Writer-director Christopher Nolan’s stupendous superhero movie is suitably bleak, with Christian Bale ideal as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

Scared of bats because of a childhood fall into a well that was full of them, rich kid Wayne is changed forever after he witnesses the murder of his parents in a Gotham City street. Several years in a tough Tibetan jail temper his anger and hone his fighting skills.

Then it’s back to Gotham City, where he puts the finishing touches to his new crime-fighting alter-ego: Batman!

Combining exhilarating stunts and stunning visual effects, this brooding take on the Caped Crusader’s early years gets a fine, steely eyed performance from Bale, but it also has some exceptional fun explaining the origins of the Bat Cave, the Batmobile, that famous cowl, cape and utility belt and, not least, Batman’s friendship with the future Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).

Excelling in support, Michael Caine provides the humour as butler Alfred, Morgan Freeman is the man behind the gadgets and Cillian Murphy is the ever so creepy villain, the Scarecrow.