultural phenomenon, a character that has bypassed the superhero genre into common vernacular. With so much history and such a huge fanbase, the creation of a parody of him in lego-brick form accentuates just how ingrained into our American mythology he has become.

In this age of superhero pandemonium, “The Lego Batman Movie” fits by taking our preconceived notions of Batman and playfully poking fun at him in a way that doesn’t debase the character, but complements everything we love about him: his coolness, his strength and his vulnerability. For those who love the character, it is an enjoyable ride.