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Batman Begins: Essential Wuxia Review

In 2005, the first instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Batman Begins, was released, and changed our ideas of what a comic book movie could be. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel, said in 2012 that the first two films of the trilogy helped paved the way for the MCU films that followed. We’re taking a look at it today to see how it rates on our Essential Wuxia checklist. We gave it a 12/15, pretty darn high!

Is Batman a Wuxia Hero? I gave this section a 7 out of 8. Batman in this incarnation (as in just about every adaptation) easily checks off altruism, courage, and loyalty. What makes Chris Nolan’s origin story particularly interesting is the deliberate attention put into building Batman’s persona, not only to give Bruce Wayne the ability to fight without the limitations imposed by society’s expectations of him, but also to allow him to build a symbol of something bigger than just one man. The infamy he builds into this legend is something we’ve usually taken for granted in earlier iterations of this origin story, but Nolan’s emphasis on this adds a very wuxia twist to Batman!

Is the movie Essential Wuxia? I gave this section a 5 out of 7. Batman has always been somewhat unique in the DC pantheon of heroes, in that he has no superpower. He’s a (very, very rich) ordinary man, and works with and inspires those in Gotham who wish to change it for the better. In Nolan’s origin story, James Gordan and Rachel Dawes are just as critical to saving Gotham as Batman is. And while their work is more behind the scenes, Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox are indispensable in helping Bruce create Batman (and his arsenal of unique weapons and gadgets). All of these characters are heroes in Batman Begins.

When they first spar, Ra’s al Ghul comments that Bruce has learned at least three different kinds of martial arts, but insists that he needs to hone his skills even further. Bruce throws himself into this training, and uses it to work through his trauma and guilt over the deaths of his parents and his own lack of direction. The addition of the League of Shadows in this film brings that secret, subversive element that looms even larger than the criminals and crime bosses of Gotham, something only a legend like Batman can take on.

Essential Wuxia Score: 12/15!

Missed points: there were a few Essential Wuxia points that Batman Begins missed out on. The first was truthfulness: it’s a crucial plot point that the main character deliberately crafts two fictional versions of himself to show the public; Bruce Wayne the billionaire playboy is just as much a fabrication as Batman. While the larger DC universe allows for more mystical elements, Batman has typically been all science and chemicals and crooks, leaving no room for things like chi or cultivation.

by S. Sifton
Immortal Staff
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