The Wayne family went to the Monarch Theater to see Footlight Frenzy. After the movie, the family happily walked down the sidewalk and into an alleyway. In the alley the Waynes were confronted by two thugs. One of them goes up to them and tears Martha's pearl necklace off of her neck, and Thomas struggles with that thug. The second thug pulls out a gun and shoots down Thomas. Martha screams, and she is then shot down by the same thug.
The thug that Thomas had struggled with begins to run away, as the thug with the gun approaches Bruce, saying, "Tell me kid.... you ever dance with the Devil by the pale moon light?" The thug with the gun comes out of the shadows wearing a wide, demented grin. The cops can be heard coming and the first thug shouts, "Let's go, Jack!" Jack then says, "See you around, kid", and begins to walk away, leaving Bruce alone in the alley. Little did he know that his prediction would come true—that he and Bruce would meet again...
Years later in an alleyway, a family is lost in Gotham City, and walks into an alley guided by the father who says, "I know where we are". In the alley, they are asked by a thug to give him a dollar, to which they walk right past, with the father speeding them up. When they are about to turn around a corner, the father is knocked out cold by a second thug with a gun. He tells the wife not to scream as he points the gun at the kid, while the first thug searches the father's body and steals his wallet. The two thugs then run away, and the wife screams about what happened. Unknown to the thugs, Batman was watching from a building above them, and goes to confront them.
The two thugs sit on a rooftop going through the father's wallet, when the first thug says he's scared of being up high, and begins to talk about how one of their friends was killed by "The Bat". The second thug dismisses it, saying that there is no "Bat" as Batman begins to descend directly behind them. Batman then surprises both thugs, overpowering one and holding the other by his shirt over the building's ledge.The thug pleads with Batman not to kill him, Batman tells him that he won't, but he wants him to do him a favor: "tell all your friends about me". When the thug asks who he is, Batman says, "I'm Batman".
A charity part is held at Wayne Manor by Bruce. Some of the guests include Commissioner Jim Gordon and the new district attorney Harvey Dent, along with reporter Alexander Knox and photographer Vicki Vale. Bruce is at a table with other men when Vicki approaches him asking, "Do you know which of these guys is Bruce Wayne?" Bruce jokes by saying, "Well I'm not sure." Vicki took the answer seriously and left with Knox to search for Bruce throughout the mansion. Bruce follows Knox and Vicki into an armory hall and hears their remarks about the armor and him. When Alexander and Vicki wonder about where a set of samurai armor came from Bruce tells them it's Japanese, "Because I bought it from Japan". When Knox asks who he is Bruce reveals himself to be Bruce Wayne to which Vicki jokes, "Are you sure?" "Yeah this time," Bruce remarks. The trio begins to talk about Batman when Alfred comes in telling Bruce that Commissioner Gordon was compelled to leave very unexpectedly. Bruce then leaves.
After Gordon arrives at the chemical plant, Batman appears and fights Napier's men before apprehending Napier. Jack's right hand man Bob threatens Gordon, telling Batman to let Jack go. Batman does and Jack smiles, saying, "Nice outfit". Bob tries to get him to leave but Jack tries to shoot at Batman. He fires a shot at him but it ricochets off of Batman's gauntlet, into a wall, and through Jack's face making him fall off the catwalk. Batman goes to save him, and grabs his hand, but Jack slips from Batman's grip and falls into a vat of chemicals. Gordon then tells his men to grab Batman, but Batman throws down a smoke pellet, and uses his grapple to escape through the ceiling.
Vicki has dinner with Bruce in a very large dining room. After a while of trying to manage the date because of the long dining-room table, they decide to eat in the kitchen with Alfred. Alfred then begins to tell stories about Bruce's childhood. Alfred eventually leaves, and Bruce reveals that Alfred is the only family he has. Bruce and Vicki then head upstairs and sleep together in Wayne's room. The next morning, Vicki asks Bruce if they could have lunch at her place so she could show him some photos, but Bruce says he can't because he will have to be out for a couple of days. Vicki tells him that they will get together when he gets home. While walking down a flight of stairs, Vicki learns from Alfred that Bruce is not leaving town. Vicki decides to follow Bruce, wondering why he was being so secretive. Vicki follows Bruce onto a street where he places two roses on the ground. Vicki approaches the roses and picks them up, intrigued. She then continues to follow Bruce.
Bruce is in front of City Hall when a mobster that worked for Boss Carl Grissom walks out and is asked questions by Knox. The newly created Joker suddenly appears and kills the mobster by throwing a pen into his neck, before proclaiming to the audience, "The pen is truly mightier than the sword". He then walks away as his men, dressed as mimes, fire semi-automatics. Bruce's jacket gets shot as Bruce approaches Joker's limousine. He sees Joker's face and recognizes him as Jack Napier. Bruce then turns and sees Vicki Vale, and then heads back to Wayne Manor. Bruce returns home and tells Alfred that Jack Napier is still alive and has taken over Grissom's organization. Alfred then tells him that Vicki Vale called, before hinting that she might be a positive influence on the troubled man.
While watching the news about two models dying at a beauty salon, and then three new deaths, the female anchor begins to laugh hysterically and fall to the ground dead. Suddenly Joker appears on the screen making a fake commercial for his poison Smilex that he has put into an unknown item, saying that people probably have bought it already. Bruce then turns off the screen and tells Alfred that they are going to go shopping.
At Wayne Manor Alfred hears a message from Vicki about how she will be ten minutes late getting to the museum. Alfred tells this to Bruce who suddenly realizes that he isn't seeing Vicki that day. Vicki waits at the Flugleheim Museum, and is found by the Joker. While he was trying to seduce/mutilate Vicki, Batman bursts through the ceiling window. He grabs Vicki, pulls out a grapple, and gets Vicki out of the museum. Bruce and Vicki get into the Batmobile and then drive away. Shortly afterwards Joker's men drive after them in their cars. Batman manages to give them the slip, causing several car crashes. Bruce and Vicki get out of the Batmobile and run into an alleyway. While running Batman initiates the Batmobile's shields to keep it safe. In the alley Bruce fires a grapple and gives the handle to Vicki. It propels her up onto a catwalk, and she than walks onto a rooftop and looks down. Joker's men arrive and shoot Batman down. Joker's men begin to inspect Batman, when Bob tells them to "take off the mask." When one of the thugs is about to, Vicki takes a picture and they notice the flash and begin to shoot up at her. Batman then springs up off the ground and takes down the Joker's men.
Batman and Vicki get back into the Batmobile and drive into a wooded area. They eventually drive through a trap door in a cliff and enter a long tunnel, and then a raised platform in the Batcave. Batman reveals that the Smilex toxin wasn't put into just one product, but many, and that the toxin only works when certain components are mixed, making it untraceable. Batman gives Vicki a file containing the cosmetic products to avoid mixing and tells her to get it to the press. Batman says that the Joker is psychotic, to which Vicki replies, "Some people say the same thing about you." Eventually when Vicki asks if there is anything else, Batman tells her that she has something else that he needs, and Batman then knocks Vicki out and takes her camera film.
Alfred tells Bruce that he should confess to Vicki, and Bruce then leaves to do so. Bruce goes to Vicky Vale's apartment to tell her that he is Batman. Before he could do so, he gets into a heated argument with her about how he lied about leaving town after having a dinner date with her, and even sleeping with her. They are then interrupted by the doorbell. When Vicki answers the door, the Joker barges in with his men, angry about what happened at the museum. Bruce goes out to confront him. He tells the Joker a story about a man named Jack (hinting that he knows the Joker's true identity), remarking that he was a "Mean kid, bad seed, hurt people." Bruce then tells of how Jack's life of crime screwed him over. As he finishes his story, Bruce then takes the opportunity to flip out and threatens Joker with a fireplace poker. The Joker then pulls a gun on him and asks, "Tell me something my friend -- you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?". Bruce was stunned at those words, and Joker claims he says that to every person he kills, just because he likes the sound of it. Joker then shoots and apparently kills Bruce before he leaves. Vicki goes to check on Bruce, only to find out he is gone and that he used a silver platter to protect himself from the bullet.
During a press conference with the mayor, the Joker intercepts the live television feed to announce there will be a parade with 20 million dollars in cash being thrown to the crowd, and a challenge between him and Batman. Bruce watches this as he looks over the police file on his parents' murder. He then comes to the conclusion that the Joker killed his parents. Vicky arrives, knowing that he is Batman through the alley pictures she took, and the newspaper report on his parents' murder. Bruce hints that even though he kept her at a distance, he does love her. She tries talking Bruce out of being Batman, but Bruce refuses, knowing that if he stops now no one will stop the Joker. The parade goes off like Joker promised. Batman then shows up on his Batplane. But Joker is ready for him; he and his thugs put gas masks on and releases Smylex gas from the parade balloons to the city intent on killing Gotham. Batman steals all the balloons and releases them into the sky. Joker, feeling that stealing his balloons is the last straw, shoots Batman's plane down with a comically long barreled pistol.
After Batman crashes into a nearby cathedral, Joker takes Vicky hostage inside the cathedral and up to the top. Batman follows him and fights off the Joker's thugs while the Joker dances with Vicki, taunting Batman. After Batman beats all the thugs, he comes after the Joker, asking him the same question he was asked: "You ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?". He then severely beats the Joker, promising to kill him. The Joker reminds Batman that he made him what he is. Batman then counters him with the murder of his parents, stating "I made you, you made me first." The Joker is stunned by this revelation, to the point where he backs away in terror. Batman then knocks him off the tower. Joker grabs Batman and Vicki and has them hanging off of the cathedral ledge. The Joker tries to escape when his thugs arrive by helicopter. Batman shoots a grappling hook onto Joker's leg and tethering it to a gargoyle. The gargoyle breaks off, weighing the Joker down. The Joker, unable to hold on, falls to his death. Just after, Batman and Vicki fall, but luckily Batman uses his grappling gun to save himself and Vicki.
Batman sends a letter to Gotham City Hall saying that if Gotham has any crimes that become too much for the police, to call him. Knox asks "How do we call him?", to which Commissioner Gordon replies, "He gave us a signal", unveiling the new Bat-signal, which Batman is later seen viewing in triumph.
Keeping his promise, Bruce continued his endeavors as the Batman; patrolling Gotham's streets and inflicting terror into the heart of the city's shrinking crime populace. His persistence to this path eventually led to Vicki leaving him; alienated by Bruce's inability to resolve his duality as Batman and Bruce Wayne.
During the Christmas season, Gotham began to be overrun by rogue circus performers known as The Red Triangle Gang. The police are unable to stop them, so Gordon orders the Bat-signal to be activated. Batman then appears and manages to scare off most of the gang. He also manages to rescue a frightened secretary named Selina Kyle.
While deterred by Batman's arrival, the circus gang remained a threat and, the following morning, a member of the gang publicly attempted to kidnap the mayor's baby during a public presentation. While attempting to escape via the sewers, the gang member "encountered" the Penguin who took the baby from the thug and, emerging from the sewers and before the crowd, returned the baby to the mayor. Watching the reports of the event, Bruce initially felt sympathy following the Penguin's speech about finding his parents. However, when observing how calmly Shreck stood next to the deformed creature as the press took photos, Bruce's suspicions were perked. As the Penguin was admitted private access to the city's Hall of Records to trace the family records for his parents, Bruce began investigating into the Red Triangle Circus gang's past to see if there was a connection between them and the Penguin. Discovering reports of the circus once possessing an "aquatic birdboy" as part of its freakshow performers, Bruce found adequate cause to suspect the Penguin of ulterior motives in his "return" to Gotham.
Bruce attended a meeting with Shreck the following day to contest his latest venture to build a new powerplant to supplant Gotham's power reserves. During the meeting, Bruce mentioned suspicions of the Penguin running the Red Triangle Circus gang. While Bruce expected Shreck's outburst on the accusation, the appearance of Selina Kyle was something he was unprepared for. Recognizing her, but as a more confident woman than the one he had encountered earlier on, Bruce was immediately smitten with the secretary. Whilst talking, Bruce momentarily forgot where he was and let slip knowledge of their previous encounter.
Bruce returned to monitoring Gotham's streets for signs of the Red Triangle Circus gang's movements, and so was ready when the gang emerged to cause more public damage. While working his way through the gang members and losing one of his batarangs during an encounter, Bruce managed to confront the Penguin. The Penguin let slip his intention to become the city's mayor, but was interrupted when a "cat-woman" appeared before them moments before the destruction of Shreck's store. As the Penguin used the opportunity to escape via a helicopter-umbrella, Bruce turned to pursue the "cat-woman" only to be ambushed by the villainess and become momentarily perplexed by her alternating passive/aggressive attacks; ultimately becoming seduced enough for her to get in close enough to stab him through the weakest portions of his armor.
Returning to the cave to attend to his wounds, Bruce observes the Penguin's official challenge against the Gotham mayor for mayorship of the city on the television the following day; noting that the challenge was also aimed at Batman himself. Bruce goes to the Gotham Plaza during the day as a precaution; observing the preparation for the night's ceremony but becoming distracted when he encounters Selina window shopping. After a short conversation that led to their discussing the public opinions of their alter egos, Bruce invited Selina to spend the night at the manor. After a brief reluctance due to her own plans that night, Selina accepted. That night, the pair reclined to the watch the lighting of the tree ceremony but became more interested in each other instead. However, their attempts to get more intimate were deterred by the prospect of having to explain the injuries they each had received during their forays as Batman and Catwoman. Eventually jarred out of it by a news report announcing the kidnapping of the ceremony's Ice Princess and Batman's suspected involvement due to the discovery of the batarang that he had lost the previous night. Making an excuse to leave, Bruce leaves Selina in the lounge while he enters the Batcave to don a Batsuit and investigate the kidnapping personally. While he does so, Selina also excuses herself from the manor and rushes to Gotham to do her part in the Penguin's plot against Batman. Entering Gotham, Bruce parks the Batmobile in an alleyway. He tracks down the Ice Princess tied to a chair in an adjacent building. Making his way to her he attempts to free her only to run up against Catwoman who, after a brief engagement, takes the princess hostage and ascends the building. As Bruce follows, he once again discovers the princess alone, this time standing on the edge of the building's roof, however, before he could bring her to safety, the Penguin appears and throws an umbrella before the princess that releases bats. Startled by the flying creatures, the princess topples over the edge of the building, plummeting to her death and uncannily landing on the switch she had to press to light the tree. However as the tree was lit, the sudden eruption of light startled a massive flock of bats that had been stowed amongst the tree's branches. The bats erupted from the Christmas tree and flew into the crowd, causing mass hysteria in the gathered populace.
Accused of pushing the princess off the edge and for planting the bats within the tree, Batman tried to apprehend the Penguin but he was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Gotham's police who, due to Batman's reputation, shot at him on sight. The force of the bullets on his body armor forced him over the edge of the building only to land on another one where the Catwoman was waiting for him. Easily pinning him down in his weakened condition, she again attempted to seduce him; licking his face under a mistletoe that was conveniently above them. However, when she tried to stab him again her claw only punctured armor. Fully recovered and throwing her off, Bruce moved to the edge of the building and converted his cape into a glider; gliding his way to where he stowed the Batmobile only to find that the Penguin had gained control of the car and, while he was in it, sent the car on a destruction joy-ride through the Gotham streets. Batman manages to find the device that the Penguin had planted which would give him full control of the Batmobile and tears it out, almost hitting an old woman. The Penguin screams in frustration so Batman smashes the video-screen that projected his face. Unfortunately, the Penguin's plan had worked and Batman's reputation as a hero was debunked in the eyes of the Gotham public.
The following day, Bruce formed his own plan in retaliation and waited for the Penguin's public address; hacking into the plaza speakers and replaying unflattering quotes the Penguin had spat at him the previous night during the Batmobile's joy-ride. The ploy had the intended effect; effectively turning the Penguin's supporters and public opinion against him. Penguin's reaction turned violent as his supporters and Max Shreck abandoned him. Firing into the crowd, the creature fled to the park where he returned to his lair beneath the city.
While repairing the Batmobile, Bruce makes plans to attend Shreck's costume party to see Selina again. Attending the party, ironically without a mask, he momentarily confronts Shreck once again before finding Selina, who was also not wearing a mask. While the pair quickly start where they left off romantically, Selina eventually breaks down; revealing to Bruce that she had come to kill Shreck for what he had done to her. Furthermore, an off-hand quote about mistletoe that the pair had spoken to each other previously as their alter egos caused Bruce to realize she was Catwoman, and her to realize he was Batman. Intending to work things out, the pair left the dance floor just as the Penguin blew the floor apart and appeared from beneath it to announce his intention to kidnap and murder all of Gotham's first-born sons as retribution for what his parents had done to him. The Penguin then takes Max Shreck with him into the sewers as retribution for abandoning him. Leaving the party, Bruce immediately set out to stop the Red Triangle Circus gang members as they gathered babies into a circus train. Capturing the gang members, he let the Organ Grinder's monkey escape with a note to deliver to the Penguin. The note is revealed to be a formal inattendance letter, mocking the Penguin's attempt.
As the Penguin enacted his second plan to use his penguins to destroy Gotham itself, Bruce used the Batski to enter the city sewers and home in on the Penguin's hideout; simultaneously working with Alfred in the Batcave to block the penguin army's control signal and redirect the penguins to the abandoned zoo. Cutting off the Penguin's escape route by using a tunnel that led to the zoo above, Bruce confronted the Penguin and the two fought. The Penguin pulled a blade out of his umbrella, while Batman pulled out a black box with a red light. The Penguin thinks the device is some kind of weapon, so he manages to wrestle it off Batman and pushes the button, only to find that Batman had once again tricked the Penguin into releasing the penguins' missiles within the zoo; causing the base's destruction. A flock of bats then surround the Penguin and cause him to fall through the skylight and land amongst glass and sewerage of the base's lagoon.
Descending into the lagoon, Batman caught sight of Selina stalking Max Shreck. He moved to stop her from killing the mogul; pleading with her stop her vendetta before it destroyed her. Knowing that he couldn't reason with her as an enemy, Batman pulled off his mask and tried to reason with her as a lover. His pleas fall on deaf ears, however, and as Shreck pulls a gun and shoots Bruce in the chest, Selina corners him and uses a tazer she had acquired from a Red Triangle gang member to personally electrocute the corrupt tycoon; causing the base's power generator to explode as she did so. Recovering from the attack, Bruce began searching for Selina amongst the wreckage only to find the charred remains of Max Shreck. His search was further interrupted when the Penguin, slowly bleeding to death, attempted one last time to kill Batman only to pick up the wrong umbrella. The Penguin, poisoned from the polluted lagoon water, drops dead. Bruce then watched as a group of emperor penguins dragged their master to the water's edge and let him sink beneath the surface.
Bruce is last seen being driven through the streets by Alfred. As they were passing an alleyway, Bruce thought he saw Selena's silhouette and urged Alfred to stop the car. However, when he enters the alley he only finds a black cat, which he picks up and takes into the car with him and returns home as the bat signal is lit once again, not knowing that Catwoman was alive and well.