A Superhero Summer: “The Dark Knight Rises” Advance Thoughts

In our fourth Superhero Summer article Burner, Alan and Chas discuss the upcoming sure-fire blockbuster and final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.

What concerns you about The Dark Knight Rises?

Burner: My main concern is the curse of the third movie. Superhero movies are especially cursed in this regard, check out this list of thirds:

  • Superman III, this was the one where Richard Pryor was the main character, a “hacker” who switches from a bad guy to a good guy midway through the movie for no discernible reason and Superman spent most of the movie being a dick (including, I kid you not, an attempted rape).
  • Batman Forever, brought us Val Kilmer as Batman, Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey giving performances more suited for the Adam West Batman, and frankly the less said about Chris O’Donnell as Robin the better.
  • X3 was the Brett Ratner X-men movie, ‘nuff said.
  • Spider-Man 3 is the example that should especially concern us when it comes to the The Dark Knight Rises. For the most part the other examples all involve different creative forces being brought to bear on existing franchises. But just as Rises will be Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie, Spiderman 3 was Sam Rami’s third Spiderman movie. Even the patterns are the same. A strong, well regarded reboot of a known character, followed by an extremely successful, critically acclaimed sequel. Rami turned in a bloated, over long, over CGIed mess for his third film, it’ll be Nolan’s task to avoid this.

I think he can do it, he’s Christopher Nolan after all, but the curse of the thirds does tend to heighten all the other concerns I might have about The Dark Knight Rises.

This is the famous scene where Superman should have dropped Richard Pryor to his death.

Alan: I think the bar was set so high from The Dark Knight that it will be hard for this movie to deliver an experience like that one. Plus, look at the ingredients: we’re going from iconic villains like The Joker and Two-Face to … Catwoman and Bane. That alone mildly terrifies me.

I am also very worried that this will be the one with merchandising out the yin yang to sell us on this movie. Looking forward to the Hall’s partnership to help cure Christian Bale of his perennially raspy voice.

Halls only has one rule! – “Don’t let springtime allergies keep you down”

Chas:  Unlike Alan, I have confidence in Catwoman and Bane…well, maybe I just have confidence in Bane. What terrifies me most is the ending. How is Nolan going to provide a satisfying resolution to his epic trilogy? For now I’m assuming he’ll kill “Batman” and keep Bruce Wayne alive. Then the guy with cancer who likes punching people in elevators will succeed Bruce Wayne.

Nightwing?

Are there any character’s you’re worried about?

Alan:  Both villains. Your average person does not know who Bane is. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, as the very concept of him, I’ve always found mildly ridiculous, in that he dresses like a wrestler and pumps his body full of a super-steroid to get massive. We’ve not seen much of him in the trailer yet and that can’t be good. I felt like we got teased with Ledger’s Joker performance for months before that movie came out.  And no insult to her as an actress, because I think she’s actually pretty talented, but Anne Hathaway is no Catwoman. Period. End of story.

As Nacho Libre once said, “When you are a man, sometimes you wear stretchy pants in your room. It’s for fun. “

Burner:  Yeah, Anne Hathaway is worrying. I’m not too worried about Bane, who I’ve always thought of as just a glorified heavy. I would put a lot of the Ledger hype on the fact that he died before the movie came out. His Joker was awesome, don’t get me wrong, I just doubt we’d have heard about it outside of a Conan interview if he’d been alive to do the publicity tour. Call it the Leno Effect.

“Have you seen this effect? Have you heard about this effect?”

Chas: I’m confident Bane will be a villain to remember. I don’t know if Alan remembers, but over two years ago I predicted Bane as the main baddie for this movie. Nolan has yet to give Batman an adversary he can’t beat up. Batman pummels everyone into smithereens, even the Joker laid it out plainy, “You didn’t think I’d risk losing the battle for Gotham’s soul in a fistfight with you!? No!” Since Nolan’s Batman relies so heavily on beating people to a pulp (with a splash of detective work) that makes Bane a powerful bad guy. I also love how they keep playing up how Bane is also extremely intelligent. Basically he’s everything a woman could want in a man. Although I wonder, does Bane want to have children? He definitely shouldn’t have kids…that’s for sure.

What was your reaction to the trailers?

Chas: The first The Dark Knight Rises trailer didn’t really do anything for me. Perhaps it was the Chicago connection but the first time I watched the full trailer for The Dark Knight I had a smile plastered across my face for the trailer’s entirety. In fact, I think my smile nearly broke my jaw when the big rig truck flipped over on LaSalle Street. I don’t think the first The Dark Knight Rises trailer was as skillfully put together. But perhaps the new trailer is hampered even more by not having a prominent, iconic villian. In The Dark Knight trailer we had the Joker and everybody knows who the Joker is and more importantly, everyone that the Joker is awesome. Even the worst Joker interpretations are awesome.

Yes, I am talking about this butthead.

That means that the Joker doesn’t have to do much in the trailer, we already kind of get his character. The same cannot be said for Bane. In the end, I think our relative ignorance of his character will increase the odds that the final film will be more shocking and surprising so I’m happy to settle for a less than phenomenal trailer. In any case, a trailer for a movie like The Dark Knight Rises is more of an obligation than anything else. It’s like McDonald’s approach to marketing: it doesn’t matter so much what the marketing is, it matters that it’s everywhere. I’m lovin’ it.

Alan: I remember reading this piece in Wired, right around when The Dark Knight came out, about how Nolan used the word ‘veracity’ as the model for making his Batman. He wanted everything to be grounded in the real world. To feel thoughtful about how a man like this would operate and be true to it.

Then I watch that scene where the football field falls in on itself while that runningback hustles down the field into the end zone and think really bad thoughts. Like, Adam West Batman in a surfing competition against the Joker kind of thoughts.

Burner:  I too was worried by the football field visual gag. I would say my faith in Christopher Nolan is strong enough that this doesn’t worry me too much.

Is Tom Hardy the next blockbuster star?

Burner: Who? I mean I know he plays Bane, but…oh that guy. Yeah he could be a star, but if he really wants to he needs to stick to Christopher Nolan movies and stay away from romantic comedies with Reese Witherspoon and the giant headed Chris Pine.

The mortal enemy of regular sized baseball caps.

Chas: lol, Captain Kirk does have a massive head. In Star Trek he headbutted some random guy and I had a hard time suspending disbelief that the poor guy’s head wasn’t vaulted into space. What were we talking about? Yes, I think Tom Hardy is going to become a household name in the next few years. He’s an extremely talented actor (see: Bronson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Warrior) and he’s handsome (see: women I know.) If the intensity and powerhouse physicality he brought to Warrior shines through in Bane it will be a performance to remember.

Alan: Who again?

Can Christopher Nolan be wooed for a fourth Batman film?

Alan: I think he’s done. He said that he had an arc in mind for his Batman and this is the end of the arc. Frankly, I’d love to see him think about something other than Batman. I loved Insomnia.

Burner: There is no chance he comes back for a fourth. Is this an SEO question? Christopher Nolan and the kid from Third Rock from the Sun could be the next great actor/director pair, no need to stay in the comic book ghetto anymore.

Chas: I’m hoping he will return to the franchise in 10 years for The Dark Knight Returns based on the Frank Miller comic of the same name. If that happens I can die a happy man. And if I die during the credits that will mean Batman finally broke his rule.

Chas’ dream. Arriving in theaters in 2022.

Consensus

While there are a few small concerns, everyone is confident that Chris Nolan will prevail and the movie will be totes amazeballs.

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