We're now firmly entrenched in the DCEU, and Batman is set to make his next silver screen appearance when Justice League debuts later this year on November 17, but sometimes it's important to look back. As hard as it is to believe, it has already been five years Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy came to an end with The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan's impact on the superhero genre as a whole cannot be overstated, and it all traces back to his early work on the groundbreaking Batman Begins in 2005.
There are plenty of reasons to love each installment in The Dark Knight trilogy, but in my eyes, nothing can compete with Batman Begins. A box office hit in the pre-superhero blockbuster era, Christopher Nolan's first foray into Gotham City, continues to stand out as one of his best works twelve years later, and we have compiled a list of reasons why it's the best installment in the entire Dark Knight saga. We have quite a few important points to get to, so let's get started with one of Batman Begins' defining scenes: the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
It Features The Best On-Screen Death Of The Waynes
First and foremost, Batman Begins unquestionably features the best live-action depiction of the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It's a sequence fraught with tension, and it sells the trauma Bruce suffers at the hands of Joe Chill better than any other sequence in any other Batman movie. Aside from simply standing out as a great sequence, the scene also showcases that Batman Begins understands The Caped Crusader's origins and tension better than any other installment in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Compared to what Zack Snyder delivered at the beginning of Batman V Superman, it's a total work of art.
Christian Bale At His Most Primal
While his turn as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises was considerably more subdued, Batman Begins was the film in which Christian Bale genuinely immersed himself into the character. It's the most physical of his three roles by a substantial margin (Bale famously packed on too much muscle for the role when production began) and the film's emphasis on fear as a driving thematic concept allowed him to tap into the character's underlying rage. Bale consistently delivered strong performances throughout the trilogy, but his first turn as Batman was also his best.
The Best Depiction Of Gotham City
There's nothing wrong with presenting a version of the DC universe that resembles our own, but that doesn't change the fact that the Gotham City seen in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises lacked a certain amount of distinguishing character. By contrast, Batman Begins presented audiences with a landscape that felt like a heightened sense of reality. Impressive set pieces like Thomas Wayne's monorail and The Narrows (coupled with scenery chewing characters like Carmine Falcone) gave the film a real "comic book" aesthetic and made Batman Begins feel ripped straight from the pages of Frank Miller's Year One.
The Film Understands Batman Better Than Any Other
All three Dark Knight films have a deep understanding and respect for the overarching Batman mythology, but Batman Begins seems to have the most solid understanding of the character and his motivations. Between the stealthy predator sequences, the badass training montage, and the brutal (albeit somewhat poorly shot) fight scenes, Begins captures Bruce's drive and commitment to his mission better than any other Batman film. By contrast, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises seemingly faltered on that idea by showing a version of Bruce willing to quit his war against crime the moment he suffers his first casualty. That's not Batman, at all.
The Film Relies On Obscure Villains
We are not going to deny the fact that Heath Ledger's Joker is the pinnacle of Batman movie villains. There's even a case to be made that he is the best on-screen villain of all time. Having said that, Batman Begins' use of more obscure villains like Ra's Al Ghul, Scarecrow, Carmine Falcone, and Victor Zsasz helps the story breathe more than The Dark Knight's. In an era where multiple villains can destroy the integrity of a comic book movie, Batman Begins not only managed to hold its incredibly large cast together; it made the entire process look easy.
It's The Most Hopeful Batman Movie
Sure, every installment in The Dark Knight trilogy has a generally somber and ominous tone. The word "dark" is right there in the title. That said, Batman Begins stands apart from the rest of the films in the franchise because it strikes a considerably more hopeful tone than the films that come after it. Without sacrificing the atmosphere cultivated by Christopher Nolan, the conclusion of the movie sends The Caped Crusader off with a satisfying and optimistic promise that his sacrifices will be worth it in the end. Tone is obviously subjective, but the hopeful nature of Batman Begins quickly helps it stand out as the superior Nolan Batman film.
It Has The Best Ending
By virtue of its status as the first entry in the entire Dark Knight trilogy, Batman Begins tells the most self-contained story with easily the most satisfying conclusion of Nolan's three Batman movies. There's even an argument to be made that Batman Begins didn't even need a sequel to pay off the introduction of The Joker's playing card in its final moments; it simply would've hinted at the future direction of this universe. In an era defined by sequels, Batman Begins' clever and emotionally resonant ending continues to satisfy. The moment Bruce says "and you'll never have to," is quintessential Batman, and it's perfect.