As Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy comes to a close, we take a look at 20 things you should know about Batman and the world he inhabits.
#1: The Defining Tragedy
The main thing that defines Bruce Wayne is tragedy. One night young Bruce and parents Thomas and Martha cut through "Crime Alley" in Gotham City. Out of the shadows, a lone gunman demands their valuables and in the scuffle Thomas and Martha are fatally shot in front of their son’s eyes. This drives Bruce Wayne to become Batman, with the desire that no one else should see such tragedy.
Over the next 10-12 years, Bruce honed himself to physical and mental perfection, becoming an Olympic-level athlete, an expert in the sciences, criminology, psychology, detection, disguise, and other skills he could use against his unsuspecting foes on. In Nolan’s films, Bruce spent time at Princeton University before disappearing from the United States for seven years to train and to learn more about the world around him.
#3: The Dark Omen
In the comics, after an unsuccessful first night of crime fighting, Bruce sat bleeding, knowing he needed more to fight with: an edge. Since criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, to fight them more effectively he needed a symbol that could strike terror into their hearts. Like an omen, a bat flew through the window, giving the warrior his totem. In Nolan’s films, Bruce was inspired by the creature that terrified him as a child, and overcoming of that fear.
#4: Allies of the Bat
Gotham City is a big place, and because of that, Batman can’t accomplish his mission alone. There are some very important people that Batman calls confidants in his war on crime, and in a place as dangerous as Gotham, he needs their help if he wants to have any hope of making a difference in the city he loves.
#5: Alfred Pennyworth
The “gentleman’s gentleman” of the Wayne family, Pennyworth became Bruce’s guardian and one of Batman’s most important allies: assistant, housekeeper, medic, counselor, and father. Alfred has always been there to take care of Bruce while enduring the uncertainty of Batman’s mission whenever the Dark Knight would venture into the city.
#6: Commissioner James Gordon
One of the only police officers to comfort young Bruce the night of his parents’ murder, Jim Gordon still operated in the Gotham PD when Batman first arrived in the city 20 years later and as one of the city's few honest cops, became both a friend and ally. In the wake of the Joker’s attack on Gotham’s power structure, Gordon rose to the ranks of Commissioner and would find himself hunting down the wrong man. More on that later.
#7: Lucius Fox
A friend and confidant to Thomas Wayne, scientist Lucius Fox found himself relegated to the dead Applied Sciences division of Wayne Enterprises when Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham City. Recognizing Fox’s brilliance and his keen insight, Bruce would indirectly recruit Fox into his war before Fox’s deduction of Batman’s identity led to a more direct relationship.
#8: Rachel Dawes
Bruce's childhood friend, Rachel’s desire for justice rivals Batman’s own. Unfortunately, Rachel was caught in the crossfire of the battle between the Joker and the Batman/Gordon/Dent alliance in The Dark Knight, Her desire to marry Dent was kept from Bruce by Alfred in the hopes of keeping him stable in his battle against the Joker.
#9: The Rogues of Gotham
When Batman began operating, he began encountering a new form of foe than the ones he trained to fight. Gotham was slowly becoming infested with more malevolent forces that began to push the gangsters and mobsters of old out of the city. These new supervillains sought more than simply monetary gain and notoriety, many of them also sought a challenge: something that the Dark Knight himself would provide with ease.
#10: Ra’s al Ghul
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne first encountered a man named Ducard, a member of the League of Shadows, who offered to train him. Bruce became disenchanted that their idea of justice included murder, and escaped their clutches while crippling their organization. Ducard, aka League mastermind Ra’s al Ghul, who put Batman to his first test in the Nolan movies.
#11: Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow
In Batman Begins, Crane worked for Ra’s al Ghul developing a toxin that brings a person’s worst fears to life and infecting the city’s water supply with it. The first “supervillain” for Batman to face in this world, Crane went missing only for Batman to catch up with him in the opening minutes of The Dark Knight.
#12: The Joker
The greatest adversary Batman has ever faced, the Joker tore through The Dark Knight, having fun watching Gotham’s destruction. Fascinated by Batman, Joker found a sense of purpose in destroying the spirits of the people and by trying to prove that anyone, including Batman, is corruptible. The Joker killed city officials (including Rachel Dawes), tore down Gotham’s “White Knight” Harvey Dent, and blew up a hospital.
#13: Harvey Dent/Two-Face
Gotham’s “White Knight,” Harvey was the crusading D.A. who sought the help of Batman and Gordon in disposing of Sal Maroni’s criminal mob in TDK. Capturing much of Gotham’s mobsters and held in high regard by the people, Dent was scarred physically and mentally when he tried to save Rachel Dawes from the Joker. He went ballistic, killing five people (including two cops) and abducting Gordon’s family. When he died, his reputation died with him.
#14: “I killed those people…”
The tragedy, beyond the fall of Harvey Dent from grace, is the fact that Batman's heroism and sacrifice can never be known to the people of Gotham if they want to protect all of the good that Dent did as D.A. In order to protect Dent’s reputation and the mob convictions that came with it, Batman and Gordon agreed that the crimes of Two-Face would be blamed on Batman.
#15: Eight Years Later
According to director Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises picks up a whopping eight years after the end of the last film. As a result, Bruce Wayne is an older man who doesn’t seem to be taking particularly good care of himself, and if the trailers are any indication it would seem to indicate that Batman hasn’t been patrolling the streets of Gotham for some amount of time. What threat is strong enough to force Bruce back into the cowl?
#16: New Faces
There are some new additions to Gotham’s population in the new film, and it looks like there will be both new friends as well as foes. In the new post-Joker/Dent Gotham City, who will stand with the Batman, and who will stand against him?
#17: Miranda Tate
Marion Cotillard joins the cast as socialite Miranda Tate, an ecologically minded businesswoman who is fascinated by Wayne Enterprises. She wants to help provide the world clean energies. This is contrary to the rumors that insist she’ll be playing the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, Talia, who will be seeking revenge on Batman for what happened to her father in Nolan’s first Bat-film.
#18: John Blake
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the role of Gotham City Police Officer John Blake. Blake seems to be making friends with all the right people, and due to an exchange in the trailer with Selina Kyle, he may be a friend of Bruce Wayne’s. He's described as “a Gotham City beat cop assigned to special duty under the command of Commissioner Gordon.” Bruce? Gordon? Looks like he’s already made friends with the right people.
#19: Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Probably the biggest inclusion from Batman’s regular cast is that of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. All signs indicate the part of her personality that switches sides when it suits her seems intact from the comics. Nolan’s films have drawn inspiration from the Batman stories of writer Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, so it may not be a bad idea to look to the graphic novels The Long Halloween and Dark Victory for some insight.
The character from the comics to break Batman’s back in the Knightfall story looks to be in for an interesting reinvention for his turn in TDKR. According to the film’s prologue and the trailers, Bane seems to be a wanted international terrorist with associates and followers willing to die for his cause. How far does Bane’s cult of personality go, and what will that mean for the beleaguered Gotham City and Batman in trying to maintain order?