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In Batman Begins there is a scene where William Earle fires Lucius Fox. I just watched the movie for the first time so I may have missed something, but it seemed out of place.

At the time he is fired there is no reason provided, but there is a quote later when Lucius is speaking with Bruce which states the apparent reason:

Lucius Fox: [about the microwave emitter] Earle just fired me for asking too many questions about it.

It appears we have a cannon answer, but it doesn't seem like a very good one. So, are we given any more clues as to why he was fired or is there anything to support that he was fired for asking too many questions about the emitter?

It seems odd that Earle went to Lucius to tell him about the emitter and ask him for information and then to fire him for asking too much about it. Fox was already banished, if there was another reason I assume he could have just been fired earlier.

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3 Answers

To be honest, that was something which also bothered me when watching it the first times. Why fire him just for asking this single question? But it certainly makes sense, even if probably not written that well:

Fox has always been a thorn in the eye of Earle, who banished him into the dead end the R&D department is (or was). So when going to him he just needs some information about this emitter. But Lucious asking this slightly curious question ("you don't miss one, do you?" or something similar) was probably a bit too much for Earle's nerves at this point and he probably also intepreted a bit of a spitefulness into this question (which might even have been intended by Fox). So at this point Earle was just too fed up with Fox and did what he was going to do sooner or later anyway.

EDIT: And as Morpheus adds in his comment, Fox also makes a good scapegoat to blame for the loss of such a valuable R&D item.

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+1 makes sense, i think when a major shipment gets misplaced and i'd assume earle wanted to find a scapegoat to put that on, and fox by his comment worked his way into being one –  Dredd Nov 7 '12 at 15:27
    
@Morpheus +1 Good point about finding a scapegoat, didn't think about this! –  Napoleon Wilson Nov 7 '12 at 16:11
    
Did Earle actually send a memo, or did he fire him on the spot for asking too many questions? –  Firee Mar 21 at 9:11
    
@Firee I guess the part with the "memo" was just a little throwaway line. But in fact I didn't even get that he was actually fired druing this dialogue, I only realized it at the party when Lucius said it to Bruce, but then again I'm also rather unsensitive for subtext. –  Napoleon Wilson Mar 21 at 9:17
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I think another remark of Lucius Fox hit Earl a bit more than the question: the one about the illegality of the experiments done with the microwave emitter. I think it also served as a direct motive to eliminate Earle from the company at the end of the movie. –  Vedran Šego Apr 4 at 15:31
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It's also because the board wants Wayne Enterprises to go public, and Fox doesn't believe in breaking up Thomas Wayne's legacy. They successfully do this, but then, Fox is heavily involved in keeping Bruce in the loop, keeping him well informed and well guarded. This is bad news for the board having control of the majority shares. Fox rattles cages and it is messing up their plans.

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I thought it was strange particularly given how he does it in that scene.

"Could you please gather up all the damning documentation that implicates Wayne enterprises in losing a weapon of mass destruction? Oh by the way, I'm firing you before you complete my instructions and are totally able to just take those files and walk out the front door with them?"

Entrusting a clearly disgruntled employee with those files is ridiculous. Unless...

Willaim Earle worked for Ras Al Ghul.

Earle may be clueless to the significance of this action. But Ra's Al Ghul knows things Earle doesn't. Consider the aftermath of Ra's Al Ghul's terrorist attack on Gotham; The ensuing investigation. A piece of stolen experimental Waynetech killed an American city. If they look at Wayne Enterprises books they are going to find that there was in fact someone that was stealing military hardware from Wayne Enterprises and using them for acts of violence in Gotham.

Ras was framing Bruce Wayne for killing Gotham. His coup de gras to the Wayne family legacy. Earle may not have known what was happening, but Ras bragged about infiltrating every level of Gotham. Earle got off light at the end of the movie.

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