Dissecting The Dark Knight Rises: Ending Nolan's Batman

Zac:  The Dark Knight Rises supposedly brings us to the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and the reactions to it have been fairly positive for the most part (Zac’s Review).  Still, the latest Batman film leaves a lot to be discussed and Lauren and I have decided to get into spoilers to see what really worked, and what didn’t, for the film.

Lauren:  That’s right; feel free to read this in your Batman voice.

The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight.  Bruce Wayne has basically been a hermit within the confines of his house, attracting peeing in jars jokes from the people of Gotham as his body retires itself to the wear and tear of… something…  Is it from his short stint as a vigilante?  Maybe, I don’t know.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  All that matters is that crime fighting has been improved so much thanks to the memory of Harvey Dent and what he had planned for the city, so much so that Gotham has found itself without its Caped Crusader.  Dare I say thank God Bane decides to step in?

Zac: No, you shouldn’t thank anyone, as Bane is a bad man.

As for someone who knows what it is like to have no cartilage left in a joint or two (my knees), Bruce’s arthritis simply comes from years of kicking the shit out of himself and spending a year plus jumping off buildings and taking the impact of those falls right in our bodies natural shocks. Wayne with a limp after eight more years of age, wear and tear hardly seems like a stretch.

Back to Bane, I don’t think anyone in Gotham was happy to see him show up (especially the football team) and while it was cool to get to see Batman back on the streets it all comes at a pretty high cost.  Was the destruction worth it so Bruce Wayne could find some catharsis and run away with a woman he kisses twice?

Lauren:  Don’t even get me started on Bruce Wayne’s lady issues.  It was like they were trying to do what they did to James Bond in Casino Royale, but instead of having a gap between movies to have him become the ladies man we know him to be like Bond does, Wayne makes this transition rather awkwardly after following two films with a quick turn around of depression to finding replacements.  He’s all: “I miss Rachel.  She was my everything: my future, my life.  I cannot live on.  Hey look at these ladies!  Bone bone bone…”

And yes I am going to thank Bane (Tom Hardy), as well as Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) while we’re at it.  Maybe even Dr. Crane / Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) in his brief cameo.  They actually deserve my gratitude more than Christian Bale because they brought more to this film for me than he did as Batman on the whole (don’t worry, I got just as teary eyed for Batman’s back-breaking beat down as I did for Bane’s slow tears when Talia al Ghul speaks of his connection to her).

Then again maybe this was the point.  The message coming out of this one is that Batman is a symbol for the people of Gotham instead of just being about Bruce Wayne as Batman, no matter how synonymous those two are in my mind.  Which is why I have dubbed this film Gotham Rises, because the physical presence of Batman is about as important to this movie as Bane’s thugs, leaving plenty of space for the Boy Wonder to step up to the plate.

Zac: First, the “Boy Wonder” is not in this film; Blake is taking over the mantle of Batman even if they stupidly named him Robin.  Nolan hates the character of Robin and everything surrounding the “Boy Wonder.”

Secondly, you need to stop taking your crazy pills because Bale is the best part of this movie.  He is so good as a reluctant Batman and even better as a broken Bruce Wayne.  The prison scenes with Wayne stuck at the bottom of the pit were probably my favorites in the film, minus the expositional old guys, and the imagery of him climbing that wall is one of the highlights of the year.

As for the lack of the Bat you mention above, it made his appearances so much more impactful when he does show up.  The most chill-inducing scene of the film was the initial return of Batman in the motorcycle/Bat-Pod chase scene and it was because the feeling of him missing from this world was palpable.  While I will say we could have used a bit more of Gotham’s reactions when it comes to Batman’s return, the lighting up of the improvised Bat Signal on the bridge means so much more with him being gone for so long. We didn’t get enough of the Gothamites perspective if you ask me, which makes your retitling of the film seem a bit off to me.

Lauren:  Firstly, as for the “Boy Wonder” you need to stop being so against him being “Robin,” especially because Nolan is out now so his feelings about the character don’t really apply anymore.  Clearly he is not Dick Grayson considering his backstory had nothing to do with the big top, so there’s no reason to worry about him not being Batman (though there are plenty of other Robins to pull from).  But if you’re still concerned about it just know that in the comics Robin becomes Nightwing, who becomes Batman at some point as well to fill in for Wayne.  Personally I would just prefer for him to show some differences from Bruce Wayne’s Batman so it is more of a continuation in the world that still includes Wayne instead of feeling like a simple way to continue on the series with a different actor.

Secondly, I take SSRIs and not crazy pills so I would appreciate you getting that correct.  And with my mind clear from all the crazy, I could see that Bale was shown up by Hardy easily, even with only the area around his eyes showing and Darth Vader’s grandpa’s voice.  I get it; you have a thing for leading men.  Now stop working on your doodles of Michael Fassbender and Bale splitting wood and wresting alligators in a manly fashion and turn up the heat in your theater because I would hardly call his return chill inducing, even if it alludes to the first time he drove through the streets of Gotham.  The black outs with the EMP gun were pretty great, especially with the inclusion of the cop saying that his younger partner was in for a show, but his second return with the burning sign was the moment when I finally thought “He’s back!”

Unfortunately with Batman being a shadow of the man he once was, knee brace or no, I was disappointed by his showing here because he was just a part of the whole and not “The Batman.”  I’m not saying he has to go back to blending Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Gadget, and legend, but obviously there’s a reason emulating a reluctant boxer led to his body being shattered by the man who showed him up from start to finish.  At least show me the grappling gun, gliding, and more batarangs (though I guess his little bat darts count for that)!

As for the name, I retitled it Gotham Rises because it was all about the citizens of Gotham rising against the upper crust and/or rising against Bane as they survive their own Arkham City.  I didn’t rename it Gotham Citizens React.

Zac: Enough about Batman though, how about Bane and his plan?  Do you think it worked/made-sense, did you find the villain compelling?  And what about the twist with Talia al Ghul?

Lauren:  As for Bane, I spent the majority of the movie scowling at him because he was just a brute force destroying Gotham, but I did really appreciate the writers giving him the connection to the League of Shadows, as well as a “fail me and I won’t think twice about snapping your neck” mentality.  With that said, I really connected to Bane (thanks in large part to Hardy, as I’ve mentioned) once Batman started tearing apart his mask and Talia revealed herself.  There was just something about this moment that made him seem like an abused puppy with a strong connection to the one person who was nice to him so he would do anything for her, and my heart broke for him.  As for Talia, I always appreciate something with a world this large finding ways to work in characters to remind you that they’re still there, trapped in Gotham as well, such as with Scarecrow showing up.  But more importantly, her presence and motives bookend the trilogy.

Zac: For the record, I love Bane’s voice more every time I think of it.  His and Talia’s plan is an odd one, but, like you, I love how it brings the series full circle.  The fact that so much of their plan was tied to making Bruce Wayne suffer comes back to bite them in the ass and I appreciate that this is what foils them and not some arbitrary malfunction or something; Ra’s al Ghul would have had to banish his own daughter as well.

I do wish the plot didn’t have to take months to play out as that was the part of the film that really is the weakest.  All of this cross cutting and practically pushing the fast forward on the events of Gotham, I almost wish they would have stayed away from the city until Bruce made it back; not at the 11th hour mind you.  I mean, really, tracking trucks is supposed to be narratively interesting?  I did like how Talia tricked Gordon though and put him on the wrong scent.

Lauren:  I honestly appreciated not being with Bruce in the pit constantly because I don’t need to see him do all of his crunches and push ups to get back in shape.  And to beat the dead horse, this was yet another editing choice that furthers the idea that Batman can be anyone.  This isn’t a story about Bruce Wayne, so not being with him makes sense.

However, that doesn’t mean I want to see him die, and honestly would have been peeved had that happened.  His flight off into the distance with the bomb was another watery eye moment, yet the reveal that he’s out there somewhere, living a happy life (for now.  Let’s face it, he’s with Catwoman) didn’t feel like it robbed us of anything.  Plus he now has the potential to come back and train Robin…  Shh, a girl can dream!

Zac: Are you trying to tick me off with the Robin references?   His name is John Blake!  Plus, it’s Selina Kyle; they never call her Catwoman.

I am not going to lie; I wish they had the balls to kill him off.  I was in awe that they seemed to be doing it and I was a little pissed when it was revealed that he wasn’t.  The music cue, Nolan’s set up and Caine’s performance make the moment work, but I was more upset that they played fast and loose with the editing.  They show Batman in the Bat after the thing had flown over water and then five seconds later, boom!  At least they could have not cheated.

I do also love that Blake decides to take up the cape, but I am not going to lie, I wish we got to see JGL in the suit.  Do you think Warner Bros. should try and continue this universe with JGL as a new Batman or would you rather see them take another spin on the material?  I for one would love to see JGL continue as Blake and keep Nolan’s universe alive.

Lauren:  You know she’s Catwoman!  They never called John Blake Batman either; they called him Robin.  So maybe it’s not in your best interest to play the name game.  Speaking of Robin, I would love to see Warner Bros. continue this version of the Batman story with Robin taking up the cape, no matter what outfit he’s wearing.  Personally I don’t think JGL has the body type for Batman when we compare him to Bale, so unless they revamp the suit I’d put him in something closer to Nightwing.  Or maybe Robin.  Robin Robin Robin.  (For the record I don’t see any red and green tights in our future.)

For me it’s going to be hard seeing someone else playing Batman after Nolan’s trilogy, but there are too many untapped characters in the universe to not continue on in this world.  Give it a few years, the bat-signal will light up the sky soon enough.

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2 thoughts on “Dissecting The Dark Knight Rises: Ending Nolan's Batman

  1. Ohh, I felt the Casino Royale connection too! I don’t have a big problem with the ending, it just could have been better. If Nolan would have taken out the 5 seconds ’til detonation editing trick, and if he was more ambiguous regarding Wayne and Selina at the cafe, I think it would have been a more effective end to the trilogy.

    Why couldn’t we get a montage of Wayne working out in the prison? Even Rocky had a montage…

    My prediction is that Jonathan Nolan will make his directorial debut by creating the next movie in the series. Be it Nightwing, Robin, or as the guy sitting next to me in the theater enthusiastically said: “Ahhhh, he’s gonna be BAT-BOY!”

  2. The whole scene in the prison was basically a montage. A great one at that.

    I think the ending at the cafe works better if they don’t do the whole Batman, then 5 seconds, then boom editing. Everything at the cafe works so wonderfully independently, the music rushing in, Caine’s reaction, the simple smirk and nod from Bale, its perfect. It works better the second time and I think if they didn’t trick you with the editing of the bomb sequence we would just be won over instead of wondering, “how did you get out of there?”

    No Robin! And that is an interesting thought about Jonathan Nolan, don’t think it will happen though. I hope they keep the universe alive with JGL and he brings in his buddy Rian Johnson to do at least one more movie. After Looper, WB won’t mind giving him the keys.

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