—by Nathan on May 20, 2012—
With the release of Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman movie a little over two months away, what you should be expecting is a few more Batman blogs, most likely Dark Knight Rises related. Being as anxious as I am, I feel like I can use the time I have to wait to get out my theories and, as the blog title states, expectations. There may be one or two more blogs (or maybe three or more) regarding this movie, but I bet you there are people even more obsessed than I am. Like those guys who nit-pick every frame of the Batman preview, searching for clues to give more insight into a story that has remained mostly shrouded in mystery. The big picture seems mostly revealed, but the nitty-gritty details seem to be hiding, waiting to be uncovered. Most likely, we'll figure it all out when the movie releases in theaters, but, until then, we can enjoy concocting our own theories and whatnot. So, this blog is about what I am personally waiting for...and maybe a couple of things I won't be too excited about, if they occur. But, we'll start with the good.
WHAT I AM EXPECTING: Christopher Nolan, as I have said before, is no slouch. He's not been burdened with a bad reputation. In fact, it's just the opposite. He's a brilliant storyteller and director. His Prestige is one of two movies with endings that have left me slack-jawed. His Inception was absolutely amazing in concept and story. Batman Begins was a good job at introducing Batman to new viewers, especially after the flop that was Batman and Robin. And The Dark Knight needs no mention. So, I have a lot riding on this movie. I'm certain it can't top TDK (because much of why I love that movie is because of Heath Ledger), but I bet it can do better than Batman Begins and maybe even Inception. What am I looking forward to? Why (other than the reason that this film is the sequel to my all-time favorite film) would I love to go see the midnight showing the first day it comes out? I'll tell you why. Now, these topics are mostly based on guesses gathered from previews and my own comic book knowledge. They may be right, but they may be wrong. Again, we'll just have to see.
The Story: It's a simple equation. Christopher Nolan plus story equals awesome. As stated before, his other films have great plots and twists and characterization. He knows how to rein in an audience and keep their attention for the duration of the movie. He's capable of keeping just enough secrets so as not to bug the viewer but to keep him guessing. He captures emotion well, through dialogue and such. Now, unless you start thinking this is a Nolan blog only, let me move on to TDKR's plot, or, at least, what I can figure. This film takes place eight years after the events of TDK. From what I can tell, Batman (Christian Bale) is either still fighting crime as a vigilante hunted by the cops or has retired, living and getting older as Bruce Wayne (which would be somewhat reminiscent of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns...also titled TDKR). Certain things haven't changed. Alfred (Michael Caine) is still his loyal butler. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) is still the commish. I think even the mayor may be the same guy, but I'm not certain as to that. But some things have changed. A guy in a preview mutters something this being "peace time." So what does that mean? That there's been a lack of crime? Gotham without crime? That sounds crazy. Or is he taking a jab at Batman, saying that he was a nuisance who stirred up trouble and, now that he's seemingly gone, Gotham doesn't need to be bothered by him. Whatever it is, Gotham's a different place. And, since it has been a while since the last big terrorist attack or super criminal has come around, Bane (Tom Hardy) decides to shake things up. Kinda literally, as he seems to be the character who likes to blow things up. Bridges. Football fields. It also doesn't seem like he's alone or, at least, he's being supplied. In the newest preview, he's shown in a plane. Suddenly, these guys in black jumpsuits come down and free him...and the wings of the plane happen to be ripped off forcefully. Is Bane working for someone? If so, who? There is speculation that Talia al Ghul (daughter of Ra's al Ghul, the villain from Batman Begins) is in the film. If she's here, is she Bane's benefactor? And does she want revenge? The story also focuses around other characters, including Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and a cop character (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who may be Robin, but more on him in a bit. What roles will they have? Catwoman is shown getting into a Bat-plane with the Dark Knight Detective, so is she an ally? Selina Kyle (her true identity) is shown dancing with Bruce Wayne, telling him about a storm coming. Does that mean a storm for Wayne personally? Or does she know who he is when he's not being the bachelor millionaire? There are a lot of questions to be answered, but they will hopefully be answered well.
Bane: Villain-wise, the bruiser Bane is a lot different than the Joker, Two-Face, or Scarecrow. The Joker was strategical and liked doing his villainy from a distance, only getting physical when he was certain he had the upper hand. Likewise, Two-Face and Scarecrow weren't the most likely of guys who'd want to get into a fistfight with Batman. Bane seems different. Though he does appear to be the type of guy who enjoys explosions, perhaps this is only to lure Batman out of his possible retirement. Scenes do show Bane and Batman duking it out. Finally, Batman has an enemy who can test him physically. This will especially be heightened by the fact that it's been eight years since TDK. Batman's older. And Bane isn't the dumb brute from Joel Schumacher's movie. The guy in the comics was a strategist, and this Bane appears to be too. He also has a really cool muzzle-like mask, unlike the wrestler-type mask he's had in comics and on television. It gives him a creepy appearance, like a dog that needs to be chained. Another thing I'm expecting about Bane is what he'll do. Without a doubt, Bane's most famous story arc is the very first one he was in: Knightfall. Batman fans should know that Bane's finest moment came in a single panel, where he slams an already beaten Caped Crusdaer into his knee, breaking his back and becoming immortalized as the man who broke the Bat. Scenes show Bane staring down at what seems to be a defeated Batman. Is this after he snaps his back? Christopher Nolan has taken comic stories for his plots in the other Batman movie. Having Bane be in this film will have fans screaming for him to use the Knightfall story. Let's hope he delivers (small note: Bruce Wayne also carries a cane, so I gotta wonder if this will be because of Bane's injury or is due to something else earlier). Previews show Bane in what I'm pretty sure is the Bat-cave. This makes me wonder just where Nolan will insert this dramatic and life-altering confrontation between Batman and Bane. The most recent preview paints a gloomy picture of hopelessness. Is this because Batman hasn't chosen to come out of retirement? Or is it because he's incapable of doing so because Bane just broke his spine? Dum-dum-dum. Also, what is Bane planning to do AFTER he's defeated Batman? And is he even planning to KILL Batman in their epic showdown? In one preview, Bane looks down at Batman and says in his gravelly, I-have-marbles-in-my-mouth voice, "When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die." So is he even gonna kill Batman? Or does he want to have a bit of fun first? Scenes in previews show him with prisoners. Does he start a riot? Or does this all happen before he breaks Batman, using the breakout like the explosions, to draw Batman out? All I can tell is Bane has plans beyond killing Batman (plus, the cane may prove he doesn't kill Batman right away, unless this is due to an injury received previously).
WHAT I'M NOT EXPECTING: Maybe I shouldn't say these things are not what I'm expecting...it may be more appropriate to say they're things I don't want to happen. There are some things that I think Nolan could leave out. I'm not saying that, if in case these things do happen, the movie will be ruined. I'm just saying I really hope they don't happen.
Robin: This is really the major area I hope Nolan stays away from. His Batman is, if nothing else, a solo hero. He has his allies, sure, but I don't think he needs a tight-wearing, "Holy whatever"-shouting sidekick. With it looking like Catwoman already being an ally, the last thing Batman (and the audience) needs is another character in spandex running around Gotham City. That just means an origin story to somehow squeeze into a movie that already seems jam-packed. And with no mention of any of the three main boys who become Robin (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Tim Drake) in the previous films, to introduce one of them would seem too fast. Is it possible that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character could very be the Boy Wonder? Apparently, the answer is "yes." Should that happen? For me, the answer is "no." It would just be weird. Gordon-Levitt doesn't seem the type of guy who'd I view as a "Boy Wonder." For one, he seems a little too old. Secondly, I know he's a cop, but is really capable of the acrobatics and moves necessary of being Robin? Again, it would seem too quick. I'm already a little iffy on the appearance of Catwoman, so having Nolan put in a Robin would irritate me a bit. Of course, people could ask themselves "Well, if Batman DOES get his back broken by Bane, who's gonna stop the guy? If there's no Robin, who?" Not to diss Catwoman, but I'm not sure she could take on the task. If Batman couldn't do it, I don't think she could. Batman has trained for years, going around the world and learning from various people. Unless Gordon-Levitt's character or Catwoman can boast an equal amount of training, they really have no chance. So, I really have no idea who's gonna stop Bane, but I really hope Nolan doesn't stick in a Robin just so he can solve that problem (in the comics, a character named Azazel dons a suit of armor and beats the snot outta Bane...seeing as this Bane is nowhere near the size of his comic counterpart, having anyone go Iron Man on him seems fairly unlikely...but that does beg the question: Is Joseph-Gordon Levitt Azazel? Gosh, who IS this guy? Heck, he'll probably turn up to be some cop...I mean, he IS a cop, but he may turn out to be JUST a cop).
The Death of Bruce Wayne/Batman Replacement: The tagline of the movie is "The Legend Ends." But people must ask the question: "Whose legend exactly is ending?" Batman's? Bruce Wayne's? Both?" Some people have gotten the idea into their heads that Bruce Wayne may not survive this movie. I hope he does. Bruce Wayne IS Batman. Sure, you could find another guy to fill the role (and if Gordon-Levitt became Batman instead of Robin, I'd be a teensy less disappointed). There's gotta be someone out there who's willing to put on a mask and fight crime. The other Batman movies have made small mentionings at Bruce Wayne quitting being Batman and finding someone to succeed him, to take up the mantle of the Bat. Someone even questioned Harvey Dent if he'd be willing to take the job (but we know how he turns out...). The problem I have with this supposed replacement is threefold: First, who is trained well enough to take on Batman's role? Whoever this guy is would need training. Of course, you could end the movie with him taking the oath, with the idea he'll be a Batman figure in the future, but that would be unfulfilling. With training, it's, again, an example of cramming. Secondly, having a character come in with abilities and qualifications already would seem like too much of a crazy coincidence. "Hey, I just so happen to be as well-trained as Batman is, so is it all right if I put on that mask and throw some Batarangs around?" I don't see that being possible without some raised eyebrows. Thirdly, a new Batman could very well elicit a new story. And I know for a fact that this is Nolan's final movie. Leaving a brand-new Batman would seem to fail what I believe he's looking for. I think that, with this movie, Nolan's wrapping things up. Bringing in a new Batman would totally defeat that purpose. So I have no idea with what Nolan is doing. Besides (and I guess this counts as a fourth reason), ths movie IS titled "The Dark Knight Rises" not "The Dark Knight Rises...Then Falls Down After His Back Is Broken And Is Killed" or something to that effect. I have two theories for the title, actually. I think it could either be refering to the fact that Batman rises from his retirement and gets back into the good graces of the citizens of Gotham OR rises after Bane defeats him and brings the hurt onto his enemy. After way, it's a title of hope, showing that you can't keep a good hero down forever. "The Dark Knight" was about Bruce as Batman. This isn't "The Dark Knight's Replacement Rises." (TDKRR?) Like I said, Bruce Wayne IS Batman. Nolan's Batman. You can't replace him. If someone substitutes, maybe I could accept that. But not a full-fledged replacement. I honestly don't think Bruce is going to die. He'll be hurt; he may even be broken, but I don't think Nolan will kill him.
I am uber-excited. This project has been mostly hidden. Who knows? All of these expectations could be wrong...or some of them could be right. I just gotta wait and see. But I'm pretty certain that this movie is going to be spectacular. Nolan is not a failure. He's awesome. This movie will totally have the distinctive Nolan touch, and I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls a twist on us! I cannot wait. Two months, pretty much exactly...and we'll see just how much both Batman and Nolan rise.