The Man Who Falls
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|"The Man Who Falls"|
|Secret Origins of the World's Greatest Super-Heroes||ISBN 0-930289-50-1|
"The Man Who Falls" is a 1989 comic book story by Dennis O'Neil and Dick Giordano. It is an overview of Bruce Wayne's early life, including his parents' murder, his time spent traveling and training throughout the world, and his return to Gotham City to become Batman. Sixteen years later, the story became the structural basis for Batman Begins, which rebooted the Batman film franchise in 2005.
Tie-in with Batman Begins
In 2004, DC Comics Group Editor—Mass Market Martin Pasko was DC's liaison to Warner Bros. Studios, vetting scripts as well as facilitating studio research by supplying comics and consulting on issues related to DC continuity. In this capacity, he suggested that the story be used as the structural basis for Batman Begins.
"The Man Who Falls" was reprinted in the Batman Begins tie-in graphic novel, which also included the film adaptation and reprints of other, more recent, Batman stories. The Deluxe Edition DVD of Batman Begins includes a miniature trade paperback that includes "The Man Who Falls" as one of three comics that "inspired the movie."
"The Man Who Falls" consists of a series of concentrated retellings of previously published Batman stories, including Detective Comics #33, which includes Gardner Fox and Bob Kane's first version of Batman's origin.
O'Neil's story begins with a young Bruce Wayne falling down a hole on the grounds of Wayne Manor. Bats begin to swarm towards him and out the hole. Bruce's father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, rescues Bruce but chastises him for his carelessness, while Bruce's mother, Martha Wayne, comforts him. When Bruce asks if he was in Hell, she reassures him it "was just some old cave." The story then cuts to the murder of Bruce's parents and him kneeling at their dead bodies. The layouts of this version of the Waynes' murder is designed to resemble Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.
At the age of 14, Bruce leaves Gotham City to explore and obtain skills in martial arts and forensics. Scenes of his early training as a teenager are depicted, including failed attempts at college, and a disillusioning experience in working with the FBI upon turning 20. He realizes that to achieve justice the way he sees fit, he cannot work "within a system." The story next turns to Bruce's foreign travels, one extended scene depicts Bruce's time training at a monastery, hidden in a mountainous region of Korea. After nearly a year of training, Master Kirigi tells Bruce he has exceptional intelligence and physique, but his traumatic past has made him self-destructive.
Bruce Wayne leaves Korea and heads to France, where O'Neil summarizes events from Sam Hamm's Batman: Blind Justice. Bruce trains with a bounty hunter named Henri Ducard, who shows him "the uses of brutality, deception [and] cunning." When Ducard kills a fugitive he had been tracking one night, Bruce abandons his training, disgusted.
The narration explains that Bruce meets and learns from every great detective in the world, when he approaches Willie Doggett. Summarizing events from O'Neil's own Legends of the Dark Knight story, "Shaman," Bruce (now 23) and Doggett track down a man named Tom Woodley to a mountain ledge, where Woodley shoots and kills Doggett. Woodley himself falls from a precipice. Bruce, without food or warmth, wanders the snowy mountains. After falling unconscious, he is rescued by a Native American shaman. When Bruce awakens, the old man tells Bruce he has the mark of the bat, an animal sacred in his tribe.
Bruce returns to Gotham to begin his crime-fighting career. O'Neil again recounts events from Year One: Bruce's first night out, fighting street thugs while still uncostumed, is deemed a failure. While brooding in the library of Wayne Manor that night, a bat crashes through the study window. Modeling himself after the recurring images of bats, Bruce creates his costumed identity: the Batman.
"The Man Who Falls" uses parts of Year One, Blind Justice, and the first arc of Legends of the Dark Knight as part of the story. All these make up the training and first months of Batman's career. Later stories by Matt Wagner, Batman and the Mad Monk and Batman and the Monster Men, depict the emergence of Batman as a major presence in Gotham.
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's maxi-series Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory depict the latter part of Year One and part of Year Two (Long Halloween), and conclude the character arcs with Dark Victory during the "Year Three" time frame.