8. “I Bought Most of the Shares”
As Batman Begins winds down, Batman’s efforts across Gotham City’s network of rail lines having rid the world of Ra’s al Ghul and his evil plans to begin the downfall of the city, the narrative that bubbled beneath the surface of Wayne’s corporate power struggles are concluded with six simple words: “I bought most of the shares.”
In Batman Begins, the corporate world is presented as if a more underhanded and secretive mirror image of the underworld, corporate greed running so rampant that well-intentioned people are shunned and corporate direction fractured. As Bruce Wayne buys all the shares, ousting the dastardly Richard Earle from power and placing Lucius Fox at the helm of his family empire, Wayne is victorious in one of his battles to realign the moral compass of his city, simultaneously embracing his family legacy for the first time.
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7. James Gordon Comforts Bruce Wayne
In the aftermath of the murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne sits shivering in a police station, grief-stricken and nervous, when police officer Gordon (the would-be commissioner of Gotham and famed comic book character) offers him the kind of empathy that will become a driving force in Wayne’s ideological undertakings as Batman.
Gordon places Thomas Wayne’s coat around Bruce, reassuring the child that “it’s okay”. It’s a simple gesture, but one that we see will be rarely afforded to the character; something that Bruce will never forget, the pay off to this first act scene coming right at the very end of The Dark Knight Rises, released 7 years later.
The core of Batman Begins’ central conflict between Wayne and Ra’s al Ghul is how Ra’s believes Gotham to be too far gone to be saved, whilst Bruce believes it’s never too late (as exemplified by his hard rule to not kill anyone), and in this moment we see that for all Gotham’s faults and all its corrupt cops there is one shining light in James Gordon, that Gotham isn’t too far gone, that we are right to support Bruce Wayne in fighting for his city’s survival.
6. Bruce Destroys League of Shadows, Saves Ra’s
As Batman Begins moves beyond exposition and into its first act, Bruce Wayne’s journey echoes that of great martial arts films from eras past. There are plenty of excellent moments in this portion of the film, including Bruce’s prison fight, his mountain ascent, and his ice duel, but his destruction of The League of Shadows is the strongest, most visually remarkable and most important to the Bruce Wayne character.
After battling the would-be Ra’s al Ghul (at the time known as Henri Ducard) through a group of faceless League of Shadows assassins, Wayne is confronted by the character being presented as Ra’s al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) with his final test before becoming a member of the League: kill a criminal in the name of justice. Wayne refuses because he believes killing isn’t justice it’s revenge, and thus the film’s central ideological conflict between Wayne and Ra’s is established. Ironically, his one rule also saves his oppositional force and the film’s ultimate antagonist, the real Ra’s al Ghul.
It’s a spectacular scene in a film less visually remarkable than its sequels… as an unconscious Ducard slides out of the exploded mountainside structure that was once home to The League of Shadows, Bruce slides after him, saving him at a cliff edge, one hand held on for safety and the other onto Ra’s’ unconscious body. This would of course be echoed in the sequel (with Joker throwing Rachel Dawes from Wayne’s penthouse apartment), but more importantly it would offer inner conflict to Wayne moving forward; a “should I save everyone?” question that is tested to its limits by The Joker in The Dark Knight.