A wealthy philanthropist, Thomas Wayne, his wife, Martha, and their 8 year-old son, Bruce Wayne, were coming out of a movie theater at 10:47 p.m. As they stepped onto Park Row (now called Crime Alley), a thug named Joe Chill armed with a gun approached them from the shadows to steal the pearl necklace Martha was wearing. Thomas, moving in to protect his wife, was shot by Chill, causing Martha to scream. Chill then shot her, while shouting, “this’ll shut you up!”. Bruce, traumatized by the deaths of his parents, would never be the same again. Afterward, Bruce was raised by his wise and loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and inherited his family’s vast fortune as well as his father’s company, Wayne Enterprises. Standing at his parents’ gravestones, Bruce made a solemn oath to avenge their deaths.
Despite fiscal security, happiness eluded Bruce. Young Bruce was comforted by Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who helped him to mourn his parents and find a purpose in life. At age fourteen, Bruce started a twelve year walkabout around the world seeking experts in many fields, training himself mentally and physically. From an academic standpoint, he studied at Cambridge in England, the Sorbonne in France, and other famous European universities. A Frenchman named Henri Ducard taught him man-hunting, a ninja named Kirigi taught him stealth, an African bushman trained him in the art of the hunt, and Nepalese monks taught him healing.
Bruce returned to Gotham City, where he became a vigilante. But despite all his honed skills, he knew something was missing. Bruce believed criminals to be a “superstitious and cowardly lot,” and in order to rid Gotham of evil, he needed to reinvent himself to become a terrifying symbol that would strike fear into the hearts of criminals. While in his father’s study, a large bat crashed through the window. Bruce saw this as an omen and recalled his fear of bats as a child. This would be his symbol; the Bat would strike terror into the Gotham underworld. Using his vast wealth, Bruce designed a costume and state of the art equipment, thus beginning a difficult double life: by day, he would be the billionaire playboy and businessman, Bruce Wayne, and by night, he was The Batman.
Gotham City got its first taste of Batman’s greatest enemy, the Joker, when the police found an abandoned warehouse filled with mutilated corpses, all having ghastly rictus grins on their faces. While Batman was tracking down the killer, the Joker himself appears on live TV, on a news report on Arkham Asylum, killing the reporter with his mysterious laughing venom and predicting the deaths of some of the richest individuals in Gotham. Bruce wonders whether the Joker is a deformed version of the Red Hood, a criminal who fell into chemical waste while being engaged by Batman. The Joker carries out his hits as promised, using his venom, despite Batman’s efforts to stop him. The city is thrown into chaos when he invades a prison facility and sets its inmates free, providing them with weapons and killing all of its guard personnel in the process. The criminals wreak great havoc throughout the city but are apprehended by Batman. Joker’s next target is Bruce Wayne. Thus, Wayne Manor is under strict surveillance and guard by the police, making Bruce unable to act as Batman. He secretly injects himself with some Joker venom he had gathered. The venom takes instant effect and Bruce is rushed to the hospital. But on the way, Alfred administers him with the antidote he had made after careful study and as Bruce recovers, he understands the Joker’s true plan. He had gained an understanding of what drives the Joker while under the effects of the venom and realized Bruce Wayne’s assassination is only a diversion from his real mission, which is killing everyone in Gotham by poisoning its water reservoir, which Batman deduces from the clues he had gained in the last few days while tracking the Joker. He finds and stops Joker at the reservoir and refrains from killing him, though not without giving him a severe beating. The Joker is put in the reopened Arkham Asylum.