Batman: Prey is a 1994 American film directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by Tim Burton, based on the DC Comics character Batman. The film stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman along with Pat Corley, James Noble, Christopher Lloyd, Marlon Wayans, Andrew Bynarski, Martin Sheen, and Jack Nicholson. The plot focuses on Batman dealing with a smear campaign launched by Hugo Strange, a brilliant psychiatrist who holds a professional stake and a personal obsession in unraveling Batman's secrets, including his true identity. The goal of the campaign is to paint Batman as an unstable madman and this leads to Batman having to question his own sanity as well as the plausibility of his mission. This is a live action adaptation of the 1990s comic book Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11-15.
Two months after the time of Christmas, a funeral was taking place on a dreadful thunderstorm. The funeral was hosted by the current mayor William Monte, psychiatrist Hugo Strange, and Arnold Flass, friends of the beloved police commissioner Gillian Loeb, whom the funeral was being held for. The attendants of the funeral were Bruce Wayne, Lucius Fox, Luke Fox, Jacob Kane, Harvey Dent, Lieutenant Eddie Bullock, Assistant District Attorney Catherine Monte, Mrs. Monte, and several other citizens of Gotham. The priest, Father Michael Stromwell, delivered a eulogy on what a kind and religious man that Loeb was. According to Father Michael, before Loeb died, he would always visit the church with a bible in his hand and that Loeb always gave back to the people of Gotham since he wanted to spread the love of God. Bruce snorted at Father Michael's speech because Loeb was just as evil as any other criminal he encountered as Batman. Loeb was a man who abused his power. Last Christmas, Loeb manipulated a man named Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin, to use the Red Triangle Circus Gang, to terrorize Gotham so Loeb can name Cobblepot as mayor to approve of his policies. During that time, Loeb's shy and timid secretary Selina Kyle discovered Loeb's corruption by hacking into his files, which she had no business in doing in the first place. Loeb then feared that Selina would let this slip which is why he pushed her out a window hoping that would silence her. However, it didn't work out that way. Selina went through a breakdown and fashioned a black costume to become Catwoman to get revenge on Loeb. Selina finally succeeded by electrocuting her former boss to death with a taser. Because the way Loeb died was gruesome, Strange, Flass and Monte ensured that Loeb's coffin had no glass window so nobody would stare at his burns. After Father Michael commended Loeb's funeral, Monte asked that people say a few words about Loeb. The first was Lucius Fox. Lucius was in Los Angeles at the time with his son Luke on a trip for Wayne Enterprises. Lucius only paid his respects to Loeb. The next person was Catherine. However, Catherine's words made Flass, Professor Strange, and Monte her father, angry since Catherine accused Loeb of knowing that Penguin was a mobster and in working with him to terrorize a city. Flass was very angry at Catherine's accusations because his sister married Loeb's nephew making the two men family. Before Flass could scream at Catherine, Monte beat him to it by screaming violently at his daughter for insulting a holy man in the house of God. Mrs. Monte rushed to her daughter's defense by telling her husband that this was no way to talk to their daughter. Monte then started accusing Batman of murdering Loeb in cold blood, similar to how the Joker and Penguin died some time ago. Catherine argued that the Joker fell from a building and that the Penguin poisoned himself, there was no evidence that Batman was involved in their deaths. Strange started supporting Monte's accusations by claiming that Batman's costumed vigilantism is primarily an exercise in power and control for his benefit, rather than anyone else's since Batman feeds on darkness rather than the love which is why he murdered. Monte asked his wife what she thought about all this. Mrs. Monte paused for a moment and then decided to admit it: during Bruce Wayne's Christmas party when Penguin arrived, Mrs. Monte thought Loeb volunteered to be a hostage to protect all the guests. But then after reading about Loeb's death in the news, she remembered that Penguin was very angry at Loeb the night he abducted him. Mrs. Monte theorized that Loeb was indeed working with Penguin and then betrayed him at the last minute which led to Penguin killing him. Believing that Batman turned his wife and daughter against him, Monte left vowing to find proof, and Flass decided to join him. Strange tried to ask Catherine out for a date after her father left, however, Catherine politely declined and Mrs. Monte chided Strange for asking her daughter out at a funeral.
Bruce and Jacob returned home after the funeral. Bruce began to pull out all the files he had on Selina and a notebook containing theories on her current whereabouts, anything that could help him find her. Bruce firmly believed Selina is alive after their last encounter with Loeb when Loeb tried to kill them both. Jacob tried to get Bruce to forget about Selina since Selina started a new life somewhere and wanted to be left alone. Bruce started to believe this and decided to respect Selina's wishes. The entire conversation then turned to whether Strange is right about Bruce being a madman in a Halloween costume. Jacob assured that Bruce that Strange was wrong about him only for Bruce to believe otherwise. Bruce had broken the promise he made to his parents quite frequently in the past. Bruce had promised Thomas and Martha Wayne at their grave that he would rid Gotham of the evil that has destroyed others and Bruce became part of that evil. The first time was when Bruce allowed Jack Napier, his parents' murderer, the criminal known as The Joker, to fall to his death from the Gotham Cathedral where Loeb's funeral took place. Bruce then slaughtered some members of the Red Triangle Gang and manipulated Oswald Cobblepot, the criminal known as the Penguin, into poisoning himself. Bruce felt that he should have lived up to a higher standard. Jacob told Bruce that while serving the military, he had to kill for others to live and to survive. Jacob pointed out that the Joker was a hitman for the mob before his transformation and Penguin was a mobster who tried to harm innocent children. To Jacob, Bruce's murders were justified since they were to protect Gotham. Bruce then told Jacob to forget about this and left to go on patrol as Batman.
In the meantime, Flass and Monte went to visit the Arctic Zoo, Penguin's former hideout, where Loeb died. Flass gave Monte the police file he had on Loeb's death and they began investigating. Monte and Flass had to cover their noses to avoid inhaling the fumes of the toxic waste that was present in the Penguin's lair. Penguin was planning to use that toxic waste pit to drown several toddlers in it and the thought of it made Monte shiver. Monte and Flass have been there for hours and haven't found anything. Just as they were about to give up, Monte spotted Batman's half ripped rubber mask laying behind the broken generator, where Loeb's corpse was found. Monte then held up the mask and scrunched it in his hand. Now having evidence, Flass and Monte held a meeting with Catherine, Bullock, Lucius, and Mrs. Monte in Bullock's office at the police station to make plans against Batman. Catherine, on the other hand, wasn't convinced by all this. Although Catherine believed it was Batman's mask found at the crime scene, they already know that Batman was there that night when Loeb and Penguin died. Upon hearing this, Lucius pointed out that to get proof Batman is responsible for Loeb's death, they would get DNA from Loeb's body after running several tests on Batman's mask to get his hair follicles. However, getting DNA from Loeb's body would be impossible since he was already electrocuted to death. Bullock then asked about Loeb's clothes only for Lucius to point out Loeb's clothes were also found to be destroyed. Monte agreed to Flass' wishes to launch the manhunt against Batman and assigned Bullock to it.
While out on patrol, Batman spotted Catwoman stealing from mobster Sal Maroni's penthouse and began to pursue her. Catwoman was amused by this and began to flee by using her whip and gymnastic abilities. Batman managed to catch up to her in an alleyway where Catwoman attacked. Catwoman managed to bury him under trashcans and ran, but her cat Isis is almost run over in the middle by a truck driver. Fortunately, Batman managed to save Isis. Catwoman then blew a cat-whistle and called Isis up. Batman was left puzzled as to why Selina was back in Gotham but was secretly glad she was since he missed her. In the meantime, Flass went to visit Strange to reveal that Monte wanted Strange to work as a police consultant in their task force against Batman. Strange agreed to it and sensed that Flass was angry at Batman for killing Loeb which is why Strange convinced him to be hypnotized under the pretense of relieving stress. After the hypnosis, Strange gave Flass a makeshift costume, complete with a mask and two samurai swords.
On the way home, Flass passed by Maroni's night club and suddenly felt the compulsion to don the equipment and start pursuing criminals. At the club, Maroni was having a drink with his lieutenants. One of the lieutenants, Buzz Bronski, admitted that it felt strange not having Loeb around to drink with them. In the past, Loeb helped the mob by keeping the police at pay in return for generous payments. Maroni considered Loeb's loyalty to be "good times" for his organization but now, he didn't mourn Loeb's death. Ultimately though, Maroni and Loeb had a falling out because of last Christmas. Last Christmas, Loeb came to Maroni trying to convince him to take drastic measures to increase Gotham's crime rate so Penguin can become mayor. Maroni ultimately refused though since he thought that much destruction would compromise his operations. Because of this, Loeb instead used the Red Triangle Circus Gang, who was at Penguin's employ at them, to terrorize Gotham. In retaliation against Maroni, Loeb had the circus gang trash Maroni's restaurants and beat up all of his customers. Maroni rudely told Bronski to shut up and then switched topics to talk about the state Gotham City was in right now, about everyone was making more money this year. Calling himself the Night Scourge, Flass went into the club where a drunk party girl mistook him for a stripper. Flass rudely brushed her aside and walked over to Maroni, who was still talking. Maroni rudely asked the Night Scourge who he was and the Night Scourge demanded 40% of Maroni's income, with the promise to leave him be. Maroni thought this was a joke until Night Scourge pulled out his samurai swords to indicate that he was being serious. Suddenly, an epic gun battle started to happen in Maroni's club with several people running out screaming while Maroni, Bronski, and the rest of the mob tried to take out the intruder. Flass viciously slaughtered all of them as the Night Scourge. As Maroni was getting up, Flass stabbed him in the hand, repeating his demand once more. Maroni agreed and Flass went to open the safe in Maroni's office. Rather than taking 40%, Flass took everything and stashed in a bag. As Maroni was nursing his hand, Flass told Maroni that he will be back for another collection.
The next morning, the media picked up the story about the incident at Maroni's club. Strange publicly denounced Night Scourge's violent exploits as a result of Batman's existence. Flass himself is pleased with his work, believing that it proves he was just as 'good' as Batman but admitted he will need to face Batman to get even with him for killing Loeb. As Bruce is reading the news, he is confronted in the Batcave by Lucius Fox, who is revealed to be his godfather and friend of the late Thomas Wayne. Lucius told Bruce about Monte finding his mask at the crime scene where Loeb died which is why Monte was assembling the task force. Bruce thanked Lucius for the warning and reassured him that he had everything under control since Batman was pursued by the police before. Lucius then asked Bruce if he did kill Loeb only for Bruce to suddenly pause. Lucius reassured Bruce that if Batman had to kill Loeb in self-defense, then he'll understand. Even though Selina killed Loeb, Bruce still felt responsible for the murder. Nevertheless, Bruce denied it. Lucius was then relieved to hear that and apologized to Bruce for interrogating him since he just had to be sure. Bruce understood and forgave him.
In the evening, Catherine Monte reluctantly went on a date with Strange because her father insisted while her mother objected since Strange was old enough to be Catherine's father. During the date, however, Strange was endlessly ranting about Batman prompting Catherine to end the date. Strange then snapped and screamed at her in front of the entire restaurant. Finally after screaming at Catherine, Strange went home to his penthouse where Flass was waiting for him. Believing that Catherine was in love with Batman, Strange concocted a scheme to make Catherine fall in love with him which is why he asked Flass for a very special favor. In a fake Batman costume, Flass broke into Mayor Monte's home and suffocated Mrs. Monte with a pillow in the bedroom while she was sleeping. Catherine caught Flass killing her mother prompting Flass to knock her out. Monte, who was downstairs reading a newspaper by the fireplace, heard some noise and went upstairs to investigate. Flass then ambushed Monte and began hitting him for fun while mocking Monte about killing his wife. Using Mrs. Monte as an example, Flass vowed to kill Catherine unless Monte disbanded the task force. The next day, believing Batman was responsible, Mayor Monte instituted a 'shoot to kill' order against Batman. Monte demanded to Bullock his daughter be returned to him within six days or he will be fired. Bullock agreed to Monte's doubts while secretly having doubts that Batman was responsible. In 1989, Bullock was persecuting Batman in public and Batman never harmed anyone in Bullock's family in retaliation. No, Bullock decided, this was a frame-up. Even though Lieutenant Bullock was disgusted by Batman, he still refused to allow the vigilante to be blamed for crimes he didn't commit.
Batman then spent the entire evening being pursued by the police across Gotham. After a lengthy foot chase, Batman accused Strange of framing him. In the meantime, Catherine woke up tied up in a bed where Batman was standing in front of her. Batman then took off his mask, revealing himself to be Hugo Strange. Strange then started flapping his hands in front of Catherine claiming he was Batman, the man she loved. However, Catherine wasn't at all amused by this and told Strange that he was not a psychiatrist, he was a madman, a lunatic who should be locked up in an asylum. Believing that Catherine was laughing at him, Strange started hitting her in anger by screaming that he did all this for her and started breathing heavily to try to calm down. When Strange heard noises outside the bedroom, he ducts tapped Catherine's mouth and left the bedroom to check what he was going on. There, Strange was faced to face with the real Batman. Batman, who didn't hear anything in the bedroom, demanded to know where Catherine was and the identity of the Night Scourge. Without revealing any information, Strange mocked Batman and hit him with a hallucinogenic gas that causes him to relive the night his parents were murdered. Strange then announced that Catherine belonged to him and pushed the completely disoriented Batman from the balcony, not before hearing Batman audibly crying out for his mother and father. Strange was then left confused by what Batman just said.
Batman's body didn't necessarily hit the pavement. Luke was driving home from school until Batman fell on the hood of his car. Luke was then shocked by this at first and unmasked Batman to Bruce Wayne, his father's godson. Luke was surprised that Batman was Bruce Wayne, but he was also thrilled by this since Batman is his hero. Luke then panicked thinking Bruce was dead, but after checking his pulse, Luke realized Bruce was still alive. Luke didn't necessarily believe that Batman kidnapped Catherine, so he decided to take Bruce to Wayne Manor where Lucius was. At Wayne Manor, Jacob was having tea with Lucius. Jacob asked Lucius how his trip to Los Angeles was and Lucius told Jacob of an encounter that Luke had with Wonder Woman, who has been active since the 1970s. Lucius then talked about how Wonder Woman can fly, how she has an invisible plane and a magic lasso that can be used to make others speak what is truly on their mind. Jacob dismissed this by arguing that Wonder Woman is a fictional character created by General Phillip Blankenship to frighten war criminals and that Batman is the original costumed crime fighter, not Wonder Woman. Lucius chuckled by this and after sipping some tea, he makes a friendly bet with Jacob to take Bruce to Los Angeles next time so they can check for themselves. Jacob accepted the terms of the bet just to prove Lucius wrong.
Lucius and Jacob were then surprised to find Luke at the doorstep of Wayne Manor where Luke was dragging Batman's body with him and told Luke to come inside. In the meantime, Bruce was reliving the murder of his parents at the hands of the Joker when Bruce was six years old. After killing Thomas and Martha Wayne, Joker began to pursue Bruce while laughing hysterically and firing his gun in different directions just to frighten the six-year-old. The young Bruce managed to run back to Wayne Manor while still being pursued by the Joker, who was still firing his gun in different directions to frighten him. Bruce then fell into a centuries-old cave where a swarm of bats began to attack him. The last thing Bruce remembered was the Joker looking down and laughing at him. Finally, Bruce awakened because of Jacob, who was able to revive him with surgery. Bruce then admitted to Jacob that he enjoyed killing and began to weep. Luke, Lucius, and Jacob tried their best to be there for Bruce only for Bruce to walk into the Batcave, asking to be alone. Bruce finally considered himself to be a deranged lunatic who enjoyed killing just as Hugo Strange, a world-renowned psychiatrist, declared.
Luke was twice as shocked in one night to learn that his father Lucius worked with Batman. Lucius and Jacob made Luke promise never to tell anyone, not even friends at school, about Bruce being Batman. Luke then asked if could be Bruce's sidekick by revealing that he has been studying martial arts and gymnastics at his school just so he could be like him. Lucius, however, refused since vigilantism was a dangerous lifestyle which prompted to Luke argue that Lucius is willing to let his godson do it. Jacob tried to bring Bruce some food to eat only to realize that Bruce trapped himself in the Batcave since Strange broke him.
While trapped in the Batcave, Bruce began to believe that he killed his parents and not Jack Napier since he wanted to watch Zorro the night his parents died while Thomas wanted to stay home since Thomas had surgery in the morning. In the Batcave, Bruce found Thomas Wayne's diary that he confiscated years ago after his father died. Bruce read the entry about him insisting his parents take him to the theater to watch 'Zorro' the same night that they were killed. He realizes he had misread it, and his father had written "'even though Bruce insisted, we wanted to watch Zorro so his show wouldn't have to wait until next week". Bruce then realized that the death of his parents was never his fault. All of a sudden, Luke came into the Batcave after finding a way in through with rock climbing gear. Luke told Bruce that Batman is not mentally disturbed despite what Strange said. To Luke, Bruce only became Batman as a sign so that his tragedy does not repeat itself on others so they don't lose their loved ones. As for dressing like a bat, Strange believed Bruce had schizophrenia while Luke believed it was to frighten criminals rather than cope with psychological issues. Bruce then argued that he killed people which prompted Luke to make mention that after his mother died, Luke started making bad decisions by joining a gang until Lucius, with aid from Lieutenant Bullock, got him out of it. Bruce recalled Luke's case. Luke insisted that despite it being human to make mistakes, it was important that these mistakes be used to learn from, so others can be better. Upon realizing that Luke was right, Bruce finally came to his senses. Bruce decided to resume being Batman. Luke asked to tag along by revealing he had a blue and black costume complete with two Escrima sticks. Batman reluctantly agreed to do so and began to call Bullock, asking him for help.
Back at the penthouse where Catherine is tied up, Strange kept emulating Batman even further to amaze her even though she was already disturbed by him. Strange was angry with Catherine for denying his attempts to romance her. After drinking some beer, Strange threw a bottle at the wall behind Catherine. Strange angrily explained to Catherine that he and Loeb used to talk about how Gotham was a mad city even before Batman appeared. Before Batman appeared, Gotham had criminals such as a university professor who thought he was an Egyptian pharaoh, a weak old man with a dummy, and a serial killer who wore a pig's head. This made Loeb, who encountered all those individuals, start to fear that one can never have too much power. Before Christmas, Loeb purchased a music box, however, it would not play music. Loeb was given three options: taking the box back to the store, having it repaired, or putting the store in debt. However, Strange convinced Loeb that the ballerina on the music box needed to be punished, tortured. As a stress release, Strange had Loeb torture the ballerina on the music box with needles, hands, and fingernails, to pretend to torture an actual woman. And then when the ballerina on the music box would completely be demolished, Loeb would then have to buy female mannequins and pretend to torture them whenever he was stressed just to be felt in control. Loeb even confessed to Strange that at times, he could hear those mannequins scream in pain as if they were actual women and that urged Loeb to continue even further. Strange took a deep breath and decided to admit something to Catherine: she and her mother were right about Loeb being corrupt and allying with Penguin. During their sessions together, Loeb told Strange about him encountering the Penguin, pushing Selina out a window to silence her, and manipulating Penguin into running for mayor in order to control Gotham. Catherine started to consider Loeb a monster while Strange considered Loeb to be a genius. Strange theorized that embracing the animal from within can you powerful and was hoping to use Loeb as a test subject. Unfortunately, this never got to happen since Batman murdered Loeb. This prompted Strange to hate Batman for disrupting the experiment. As Strange continued talking, he suddenly stopped when he heard a noise outside the bedroom. Strange went out to investigate only to be faced to face with Batman and Luke, now calling himself Batwing.
Batman appealed to Strange's ego and allowed him to gloat about staging the frame-up. But when Strange turned the subject towards Batman's true identity, Batman simply played ignorant to Strange's ravings, by claiming he had no idea what Strange was referring, and that his parents lived in Paraguay while Strange accused them of having been murdered. Bullock, along with two police officers burst through Strange's door. Strange got nervous and told the police that he was arresting Batman. Bullock told Strange to stop since they heard everything. After Strange is handcuffed, Batwing revealed that he recorded Strange's entire confession to the kidnapping and handed the tape to Bullock. Bullock started to call out for Catherine's name as did everyone else. Batwing then screamed "Wilma" while mimicking Fred Flintstone's voice which prompted Bullock to give him a lecture about taking things seriously. Finally, a police officer found Catherine tied up in the bedroom, but otherwise unharmed. Despite being handcuffed, Strange managed to escape outside and found himself cornered by more police officers. Because Strange was wearing a Batman costume, the police thought he was Batman and acted on Mayor Monte's shoot-to-kill orders. Strange was hit numerous times before dying. The police officers who pulled the trigger were then horrified to discover that they have shot the wrong guy, they also wondered why Strange was dressed up as Batman in the first place. Since Strange admitted earlier that Arnold Flass was the Night Scourge, Batman and Bat Wing then left the penthouse to look for him.
Batwing then managed to find Night Scourge, now trying to kill Maroni in a hospital since Maroni forgot to pay him. Batwing and Flass managed to fight with Flass eventually gaining the upper hand. Just as Flass was about to execute Batwing with two of his samurai swords, Catwoman used her whip to remove them. Catwoman defeated Flass by kicking him into several trash cans. Now completely disillusioned, Flass rushed over to his car and began to flee back to the police station, still in his Night Scourge uniform. When the police were about to shoot him, Flass unmasked himself and screamed for help claiming that Catwoman was trying to kill him. Batman, Bullock, and Batwing then arrived where Bullock explained everything to his fellow officers. Bullock ordered them to remove their guns since Flass was no longer dangerous. Flass got angry screaming that Batman murdered Loeb and pulled out a firearm to shoot Bullock. Before Flass could, Batman stood in front of Bullock to shield him while Flass got tackled to the ground. Even though Bullock was surprised that Batman would take a bullet for him, he still ordered his men to take Flass to a holding cell. Flass vowed to get revenge as he was being dragged out.
Bullock then asked Batman to what happened the night Loeb died and Batman decided to explain it to him: Cat Woman is Loeb's former secretary Selina Kyle. Loeb tried to kill Selina after Selina found out about his corruption. At the zoo, Batman tried to convince Selina to turn Loeb over to the police only for Selina to refuse and electrocute her boss to death. Batman then revealed that he had to remove his mask because it got set on fire when he tried to save Loeb. Getting annoyed, Bullock warned Batman that there had to be no more secrets between them, which Batman agreed upon. Bullock then allowed Batman and Batwing to leave the scene. An officer objected only for Bullock to insist that he will explain everything to Monte and take full responsibility for what happened, even if it meant turning in his resignation. As Batman and Batwing are leaving the scene together, Batwing enthusiastically asked what they will do tomorrow night, prompting Batman to shoot a glare at him.
In the morning, at Wayne Manor, Jacob and Lucius watch as Bruce train Luke with pugil sticks, with Lucius finally deciding to let his son work with Bruce. Bruce told Luke to always give him 110% and that he made the rules. At City Hall, Bullock told Monte what happened: with Strange working with Flass to kidnap Catherine, Batman saving Catherine, and to what happened to Loeb that night at the Arctic Zoo. Monte was going to name a bridge after Loeb, but decided to name it after himself since Catherine confirmed Loeb was indeed affiliated with Penguin. As for Batman, Monte decided to disband the task-force so that the police can concentrate on the "actual criminals".
Later on in the evening, Batman confronted Catwoman on a rooftop. Catwoman asked Batman to leave Gotham with her so they can never come back. Batman refused and told Catwoman that he could turn her in for killing Loeb, however, because Catwoman saved Batwing's life, even though she didn't have to, he will allow her to leave Gotham on the condition she never returned unless she was ready to give up being a criminal. Catwoman decided to leave Gotham instead. Batman then left pulling a disappearance act upon spotting the Bat-Signal. Cat Woman frowned, shook her head, and said to herself how she almost got him.
- Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Marlon Wayans as Luke Fox/Bat Wing
- Martin Sheen as Brigadier General Jacob Kane
- Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
- Michelle Peffeir as Selina Kyle/Cat Woman
- Pat Corley as Lieutenant Eddie Bullock
- Nicole Kidman as Catherine Monte
- James Avery as Lucius Fox
- Dennis Paladino as Sal Maroni
- Christopher Lylod as Professor Hugo Strange
- Andrew Bryniarski as Arnold Flass/The Night Scourge
- James Noble as Mayor William Monte