This is the end for Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises is the last in his Batman trilogy, which fans agree has been the closest in style and plot to the original comic books (at least compared to Tim Burton’s cartoon-like adaptation). Nolan uses accepted cannon by adhering to several versions of the comic books to weave a common story all movie-goers can enjoy (while still nodding to fans) and his huge success with the past films, especially with the heightened PR of Heath Ledger’s talented acting and unfortunate death, has flooded theaters with fanboys and new recruits alike.
The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the previous film, The Dark Knight. Batman has taken the blame for Harvey Dent’s (Aaron Eckhart) death, and has been living in the shadows. Yet, Gotham needs its Dark Knight once more, when the new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) arrives. Naturally, Batman comes to defeat him, or so Gotham hopes.
It is unclear as to how Nolan will portray his characters, because the only information we have is the new trailer – but Batman followers everywhere have been trying to decipher the clues. When Nolan first did Batman Begins, he took fanboys for a spin. The director stayed close to the comic book theme of Bruce leaving for several years to train to fight. However, in the film, Nolan took a lot of liberties and had Bruce learn from criminal masterminds in a Chinese prison, not from Monks like in the books. Also, Nolan decided to have this location to reveal Bruce’s identity to villain Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson).
But for the upcoming movie, the poster work, website, and trailer all allude to the comic’s version, “The Legend Ends:” Bane cripples Batman. Fanboys everywhere are sitting in anticipation to watch this fight. In the comic book, Bane lives his entire childhood behind prison walls reading books, gaining alliances, and essentially creating an army. Bane isn’t only a physical match for Batman, but an intellectual match, making this a battle worth seeing. It’s always refreshing to see a realistic super hero who can be defeated. The fact that Bane cripples Batman, or so we suspect, gives fans the sense that their Dark Knight is mortal. However, Nolan likes to throw in twists that leave even the biggest Batman geeks clueless.
The new film will also showcase other side characters, such as Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon. Though she’s had her own failure of a spin-off film, Catwoman/ Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), the anti-hero, is back. Catwoman’s mystique lies in her multiple personalities (she works for her own self-interest, but helps Batman occasionally, but she can also be a complete villain, or Batman’s mistress of the night). How Nolan will portray her is still unclear, but fans are excited either way.
The trailer seems to say we can expect Catwoman will take villain form when Selina Kyle whispers in Bruce’s ear, “You think this is going to last. There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us,” which implies Selina might be in on several plots to destroy either Bruce, Batman, Gotham City – or all three. Selina could also be implying that she, too, might know Batman’s identity
Although Commissioner Gorden is a side character, he will be prominently featured in the film the way he was in the comic’s reboot, “Year One” by Frank Miller (recently made in to an animated film this year). “Year One” follows Commissioner Gorden as he joins Gotham City’s Police Force and Bruce as he takes his vigilante character to the streets. “Year One” is important in fans’ collections, not only because this is a different version of Batman’s beginning as a crime fighter, but because Gordon discovers Bruce is Batman. Though in Nolan’s film the audience is already familiar with Gordon and Bruce/Batman, the relationship between Gordon and Bruce/Batman featured in this comic will likely be reflected in the new film.
Fans are popping out of the woodwork everywhere for these films from several outlets, with extra media tied to the Batman franchise. The Arkham City video game was recently released and became a best seller and one of the top 10 video games of 2011. There has also been hype pertaining to the new Justice League animated film, “Doom,” which comes out in 2012. The newly added TV show “Young Justice,” featuring the Leagues sidekicks, has also made a splash, entertaining fans of the past TV series “Justice League,” which ran from 2001 to 2006.
What I’m personally excited about is that Nolan wants to avoid Hollywood’s 3D obsession, and focus on IMAX. After seeing the last film on an IMAX screen, especially the scene where the Joker flips over the truck, I know there was no need for 3D – it was real enough; the whole audience jumped. Plus, if Batman was filmed for 3D, it would lose the “dark and mysterious” effect and might come dangerously close to the genre of “Piranha 3D” (2010).
The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters in July, so there’s plenty more to talk about. Until then, though, we’ll have to keep buying tickets to other movies just to see the trailers on the big screen.