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Behind The Mask of “Batman Begins”: Screenwriter Davis S. Goyer and Producer Chuck Rovan

David, you have a wealth of experience writing in the comic book world as well as film. With 60 years of Batman stories to sift through, was it hard to decide which elements to bring to this story?

David S. Goyer: “It took a while. It wasn’t that hard. There were sort of seminal pieces that we used. Batman: Year One, Dark Victory, The Long Halloween, the ’70s Batman stories by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Those are the main influences. I know my Bat-history pretty well. At one point I had over 10,000 comics. So I didn’t need to do a lot of research.”

What do you think lacked in the recent Batman films, that we need a new Batman now?

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Chuck Rovan: “Batman’s been around for 66 years, and it’s been an American icon. And so it was only a matter of time that we would be trying to bring Batman back to the screen. In fact, Warner Brothers had tried a number of different incarnations after Batman and Robin. The thing was, the studio thought the best way to reinvigorate the franchise would be a ‘beginning’ story. When Chris [Nolan] heard about that, he came in and he also thought the invention of Batman would be the way to go, and we wanted to take a very real perspective on it. And when Chris called David and asked if David would be interested in writing it, he also felt that it would be great to deal with the beginnings of Batman’s career, how Bruce Wayne became Batman, and also wanted to do it in a realistic fashion. So everybody had this kind of synergistic feeling that this was the way to reinvigorate the franchise. And the interesting thing seems to be, from what we’ve been getting from what the Batman fanboys have told us, is that they also feel that going back to the originations from a thematic and a tone standpoint, going back to what Batman was in the early comic books and the classic comics that we’ve talked about, that was also the way to reinvigorate the franchise.”

Can you use the word “realism” to talk about a Batman movie?

Goyer: “I think you can. It’s all relative, but Batman exists in a world that’s more realistic than Superman. You could be Batman if you had enough money, and did enough push-ups, you know?”
Rovan: “I think that Henri Ducard is a much more complex character and doesn’t speak in fortune cookie dialogue when he’s sitting there talking about the fact that he had his own dark experience very much like Bruce did, that he saw horrible things happen to him just like Bruce did as a young boy, and he had to overcome those things. He had to use that darkness or it was going to destroy him.”
Goyer: “One of the themes, the biggest theme in the movie, is fear. And part of that for Bruce is not just the fear of what happened to him as a child, but the fear of living in his father’s shadow, and not letting his father’s memory down, and not letting Gotham down. Gotham was a city that in large part was moved forward by his father.”

Why was Christian Bale the right actor for this interpretation of Batman?

Goyer: “There are three facets: there’s the private Bruce Wayne; there’s Batman, which is an alter ego; and there’s the public Bruce Wayne, which is another alter ego. Christian can be charming, he can be intense, he can be scary, he can be physical, he can do it all.”

Chuck, did you feel a lot of pressure on this project – Marvel had gotten its superheroes on the screen very effectively in the past few years. Was there extra pressure to do it right for Warner Bros.?

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Rovan: “Well, it’s not like DC Comics didn’t get their superheroes on the screen pretty good. Batman’s had a long legacy of getting on the screen, and Superman before Batman. But yeah, any time you embark on something like this, it’s very, very challenging. And because there hasn’t been a Batman movie in eight or nine years, and because we knew we were doing something totally very different, we thought that was challenging. We wanted to do a film to re-embrace the core audience that might have been a little less interested in the last ones, and we wanted to bring them back into the fold. We also wanted to make sure we did a film that was entertaining to everybody. People who didn’t know that much about Batman.”

One of the most famous Batman works is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Have you ever thought about how you might adapt that into a film, or if it’s even worth doing?

Goyer: “I think one day. Frank wrote two great Batman stories: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. But The Dark Knight Returns is sort of the antithesis of this story, the end of Batman’s career. It would be interesting to see that on the screen at some point.”

David, where are all your comics now?

Goyer: “I sold them last year to the drummer from System of a Down. [smiles] I made some money.”

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