The Dark Knight...Stumbled?
A Look at What Rose During the Final Installment
I know, I know. Who am I to question the infinite wisdom of Chris Nolan, the Director/Writer/Face of the Batman Franchise (sorry, Christian Bale). Nolan was responsible for the reboot of the Batman series, but also imbued it with an ominous, brooding tone that even Tim Burton was hesitant to explore, fearing it would scare children. Aside from target audiences, Nolan’s Batman internalized much of his emotions, was fallible, and demonstrated that his super hero “power” came from his will.
The Dark Knight Rises attempted to tie up the series in a nice, little package…or so we were told. I can’t help but think that several Warner Brothers’ executives either didn’t hear that the Nolan/Bale team only wanted to make three, or were stubborn to have potential spin-offs. However, Nolan was overly ambitious in this, and the resulting product was rushed and unfinished at best.
Character and plot development were thrown to the wayside, as covering all primary points in the Batman universe were either alluded to or tangentially touched to appease fans. The character of Bane, though not as familiar as Joker, is ripe with character background and such. Rather than delving into the depths of his mind, as did the previous movie with Joker, Bane’s background is skimmed over, as an aside. Why? Wasn’t the appeal of the second movie the deep, rich plot points and character dialogue? Regardless of Heath Ledger’s tragic and untimely passing, that movie still would have been incredible. Bane appeared astute and hungry for vengeance against Batman. Why not explore it more? Fans APPRECIATE a good soap opera, even if they don’t realize it (see WWE, WWF, and all other “professional wrestling”). Introducing Robin, Catwoman, an alternative police commissioner to replace an incapacitated Gary Oldman, as well as a second love interest in Talia al Goul to Bruce Wayne was too much. There isn’t enough time to delve into these characters properly. The past two movies did a wonderful job in managing their respective character rosters and determining that less was more.
As a result, the tempo was off. It seemed as though Nolan had forgotten the other characters in the Batman series, and wanted to make sure that he left the possibility open that Robin or a new Catwoman could emerge and have their own respective spin-offs. The audience was never fully immersed in the plot points behind these characters, though there is some familiarity with them.
I actually think that the scene in which Bruce Wayne was ensconced in a prison was meticulously done. The problem was I didn’t feel sorry for him. Perhaps it was because he sought out Bane by trusting Catwoman, who he barely knew. The Batman of the first two movies didn’t trust people easily, and especially as a reclusive billionaire for the past eight years, it was hard to see Batman willingly trusting Catwoman. He assumes he knows more about Selena Kyle, Catwoman’s actually name, by going through databases and such. However, the old Batman had a love interest in Rachel Dawes, and was ultimately scarred by her death. For him to resolve these issues almost instantly when he meets Selena Kyle is preposterous.
Bruce Wayne’s transition from recluse to Batman could have been stretched out a bit longer. It would have tied a greater emotional weight to his persona, and locked the audience in. The audience for Batman enjoys emotionally-gripping action, and it wouldn’t have dulled or diluted the movie to stretched out his rehabilitation or at least mental preparation in assuming Batman.
This movie should have been split into two. Bane should have been in the fourth, and the introduction of Robin and Catwoman in the third would have helped set a foundation for the final showdown. The option of having the Scare Crow in the third or fourth film would have allowed for a greater tie-in, and even allowed for threatening the massive take-over of the entire country. Bane’s character could have been larger if that was considered. Granted, Batman rarely leaves Gotham, but the audience may have bought it as a way to one-up The Joker. It would have been interesting to see and hear some of the villains discuss trying to out-do what Joker did in the second. The allusions to villains such as Killer Croc and Mr. Freeze could have also been explorer further or simply jettisoned, depending on the preferences of the Warner Brother executives vetting the films. Additionally, bear in mind that Batman spent a half hour in movie time getting a crooked businessman from Hong Kong back to the United States in The Dark Knight. As long as the plot points are plausible, the audience will follow Batman anywhere. Of course, after these two installments, Bale would HAVE to do the Batman incarnation in the upcoming Justice League. He would have pressure from multiple sources to finish out Batman, and perhaps would have become type-casted as a result. Who knows. To avoid a fourth in this scenario, Nolan simply should have cut out characters that would have necessitated the protraction and expansion of storylines. Simply leaving it as Batman/Catwoman versus Bane/Scarecrow without Robin and Talia al Goul would’ve been more manageable.
All in all, the The Dark Knight Rises raises nothing but questions. Is Batman’s survival indicative of a fourth Nolan/Bale installment, despite numerous reports that they are done? Rapper Jay-Z stated in 2003 that he was retiring, but came back in 2006 with much fanfare. It boosted his revenues and interest in him. While few know for sure whether this is the case, it is interesting to note that Christian Bale as Batman was NOT killed. At the very least, this is interesting fodder for the fans until Batman’s reboot, which has tentatively been slated for 2016.
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