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Script Review: BATMAN: PROLOGUE
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Author:
Jett

WARNING! This review contains some SPOILERS. Don't read and further if you don't want to know certain aspects of the script.

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a friend of the author of this script. Paul J. Wares is a longtime BOF‘er, forum mod, and the UK editor of BATMAN ON FILM. So that’s my disclaimer for this article for all you cynics, conspiracy theorists, and all-around haters.

I’ll start by quoting a trusted BOF industry source in regards to Paul’s script:

“[I’m writing you to sing] the praises of Paul Wares' BATMAN: PROLOGUE shooting script. All I can say is that David Goyer could learn a thing or two from Mr. Wares. It's the best Batman story I've read for some time now, and I'll be interested in reading your own review when it's posted.”

Dude speaks the truth - Paul’s script is superb.

BATMAN: PROLOUGE by Paul J. Wares is exactly that - a story that directly leads into Tim Burton’s 1989 BATMAN. Consequently, it fills in the gaps left by Tim Burton’s BATMAN, while paying homage to it at the same time. In addition, Paul is able to tip his hat and pay tribute to Batman’s long and great history.

As the story begins, we find Bruce Wayne, dressed in all-black, sitting alone in a darkened room in Wayne Manor. We find out that he has trained for nearly 20 years for “his mission,” but has yet to find a way to make criminals fear him. Suddenly, a window breaks and a swarm of bats fly into the room. The bats swarm around him, “as if paying homage to their new master.” Of course, Bruce takes this as an omen, and decides to “become a bat.”

This excellent scene pays tribute to three sources at once. We get “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot” from Bob Kane’s story, “THE BATMAN - Who He Is, and How He Came To Be.” There is also nods to Frank Miller’s “YEAR ONE” and Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS.

Once the opening credits have rolled - accompanied by Danny Elfman’s score from the 1989 film, we find Matches Malone - a nod to the 1970s Batman comics - in a warehouse - along with a character mentioned, but not seen, in the 1989 original - Johnny Gobs. All we knew of Gobs was that he either “got ripped and took a walk off a roof,” or that “The Bat got him.” Of course, we find out it was the latter. Here, Gobs is trying to find some dirt on the leading candidate to be elected Gotham’s District Attorney, Harvey Dent. “Matches” is there as protection to Vernon Kane, the man that Gob’s has ordered to dig up dirt on Dent.

Gobs grows increasingly suspicious at Vernon’s obvious nervousness. It is soon revealed that Vernon is wearing a wire - but not for the police. "He made me wear it, I didn’t want to, but he made me.” Vernon’s explanation has no affect on Gobs, as his partner, Joe Chill, shoots Vernon dead. Gobs in turn, blasts Matches in the chest, and both men flee the scene. But before the scene ends, we see Matches’ two hands come into shot, rip open his shirt, and reveal the yellow-encased Bat-symbol.

As Johnny Gobs and company attempt to flee the scene, we the audience encounters for the first time The Batman. Here, The Batman attacks from the shadows and takes down the goons that accompanied Gobs one by one, before he finally secures and questions Gobs himself. “The man who was with you, who is he?” “Joey Chill,” Gobs answers. It seems that The Batman has been given the answer he wanted - perhaps one he has searched for now for twenty years.

As the scene progresses, we find out that Johnny Gobs certainly did not walk off a rooftop because he was drunk. And while The Bat certainly got him, he was not the cause of his demise. As the scene ends, we find Johnny Gobs dead, Joe Chill having escaped, and a frustrated and angry Batman.

As the story progresses, we learn that Harvey Dent has indeed been elected as Gotham’s D.A., mainly due to the huge financial backing of billionaire Bruce Wayne. We get a look at The Batcave and the Batmobile as well. We also learn - as in the comics - that Bruce Wayne believes that Joe Chill to be the man that killed his parents. Will killing Chill solve everything for Bruce? Will it take away the pain? Will it end the need for Bruce to be The Batman?

We also find out that there is a connection between Chill and Gotham’s crime boss Carl Grissom. Grissom fears that Chill “knows too much,” and dispatches his number one guy to take out Chill - A man called “Jack.”

The Batman eventually confronts Chill, but does he kill him? Is Jack able to carry out the orders given to him by Grissom? These questions are all answered in this short story and it all ties in very nicely to the beginning of what we know to be BATMAN.

At the story's end, we find The Batman on a “ledge next to a stone gargoyle looking down at his city.” He hears a scream - a mugging has taken place. The victims: A man, his wife, and their young son.

In conclusion, I found BATMAN: PROLOGUE to be one of the best Batman stories that I’ve read. It terms of being a “fan script,” it tops the list. But to label it a “fan script” makes it sound as if it is not of professional quality. But that’s not the case here as it is a top-notch, first-class manuscript.

B:P successfully ties up all the loose ends and questions that linger from the original BATMAN. In my opinion, it makes the latter even better than it is already. What I like the most about it, is that the script overall is a tribute to The Batman’s long and illustrious history. You find aspects of Bob Kane, Frank Miller, BATMAN BEGINS, “YEAR ONE,” “YEAR TWO,” the 1970s-era Batman, and more within the story. That in itself is a fantastic accomplishment.

Now, I can’t wait to see the film.

"Jett" is the creator and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM and ON-FILM.NET.

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