- Benedict Cumberbatch as Batman/Bruce Wayne , his parents were killed when he was twelve years old. As an adult, he trained to become a crimefighter to ensure that no child in Gotham would endure what he had to. He entrusts his identity with Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, and works with Jim Gordon.
- Christopher Eccleston as Joker , a hitman who worked for Sal Maroni. To avoid being caught by Batman, he jumps into a vat of chemicals which disfigure him. He becomes the Joker and causes the creation of Scarecrow (with Crane's help). He is the main antagonist.
- Doug Jones as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow , a respected psychologist that Bruce trains under when he is training to become Batman. He later had Joker fake his (Crane's) death so that he could become Scarecrow without any suspicion. Him and Joker are on-and-off partners throughout the movie. He is the secondary antagonist. Jones' voice is mixed with that of Steve Blum for the scenes where Crane is wearing the Scarecrow mask, in order to disguise Scarecrow's identity. When he is just Crane, Jones voices him.
- Ewan McGregor as Jim Gordon , an honest member of the police force who is partnered with Renee Montoya and Arnold Flass. He is a good friend to both Bruce Wayne and Batman, but doesn't know that they're the same person.
- Bill Nighy as Alfred Pennyworth , Bruce Wayne's loyal butler and one of only three people who knows Batman's secret identity.
- Denzel Washington as Lucius Fox , the head of Wayne Enterprises and one of three people that knows Batman's identity.
- Rosario Dawson as Renee Montoya , Gordon's partner on the force.
- January Jones as Vicki Vale , a reporter and Bruce Wayne's former girlfriend. They get back together after he saves her from Arnold Flass. One of three people who knows Batman's identity.
- Patrick Warburton as Arnold Flass, a corrupt police officer on Maroni's payroll.
- Andy Garcia as Salvatore Maroni, a major crime boss in Gotham.
- Seth Gabel as Joe Chill, the man who murdered Thomas and Martha Wayne.
- Jennifer Aniston as Martha Wayne , Bruce Wayne's mother who was killed when he was 12 years old.
- Tate Donovan as Thomas Wayne , Bruce Wayne's father who was killed when he was 12 years old.
- Alec Baldwin as Gillian B. Loeb, the corrupt police comissioner who is inspired by Gordon and Batman, becoming less corrupt and sacrificing himself to stop the fear gas.
- Matthew Perry as Jeremiah Arkham , the sarcastic warden of Arkham Asylum.
- Guy Pearce as Kirk Langstrom , a kind psychologist at Arkham Asylum.
- Liev Schreiber as Garfield Lynns, an arsonist and Batman's first enemy.
- Nicole Kidman as Sarah Essen, Jim Gordon's wife.
- Bruce Timm as Hamilton Hill, the mayor of Gotham City. This version is not corrupt.
- Isaiah Mustafa as Crispus Allen, an honest cop and friend to Montoya
- Victor Garber as Carmine Falcone , the number two crime boss in Gotham. Although he is only seen in a post-credit scene, he will be a villain in the sequel.
- Chow Yun-Fat as Kirigi, a martial arts master whom Bruce trains under. He later betrays Bruce. Although he is a minor character, he plays an essential role in the series.
- Jared Harris as Oswald CobblepotOswald Cobblepot , owner of the Iceberg Lounge who is seen taking over Maroni's empire at the end.
Although Doc Nygma wouldn't confirm who did the Riddler's voice, the sequel pretty much confirms it was John Simm.
The film starts with the narration by Bruce Wayne, who is getting off a plane in Gotham. He says " Gotham City. Some consider it a shining paradise. Others see it as a massive hellhole. The former are naive. Although the city used to be a good place, I know all too well that it is now much worse" We then see a clip of the mugger trying the grab Martha's pearls, but Thomas fights him off, although the mugger shoots and kills him. "My parents were killed right in front of me on my 12th birthday." The mugger shoots Martha, grabs, her pearls and runs away. Bruce runs home to Alfred. "On that night. I swore vengeance. I believed that if Gotham City could be changed from good to bad, it could be changed back again. I knew that I would lead that change." We see clips of him training with Ted Grant and Al Pratt in Vegas, Henri Ducard in France, Zatara in Germany, Kirigi in China, and Mike Maxwell and Dom in Africa. "However, in order to protect the identity of my friends (as he says this, he gets in the limo with Alfred driving), I must take on a new form. I must be a whispered word, a myth on the streets, a silent guardian." The narration ends . Then the title appears, BATMAN: GOTHAM GUARDIAN.
We then see a cop named Jim Gordon leaving the airport in a taxi. He has just transferred to Gotham from Chicago. He goes to the police station, and meets Comissioner "Gil" Loeb, who partners him up with Arnold Flass and Renee Montoya (who is often beaten by Flass but doesn't report it because she knows nothing will be done about it.). Gordon is clearly disgusted by Flass, and on patrol with Flass, yells at him for attacking an innocent teenager just because he looked suspicious. Flass punches him in the face.
Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, Bruce tells Alfred about his travels and his intentions to becom a crime-fighter. He and Alfred (a former CIA agent) have a practice fight, and when Bruce knocks Alfred down, the floor breaks and Alfred falls through. Bruce jumps in after him and sees a tunnel. Him and Alfred walk through the tunnel and discover that it leads to a much larger cave, which bats swarm out of. This causes Bruce to remeber his childhood fear of bats. He flashes back to his days in college, when his psychology professor and mentor told him "Your fear can be your greatest weapon if you use it correctly." This inspires him to create a bat-like armor for his war on crime. The next day, Bruce goes to Wayne Enterprises to meet with Lucius Fox (the CEO and a family friend). He asks Lucius what types of protective armors the company has in stock. Lucius takes him to the Weapons department, and shows him different prototypes for armors. Bruce picks out a Kevlar-reinforced suit with retractable nylon wings., and when Lucius asks what the suit is for, Bruce just replied "You'll see." He made the tweaks on the design at home so that it looked like a bat.
One night, Bruce is testing the wings on the suit. As he flies over the city, he notices a burning building. He helps rescue almost all of the civilians, but when he is going back in to save the last group, he is knocked over by the arsonist, Garfield Lynns. After a long fight, Bruce knocks Lynns out. He drags him to GCPD headquarters, and places him on a searchlight, creating a bat-shape. The next day, the Gotham Gazette published an article on the mysterious "Bat-Man." Lucius reads the article and, knowingly, smiles. Bruce comments that he likes the name, but that he's gonna lose the hyphen. Bruce realizes that the article's author, is his old girlfriend Vicki Vale.
He flashes back to when they dated in college. After two years, he told her that they had to break up because he needed to do his training. She gets mad, and storms out. Later, at his parents grave, he realizes that he deserves a happy life, but when he calls Vicki to get back together, he discovers she's now dating his best friend, Harvey Dent. With his only reason for staying gone, he leaves for his training.
Back in the present, Sal Maroni is reading the article. He is furious about what the "Bat-Man" could do to his empire. He orders his best hitman, Jackson, to set up a trap at Ace Chemical Processing Plant that will get rid of Batman for good. Jackson agrees, and the next night, he and his thugs break into the chemical plant.
Batman breaks in through a hole in the roof, and intercepts the robbers. He dispatches all but Jackson, whom he interrogates. When the hitman says nothing, Batman attempts to punch him. Jackson dodges it, but while he is moving away, he smashes into the railing, and falls over it into a vat of chemicals. He later crawls out of a sewer pipe only to find Batman, Jim Gordon, and Renee Montoya (who is pointing at the robber with a gun) waiting for him. Jackson agrees to help set up a sting against Sal Maroni so that his sentence will be shortened. The sting is successful and Sal is arrested. The course of the next six months is shown, with Jackson (he isn't insane yet, but he does hve post traumatic stress disorder) being observed by Dr. Crane in Arkham, Vicki being appointed the official Batman reporter, Batman taking down more criminals, all of which bear resemblance to his second-string foes ( Film Freak, Cornelius Stirk, Amygdala, Cavalier, KGBeast, the Tweedles), and Batman forming an alliance with Gordon.
Then, in court, Sal gets angry at Jackson for betraying him, and attempts to shoot him, but Jackson deflects the bullet (this scene is where he officially loses his sanity), and it hits a ceiling light. In the ensuing chaos, Jackson escapes and Maroni is killed. Batman also gets a cut running from below his nose to his chin.
Jonathan Crane is shown talking to Bruce about Jackson at Arkham. We then see Bruce leave and suit up as Batman to stop a robbery. We then see Jon Crane leaving work when his car explodes. Batman finds out and rushes to Arkham to save Crane, and decides to save Crane, figuring police will stop the robbery but arrives just as Crane dies. He rushes to the robbery site with Crane's body in the Batmobile, but discovers that the robbery has already happened and that the police man was shot. Luckily, he removes the bullet and gets the officer (Renee Montoya) to the hospital in time, but is mad about what he thinks is a bad call. Bruce Wayne attends Crane's funeral, and speaks at it. You can see a sillhouette watching the affair from above a building. It is shown to be Crane himself wearing a mask similar to the Scarecrow one. He says "Phase One is completed." into a phone. The man on the other end is Joker (whose disfigured face is revealed for the first time in this scene), who just grins and quietly laughs.
Next, we see Joker reading a phone book, and flipping to a random page. He picks a random person, and tracks down that person. He then murders them, and writes COME OUT, BATSY on the wall with blood. Batman tries to analyze what Joker may be doing, but doesn't discover a pattern. Five more murders happen, and eventually Batman realizes that there is no pattern. Batman finally tracks Joker down and is about to subdue him when random civilians inexplicably attack Batman. Batman escapes and goes after Joker, only to discover that he has bombed a building that Alfred was in. Bruce saves Alfred, but he goes comatose, and Joker escapes.
The next day, Arnold Flass is fired. Flass goes to a bar, where he finds Joker, who makes him an offer. One week later, Bruce is meeting with Lucius when he gets a call saying that Vicki Vale and Gordon have been captured. Bruce, as Batman, goes to their location and discovers Arnold Flass has both of them gagged and strapped to chairs. He states that only one can be saved by Batman, while the other falls through the trap door into a lethal gas chamber (unbeknownst to Flass but known to Crane, its a fear gas chamber). Flass is about to rip of Vicki's gag when Batman shoots a batarang. It runs straight through Flass's hand and slightly grazes Vicki while also cutting her ropes off. Vicki unties Gordon while Batman knocks out Flass and ties him up naked.
After the three leave, Crane comes in wearing the Scarecrow suit and points a gun at Flass. Flass begs Crane not to kill him, but Crane says he will do much worse. He shoots the gun, and out comes a syringe filled with the fear serum. It hits Flass and he starts shouting out in agony. Crane tosses him a gun, and says that he can shoot Crane or end his own misery. We see Crane walking away and then it shows the outside of the building. We hear gunshot and then we see Crane walk out. He is met by Joker. Bruce reveals his identity to Vicki and they continue their relationship. While they are on a date, there is a news report that Joker is robbing a charity gala. Vicki tells Bruce to go "do what he does" and he does. He arrives at the event and finds Gordon outside. Gordon tells him that Joker has hostages, but Batman goes in anyway. Batman fights Joker but Joker manages to kill some hostages before Batman finally disarms him. However, all of the people suddenly start going mad and attacking Batman much like earlier. Joker escapes in the chaos but Batman uses a smoke bomb and escapes. However, he finds Joker waiting outside, surrendering. When Batman puts the handcuffs on Joker, they insert a microscopic tracking device into his hand.
Joker is taken to jail, where Mayor Hill comes to interrogate him. However, Joker takes out a hidden knife, stabs his officer, takes the officer's gun, shoots Hill in the legs, and grabs him and runs off, getting in a car outside, where Crane was waiting in disguise. Joker passes by a newsvan, and a bunch of people are gathered around the reporter (Vicki), who is talking about a deadly car crash. Joker kills a bunch of the people and shouts "Excuse me. Coming through. Get out of the way!" He then kidnaps Vicki and hijacks the newsvan.
The TV then shows Joker and Scarecrow holding a now extremely drugged Mayor Hill who is blabbering about spiders. They say that unless a 10 million dollar ransom is paid, they will release their fear gas all over the city. Bruce arrives at the location only to discover that it is the wrong one. Joker comes back on and says that there is now a 1 hour deadline to get the money. Suddenly, a bunch of signals come up when he re-scans for his tracking device, meaning Joker could be in any one of 20 buildings. The first two buildings are failures. When he arives at the third one he discovers Vicki tied up and frees her. He hears Joker's voice, but discovers it is a bomb attached to Vicki. He gets it off of her with fie seconds left, and throws it into the back of the room before running out. The entire building blows up, but he then discovers a secret room under the building. Batman calls Lucius and has him pick up Vicki. He then breaks in to the room, and finds Joker, Scarecrow, and Hill. Scarecrow attacks Batman and they fight. Scarecrow repeatedly attempts to inject him with the fear serum to no avail. Finally, Batman throws Crane aside and Joker stabs Batman from behind with a fear syringe and a knife. Batman falls over in agony and the two villains attempt to activate the device. However, Batman finds two syringes of the fear serum and throws them. He misses Scarecrow, but Joker isn't affected although he got hit. He explains that the chemicals destroyed his sanity and fear. He then rips out syringe and says "Unfortunately the same can't be said for everyone." He then presses the button and the secret locations of the gas start spraying it out. Joker kicks Batman in the face, kills Hill, and runs away.
Batman pulls out the knife and syringe (although it has already affected him), gets up and attacks Crane. They have a fight with Crane winning because the fear serum is slowing Batman down. Batman pushes Scarecrow who hits the wall. His suit snags and rips, revealing his identity. Bruce is shocked, and Crane uses the pause to attack him. Batman pushes Crane, and he falls, landing on the syringe that missed him earlier, causing him to go insane. Batman takes him to the Arkham.
Batman heads to the GCPD station and tells the police department to spread into four groups lead by Batman, Gordon, Montoya, and Loeb. The foup of them keep in contact via earpieces and the squads head out. People are running rampant on the streets and some try to attack Batman and the officers, but they subdue most of them. Montoya's squad disarms the gas emitter located at City Hall and that group splits to join the other three. Meanwhile, Batman leaves his squad in charge of a cop named Crispus Allen and Batman goes after Crane. He realizes that once they stop the emitters, they will need an antidote for those already affected. He gets the info out of Crane because he promises that Crane will get a shortened sentence. Batman calls Lucius and tells him what the antidote is. He calls up a bunch of his employees at Wayne Enterprises, and they start making the antidote.
Batman arrives back on the scene just as Allen gets shot by Joker, and Batman saves Allen while Joker gets away. A couple minutes later, Loeb's group is disarming their emitter when Loeb sees Joker sneak up behind one of his officers and Loeb tackles Joker, getting stabbed instead. Gordon disarms his emitter right when he hears the news. Batman quickly finds the last one and goes after Joker, telling Gordon to pick up the completed antidote and spread it from the Wayne Tower sattelite at the top of the building, which he successfully does.
When he goes to take the elevator back down, the elevator short circuis and he is trapped. The door opens Joker gets in, and they go back to the top. Secretly, Gordon pressed a button, alerting Batman. Gordon is strapped from the roof of the building, and Joker carves into various parts of his body, wanting to make it slow and painful. Batman arrives, but finds the stairs booby trapped and the elevators short-circuited, so he uses his grappling hook, and gets to the top. He fights with Joker, and he is about to win when Joker shoots him in the leg and stomach and then jumps on him, attempting to roll both of them off of the building. However, Batman grabs on to the edge, and tries to pull Joker back up, but Joker tries to pull them both down. However, Gordon, who is still hanging, throws Joker's knife, and hits Joker dead on in the arm, damaging a nerve and causing him to let go and fall to his seeming death. Batman gets up, and unties Gordon, before passing out. Gordon takes Batman to the hospital for his wounds, and when the nurse attempts to remove his mask, he wakes up and says "No peeking." Ironically, Bruce's hospital bed is right next to that of Alfred, who has awakened from his coma.
Jim is made Comissioner with Renee taking his place, Allen taking hers, and Harvey Bullock taking Flass's. The newspaper reports rumored sightings of Joker (his body was never found), and Carmine Falcone reads the report of Maroni's death and smiles/laughs. Oswald Cobblepot takes over Maroni's empire.
Post Credits: We see Oswald calling someone. The person answers the phone and says "Riddle me this."
- Zatara, Wildcat, and golden age Atom appear in this movie sans superhero identities. They are all part of the "Society", a group of secret superhero Cold War spies/my version of the JSA and All-Star Squadron. It is made up of The Flash (J. Garrick), Lantern (Alan Scott), Zatara, Wildcat, Atom (Al Pratt), Mr. Terrific (Terry Sloane), Star-Man (Ted Knight), Mid-Nite, Hourman, and Sandman (W. Dodds). They appear in The Society: Golden Age, a game based on the team.