What If Bruce Wayne Joined Ra's al Ghul In Batman Begins?

A defining moment in Bruce Wayne’s heroic journey in the Dark Knight Trilogy is when he refuses to kill for Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins. If Bruce had sided with Ra’s and fully joined the League of Shadows, however, Christopher Nolan’s uplifting take on the Batman mythos would instead become a far gloomier alternate story for the iconic superhero. Among Batman’s defining characteristics are his rule against killing and undying faith in the fundamental goodness of the majority of Gotham City’s citizenry. In this hypothetical alternative scenario, Bruce gives in to his need for revenge and turns against Gotham, choosing to kill his enemies and destroy the city so that its rampant corruption would finally be extinguished. As shown in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, there are other adversaries who would further complicate this alternate Dark Knight Trilogy as well.

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Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is a relatively grounded take on the Batman comic book mythos, which told a trend-setting slow-paced origin story, detailing Bruce Wayne’s gradual process of becoming Batman. Not only does the film explain Bruce Wayne’s fantastic gadgetry, but it also details his internal process of crafting the Batman persona, wishing to become a symbol in the minds of Gotham’s citizens rather than remain a vulnerable man, using his fears against the city’s criminal element. Bruce’s journey towards heroism was not perfect, however, as he nearly murdered Joe Chill to avenge his parents. Bruce ultimately established his no-kill rule when tasked by Ra’s al Ghul with executing a criminal, which he refused.

Related: Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman's First Gadget Was His Secret Weapon

In this alternate scenario, Bruce Wayne obeys Ra’s al Ghul and executes a helpless person. Despite his love for his home city, he agrees that Gotham is overrun by corruption and must be subject to a catastrophe as punishment. This wouldn’t be the end of Bruce’s now villainous journey, however, as he’d still have to contend with rebuilding a “better” Gotham and the eventual appearance of threats like The Joker and any mobsters who survive Gotham’s destruction. Complicating matters more would be the resurgence of Talia al Ghul and Bane. The Dark Knight Trilogy would tell a grim story of a Bruce Wayne who almost became a superhero but instead chose to become a monster and the greatest enemy of his home city.

Bruce Wayne Never Becomes Batman In Nolan's Trilogy

Batman Begins

Bruce Wayne would return to Gotham City, not with the goal of protecting it but instead facilitating Ra’s al Ghul’s plans to destroy it. This would prevent the Batman persona from ever existing, as Bruce would simply appear as an anonymous ninja of the League of Shadows during his sinister nocturnal activities. Bruce Wayne’s chiroptophobia wouldn’t be gone, however, and he’d likely still find a way to weaponize it as a leading member of the League of Shadows. Perhaps he’d wear a bat-like logo or otherwise leave the symbol behind as a calling card of sorts as he works to destroy Gotham, filling the city’s citizens (corrupt or otherwise) with dread.

Bruce Wayne's No Kill & No Guns Rules Would Be Broken

Lucius Fox standing in front of monitors in The Dark Knight

Bruce Wayne would waste no time in taking over his family’s company one way or another, which would inevitably result in him meeting the brilliant Lucius Fox, who’d show him Wayne Enterprise’s mothballed technology intended for the military. From here, Bruce would become something of a Lex Luthor-like figure, as a seemingly-respectable corporate executive with a hidden dark side and murderous intentions for his home city. With Nomex survival suits, memory cloth capes, and a plethora of other tools in addition to the Tumbler, Bruce would weaponize his newfound arsenal and likely equip the rest of the League’s ninjas with it, as well as himself, breaking his rules against guns and killing and rendering the League of Shadows nearly unstoppable.

Scarecrow's Plan To Destroy Gotham Would've Succeeded

Batman Begins why scarecrows toxin didnt affect Gotham earlier

In this alternate Batman Begins, Johnathan Crane, a.k.a. the Scarecrow, would be an ally of Bruce Wayne and the League of Shadows, poisoning Gotham City with his dormant fear toxin, which Bruce and Ra’s would unleash on the city with Wayne Enterprise’s microwave emitter. The city would be overcome by panic and much of the population would be dead or permanently brain damaged, though Bruce would surely ensure the safety of those he cares about most. Alfred and Lucius Fox would be kept out of range of the toxin, though Rachel Dawes might not be so lucky. Bruce’s childhood friend would likely be horrified by what he had become and either leave Gotham before it’s destroyed or end up becoming one of its many casualties following the fear toxin catastrophe.

Related: Why Scarecrow's Toxin Didn't Affect Gotham Earlier (Batman Begins Plot Hole?)

How Joker & The Dark Knight Movie Would Be Different

Heath Ledger as Joker in The Dark Knight

In the aftermath of Gotham’s destruction, Bruce Wayne would further maintain his altruistic façade and lead the effort to rebuild the city. Naturally, he’d still moonlight as a member of the League of Shadows and dispatch any burgeoning criminal elements with lethal force, be they surviving mobsters or newcomers. One criminal, however, would prove challenging to even Bruce Wayne and Ra’s al Ghul. The Joker would likely still surface in Gotham and menace the city even as it tries to rebuild itself following the League’s catastrophic attack. In this case, The Joker might end up becoming a more charismatic force, enticing citizens to join his gang as he goes to war with the League. The Joker wouldn’t be intent on making Bruce break his already nonexistent no-kill rule, opting to frame him as a hypocrite in other ways.

The League Of Shadows Would Be Joker's Enemy, Not Batman

The League and The Joker’s followers in The Dark Knight would plunge an already devastated Gotham back into despair, with the destructive conflict likely claiming numerous innocent lives. What The Joker lacks in technology, he makes up with ingenuity, and while Bruce Wayne would almost certainly murder him, The Joker would likely break Bruce’s spirit in the process. The Joker may reveal that Bruce is a member of the League of Shadows and that he helped destroy the city with fear toxin, making the city lose all hope in him. The Joker would likely kill someone extremely close to Bruce as well — in this case his mentor Ra’s al Ghul — leaving Bruce in charge of a League whose existence is no longer a secret and would therefore be declared a terrorist group.

How Talia & Bane's Plans For Gotham Would've Changed

Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard) reveal herself in The Dark Knight Rises

Bruce would soon be besieged by new enemies, Talia al Ghul and Bane, who’d see Bruce’s failure and Ra’s al Ghul’s death as an opportunity to take over the League of Shadows and continue the work of Talia’s father. This would lead to not only a schism within the League but also yet another devastating gang war, this time between Bruce and Talia’s contingents of the League. Bruce’s technological superiority would give him a significant advantage over Talia and Bane, but his despair over The Joker’s actions may become a weakness that they exploit. Whether or not he’s successful against Talia and Bane, Bruce Wayne’s choice to become a killer in Batman Begins would mean that he fails to protect Gotham and has become the very monster that he’d once sworn to fight against.

2022-08-13T23:48:26.000Z

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