Although Tim Burton’s 1989 gem Batman is regarded by scholars as the first truly modern addition to the superhero genre, it can be argued that Christopher Nolan’s Batman series has single-handedly shaped the mainstream consciousness. An unprecedented comic book adaptation which is complex and masterful, Batman Begins marked Nolan’s remarkable entry into the mysterious world of Batman.
Batman Begins starred Christian Bale as the immensely popular caped crusader, delving deep into the psyche of Batman and figuring out the psychological implications of existing in an urban labyrinth. We see the thought processes of an antihero laid bare as Nolan switches from the decadent wealth of Bruce Wayne to the rat-infested streets of Gotham City.
In an interview, Nolan explained: “The struggle and the conflict between the desire for personal gratification or vengeance and the greater good for a constructive, positive sort—something more universal. Because Batman is limited by being an ordinary man, there’s a constant tension between pragmatism and idealism.”
The filmmaker also commented about the reductive phenomenon of subjecting Batman to conventional structures of morality: “The immediate response to Batman’s standing up for what’s good is a proportional escalation of evil, and that’s not philosophical—it’s not that it will always be that way—it’s about how bad things have to get before things become good.”
Before Nolan joined the remarkable project, there were many filmmakers attached to Batman Begins. A notable name on that list is that of Darren Aronofsky, the director of modern masterpieces like Pi and Requiem for a Dream, among others. However, nothing came to fruition because the studio did not agree with Aronofsky’s plans.
“The studio wanted Freddie Prinze Jr and I wanted Joaquin Phoenix,” Aronofsky recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘Uh oh, we’re making two different films here.’ That’s a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of take than they ended up making.”
Continuing, “It was an amazing thing because I was a big fan of [Frank Miller’s] graphic novel work, so just getting to meet him was exciting back then The Batman that was out before me was Batman & Robin, the famous one with the nipples on the Bat-suit, so I was really trying to undermine that, and reinvent it. That’s where my head went.”