The over-riding feeling post-The Dark Knight Rises viewing is one of… mild disappointment. The problem, as far as I see it, is that I wanted to be amazed and challenged (as one does with most, if not all, Nolan films), and being the trilogy-capper I just expected something a bit more coherent and less gimmicky.
I was one of those guys that wasn’t foaming at the mouth after watching The Dark Knight, yet strangely enough - in hindsight - I find the aforementioned second part of the trilogy to be a much more well-conceived and coherent tale compared to the TDKR. Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed The Dark Knight, and it was technically astounding on all fronts, with a super performance from Heath Ledger, but it just didn’t resonate with me, possibly because of a few changes to the mindset of Batman that just seems like it isn’t quite the Batman I’ve come to know over the years no matter who was writing his endeavours in the comics. Of course the warning signs were there in Batman Begins so I really shouldn’t have been that surprised.
With the current trend being making two movies from the final part of a saga I really do feel The Dark Knight Rises would’ve benefitted from being split into two. Although I’m not really a fan of such tactics as accusations of milking a franchise could be levelled at those involved, in this particular situation it would’ve been justified.
The reason I feel TDKR might have benefitted from a bit more expansion was because everything seemed so rushed, especially the final third of the movie when aspects of the No Man’s Land arc were referenced (which I thought was a pretty cool touch). The head-long hurtle towards the denouement may have been designed specifically so the audience couldn’t catch their breath, it just seemed like there was a mad rush to end things a bit too quickly and tidily. But this is a small, rather superficial complaint. My issue with what I saw runs a bit deeper.
My biggest complaint about Nolan’s Batman movies after now having seen all three of them is Bruce Wayne’s attitude toward being the Batman. Now, the following is just my opinion and I would of course agree with anyone that says Nolan interpreted the character in his own way, and, to be fair, he said back even when Batman Begins was being made that his goal with his Batman movies were to answer the question: “What if Batman existed in the real world?”. Which is fine and dandy, but the problem I have is that in order to answer this question Chris Nolan has changed (quite forcefully) the essence of the character.
The Batman of the comics is devoted to his role as the protector of Gotham. Once he reconciles himself to the fact that the city needs to be saved from itself, Bruce accepts, quite literally, the mission of a lifetime. He embraces the role of guardian and enforcer at the cost of personal relationships and, some might say, his own sanity. The death of his parents is what motivates him to continue with his crusade every single second of his life. The immense drive not to let-up, not to fail, and not to be distracted, is one of the reasons the character is loved by so many people, i.e. we wish we could be as disciplined, as resolute, and as driven to succeed and fight for a cause as Batman is. THIS is what makes him a super-hero, despite him not having any super-powers in the conventional sense of the word.
However, Nolan’s movies have a Batman who places the responsibility for the well-being of Gotham at the feet of the very people who allowed the city to fall in the first place, i.e. Joe Public. Which, again, I don’t have a problem with if that’s the way Nolan see’s the character. But what I do find disappointing is how Nolan’s Bruce Wayne is constantly looking for any opportunity to stop being Batman and move on. It’s almost as if he sees Batman as an inconvenience, a temporary role to be fulfilled, whilst the people are getting their act together.
In essence, the Bruce of the comics embraces the Batman wholeheartedly, whilst the Bruce of the Nolan movies seems reluctant to do so.
Another minor complaint I have with Nolan’s Batman movies is the Bruce of the comics isn’t averse to improving the lot of the people of Gotham, as also evidenced by the plot strand in TDKR regarding the young boys homes, etc., which was another nice touch. The various social initiatives established by Wayne Enterprises are designed to improve the lives and chances of Gothamites who aren’t content with scraping the bottom of the barrell. YET, there’s no doubt that Bruce is aware that the city he protects is its own biggest enemy at times. He knows he must be there to shepherd it towards safety —- he realises this is a life-long committment. He isn’t looking to walk away and “retire”. The very notion of the Bruce of the comics not being Batman because he wants to raise a family or just relax for a bit is something that TDKR seemed to encourage but I felt rather uncomfortable at the suggestion.
You know, my fingers are killing me, and this was an unplanned post. I’ll give it a rest for a bit. I’m sure I’ll be making a few more posts in the future regarding my thoughts on the TDKR and the Nolan Batman movies as a whole.
Thanks for reading if you did!
For some reason this bit of advice from Ra’s Al Ghul (or is it Henri Ducard, lol?) has always stood out as a memorable bit of dialogue from Batman Begins.
I’ve put it to practice during the winter months and it really does work!
Anybody remember this?
My word, this was a sight for sore eyes back in 2004 (I think) when Chris Nolan released this teaser for his Batman re-boot.
Prior to this tantalising glimpse into a future of possibilities Batman had previously swaggered onto the big-screen back in 1997 - I refuse to write the name of that movie - and fans were desperate for something… anything to tell us that Batman was in safe hands.
I still get goosebumps watching this when I remember the first time I saw this (via my dial-up connection which took 45mins to buffer, lol), and I think there may have been a tear or two involved… at the prospect of a decent take on the Batman mythos — no tears were shed for the speed of my internet connection!