David S. Goyer is busy working on The Sandman and Foundation these days, but 15 years ago he was instrumental in helping Christopher Nolan to reboot the Batman film franchise. Goyer wrote the story and, with Nolan, co-wrote the screenplay for Batman Begins, which Nolan directed. The film introduced Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and cast Liam Neeson as Bruce's mentor and enemy, Ra's al Ghul. In the comics, Ra's is incredibly long-lived, relying on the waters of the Lazarus Pit to provide him with immortality. Batman Begins' more grounded approach to Batman instead turned Ra's al Ghul into a legend, a persona passed down from one League of Shadows leader to the next. But some viewers read into Ra's death scene, based on Neeson's facial expressions, that he may have been truly immortal, as in the comics. During his Comic-Con@Home panel, Goyer says that was never the case.
“I think you’re reading far too into it," Goyer says. "Certainly there was never any discussion that Chris or I had about that. But if you think about it, it was a fairly realistic approach. I think if you introduce something like the Lazarus Pit into that (I’m not saying you couldn’t tell a cool story with the Lazarus Pit; I think you could), I just don’t think that the Lazarus Pit would’ve gelled with that approach.”
Goyer also discussed some of the challenges in creating a new cinematic vision of Batman in 2005. “I think my first conversation with Chris was when he was interested in doing an origin story," Goyer recalls. "He was interested in telling a story that took place before Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham, so that was something that really excited me when we spoke. It’s funny. I think the thing that was the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for Batman Begins was the same thing which was: The only reason Batman Begins happened was because the franchise had been ridden into the ground.
“I think that when you’re adapting a very well-known property, having a gap or missing years is really exciting. There have been some little attempts in some of the comic books to fill in that, but nothing that was considered canon and certainly nothing that had been done much in film or television. That’s exciting because it’s an opportunity to kind of color inside the lines — we know his parents are going to get shot in Crime Alley and you know there’s a period that’s at least been adapted by Frank Miller when he returned to Gotham — so you know you’ve got your A and your B, and you’ve got all of this free runway in between. That’s exciting because it’s an ability to stretch your wings creatively without running up against having to change canon."
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