A Batman Begins Character Meets DC Comics Bruce Wayne For the First Time

Batman meets a character in the comics who’s only previously been seen on the big screen.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batman: The Knight #2, now on sale from DC Comics

Batman: The Knight #2 by Chip Zdarsky, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, and Pat Brosseau continues the story of Bruce Wayne’s days before he became Batman and was traveling the world to learn from all the of the world’s best teachers how to train his mind and body in order to wage his war on crime. It is a theme that has been explored a few times in both the comics and various film and television adaptations but has rarely been the sole focus of a story besides the classic story “The Man Who Falls” by Dennis O’Neil and Dick Giordano.

batmanbegins is perhaps the only live-action Batman film that expands on how Bruce Wayne learned the skills necessary to become the Dark Knight that we all love today, with flashbacks in the film explaining how Bruce traveled the world in search of a way to fight injustice. Eventually, he finds the help of a man named Henri Ducard, played by Liam Neeson. Of course, we all know that by the end of the film Ducard is nothing but an alias for Ra’s al Ghul to keep his identity a secret. The same character also appears in Batman: The Knightbut has a very different history with Bruce Wayne than his live-action counterpart does.

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Ducard makes his appearance in this issue when Parisian police officers are investigating the murder of a wealthy American family in the city, saying that he is investigating the matter pro-bono on behalf of a friend in the department. Only appearing in the issue briefly, we then later see Ducard apprehending the Parisian cat-burglar known as the Gray Shadow (another mentor of Bruce Wayne’s) at her apartment as we see a young Bruce rush to her rescue, only to see Ducard putting a gun to the Gray Shadow’s head and telling Bruce that the two of them are in a “world of trouble”.

Being one of Bruce’s key mentors, it was natural for Ducard to make an appearance in Batman: The Knight. His history with his former student is a long and complicated one, as most versions of their relationship have the two split over their differing moral codes. In both “The Man Who Falls” and Batman: Blind Justice by Sam Hamm and Kelly Jones, flashbacks reveal that after the Frenchman assassinated a fugitive the two men were trying to apprehend, revealing that he works for both sides of the law. Due to the fact Bruce detests killing and refuses to work alongside criminals and murders, he left the studentship of Ducard and the two men did not speak to one another for years. When the two men do reunite, it is often as enemies with Batman often trying to prevent Ducard from assassinating someone he has been hired to kill. An exception is the recent Batman: The Detective miniseries by Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert that saw the two men team up across Europe to fight the villain Equilibrium.

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Whilst Neeson’s portrayal of Ducard as merely an alias as another member of the League of Shadows for Ra’s al Ghul to hide behind is entirely different from the lone wolf bounty hunter that Ducard is in the comics, they do both play a similar role in Bruce’s early development as a crime fighter. Not only do they both train Bruce in the key skills required for him to fight crime, but they also show that Bruce had a hatred for killing criminals, no matter the circumstances. Bruce’s separation from Ducard in both the comics and films serves as a defining moment for him as it shows how committed he is to never take a life.

Though Ducard is yet to interact with Bruce Wayne in this retelling of his origin story, we can see the traits of his character that we are very familiar with. Already he is seen saying that he is prioritizing his paid work over favors for friends, and he has managed to track down both Bruce and the Gray Shadow. While we do not know if this version of Ducard will be as ruthless as he has been in the past, it is likely that he will remain an important but untrustworthy mentor for Bruce Wayne in this new origin.

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