There have been several iterations of the Dark Knight in the 80+ years he’s been around. Some long for the zany nostalgia of Adam West and others prefer the gravity that came with Kevin Conroy’s voice. Christopher Nolan’s theatrical take on Batman was enjoyed by many fans, even by the diehard stans of the Tim Burton era.
Christian Bale earned his spot to be discussed in the same breath as Michael Keaton. Psychologists who love comics usually have a field day with Bruce Wayne’s alter ego because his past is rich with trauma. This could lead a more discerning eye to spot slight differences in the Caped Crusader, even if it’s just examining two of the most beloved films from the Nolan-verse.
10 Different: Bruce Is More Likely To Fight In Public Spaces
This isn’t a radical change in personal growth for Bruce, but more as a change brought about by necessity. Bruce usually fought criminals in the dark streets of Gotham during the night so he cannot be seen. Fans saw Bruce insulting his guests in order to get them to leave for the showdown with Ra’s Al Ghul.
In The Dark Knight, Bruce is way more willing to expose Batman in well-lit, public spaces such Harvey Dent’s fundraiser or Sal Maroni’s nightclub. This is more out of necessity and timing, as Joker created an impossible situation. But it showed that Bruce was willing to adapt with the chaotic changes in Gotham.
9 Same: Bruce Is Still Really Good At Disappearing
One of the best skills Bruce developed from his time with the League of Shadows was the art of disappearing. This an an art that allowed Bruce to strike fear in criminals when he started crime fighting as Batman. He also used this skill to gain information from Jim Gordon, an ally he had come to respect.
This is ability that is apparent in both films. In the beginning of The Dark Knight, Batman had a brief meeting with Gordon and D.A. Harvey Dent. After they discuss apprehending Lau from Hong Kong for laundering for the mafia, Bruce disappeared to the surprise of Dent, to which Gordon wryly replied, “you get used to it.”
8 Different: Bruce’s Understandings Of Criminal Motives Changed
Bruce thought he could simplify criminals. Joe Chill murdered his parents out of greed. Most of Gotham’s mobsters, such as Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni, are also motivated by greed.
Bruce told Alfred that criminals are really simple in The Dark Knight, to which Alfred shared a war story about a Burmese bandit that paralleled the Joker. The Joker challenged Bruce’s preconceived notion of criminal motive. Bruce’s idea of malicious intent was forced to changed when he had to defeat a psychotic clown who would burn a warehouse full of money just to make a point.
7 Same: Bruce Still Upholds the Playboy Image
It’s easy to disguise an alter ego as a bat vigilante when there’s a projected image of an irresponsible, carefree billionaire. Even though Bruce’s real journey had been an emotional rollercoaster, the surface image had not changed. Bruce Wayne, as Gotham knew it, is a cocky playboy who will arrive at fancy restaurants and fundraisers in a splashy scene with a woman on each arm.
This disguise suited Bruce well as he gave off an aura that he was unconcerned with the crime problem in Gotham. Whether it’s arriving at a restaurant that he’ll buy on sight or holding a party for Harvey Dent, Bruce’s secondary mask remained largely unchanged.
6 Different: Bruce Allowed Friendships In His Mission To Fight Crime
One quote that stood out in Batman Begins occurred after Batman saved Rachel. As said in Christian Bale’s controversial Batman voice, Bruce revealed to the love of his life that he doesn’t “have the luxury of having friends.”
However, the alliance with Jim Gordon in a shared mission to protect the city may have encouraged Bruce to rethink that rule, especially after they set a trap for the Joker. While Bruce still isn’t the most social creature, he realized that Batman alone can’t defeat crime. Bruce is almost happy to share the spotlight with someone like Harvey Dent— before Harvey’s unfortunate downfall, of course.
5 Same: Bruce Stills Wrestles With His Temptation To Kill
The perennial “one rule” can be tricky for the Dark Knight. Bruce had come very close to breaking his own commandment in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (as well as several laws). Bruce would’ve killed Joe Chill at his arraignment had Falcone’s associate not beat him to it. Viewers see him peer pressured by the League of Shadows to murder a criminal that was captured stealing. But arguably, the hardest resistance Bruce felt for his own rule came during the interrogation of the Joker.
Dealing with violent psychopaths like The Joker can push any sane man to murder. It’s even harder for Batman when he’s being taunted by the Joker in the search for Rachel. This one rule will always be a constant dilemma for Bruce.
4 Different: Bruce Struggles With Self Doubt More In The Dark Knight
Once he learned the martial skills from the League of Shadows, Bruce was enthusiastic about fighting Falcone and the Scarecrow (and later Ra’s). Their was very little doubt from Bruce in Batman Begins that he was doing the right thing.
However, that began to shift in The Dark Knight as Bruce inspired Batman copycats and attracted the attention of the Joker. The dilemma is even stronger after Rachel’s tragic death. This self doubt is quelled once Alfred steered Bruce back on course, as he reminded him that he’s Gotham’s last hope.
3 Same: Bruce Still Has A Devotion To Fighting Crime
Through self-doubt and even the death of loved ones, Bruce is still devoted to protecting the city his father loved so much. Bruce pursued a non-stop fight against crime and the domestic terrorism caused by the Joker. Moviegoers were shown how deep this devotion can go when Bruce is willing to sacrifice Batman’s reputation to protect Harvey’s reputation.
Bruce did this because he realized Harvey’s image was for the good of the city and Gotham’s judicial system. Bruce realized he didn’t need to be the hero when he was, as Jim Gordon put it, “the silent guardian.”
2 Different: Bruce Had A New Wound Open From Rachel’s Death
The journey of Bruce becoming Batman stemmed from the infamous night when Bruce’s parents left the theater and crossed paths with Joe Chill. This is a trauma that never fully heals, even in Nolan’s universe. Unfortunately, Bruce had a new wound that he experienced with the loss of Rachel as a part of Joker’s trap.
Bruce had to reckon with the idea that he provoked the Joker as Batman. Bruce always dealt with loss and grief, but even the Caped Crusader didn’t expect to have a new wound open and lose someone again in devastating fashion.
1 Same: Bruce Still Holds Feelings For Rachel Dawes
Rachel Dawes will always be the one that got away. The bright and tough assistant D.A. knew Bruce since he was a kid and she probably knew him better than he knew himself (or even Alfred). Rachel’s extensive knowledge of Bruce is why she realized his old-self was gone and that his black cowl is his new, true identity.
Bruce never stopped loving Rachel, believing after her death that she was going to end up with him over Harvey. There’s endless speculation on how Bruce would’ve handled Rachel’s letter confirming her engagement to Harvey, had Alfred not kept it away. But it’s fair to believe that in life or in death, Bruce Wayne would have always had feeling for Rachel Dawes.
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