The Setup: Batman Begins – Featuring Arsene Wenger

The Setup (Batman Begins), introduces us to all the characters and themes that will be important throughout the story. It establishes the central conflict and fundamentally changes the main characters. 

Batman Begins introduces us to a Gotham saturated with corruption. We meet Bruce Wayne, whose parents were murdered in a mugging-gone-wrong when Bruce was just a boy. Bruce tries to avenge his parents, but is thwarted by the organized crime that runs Gotham. The mob is so powerful that the few good citizens – the DA or cops like Jim Gordon – are too scared to try to make a difference. Like everyone else, Bruce is unable to fight the mob, so – unable to avenge his parents – he leaves Gotham searching for answers.

‘1-0  to Arsenal’

‘Boring Boring Arsenal’

If phrases could describe the way a team played its football, then these were it. Possessed with a water-tight defense consisting of the famous ‘English Back-4’ and David ‘Safe Hands’ Seaman, between the sticks, attack surely wasn’t Arsenal’s forte. And mid-way through the 96-97’ season, it all changed! It all changed with the arrival of a man who was greeted by the Highbury faithful with the chants of ‘Arsène Who’ –  one of the most famous derogatory headlines ever to be published in British sports history, is now indeed a quotation of mockery and irony, as the man nicknamed “The Professor” has become a pivotal part of English football for the best part of two decades, a true cornerstone of footballing philosophy. But, let’s not get there just yet, we have a trilogy to complete!

While Bruce Wayne found his answers in The League of Shadows(not entirely though), Arsenal Football Club found theirs in Arsène Wenger!

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“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely… A legend, Mr. Wayne.” — Ras al Guhl

Bruce returns to Gotham. He realizes that for the city to rise up, to cast off its corruption, the ordinary people need a symbol, someone to show them they don’t have to be afraid of evil. Bruce adopts the persona of the Bat, a childhood phobia. Using the Bat-personal and his League of Shadows training, he wants to turn fear back on the criminals. Bruce’s plan works. Acting as a vigilante, he not only provides Gordon and the DA’s office what they need to arrest Gotham’s top mob boss, his work inspires them to take the risk. Things start to get better in Gotham. People start to get better in Gotham.

When Arsene Wenger first came to Arsenal, the first thing he said was that the training facilities were not good enough. So the club invested pounds 17 million in a new site. He even brought with him a Sports Scientist. The ideas on things like diet they introduced made a big difference to the fitness levels of the Arsenal players. Remember Bruce Wayne setting-up the Bat-cave with his butler, Alfred? He had to make sure he assessed the situation with ageing players [old relationships]. Just like Bruce did with Alfred(Pat Rice) and Rachel.

He won the League and FA Cup Double in his first full season. After their opening day loss to Blackburn Rovers (1-3), they made up a twelve-point deficit over Manchester United to clinch the title, procuring it with two games to spare.

But just like Batman, who was constantly at war with the mob, Arsenal often ceded the title to Manchester United have always been dominant in the Premier League, and the next season saw Arsenal fail to retain the title by a single point, while they were knocked out of the FA Cup Semi Finals courtesy that magical slalom by Ryan Giggs. And who does not remember the longest running feud, Arsene Wenger(Batman) v Alex Ferguson(mob boss, Carmine Falcone), in the Premier League that has at times been laid bare for all to see on the touchline, with fierce words clearly exchanged between the pair.

Arsenal went on to win several trophies in the next few years, including the Double in 2001-02 and another FA Cup in 2003.

The first major turning point in the trilogy‘s arc occurs when Bruce learns that the League of Shadows is still planning to destroy Gotham. The League (Chelsea + Roman Abrahmovic) is working through Arkham psychiatrist Jonathan Crane(Jose Mourinho), who manipulates his patients through a fear toxin and archetypal Scarecrow persona. The League plans to release this toxin(money!) into the city and let it tear itself apart.

The Batman(Arsene Wenger) stops Scarecrow(though temporarily) and kills Ras(No, Arsene couldn’t kill Roman), saving Gotham. And as Lieutenant Gordon(Arsenal fans – the Gooners) observes, Gotham will never be the same again.

Arsene Wenger’s Red and White Army wrote themselves into history with that 49-game unbeaten run, and all was well at Highbury!

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“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I Do that defines Me.”

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Next time, Part II, The Dark Knight. Here’s a preview: Things were always going to get worse before they got better.

Thanks for reading!

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