Christopher Nolan has become one of the biggest filmmakers on the planet, and his first time with a licensed property helped him get there. Co-written with David S. Goyer, Batman Begins was a blast of fresh air, getting major critical appraisal, bringing in a new era for both the Dark Knight and superhero films. That’s why we’re going to look at the Batman Begins script and see how the use of dialogue, themes, and action helped make this movie a beloved hit.
Batman Begins PDF Download
WHO WROTE The batman begins SCRIPT?
Written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, based on a story by Goyer
Christopher Nolan is a highly acclaimed writer/producer/director, who has found success in noir-drenched movies focusing on action, thrills, and intricate plotlines. Some of his most famous films include The Dark Knight, Inception, and Dunkirk.
David S. Goyer is a writer/producer/director who has worked on a variety of projects covering fantasy, science fiction, and superheroes. Some of these include Dark City, the Blade Trilogy, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the Call of Duty: Black Ops video game series.
STRUCTURE OF THE BATMAN BEGINS SCREENPLAY
Here is the story structure for the Batman Begins screenplay:
Mostly told in flashback: Bruce Wayne is a billionaire son and heir to the Wayne family. He has two traumatic experiences as a child: falling into a batcave and seeing his parents die in front of him. Years later, he vows revenge against the man who did it, but he doesn’t get that chance. He decides to leave the country and try to get into the criminal mindset.
He is found in an Asian prison by Ducard, who knows who he is and asks him to find him at a fortified monastery at the top of a mountain. Here he trains with Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows. However, he realizes this League is more interested in using destruction to “help others,” so he destroys their base and leaves.
Plot Point One
Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City with the intent of helping it in two ways: returning to Wayne Industries and becoming the Batman. As Bruce, he comes off as a playboy to his old friend Rachel Dawes. As Batman, he puts his trust in one cop: Sgt. Gordon.
Bruce realizes that Gotham is in incredibly rough shape. On top of needing to become the Batman to set things right on the streets, he also has to make sure he can get control of his family company back.
As Batman, Bruce realizes there’s a shipment of new drugs coming into the city, and that this might put Gotham in danger. Meanwhile, a powerful Wayne Industries weapon — a microwave emitter — is missing.
Batman does more research on what’s happening and gets infected with a toxin. He, along with Rachel and Gordon, realize that this toxin has been getting shipped with the drugs and is in the water supply. The question is who’s doing it.
Plot Point Two
At Wayne’s birthday party, it’s revealed that Ra’s Al Ghul was not killed and that he was Ducard all along. He and the League of Shadows are going to destroy Gotham City by steaming the water supply, thus activating the toxin, via the stolen microwave emitter.
Batman takes the fight to the League by boarding their train, taking them out, and destroying the emitter by derailing the train — with Ra’s onboard. Meanwhile, Gordon gets an antidote from Rachel, which he can use to cure anyone who’s been infected with the toxin.
Rachel knows Bruce is Batman, but doesn’t want to get in the way of that. Wayne Manor is destroyed, but it will be rebuilt. And Gordon is now a Lieutenant; he and Batman have a conversation about their probable futures before Batman flies off into the night.
Batman Begins Script Takeaway #1
Strong and direct Batman Begins quotes
Goyer’s dialogue, and how Nolan and the actors executed it, is laced with precise descriptions and clear voices. In other words, no one ever sounds like they said something by accident or didn’t mean to say, which is sometimes noted as one of Nolan trademarks.
This trademark is often used to great effect, such as Batman and Gordon’s first encounter. By importing the Batman Begins script into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software, we can see how this scene plays out on paper in its entirety. Below is a brief snippet from the end of that conversation, displaying Goyer’s descriptions of what transpires immediately after their first talk.
As you can see in the finished scene below, the way the actors perform their lines greatly affects the way it might otherwise be read. There’s also a bit more going on before Gordon and Batman meet, along with a quick chase before Gordon “dismisses” him as “Just some nut.”
Baman and Gordon’s first meeting
The script is also full of vital callbacks, where what one character says earlier on is either echoed or gets called back later. Most famously is this interaction with Bruce and Rachel, where the idea of “actions speak louder than words” is emphasized.
Later in the film, those exact words were the reason how Rachel realized that Batman is Bruce Wayne. So, it's not just a repeated line of dialogue, it comprises the theme as well.
By this point, Bruce has taken what Rachel previously said to heart, having fully become Batman and doing all that he can to save Gotham City. It’s also the moment Rachel realizes Batman might in fact be Bruce, with the script making the moment brief but impactful.
Some other repeated Batman Begins quotes include:
- “What are you doing?” “What’s necessary.”
- “...our company’s future is secure” vs “...my company’s future is secure.”
- “Why do we fall? So that we might better learn to pick ourselves up.”
- “Haven’t given up on me, yet?” and “Still haven’t given up on me?” with the response “Never.”
- “Nice coat.”
Batman Begins Script Takeaway #2
Batman Begins’ plot and themes
Batman Begins script is big on themes, with fear being the most prominent. Whether it’s using fear against your enemies, or using fear to destroy a major city, which is a core theme to the mythos of Batman.
Early on, it's discussed by Ducard, who knows that in order for Bruce to become a true warrior, he must face his fear head on. Below is a moment near the beginning of his final test with the League; you can read the entire scene to see how Bruce, on top of facing his fear, uses deception to get the upper hand.
We can also see how Nolan executed the script to create a tense and thrilling scene of Bruce conquering his fears, all the while getting the upper hand on Ducard.
Bruce and the League of Shadows
The theme in this scene transitions very well into the other vital theme of the movie, which is becoming a symbol that brings the people of Gotham together while simultaneously scaring the criminals.
Through symbolism and fear, Batman will be able to change Gotham for the better.
As the scene points out, possibly more than just inspiring and frightening certain sections of Gotham, Bruce’s fear of bats is taken to its therapeutic extreme by him dressing up as one. What better way to combat your own fears by sharing them with others?
Batman Begins Script Takeaway #3
Batman Begins characters take action
The Batman Begins movie script has plenty of action to keep audiences satisfied, and Goyer & Nolan write this fairly well. Interestingly, one of the best examples of this is less entertaining and more tragic: the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Goyer presents this scene in the way we are likely to see it on-screen. Thomas can’t finish his sentence before a single shot ends his life.
A more traditional action scene plays out during the film’s climax, when Batman faces off against Ra’s on the train. Follow the image link below to read the scene in its entirety.
There’s bits of dialogue here, but Goyer only uses it to comment on the action, which is in typical all caps to bring attention to the action. In the final film, there’s actually more going on than what’s in the initial script.
Batman and Ra’s fight scene played out
The finished product is very similar to Goyer’s original story, and with the combination of Nolan’s writing and directing, Batman Begins managed to set extremely high expectations for a new era of comic book and superhero fiction in cinema, becoming one of the best superhero movies of all-time.
Read and download more scripts
From page to screen, Goyer and Nolan proved that even a character as recognized as Batman can still be exciting and original. If you want to continue reading screenplays, especially the rest of The Dark Knight saga, you can check out The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.