Is it any surprise that the brand new The Dark Knight Rises looks amazing? Actually, yeah. As anyone outside of the self-obsessed Academy of Motion Pictures understands, The Dark Knight is one of the better films of the last decade, and even Christopher Nolan and crew are going to be hard-pressed to deliver another movie on that level. Plus, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers just permanently raised the bar for superhero movies. With the fast-approaching, and highly anticipated arrivals of both Amazing Spider-Man and Prometheus, comic book and science fiction fans are not putting all their anticipation eggs in The Dark Knight Rises’ basket.
But of course, all we needed was a few minutes of footage presented by Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the latest of Nolan’s circle of pet actors to join the Bat universe) to remember that no other 2012 movie has any business being as highly anticipated as this one. What’s the word, guys? The word is “epic.”
Although Batman Begins prided itself on bringing some much-needed realism to a franchise plagued by campiness, an apocalyptic mood permeates trailers for The Dark Knight Rises. This newest Batman installment looks to build on The Dark Knight set pieces, like the hospital explosion with street-wide riots, the destruction of a football field (still no word on what exactly is up with that), and what appears to be the midair robbery of an airplane by another airplane. Oh yeah, and the Batmobile can fly. This movie might end up beating The Avengers at its own epic game.
So what can be surmised about the plot? Just like its two predecessors, this movie will offer two villains: Bane and Catwoman. Unfortunately, if you’re a stickler for plot repetition, it seems like Bane views himself much the same way Heath Ledger’s Joker did: as a harbinger of chaos whose purpose is to both punish and test Batman and Gotham. That’s a common interpretation of the Joker (notably in Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke, where the Joker goes to extreme lengths to prove that he can make Commissioner Gordon just as insane as he is). That said, comic book Bane was a souped-up steroidal freak who provided Batman the same one-dimensional physical challenge that the monster Doomsday did for Superman. This adaptation seems like quite a departure from that, and not just because his wrestling mask has been changed into a voice-altering Darth Vader apparatus that looks like gigantic black teeth. People connected with the movie have described this Bane as “cerebral”. Scenes of Bane walking through the Batcave discarding Batman’s mask, while Bruce Wayne lays wounded on the floor, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s cop character asks Catwoman, “did they kill him?” hints that Bane breaking Batman’s back (like he did in the comics) might still be a possibility. EXCITEMENT.
As for Catwoman, her classic role as a thief seems to have been given some trendy Occupy Wall Street flavor in earlier trailers. Her response to Gordon-Levitt’s inquiries about Bane (“you should be as scared of him as I am”) and the trailer’s ending that sees her accompanying Batman in the aforementioned flying Batmobile hint that she might have some conflicted loyalties here.
Also, don’t be surprised if this movie ends up being set a few years in the future. Again, flying Batmobile. In addition, earlier trailers had characters discussing Gordon’s impending retirement, and Bruce Wayne looks visibly older and more tired than the fresh-faced vigilante of Batman Begins. As literally every trailer has made clear, this is it, the last ride of Nolan and Bale’s Batman. Luckily, he’s going out with a bang.