The scene has been set for the past 7 years. When Christopher Nolan was announced as the director for the Batman Reboot I was shocked, confused, and very much looking forward to it.
I’ve been a Batman fan since the first time I picked up one of my Dad’s comics. This spurred on my love for the campy TV show starring Adam West as well as the movie. Then I was introduced to the Dark Knight with Tim Burton’s Batman movies where I started liking the grittier story lines and deeper lying agony that came more apparent through Keaton’s depiction of Bruce Wayne.
Unfortunately we were then subjected to Joel Schumacher’s atrocities known as Batman Forever and Batman & Robin in all their Bat Nipple glory which effectively killed the franchise and destroyed any hope for a good superhero movie for a few years.
Which brought us to chapter one of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, starting with Batman Begins which drew heavily from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and Jeph Loeb’s Batman: The Long Halloween.
Nolan knew what he wanted to do, to start fresh, we know the story of how Wayne donned the mantle of the Bat and have known for years, but we never felt the depth of his torment till now.
Nolan then followed up with The Dark Knight, brought back the iconic Joker like we’d never seen him before. The only time I’d been more frightened by the Joker than Heath Ledger’s depiction had been from Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. Ledger’s Joker carried the second film and concreted in my mind the dedication that Nolan was showing us.
So when I heard the Dark Knight Rises was going to be bringing back one of the worst villians ever portrayed in a Batman film, I was a little nervous at first. Then I re-read the Knightfall story line written predominantly by Chuck Dixon. Knightfall is the storyline in which Bane shows he belongs at the top of the Rogue’s Gallery.
Almost every major detail from Knightfall is portrayed in The Dark Knight Rises in one form or another. (Here’s where I would normally break this down into it’s multiple parts of Book vs Movie but since the movie is still in theaters I’m gonna wait on that for now. I’m trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum.)
From the opening scene of the film I knew I’d made the right choice to put my faith in Nolan’s writing abilities and directorial prowess. We get introduced to a new Gotham, 8 years have passed since The Dark Knight. Crime is at an all time low due to the Dent Act that was passed posthumously after Batman takes the blame for killing Harvey Dent (Two-Face) which enabled the Gotham PD the power to incarcerate major players in the underworld without bail indefinitely.
Then the action begins.
The Dark Knight Rises is a smashing two hours and fourty four minutes long. And it feels like an hour at the most. I could have stayed seated after the movie ended and watched it right away again.
The Dark Knight Rises shows us the dangers and benefits of being a peaceful society, what makes us weak and what makes us strong and how we react to problems and emergencies.
Bane is a super genius and even though he’s traded in his luchador mask from the comics for his Darth Vader-esque breathing apparatus and has never entered into the Venom world (A wise choice seeing how well people liked the last Bane’s appearance in Batman & Robin) he is portrayed with such ferocity by Tom Hardy that you can’t help but love to hate him. He doesn’t even come off as a ‘Bad’ guy, he’s a mercenary fulfilling a quest.
There’s never a time when I despised what he was doing, I knew it was wrong but the way in which he presented his story and his plans to everyone in the city, you couldn’t help but begin to wonder “What if?”. Would we so quickly fall to the looting and murder the way the people of Gotham did? And that is from coming out of 8 years of relative peace, not the (for lack of a better word) normal world we do live in.
Nolan was able to bring back the Rogue’s Gallery so many times over with Bane, The Joker, and, my new favorite, Catwoman. Anne Hathaway’s take on Selina Kyle blows all other Catwomen out of the water. The Catwoman in TDKR is the newer hipper Catwoman, she’s tough as nails and not afraid of a firearm. She is Batman’s polar opposite which makes their partnership in and out of their costumes so much more enjoyable. They are able to play in the real world and really get at each other while hooded.
The greatest addition to the series was Officer Blake played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Blake is a up and coming rookie on the GPD who is quite adept at picking up on clues. He’s driven. He’s a protege in essence to Commissioner Gordon, again played by Gary Oldman, again in top form.
If you have not yet seen this movie, you need to add it to your weekend plans. Or go tonight. Just see the greatest ‘Third’ movie I’ve ever seen.
Series movies never work. Until now.