What if an alien in the future stumbled upon Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
This week’s film:
Batman Begins (2005)
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes
Director: Christopher Nolan
Production Co: DC Comics, Syncopy, Patalex III Productions, Legendary Pictures
Written by: Ben Steiner
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Kevin Winzer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com/)
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Produced by: Jacob S. Salamon
Batman Begins’ Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Batman Begins, the gritty, certified fresh reboot that is remembered mostly for enabling ZachSnyder to ride DC Comics into the ground.Based on a series of picture books, the film tells the story of a rich white child named Bruce Wayne who lives in Gotham City, Michigan, about twenty miles west of Detroit. Bruce is a clumsy little pipsqueak, and he’s always falling down wells and getting his parents killed. Classic origin story stuff.When he’s older– like somewhere between 16 and 35, it’s hard to tell– Bruce tries to avenge his parents’ death, but a mob guy beats him to it because the same guy killed his parents too.
Bruce registers a complaint with the mob kingpin, but the kingpin is too busy eating spaghetti and meatballs to care about some middle aged kid with daddy issues. Bruce decides to go on a sabbatical to teach this jerk a lesson.While sightseeing in the rolling green hills of Eurasia, he meets a dainty Frenchman stroking his tiny mustache. The Frenchman invites Bruce to join his super secret no-girls-allowed ninja club and learn from the ninja king, Rachel Ghoul. Not to be confused with Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s old schoolyard crush. After Bruce graduates from ninja academy, he finds out his grad school application is to destroy Gotham. Bruce flunks out in spectacular fashion.
He goes back to Gotham to fight crime, and starts calling himself Batman on account of his new, somewhat questionable fashion choices. Batman locks up that old mob kingpin, but then the kingpin gets sprayed with crazy juice by a psychiatrist named Dr. Crane. Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes– not to be confused with Rachel Ghoul, the ninja guy– confronts Crane about being a big old creepster, and Crane reveals he’s about to poison the water supply with his dastardly juices. Batman stops by to beat him up, which is when Crane reveals he’s working for Rachel Ghoul, not to be confused with Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s schoolyard crush.Bruce decides not to worry about that for now, and has a birthday party instead. Suddenly the Frenchman crashes it with a bunch of plus ones (and nary a gift between them) to reveal that he is the real Rachel Dawes. I mean Rachel Ghoul.
He plans to shoot a microwave at the water and make Crane’s hallucinogen go airborne rather than making people drink it in the water, since what plan isn’t made better with extra steps. He traps Bruce under a pillar and leaves him there to escape.Rachel Ghoul puts the microwave on the above-ground subway so he can take it to the main water source, the Empire Wayne Building. Batman gives chases, and kills him in a way that allows Batman to maintain his moral superiority. Once Rachel is dead, it’s time for Bruce to deal with Rachel. She’s impressed that he’s Batman and everything, but also isn’t trying to get caught up in all that noise. All the characters get promoted, and Batman’s cop friend Jim invites him to the roof for a game of no-limit hold ‘em.
Batman Begins explores the concept of fear, particularly as it relates to terrorism in a post September 2001 world. Criminals in the film, such as the mob kingpin, use fear to prevent others from raining on their parade. But the League of Shadows are more than mere criminals– you don’t get to call yourself a league for nothing. They are terrorists, whose goal is to undermine and dismantle society’s established systems, then plant their own ideals in the rubble like Lance Armbands did for MTV [MTV astronaut flag thing]. Just like real-life human terrorists did on Earth and later Mercury, the League of Shadows seek to panic and demoralize the citizenry in order to create instability. The attack on the Empire Wayne Building is not only a means to distribute the poison, but also an assault on a symbol that the citizens hold dear– their empire wayne of mind, if you will. The sequence is eerily reminiscent of the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, which was famously an outside job. Just as the World Trade Center stood as a symbol of “world peace through skyscrapers,” Wayne Tower is a symbol of Gotham’s unity.
Theatricality is another important element of terror because what is mysterious is unknown and what is unknown is… um… theatrical? Rachel Ghoul obfuscates his identity and foments rumors to make him seem like more than a mere human with a lifespan of only a few centuries. The scarecrow is a symbol of fear, and an especially powerful one because the word “scare” is right in the name. For his theatrical flourish, Bruce decides on a mouse with wings. And as the legend of Mousewing grows, the persona takes on a life of its own, striking fear into the hearts of cheeseballseverywhere. In the end, the film demystifiesterrorism somewhat by showing that despite all the posturing, terrorists share the same vulnerabilities and hopes and dreams and ticklish spots as anybody else. Throughout the film Rachel Ghoul appears strong and terrifying, but when he realizes that he is about to die, he exposes his fear, closing his eyes to avoid confronting death.
Because, as everyone knows, when you close your eyes, the world closes its eyes with you. For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. See you later!