With tickets for the midnight showing going on sale last Tuesday and a series of new TV spots, anticipation for the Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), the final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, expectations could hardly be any higher.
I, for one, will be lining up with millions of others next month to see what could very likely be the best film of the year. But, what should we expect of the most anticipated film this summer? Here are five big questions about the Dark Knight Rises—and how I think they’ll be answered.
1. Can Christopher Nolan meet the largest expectations of his film-making career?
After The Dark Knight, I’m expecting something downright brilliant. I think you could make a good argument that Nolan is the most talented director in Hollywood right now, and he has yet to make a poor film. The man is an artist through-and-through who can craft compelling stories and communicate them powerfully through film. He has his finger on the pulse of our generation.. He knows what makes people feel. His films connect with viewers and take them out of themselves so that they experience the story. Furthermore, Nolan intends to produce quality. If he didn’t think he had a good story in a third Batman film, he would have moved on to something else. Apparently, though, he seems to think that there’s still something left in the tank—new themes to explore and another villain to confront in the legacy of the Caped Crusader.
All those factors culminate with an answer in the affirmative. We will love Nolan’s film and so will the critics, and most the ones who don’t will either lack an appreciation for good films, or just be trying to be different for the sake of being different.
2. Can Anne Hathaway pull off Catwoman?
If there is any place that TDKR stands a good chance of failing, it’s here. Anne Hathaway has done some good work, but deep down inside, a lot of us still see her as the Princess Diaries girl. I suppose she’s taken a few steps out of this typecast with films like Get Smart, but a high-class, bad-ass villain in the Batman universe? I have my doubts.
On top of that, one of the few knocks you could make on Christopher Nolan is that he doesn’t know how to cast women. Nolan likes to use the same actors in his films—read: Tom Hardy, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt—but this will be Hathaway’s first appearance in a Nolan film. The Catwomans before have left some big shoes for her to fill, but hey, people had similar doubts when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker.
3. What sorts of new gadgets will Batman pull out this time?
Batman Begins brought us the Tumbler and gliding cape. The Dark Knight had the bat-bike and sonar-imaging computer. If those weren’t cool enough, it looks like TDKR will up the ante yet again with a bat-wing and some sort of phaser or stun gun. Your guess is as good as mine as to what exactly they’ll do, but remember that TDKR is set eight years in the future. There will be plenty of cool high-tech stuff to go around.
4. What’s the deal with Bane?
It’s hard to say based on the trailers so far. All we hear from Bane is that he is “Gotham’s reckoning,” and he tells Bruce Wayne that his punishment must be more severe than killing him. He’s big, he’s buff, and he seems to be some sort of terrorist leader bent on overthrowing Gotham’s elite.
There’s a certain trajectory that we can trace through the Batman films, however, that might provide another clue. In Batman Begins, the villain’s tactics were built on fear, and it was fear that Batman had to overcome. The Dark Knight stepped this up a notch with the Joker as an agent of chaos whose final goal was to create anarchy by ripping off the masks of law and goodness that society hides behind.
It would seem, then, that the only place to go from fear and chaos is death. This makes sense considering the word “bane” refers to a person that ruins or spoils, and under some older definitions it is that which causes death or destroys life. If the legacy ends with Bane, expect him to be the final harbinger of the fate that awaits all men.
Which brings us to the biggest question of all…
5. Will Batman die?
Yes, and here’s why. First, one of the posters says “The Legend Ends,” and shows Bane walking away from a shattered bat-mask. Given the symbolism that dominates the Batman films, the “legend” could very well refer to Batman himself. There’s also this trailer, in which Alfred talks about refusing to bury Bruce, and shortly after that Catwoman tells Batman that he doesn’t owe anything to the people of Gotham because he’s already given them everything. Batman responds, “Not everything. Not yet.”
Are all these signs so overt that perhaps Nolan plans to put the slip on us and let Batman live? Perhaps, but what better way to ensure that no one takes up the mantle for a fourth film, which without Nolan’s vision would almost certainly flop?
Yep, take it to the bank, the Batman will meet his end. But take heart, in doing so Gotham will be saved.