Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top 10 things I'm Looking Forward to in The Dark Knight Rises

Hi everyone! So with the exclusive imax releaese of the "The Dark Knight Rises" prologue just around the corner yours truly has been pondering on what he is most looking forward to seeing in the epic final installment of the Nolan/Batman trilogy. Therefore, for your reading enjoyment I have compiled a top ten list of things I am most excited to see unfold in The Dark Knight Rises.

10. Whatever the heck this thing is!

9. Mysterious Supporting Characters

Joining the ranks of mainstays like Michael Caine, (Alfred Pennyworth) Gary Oldman, (Commisioner Gordon) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) are newcomers Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tait) and Joseph Gordon Levitt (Officer Thomas Blake). Very little to nothing is known concerning the impact these new characters will have on the film. It stands to figure that Marion Cotillard's character will serve as a new love interest for Bruce Wayne, whose relationship with Rachel Dawes ended in tragedy after she went kaboom at the hands of The Joker. However, theories have be posed suggesting the character may secretly be Talia, the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul' whom Batman defeated in the first film. This would be an interesting twist since the conclusion of The Dark Knight placed Bruce in a very vulnerable position both emotionally and as Batman. It would be completely characteristic of a fem fatale as deadly and conniving as Talia, who logically blames Batman for her father's death, to go about exacting revenge by infiltrating every level Bruce Wayne 's personal life before rearing her ugly Medusas head. Joseph Gordon Leavitt's character, Tom Blake, is a young Gotham beat cop who we can probably assume will be working closely with Comissioner Gordon. Like Miranda Tait, there is a great deal of speculation over what purpose his character will ultimately serve in the movie. Theories range from him secretly being a member of The League of Shadows to him even possibly taking up the cape and cowl should Bruce Wayne no longer be able to be Batman at the end of the film. An important trait of Christopher Nolan's films is that each character is there for a reason. Even though these ideas are just conjecture and could be completely false, chances are either character will have a significant part to play before all is said and done.

8. Batman and Catwoman Waist Deep in Sh#% Kicking Dudes

Although the two have frequently been at each others throats in the comics and other media, Bruce and Selena share an unspoken connection stronger then the ideological differences that put them at odds and, although they will not easily admit it, will not hesitate to throw themselves into danger if the other is in a tight spot. That being said, I would love to see a scene in the next movie were after the customary rocky start, Batman and Catwoman combine forces to take down a large group of escaped convicts or Leaue of Assassins ninjas or whatever, just so long as it involves the two forging a temporary alliance to wail on a bunch of bad guys.

7. A Totally Tricked Out Bat Cave

Okay Okay, so I realize that the realitic approach applied to the current Batman franchise pretty much rules out the possibility of seeing the trademark robot t-rex, oversized joker card or giant useless penny that adorn the Batcave of the comics, but still, assuming that Wayne Manner has now been completely  rebuilt after having been torched by The Leaue of Shadows at the end of "Batman Begins" I am fully expecting Bruce to have ditched his Bat-bunker in "The Dark Knight" in favor of returning to the creepy suberranean caves were he started establishing his base of operations in the first film. Also, considering the substantial eight year time gap between this movie and the last, it is not at all a stretch for one to expect to see Wayne Manor's underground caverns modified into a veriable crime fighting fortressreminiscient of the comics though likely devoid of the far fetched flourishes.

6. Secret Origins

Unlike the Burton Shumacher Batman films of the 90's were the villains backstory's were divulged in great detail and dominated a hefty chunk of the plot, the Nolan films effectively retain an aura of mystery around The Dark Knight's adversaries regarding who they are and were they came from thus inviting the audience to use their own imaginations to color in the lines. However, that being said I think it would still be cool to see something in the way of an origin story given to Catwoman and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. In Frank Miller's classic story 'Batman: Year One' Selena Kyle is a tough and tenacious street walker scratching out a living in the seediest part of town before she is inspired by Batman's examrple and adopts the persona of Catwoman becoming a quasi Robin Hood figure for other downtrodden citizens of the East End. In Chuck Dixon's 'The Vengeance of Bane,' we see the inception of the man who would go on to one day break Batman's back as he literally comes of age in a stinking hellhole of a prison after being condemned for the crimes of his dead father before he is even out of the womb. Far from expecting a direct translation of these comics it would not surprise me in the least if Nolan adapted certain thematic elements to re-interpret and perhaps even improve upon the source material. 

5. A Batman Catwoman Rooftop Chase Scene

Assuming the filmakers  utilize the "cat burgler" persona from the comics I would love there to be a scene were Batman catches Catwoman in the act of stealing some priceless diamonds or jewlry and engages her in a thrilling, fast paced and heart pumping chase sequence over the roof tops of Gotham City. Such a daring and physical game of "bat" and mouse would offer something we have never really seen before in the previous Batman movies and provide a great juxteposition to the "Batman as outlaw" ending of The Dark Knight if he is chasing Catwoman while the police are chasing him.

4. What Happened in the Eight Years Between Films?

In a recent interview, director Christopher Nolan revealed that The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after The Dark Knight. This immediately begs of question of what exactly transpired during those eight years? In one of my favorite lines in The Dark Knight the Joker says to Batman "I think you and I are destined to do this forever.  I would certainly like to think that the eight year gap saw Batman having to contend with The Joker three or four more times before putting the clown away for good. However, unlike the comics were Arkham seems to be more or less a revolving door for all of Batman's deadliest foes, the current film series is grounded in reality and in reality maximum security prisons are extremely difficult to break out of, even for a villain as crafty as The Joker. It would also please me to think that the eight year gap saw Batman having to vie with many of his other iconic rogues that were not exploited for this new franchise (Riddler, Penguin, The Ventriloquist, etc.) Or maybe Batman was only active for a portion of those eight years. Or not active at all. In the teaser trailer to The Dark Knight Rises that came out over the summer we catch a brief glimpse of what looks like Bruce Wayne doing pushups in a jail cell. Perhaps the new film opens with Bane breaking Batman's back like in the Knightfall miniseries and Bruce having to spend eight years traveling the world to build himself back up. Or maybe, since he essentially becomes a fugitive at the end of The Dark Knight, Batman is actually captured by the authorities at some point during those eight years and Bruce Wayne is forced to do some time for his escapades as a vigilante. To quote Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor in "Superman Returns" after he infiltrates the fortress of solitude and discovers the secret power that lies protected within its walls, "possibilities... endless possibilities."

3. Bane's Brutal Characterization

Of all Batman's crazed and nightmarish gallery of villains,  no one stands out in terms of sheer physical power and cunning, strategic intellect like Bane. In a recent interview with interview with Empire magazine, actor Tom Hardy had the following to say about the film's hardcore and ruthless characterization of one of Batman's most dangerous adversaries.
“He’s brutal, brutal. He’s expedient delivery of brutality. And you know, he’s a big dude. He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and orientated fighting style. The result is clear. Do you know what I mean? It’s: f**k off and die. Quicker. Quicker. Everything is thought out way before. He’s hit you, he’s already hit somebody else. It’s not about fighting. It’s just about carnage with Bane. He’s a smashing machine. He’s a wrecking ball. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty. Anything from small joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stomping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. It’s anything he can get away with. He is a terrorist in his mentality as well as brutal action. So he’s horrible. A really horrible piece of work.”

Nuff said!

2. Batman VS. Bane

This one is pretty much a no brainer. Thus far in Batman's long and storied history on film, he has never really been physically challenged by an opponent like I'm certain Bane will challenge him. Yes, it can be argued that  Ra's Al Ghul gave him a pretty good fight when the teacher and former student traded blows on board the speeding monorail in the climax of Batman Begins but in that case it seemed that the two were evenly matched and Batman emerging victorious was a forgone conclusion. In The Dark Knight The Joker was not afraid to get physical with Batman though the hits he got in were won pretty cheaply since either his thugs or attack dogs were always present to soften Batman up before he went in to inflict some damage of his own. Heck, even that big black dude in the cathedral scene in Batman 89 gave Michael Keaton a pretty good butt whoopin' but the latter had just survived a plane wreck for pete's sake. That would take the fight out of anyone. Back in the mid nineties when Bane was first introduced in the Knightfall series that ran through all the Batman titles he pretty much shows up and beats the living sh#% out of Bruce Wayne in his own home, cracking his spine across across his knee for which he is later dubbed by Gotham's criminal underbelly as "The Man Who Broke the Batman." While I am not expecting or frankly wanting a direct translation of the comic in The Dark Knight Rises, I am fully expecting to see some raw, emotionally charged, balls to the wall fight scenes between the two in which Batman, similar to the first time an unprepared and overconfident Sly Stallone faces off with the savage wrecking ball of Mr. T.'s "Clubber Lang" in Rocky III, not only takes a beating but is completely knocked on his a$$. I keep thinking back to that ominous final scene in the teaser trailer were Batman's fists are raised but he is wobbling on his feet and virtually gasping for breath while Bane is running on all cylinders and just barelling towards him like a freight train from hell. If The Joker's motivation was to destroy the symbol of what Batman stood for in The Dark Knight, it stands to figure that Bane's motivation in The Dark Knight Rises will be to destroy the man behind the symbol and, like in the comics, steal his throne as the symbolic "ruler" of Gotham.

1. Batman...THE END!!???

Director Christopher Nolan has repeatedly stated in interviews that The Dark Knight Rises will have a definate ending. Whether this can be interpreted to mean that the end of the film will see Bruce Wayne either dead or no longer Batman is still a matter of great controversy and speculation. Will Bruce Wayne decide to hang up the cape and cowl by the end of the film? If Bruce became Batman around the time he turned thirty according to Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight which takes place a year into his career as Batman, then one would imagine that Bruce will be pushing the big four O in this film and really beginning to suffer from the wear and tear of his crimefighting exploits. Unlike the comics were Bruce has somehow managed to stay in his early thirties for for more than seven decades or the 90's film franchise, were a younger actor was cast to replace the former and the films were kept in more or less the same continuity, the Nolan franchise has always emphasized that this is a Batman who inhabits a realistic world, heightened reality sure but reality none the less. And in the real world a body, even one as tuned to physical perfection as Batman's, can only endure so much punishment and will inevitably begin to wear out and retaliate after years of being pushed to the extreme. Heck, most professional athletes careers last about ten years before the game exacts a physical toll and they are unable to perform like they once did. In the scene in The Dark Knight, were Alfred and Bruce are talking in the Bat-Bunker and Alfred warns Bruce to know his limits, Bruce removes his shirt revealing a back that is already noticeably scarred and bruised only a year into his being Batman. Now consider how much more dinged up he will be after eight more years of being Batman andf then a human bulldozer like Bane shows up...not good. Another argument for why Bruce will give up being Batman at the end of the film is that, unlike the comics were Batman's war against crime is essentially neverending, the Bruce Wayne of the Nolan films only ever intended to be Batman for a finate amount of time. In The Dark Knight, Bruce is essentially ready to relinquish his role as the citiy's protector to Harvey Dent after they, along with Comissioner Gordon had driven the final stake through the collective heart of Gotham's  cancerous mob element until The Joker shows up and completely blows Bruce's dreams of domestic bliss with his doomed love Rachel Dawes to smithereens. Is it possible that Bruce Wayne is satisfied enough in his endeavors as Batman to put away the mask for good and move forward in his humanitarian work, dropping the goofy, shallow playboy routine and becoming the "hero with a face" that Harvey Dent was meant to be? Or does Bruce in fact have to pay the ultimate sacrifice for taking the law into his own hands and dies to protect the city he loves? We already know that death is a very real threat within the realm of Nolan's Batman universe. Ra's Al Ghul died (or so it seemed) in Batman Begins trying to enact his own twisted brand of justice. Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent, both passionate advocates of law and order, died in The Dark Knight, each falling victim to The Joker's madness and cruelty. Is it much of a stretch to believe that Batman might not make it out of the next movie alive? Can the film's title "The Dark Knight Rises" be read to imply that his spirit will "rise" into a spiritual realm of existence? Will the man die and his legend live on in the hearts and minds of the people or will Bruce Wayne allow his alter ego to die a figurative death while he he begins a new stage in his life. Endless possibilities.

I hope you enjoyed reading this little countdown I put together. There are quite a few other things I am really looking forward to having to do with this film but it would probably take me forever and a day to list them all.  In the meantime, peace out, and stay tuned for more blogs to come!



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