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There is this scene in The Dark Knight where Coleman Reese tries to blackmail Lucius Fox with some blueprints of the Tumbler and some off-the-books activities he has discovered. Fox then replies:

Let me get this straight. You are saying that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante that spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands.

And then Reese, having been adequately intimidated, promptly leaves. This is an odd reaction, I think. The information Reese had discovered pointed at a connection between Wayne Industries and Batman, but (as far as I can tell), it didn't say anything as to who Batman was. A more appropriate reaction on Reese's part would have been "Holy s#!+, are you telling me that Bruce Wayne himself is Batman!!!!".

Am I missing something here? Was there anything, among the stuff Reese discovered, identifying Bruce Wayne as the man behind the mask?

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4  
@Richard It seems like that first line quoted from Reese ("... just a rich kid trying to play dress-up") means that he knows it's Bruce Wayne himself. – reirab Mar 23 at 14:51
    
@reirab- As pointed out in the comments of my answer, that line isn't in the film. He doesn't imply that Bruce Wayne is Batman at all. – PointlessSpike Mar 24 at 8:53
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The film's official novelisation makes it abundantly clear that Reese is very well aware that Batman is...

... Bruce Wayne

We get the following exchange (which goes down just like it did in the film)

“Changes things when you know it’s just a rich kid trying to play dress-up,” Reese continued. Reese pointed to Fox’s initials in the approval box. “Your project. Don’t tell me you don’t recognize your baby pancaking cop cars on the evening news. Now you’re getting sloppy. Applied Sciences was a small, dead department—who’d notice? But now you’ve got the entire R&D department burning cash, claiming its related to cell phones for the Army. What are you building him now, a rocket ship? I want ten million a year, for the rest of my life.” Fox folded the blueprint and contemplated Reese. “Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And now your plan is to blackmail this person?”

Followed by this internal monologue in which it's made 100% clear that he knows Batman's identity.

Coleman Reese left Fox angry and insulted. Blackmail? No. Blackmailers were criminals, and Coleman was no criminal. He was a lawyer, one who had not been given his due. He had been cheated. His talents were neither recognized nor rewarded. He had been recruited from the graduating class of Gotham University’s law school with promises of quick promotion and financial largesse. Five years had passed—five whole years!—and where was he? Stuck in a Wayne Enterprises law library doing due diligence. Oh, the money was all right, he guessed; the starting salary had been pretty good, the cost-of-living raises had come promptly, and once he had even been given a bonus that financed a nice vacation in the south of France. But a man of his abilities should not be stuck doing chores in libraries. He should be in a courtroom, where his eloquence and, yes, his personal charm and charisma would not only be winning cases, but would be putting the best possible face on Wayne Enterprises.

He was not done with Lucius Fox or, for that matter, with Bruce Wayne.

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32  
What's with the spoiler tag? Batman's secret identity is no secret to us. – PointlessSpike Mar 23 at 15:11
7  
@PointlessSpike - I wouldn't tell him that. – Valorum Mar 23 at 15:11
3  
There's no secret. Batman has no secret identity. – PointlessSpike Mar 23 at 15:15
20  
@PointlessSpike -- wait, Batman is Bruce Wayne? Ahh, a lot of things make more sense now. But, why do they have different voices? – Malvolio Mar 23 at 19:02
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@Richard -- "The extract works, but it has a horrible side effect: it transforms him into a hideous man-sized bat." Next, I bet he will pay more attention to the end of the ad, the part where the announcer says, "May cause stomach update, nausea, excessive sweating, transformation into a hideous giant bat, or dry mouth." – Malvolio Mar 23 at 19:27

I believe the entire quote was:

Lucius Fox: Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands; and your plan, is to blackmail this person?

[pause, Reese looks nervous]

Lucius Fox: Good luck.

So it is obvious that Lucius Fox is not stating outright that Wayne is Batman. However, he is pointing out that if Reese believes Wayne is Batman, would the safe course of action be to blackmail him?

The evidence found by Reese is pretty incriminating. Fox is not denying Wayne is Batman. He's just pointing out that its in Reese's own interest to keep this discovery quiet.

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15  
+1. Aside from being funny, Fox's skeptical response is perfectly reasonable. He's not admitting to anything. A similar reaction would be appropriate if someone told him Bruce Wayne was a wizard, or a werewolf, or the head of the Illuminati (none of which are true). – Royal Canadian Bandit Mar 23 at 9:28
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IIRC, the entire quote (from the movie) also included "Good luck..." at the end. :) – reirab Mar 23 at 14:55
    
@reirab I had forgotten about that. Edited to include it. Thanks! – ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 Mar 24 at 4:12
2  
TIL Bruce Wayne is the head of the Illuminati. – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Mar 24 at 4:35

Here's the entire quote:

Fox: What can I do for you, Mr. Reese?

Reese: You asked me to do the diligence on the LSI Holdings deal again. I found irregularities.

Fox: Their CEO is in police custody.

Reese: Not with their numbers. With yours. Applied Sciences, a whole division of Wayne Industries disappeared, overnight. So I went down to the archives and started pulling old files.

He pulls out a folded blueprint. Slides it across the desk.

Fox picks up the piece of paper. Unfolds it. It's an old BLUEPRINT. The image is unmistakeable: THE TUMBLER.

Reese (cont'd): Don't tell me you didn't recognise your baby pancaking cop cars on the evening news. But now you've got the entire R and D department burning cash, claiming it's related to cell phones for the army. What are you building him now? A rocket ship?

Reese (cont'd): I want ten million dollars a year. For the rest of my life.

Fox looks at him. Even. Folds up the blueprint.

Fox: Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands... (deadpan) And your plan is to blackmail this person?

Reese stares at Fox. Who smiles. And slides the blueprint across the desk.

Fox: Good luck.

Reese looks at it. Then at Fox. Swallows. Slides it back.

I had to type this out, copying from the screenplay, so there may be small errors.

No, he doesn't show that he has anything directly identifying Wayne as Batman. But he does at the very least have evidence that Wayne and Lucius were supporting him. Given Batman's lone-wolf nature, it's not a stretch to think Wayne IS Batman. And he may have had other evidence we don't see.

Lucius is a smart guy. He knows that the best way to deal with it is to actually encourage the belief that Wayne is Batman. Because if he is, he's trying to blackmail Batman and that's a colossally bad idea. But he doesn't say anything to admit it- on the contrary, you could take it to be a healthy scepticism.

Reese's evidence could have been a hell of a threat. Lucius took the only potentially clean way of dealing with the problem, by making the guy too afraid to do anything about what he'd found. It wasn't a perfect solution by any means, because if he'd been less easily rattled he would have stood his ground and Lucius would have had no choice but to accede to his demands.

In the end, Reese must have realised that if he went public, he could at least sell the information for a fair bit and the publicity would mean Wayne couldn't touch him, because he did attempt to go public, causing The Joker to put a hit on him.

I suspect after that he would have kept it quiet, because a threat from someone like The Joker carries much more weight because he has no foolproof defence against his thugs, even if the man himself is in jail.

EDIT: After comments showing that it plays out slightly differently in the film itself, I've updated it while listening to the dialogue in the movie.

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Why did you type it out instead of just copying from the screenplay? – Valorum Mar 23 at 16:00
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The screenplay was just an image, clearly typed out on a typewriter and photographed. I probably could have looked online for a text version, but I find typing while I read strangely relaxing. I used this one: stephenfollows.com/resource-docs/scripts/dark_knight._The_.pdf – PointlessSpike Mar 23 at 16:03
    
The copy at Nolanfans is searchable; nolanfans.com/library/pdf/thedarkknight-screenplay.pdf. Top tip, ABBYY FInereader can OCR a PDF in seconds. Failing that, you can always freehand type a few words and then google them with quote marks. If the exact phrase is found, it'll show up as a searchable text version. – Valorum Mar 23 at 16:06
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I don't think the part where Reese talks about "my kids love Batman" and "a rich kid playing dress up" made it to the final cut. At least not in the versions I've seen or the Youtube videos I checked. This changes things, because without those lines Reese never directly accuses Bruce. – Javier Mar 23 at 17:50
    
@Javier You're right. This quote is pretty diffierent, and he doesn't mention anything about a "rich kid". youtube.com/watch?v=1z6o1GIEsQE – Patrick M Mar 23 at 19:58

Wayne Industries, like most companies in that kind of films, is de facto equivalent to its head/CEO. And actually, how would such an industry be in contact with an "external" Batman? not cheap stuff he's buying... only possibility is for its boss/CEO to be Batman, because he doesn't need to pay or had enough money anyway. The real-life complexity where the upper ranks don't have a clue about what the company does (think about Microsoft and the countless management levels between developers and CEO) is mostly absent in those films.

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4  
I don't know that I agree with that. It's one thing to infer that the CEO is aware, or even promoting, certain shady activities, and a whole different thing to conclude that the CEO is personally carrying out these activities. To give you an analogy, suppose that a journalist uncovers evidence that the US government has ordered the assassination of some political rivals. It is (to a certain extent) reasonable to suppose that the President is aware of this, and might even have greenlit it, but do you want to infer that he himself is going out there, personally shooting people? – Koldito Mar 24 at 9:09

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