In the city of Gotham, in the year 1983, Wayne Industries CEO Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha Wayne are shot in killed in front of their son, Bruce, while leaving the Monarch Theater. Bruce is adopted by the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and vows to avenge his parents.
At 25, Bruce sees on the news that his parents' murderer, serial killer Joe Chill, has just escaped from prison and is still at large. Inspired after a bat flies through his window, Bruce decides to train and become a bat-themed vigilante, so that he may strike fear into the hearts of criminals. After 15 years of training, Bruce dons a bulletproof bat-themed body armor, and tracks down Chill, eventually finding his hideout and brutally beating him. Bruce is about to kill Chill, when he changes his mind, deciding not to sink down to Chill's level, so he instead drops the unconscious Chill off at the police station. At Wayne Manor, a party is thrown to celebrate Bruce's return to Gotham, where he announces that he will finally be taking full control of his father's company. At the party, he meets news reporter Vicki Vale, and, after the two become very fond of each other, they begin to date.
Vicki, while investigating a local gang, is kidnapped and held for ransom, requiring Bruce to don the cowel once more to save her. That night, he also thwarts a jewel thief attempting to scale a building using suction cups and catches robbers fleeing from the police, making the mysterious "Caped Crusader" an overnight sensation. He visits Vicki at her home the next night and tells her that he's decided to take it upon himself to keep Gotham City safe from all crime, inspiring Vicki to write an article in which she gives him the name "Batman".
Meanwhile, the mentally unstable but greatly intelligent Edward Nigma becomes obsessed with Batman, seeing him as the other person in the world on his intellectual level. Devising the ultimate challenge for Batman which will also reward Nigma should Batman fail, he uses his vast fortune to hire a group of criminals to steal military-grade rockets, leaving an anonymous note from Nigma at the scene of the crime which includes an extremely intricate riddle for Batman that, when solved, will give away Nigma's hideout. Arriving at the scene of the crime, Batman finds the riddle, and takes it back to Wayne Manor, where he and Alfred struggle to solve it. After running the riddle through his advanced computer's logic system, it provides him with the answer, just as Nigma, disguising his voice and wearing a domino mask to hide his true identity, hijacks the Gotham airwaves and sends out a message to Batman, announcing that he will launch the rockets in an hour. Batman fails to see how the answer to the riddle will help him, but after converting each letter of the answer into a number, Batman finds the exact coordinates of the abandoned Nigma Tech factory just outside the city. As Batman races to the factory in his new high-tech "Batmobile," one of Nigma's henchmen launches the rocket, aiming it towards the Wayne Enterprises building. Nigma theorizes that, with Wayne Enterprises destroyed, his struggling company, Nigma Tech, will be the only business of it's kind left in Gotham City, and it's stocks will sky-rocket. Batman arrives at the factory, and learns of Nigma's plan. Nigma hijacks the Batmobile and gets away as Batman is left behind to fight through his henchmen. Batman makes it to the missile's control console, and manages to change it's direction so that it crashes into the ocean. Batman calls for backup from Alfred, who arrives in the "Batwing," a technologically advanced fighter jet he had been working on in secret. Batman and Alfred catch Nigma, destroying the Batmobile in the process.
Batman comes face to face with Nigma, who taunts him by revealing that the first missile was a decoy, with the real missile being aimed for city hall, explaining that he never actually cared about making money, his true motivation being to outwit the Batman. Batman knocks Nigma unconscious, and Alfred turns him into the police, as Batman uses the Batwing to stop the missile heading for city hall. Using the Batwing's grappling hook to catch the missile, Batman manages to change it's direction back toward the now empty Nigma Tech factory, destroying Nigma's lair. Batman lands down in the middle of Gotham Park, and the police surround the Batwing. Officer Harvey Bullock attempts to arrest Batman, but Commissioner Gordon lets Batman go, seeing as he's just saved the city. Vicki Vale asks Batman for an interview, and the next night, he arrives at her house. He fills her in on Nigma's plan, and as he is about to leave, Vicki asks him who he really is. He makes her promise not to tell anyone, and takes off his mask, revealing himself as Bruce Wayne. The two share a passionate kiss, and Vicki reveals to Bruce that she knew all along.
Later, Batman meets with Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the GCPD, and Gordon thanks him for stopping "The Riddler," as Nigma has recently been nicknamed. Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal, telling Batman that when they need his help, to look for the signal up in the sky. Batman, with his new grapnel gun, swings off into the night, being told by Alfred that John and Mary Loyd Grayson have just been killed.
- Ben Affleck - Bruce Wayne / Batman
- Jeremy Irons - Alfred Pennyworth
- Amy Adams - Vicki Vale
- David Tennant - Edward Nigma / The Riddler
- William H. Macy - Commissioner Jim Gordon
- Ray Liotta - Harvey Bullock
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan - Thomas Wayne
- Lauren Cohan - Martha Wayne
- Brad Dourif - Joe Chill