Fresh off the success of 2000's Memento, Christopher Nolan was hired by Warner Bros in 2003 to reboot the Batman property. The result was 2005's Batman Begins, which he cowrote with David S. Goyer and which starred Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce's loyal butler), Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul, Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, and Gary Oldman as James Gordon. The film was inspired by the short story "The Man Who Falls," Blade Runner, "Batman: The Long Halloween", and "Batman: Year One."
The plot, brilliantly written by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, was loosely based off of several DC Comics. The story begins with young Bruce Wayne living with his entrepreneurial parents in crime-riddled Gotham City. As a child, he was terrified of bats, and had several harrowing run-ins with them. One night, Bruce and his parents go to an opera, where performers behave like bats, which traumatizes the young boy. He requests to leave the performance, and his parents agree. As they leave the theatre, the Wayne family is mugged, and both of Bruce's parents are killed before his eyes. He is then raised by Alfred Pennyworth, the butler at the Wayne mansion.
14 years later, distressed by the news that his parents' killer was released from prison, an adult Bruce Wayne decides to exact his revenge by murdering the villain. However, a neighboring mob boss hired an assassin to kill the convict because he had provided evidence to convict the mob boss. This fuels the creation of his alter ego, the nighttime vigilante known as Batman. Wayne travels around the world training in various form of martial arts and bringing justice to those in the criminal underworld.
He later joins forces with Sergeant James Gordon, one of the only honest cops on the Gotham Police Force, to discover the face behind a Scarecrow mask that's been terrorizing the city. Ra's Al Ghul and a corrupt psychologist work together against Gotham to introduce hallucinogens to every citizen via the water systems under the city.
Batman ultimately defeats both Ra's and Crane, the psychologist as Batman, and reclaims his rightful place at Wayne Enterprises. He leads the company to greatness, and continues his work as Batman at night. He continues to work with the police department as his vigilante persona, and the film ends on a cliffhanger as Wayne and a Gordon discuss a newly-discovered villain who has been leaving Joker playing cards at the scene of heinous crimes. We now know this foreshadows the events of the next film in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight.
Upon release, Batman Begins received profound critical acclaim. On movie review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com, it has a critics score of 84% and an audience score of 94%. Reads that site's critics' consensus: "Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes." Wally Pfister was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. On a budget of $150 million, it made back a modest return of $375.2 million at the box office. The film is widely regarded as the film that rebooted the superhero genre. Some even call it the best of the Nolan Batman trilogy films (including Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises).