“Batman Begins” isn’t supposed to be just a return to the “Batman” film franchise, but a return to the “Batman” comic book readers know and love. Screenwriter David S. Goyer — who also wrote the “Blade” series and directed the most recent installment, “Blade: Trinity” — said that he wrote “Batman Begins” with those comic book fans in mind. The question is, which comics?
Batman’s story has been told and re-told over the years — even decades. Depending on the writer, characters in the Batman gallery have somewhat different origins — in one version, Catwoman’s alter ego is a prostitute. So how do you tell a story about Batman’s origins when you have so much source material from so many different mythologies, from so many generations?
“Blade wasn’t nearly as well-known as Batman, so there weren’t tons and tons of ’Blade’ comic book fans out there who were going to come beating down my door if I screwed something up in the movie,” Goyer said. “Batman is really well-known and has been around longer, something like 37 years longer, and you have to tread more carefully” (see “Meet The New Batman: Bigger, Blacker And Ready For Action” ).
Goyer knew immediately which Batmans he wanted to reference. Consider it his Batman canon: Frank Miller’s noir take on Batman’s early career in “Year One,” Jeph Loeb’s “The Long Halloween” and its sequel, “Dark Victory” (which was written with Tim Sale), and Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ 1970s work, which introduced the villain Ra’s al Ghul. Those latter comics also depict a pre-commissioner Jim Gordon as an honest but hard-boiled cop, develop allies like District Attorney Harvey Dent into fiends like Two-Face, and feature familiar but deadly villains such as the Joker, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow.
They paint a picture of Gotham not run by the freakish rogues gallery, but by old-school mobsters like Carmine “The Roman” Falcone, and complicit in this are the corrupt cops on the force. This Gotham is a more realistic world where detective work becomes just as important, if not more so, than Batman’s collection of toys. And because the cops have failed to keep the peace, this version of Gotham also demonstrates the necessity for the vigilante Batman to come into being, and Gordon to be his ally. But even those comics don’t tell the full story, Goyer said, which is why “Batman Begins” will borrow from those stories but also create its own mythology.
“There are huge gaps in the origin of Batman that have never been explored in the comic books,” he said. “And we get to fill in those gaps. We’re telling a story that has never been told before, not in film, not in television, and to a certain extent, not even in the comic books.”
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