Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - This Is Sewious

Batman fans....calm down. The movie we're all going to see, for 2 1/2 butt-numbing hours, is almost out. Yes expectations are high, but of course it will be a box office smash, so please don't fret.

Actually that's a point I want to address quickly - when did the box office of a film start to really matter to punters? Leave that to the Hollywood accountants people. If you enjoy the movie, surely that is good enough. Who needs the validation of knowing they're part of the mob?

The Dark Knight Rises Bane The Mob
You're either with us, or against us

But I digress. The Dark Knight Rises is almost here. Fans are excited. Warner Bros executives are excited. DC head creative heads Dan DiDio and Jim Lee are probably planning to base the next four years of storylines on scenes that hit the cutting room floor. This is very serious stuff people. Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is the superhero franchise fans felt they deserved, if not the one they needed. Dark, foreboding and full of weighty themes about the abuse of power and a curiously inverted sense of heroism that borders on masochism. It takes all the gloom and doom of Frank Miller's vigilante-cum-one man army from The Dark Knight Returns and makes the character appear almost respectable, with a few Cliff Notes derived philosophical asides.

Yes folks, this is very sewious....

Oh the laughter.  

See I have been avoiding most press about The Dark Knight Rises, mainly because I remember reading Knightfall during a depressing school holiday on Achill island when I was 13 and I am already familiar with the broad beats of the upcoming film's screenplay. The 'breaking of the Bat' made the evening news, it was a huge media event of the type that Marvel and DC attempt to coax every other weekend these days. Long-term Batman fans remember it as a pivotal moment in the character's history. Gail Simone even touched on it once again in the final issues of her excellent Secret Six series, with Bane realizing how much standing he has lost in the time since his defeat of Batman. What I also remember about Knightfall was how overlong and unwieldy the whole crossover became and for those of you who have not read it, the storyline just got released in trade form to cash in on the film's release - it's a bloody phonebook. 

Knightfall Bane breaks Batman

Given all of this though, you would think the statue of limitations would apply to the plot-events of The Dark Knight Rises? It features Bane. The trailer has heavily hinted that Bruce is dropping the cowl at least for a time, before his eventual 'rise'. We see Gotham under siege. These are all ideas clearly represented by the scenes released in publicity from the film's marketing campaign. 

Apparently not.

It's been a heart-stopping week for the expectant Bat-fan. First David Letterman said something that was apparently very shocking during an interview with the latest Catwoman Anne Hathaway - footage is copied below for those who are curious - but then a review by Xan Brooks in the Guardian provoked an outcry in the comments thread from folks who I guess a) have not read Knightfall and are incapable of putting 2+2 together where the film's marketing is concerned and b) are not familiar with film criticism.

Brooks in his four star review breezes through the plot of the film in 550 words and is accused of having spoiled the whole movie, which given its 2 1/2 hour + length I find hard to believe. 

[T]he dark knight duly rises for the bruising final stanza in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, a satisfying saga of revolution and redemption that ends the tale on a note of thunder. 

Does this now constitute a spoiler? Brooks also mentions that Bane is dismayed at one point by the recovery of the hero - I await Harry Hanrahan to do his thing and produce a supercut of villains expressing that cliché 'Impossible!' -  which I guess is something we could not have guessed from the trailer(s)? And there's a scene with Tom Conti - admittedly that is a surprise, but then I'm still reeling from the appearance of the actor as a highly desirable sex object in Shirley Valentine

David Letterman has received death threats - as has film critic Marshall Fine! Folks, this is crazy. The appeal of Nolan's Bat films is that he is said to have respected the material enough to create a vision of the dark vigilante onscreen for a new generation of viewers. He did not treat the fans of the DC comic book as children, serving up a story that is in many respects a tragedy about Wayne's willingness to sacrifice his health and sanity for a city that claimed the lives of his parents. There's pathos and depth to this take on the Bat-myth, enough to please most aficionados of the comic title, but also audience members looking for an exciting piece of entertainment on a Saturday night. 

However, for all the claims that this is the mature comic book adaptation that everyone wanted, this kind of reaction, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, at the mere prospect of Batman's mission finally coming to a definite end is simply immature. It proves right every snarky critic of comic book culture, every armchair sociologist who places an emphasis on fanboy, and tells Hollywood that if they want to keep the fans happy they're better off serving up pabulum with no surprises and identikit plots. 

And y'know what? That makes me mad. 

Here's the Letterman interview that various knickers got in a twist over.



  1. Eventually I will see this film. Sometimes I wonder about the mentality behind some fandom actions to read all things about this then decry spoilers. The solution is very, very simple: Stop reading everything. For true mystery about a film's content ignore the articles and trailers.

    Good article, BTW.

  2. Cheers Stacy! Yes it doesn't look good does it.

  3. At what point do people realise that the film, its success or failure, has nothing to do with them as an individual or at all? I don't get why people see it as a personal attack when someone else doesn't like it. When did society start putting such investment in what will become a forgotten piece of entertainment. It's so sad that something so un-meaningful commands such impassioned responses.


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