If you remember, throughout Batman Forever Bruce Wayne has a recurring vision/memory/dream of being at his parent’s funeral as a little boy. He finds his father’s journal and then runs out into the rain before falling through a hole and into a cave. It is in this cave that he sees a bat fly towards him in the darkness thus, we presume, establishing why he has “bats on the brain” as the Riddler remarks and chooses to dress up as one to fight crime.
Did you ever notice that they never do anything with that journal?
Bruce grabs it and the filmmakers seem to focus on it a lot but then he falls in the hole with it and it’s just forgotten. No mention of what it means or what was inside of it.
Unless you watch the deleted scenes… or read the screenplay… in which case they totally tell you what’s inside of it.
In this section, I will work through these deleted scenes and how they were meant to play into the story as well as excised parts of the script that built up this part of Bruce’s story.
The dreams/visions occurred more frequently in the production draft but in smaller pieces. First, it would just be flashes of gunshots, Bruce’s parents caskets, and the journal. It wouldn’t be until the scene where Bruce and Chase are sitting together in Wayne manor before Two-Face and the Riddler attack that the full story would be told.
He tells Chase that as a young boy, he found something written in his father’s journal that he has repressed for decades and is now coming out fully. The last entry that Bruce read in his father’s journal was:
Bruce insists on going to see a movie tonight.
Hence, if Bruce had not insisted, his parents would have never gone out and would have never been killed. Wayne has felt responsible for his parents death all these years and has simply pushed the memory into his subconscious. This was meant to set up the idea of Batman battling crime in Gotham obsessively as a form of punishment – but we will come back to in another section.
Recall in the film that after seeing Dick Grayson’s family get killed, Wayne has a flashback to his parent’s funeral. Alfred then comes in the room and snaps him out of it. Here is their exchange:
Bruce: I killed them.
Alfred: What did you say?
Bruce: He killed them. Two-Face. He slaughtered that boys parents in front of him.
Alfred: No, you said I. I killed them.
As is in the film, this is read simply a Wayne believing that he caused Grayson’s family to be killed by not revealing that he is Batman to Two-Face. But in reality, according to the deleted scenes, the ‘them’ that Wayne said he killed were his own parents.
Okay, so that makes a little more sense. But the big chunk they cut out has yet to come.
After Riddler and Two-Face storm Wayne Manor and blow up the cave, Chase (Nicole Kidman in case we are bad with names) is captured and Bruce is grazed by a bullet, knocking him unconscious. When he comes to, Alfred breaks all of the bad news to him about Chase’s kidnapping and the destruction of the cave.
Note Bruce’s expression when Alfred tells him about the cave; he looks a little confused doesn’t he? This is because the way the scene was originally scripted and shot, Wayne actually suffers amnesia where he no longer remembers that he is Batman. He can remember everything about being Bruce Wayne but nothing about his alternate persona.
Alfred takes Bruce on a tour of the remains of the cave, trying to jog his memory. He leads Bruce to a hole in the wall, leading to a dark area. As Bruce enters, he realizes that it is exactly the spot where he fell as a child while fleeing from his parents funeral in the rain. On the ground, he finds his father’s journal, still there after all these years. He rummages through, finally coming to the last passage his father wrote, the one that has been haunting him all these years.
But then he notices something else, another entry written below that he had never noticed, too stricken by grief as a child to read any further. The passage reads:
Martha and I have our hearts set on Zorro, so Bruce’s cartoons will have to wait until next week.
Truth is Bruce wanted to stay home and watch cartoons on television and his parents wanted a night on the town with their son. It wasn’t his fault after all.
Then from the shadows, the winged demon that scared Bruce as a child approaches him once again. It is a monstrous bat with glowing red eyes (apparently there was a rumor for years that there was a deleted scene where Bruce fought Man-Bat. This is the scene they were referring to.) It comes upon Bruce, hovering right in front of him. Bruce raises his arms up so that he and the bat are mirrored. They become one again.
As Bruce emerges from the cave, Alfred asks, “Master Bruce? Are you alright?” Bruce looks at him and says, “I’m Batman, Alfred. I’m Batman.” His amnesia is cured and the rest of the film proceeds to the final showdown.
I think you will agree that removing these scenes steals a lot of emotional weight from Bruce’s story. It also lends more weight to Batman’s words spoken to the Riddler after defeating him in his throne room. He tells him that he’s no longer Batman because he has to be, but because he chooses to be. No longer fueled by the presumed guilt of having caused his parents deaths, Wayne is now Batman because it is the right thing.
Not to mention that everyone in Gotham would be screwed if Batman just decided not to do it anymore.
“That’s all hunky dory,” you think. “But the fact of the matter is that this DIDN’T make it into the movie so it does nothing to sway my opinion on the film . The final product is still a grand ol’ piece of crap.”
But wait! There’s more!