Will Batman Die in The Dark Knight Rises?

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the release of the latest trailer, fans have been speculating that Bruce Wayne will meet his end in The Dark Knight Rises. We all know this is both Christopher Nolan’s and Christian Bale‘s last time spent on the Batman franchise. While Nolan is known for constantly trying to mislead audiences, Batman’s death is certainly something that seems likely in third and final Dark Knight film.

When we last saw the Caped Crusader he was on the run from the law after taking the fall for crimes committed by District Attorney Harvey Dent. Set forward to this film eight years later, we find Bruce in retirement after temporarily hanging up the mantle. From what the trailers and TV spots have shown us is that Bruce is old and weakened in this film. Is this perhaps a sign of things to come for the Dark Knight?

Since this is the last film in Nolan’s trilogy, it’s fitting that he would want to wrap up Bruce’s story full circle. Blockbuster trilogies rarely get fitting conclusions anymore. Comic book movies such as Spider-Man 3 and X-Men 3 ended either too softly or with unresolved cliffhangers while other franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean 3 simply conclude by trying to set up sequels. It’s a money-focused market where filmmakers don’t have to power to do anything drastic to their films or characters that belong to high-grossing franchises. However, Nolan is not your usual director and it’s likely that DC might let him conclude his story by having Bruce Wayne die while preventing future filmmakers from butchering his franchise with bad sequels.

To truly understand the enormity of the problem Warner Bros themselves face post Dark Knight Rises, is to look at what Nolan has achieved with his work on the Batman films.  To take a product that was considered dead in the water after back-to-back critical flops and turning it into a billion dollar franchise is an undisputed achievement which DC aren’t likely to achieve again. Warner Bros have finished with Harry Potter and finishing with Batman and now left needing a new blockbuster hero. Will that be Superman? I doubt it.

Warner Bros don’t have another big time superhero to turn to. Man of Steel faces an uphill battle to win over sceptics that find Superman unrelatable, while 2011′s Green Lantern killed off any potential for a Flash movie. They need a superhero property that keeps their presence felt in a market where rivals Marvel are currently dominating. Once Nolan’s Batman trilogy wraps up, DC only has Superman left to compete. Even then, Man of Steel finds itself up against Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 in the same year.

I don’t think Batman is going to die in The Dark Knight Rises. While studio factors are definitely a part of the reason, I just feel Nolan simply doesn’t have to have Bruce Wayne die in order to complete his story. I think Gotham will realise Batman is their true white knight, and the film will end with Bruce Wayne going in to hiding akin to the ending of Frank Miller’s masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.

As a side note, one of the best Batman comic books of the modern age contains Bruce’s former sidekick Dick Grayson as the Caped Crusader. Batman doesn’t need Bruce Wayne anymore. As said by Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins , “as a symbol I can be everlasting”. A new face behind the mask means Warner Bros won’t need to reboot the Batman franchise while leaving Nolan’s trilogy intact.

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What’s In Store For Avengers 2?

Thanos

Will Thanos return to court death?

(warning: if you haven’t seen The Avengers, this article may contain some spoilers)

With The Avengers on its way to reaching the $1 billion mark, Disney have moved quickly to announce a sequel to Joss Whedon‘s superhero epic is already in development. Assuming an Avengers sequel will take place after Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and a Captain America sequel, there is plenty of time for a new threat to emerge that forces the team together. What could it be? Here are my theories?

1) Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet

As awesome as the Thanos end-credit sequence was at the end of The Avengers, I just don’t believe we will see the mad titan take on the team just yet. Why? It was an enormous achievement for Marvel and Joss Whedon to be able to just fit all their iconic characters into one film without anyone getting the short-stick (maybe Hawkeye), and that came at the expense of developing the Chitauri army into an enemy that felt like a serious threat.

Thanos is a character that definitely will not work f he’s even slightly underdeveloped on screen. From his love with the embodiment of death, to wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, which is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the Marvel Universe, Thanos would need developing elsewhere before going head-to-head with The Avengers.

Marvel would perhaps find it easier to establish Thanos in a movie such as Guardians of the Galaxy (who seems to be getting a lot of attention in comics and television right now) that way it’s a great way to introduce the cosmic side to their universe with a villain that’s hugely important going forward.

2) Kree-Skrull War

With the focus on developing a cosmic universe going forward, it would seem logical for Marvel to look for inspiration from one of their biggest comic book events of all time. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Kree-Skrull war was a comic book storyline that ran from 1971-1972 depicting two of Marvel’s famous intergalactic species locked in a war with Earth used as a battleground. The Kree-Skrull war divides a lot of opinion amongst fans. Some see it as master class of how to do a comic book event right, while others blame it for starting the trend of yearly comic book events that have plagued Marvel for some time.

Will it happen? Probably not. While it wouldn’t be impossible for Joss Whedon (assuming he’s the director) to fit in two alien races into one film, like many, I feel the alien enemy has already warned a little thin.

3) Ultron

While it may be a little too soon for Ultron, (seeing as the Ant-Man film hasn’t even been announced yet) he would make for a worthy villain that gives viewers a break from the classic alien villain syndrome. One of the best parts of The Avengers for me was seeing the heroes argue, as it really characterised their flaws.

Ultron is an embodiment of Ant-Man’s flaws. Wanting to build a robot that would be boosted by artificial intelligence, Henry Pym built Ultron by using his own brain patterns for the robot. As with all super intelligent robots, Ultron decided in order to serve his purpose, he had to destroy humanity.

What better then than to introduce a villainous robot villain that was created by an actual Avenger? Assuming the Ant-Man film takes off soon, I would like to imagine it serves as a sort of prequel to Avengers which would give enough time for Hank Pym to get working on his artificially intelligence boosted robot.

Will the storyline to The Avengers sequel definitely be one of the storyline listed above? Probably not. With the mountain of actually getting an Avengers movie out their in the first place achieved, Marvel now have more freedom when deciding where their characters should head next. As long as the villains are better developed next time, I can’t wait to see the Avengers fighting against robots, aliens or a civil war against each other?

But that’s a post for next time…

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer 3 Deconstruction

We’ve been waiting for some Dark Knight Rises news and here it is. The second full-length trailer for Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film is here, and while the latest trailer is a little underwhelming, it does showcase more of Catwoman and Bane, as well raise plenty of talking points about the film.

Age For Concern

1)This is a Bruce Wayne story as much it is a Batman story:

Here we see an aged Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) with a dramatically different appearance to when we last saw him in The Dark Knight. Is this just a sign of his old age? Or perhaps the burden of being a wanted dark knight means Bruce isn’t looking after himself these days. More interestingly, I believe this could be a sign someone (Bane or Talia) has worked out Batman’s identity and Bruce has taken precaution to keep himself hidden.  Seconds guess is perhaps this is just after Bruce escapes from the prison we saw him locked up inside during the last trailer. Hardly a billionaire playboy look is it? What’s brilliant about how this film is being marketed is that it’s been suggested Bruce could die in this film. While realistically this probably won’t happen as Warner Bros aren’t going to allow Nolan to kill off one of their biggest franchise characters. Or will they? With a Batman reboot seamlessly already planted in the future, are Warner Bros letting Nolan throw all the toys out of the pram for the big finale?

Who needs a distinct voice?

Building bridges

2) Gotham’s Reckoning:

If there were any doubts over Tom Hardy’s performance as the villain Bane, they were easily washed away by this new trailer. We get a better look at the scene from the jaw-dropping poster where Bane breaks Batman’s mask, as well hear his voice is perfectly audible (and awesome). Heath Ledger oozed charisma and energy as the Joker, however Bane looks to be a different beast entirely. In the last film, Joker wanted the citizens of Gotham to leave the city on ferries so he could put the opposite boats against eachother. In this film, it seems Bane’s intentions are more about containment, as we see several bridges connecting the city to the mainland presumably destroyed by the same device we saw in the last trailer that destroyed Gotham’s football stadium. Overall it’s very reminiscent of the classic No Man’s Land Batman story arc, which saw the bridges into Gotham destroyed by the government as the city had been overrun by criminals and had to be declared a no-go-zone.

John Blake, Azrael, Nightwing, Robin?

3) There’s a new cop in town:

This latest trailer showcases a lot more of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake character. What I love about what this film is doing is how it has created this uncertainty over the John Blake and Miranda Tate characters. Is Blake simply the ‘Harvey Dent‘ figure of this film or is there more to it? Fans of the classic Batman: Knightfall storyline might recall how when Bane originally broke Batman’s back, a new crime-fighting vigilante known as Azrael took his place. Could Levitt be this hero?

Another theory circulating online is perhaps the Batman symbol has become bigger than Bruce Wayne, meaning we might see more than one dark knight in this film. With Bruce Wayne supposedly injured, could Blake don the mantle of the bat in order to keep Batman’s presence felt in Gotham City? Another rumour, though this one slightly unrealistic is that Blake could be the Robin/Nightwing of Nolan’s Bat-verse considering there’s definitely a connection between Blake’s character and orphans as seen by the logo on the bus in the trailer.

The summer of black-suited super women

The puurfect team

4) This is what Gordon meant by escalation:

We know The Dark Knight Rises is supposedly set eight-years after The Dark Knight, meaning in the time since Batman becoming an outlaw new vigilantes have arisen. Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway) reflects the change in Gotham’s hero. When Gordon said in The Dark Knight how Batman is the hero Gotham deserved, eight-years on this seems to have changed to reflect Selina Kyle‘s more morally ambiguous character. I love the running theme of Batman as a symbol. When there’s no Batman to defend Gotham the next best thing rises to take his place. Or does she? We definitely see footage of Catwoman fighting alongside Batman in what seems to be the film’s final act, however it’s a safe bet there will be plenty of twists and turns for Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises.

The worst kept secret in comic book movie history?

5) Miranda Tate:

Keeping with the comic books, Bruce Wayne is seen kissing Marion Cotillard’s character, Miranda Tate, (or Talia Al Ghul as Internet rumour suggests) proving that Selina Kyle is definitely not Bruce’s love interest in this film. What further suggests Tate is actually Talia is that Liam Neeson is set to return as villain Ras Al Ghul at some capacity within the film. I would not be surprised to find out Ras and Talia have more influence over the film’s plot than what we might expect. Rises definitely feels like a spiritual successor to Batman Begins, meaning the League of Shadows will definitely feature at some point.

Certainly not a car

6) Chicks dig the car:

As many film critics have pointed out, many Batman trailers/films all contain some sort of car pun. For instance the critically panned Batman & Robin had “Chicks dig the car”, Batman Begins had “It’s a blank..tank” and The Dark Knight had a less than memorable Lamborghini gag.  Rises is no different, however as it’s the final film, Nolan has ramped up the excitement meter with a scene that is sure to make the Avengers Quinjet suffer in comparison. We see Bruce and Selina inside the vehicle, with a “my mother warned me about getting into cars with strange men” line from Selina, which was easily the best line of the trailer. With missiles in pursuit of the Batwing, what’s exciting now is that the chase sequence is bound to look glorious in IMAX come July.

One thing’s for sure, DC are going to miss Nolan.

 

Avengers Assemble Review

On paper The Avengers should not work. Movies like X-Men have shown when it comes to superhero ensembles, it can be near impossible bringing together so many larger than superheroes and make it work. If anyone could make it work however, it was writer/director Joss Whedon, whose ability for strong characterisation had long been established on the likes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Astonishing X-Men. Needless to say Whedon pulls of the impossible. Avengers (or Avengers Assemble for UK viewers) is without a doubt one of the best comic book movies ever made, and a fresh relief from the over cynical cinema we’re so used to.

Whedon’s script is exciting, action packed, tense and hilariously funny. The Avengers is a film that doesn’t try and take itself too seriously. The banter between characters really encapsulates what the Avengers are about. These are heroes with huge egos and flaws, on paper they shouldn’t work together, yet Whedon makes it work brilliantly. The film’s climax is an action packed extravaganza, with one glorious set piece after another. Another important aspect Whedon brings the film is how he manages to avoid falling into comic book cliché. Just when you think you have the film guessed out, Whedon thrusts you into a different direction. It’s a ridiculously fun movie, one I watched with a huge grin on my face.

Performance wise, for me Chris Evans as Captain America is the standout performer. It takes a real challenge to wear such a bright patriotic costume, and not make it silly. For those worried this film would be more like Iron Man and his Avenging Friends, rest assured, Captain America is the true leader here. In contrast Robert Downey Jr. is on scene stealing form as Tony Stark, though he gets notably more balanced screen-time with his armoured alter ego in comparison to his previous movies.

Whedon works his magic with developing strong female characters with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Her performance here adds context to her disappointing outing in Iron Man 2, but completely outshines it at the same time. Critics will argue a female superhero armed with guns fighting aliens amongst monsters and gods looks silly, but Whedon makes it work. Chris Hemsworth delivers a solid performance as Thor, though I did miss the rash, arrogant god of thunder from the beginning of his previous movie.

Much praise has been given to Tom Hiddleston for his portrayal of Loki. While Hiddleston delivers a charismatic evil performance, without seeing the Thor film it’s difficult to comprehend what’s made him tick. Then again, there’s only so much you can fit in one movie. Jeremy Renner draws the short stick as Clint Barton/Haweye. While he provides some impressive action scenes towards the end of the movie, his relationship with Black Widow is never fully explored and he goes missing for far too much of the beginning act. With a career in the Bourne films shaping up, I hope this isn’t the last we see of Renner as Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  A hero I would like to see more of is Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk. In his first Marvel outing, Mark Rufallo hits the ground running as Bruce Banner, giving us a Banner that’s more comfortable with himself, as opposed to the tortured interpretation we’ve seen before. It’s his monstrous alter ego that practically reinvents himself on screen, with the Incredible Hulk providing some of the best humorous moments as well as action sequences.

The supporting cast all turn in great performances with the exception of maybe Samuel L. Jackson. His Performance feels slightly phoned in compared to the delightful Clark Gregg playing Agent Coulson. Whedon certainly gives Coulson his moment to shine, with his charming humour providing a fantastic contract to all the larger than life superheroes. His SHIELD colleague Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) has her importance, but we don’t get to see the extremely confident and strict character from the comics just yet.

If I have any serious complaints, it’s the lack of focus the film takes on Steve Rogers/Captain America’s position coming to terms with a 21st century world. During filming, Whedon was quoted as saying how the film is shown through Steve Roger’s point of view. While that’s certainly true for the first half of the film, towards the end the focus shifts towards Nick Fury/SHIELD and the whole man out of time aspect is lost. I guess this is something that can be developed in a Cap sequel though. While others have certainly criticised the inclusion of the Chitauri for being nothing more than intergalactic canon fodder, I would rather Whedon spent time developing the Avengers rather than focusing on building up the alien race.

Special effects wise, ILM deserve an Oscar nod for their work creating the Incredible Hulk. All of the action sequences also look fantastic on screen, with only a few minor flaws with the effects on the Chitauri. I saw it in IMAX and it definitely enriched the experience.

It’s going to be hard going back to solo movies for Marvel now. The Avengers sets the bar so high; will audiences be satisfied with just solo origin movies for the next few years? That’s not a complaint; it’s a testament to how good The Avengers is. Whedon is about to become the most sought out man in Hollywood, for his Avengers is a masterpiece…

5/5

Ohh and if the post-credit teaser is anything to go by, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a lot more intense…

Is Kevin Feige Wrong To Delay The Incredible Hulk 2?

The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk (2008).

The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk (2008). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a thunderous week for Marvel fans, as early screenings of The Avengers have gone down fantastically well with critics and fans alike! While official reviews are embargoed for the next couple of days, much praise has been given to the way the film has brought new life into the Incredible Hulk, which is why some fans are disheartened by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige for announcing there are no plans for a Hulk sequel…

Marvel’s mindset is clearly ‘if it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it’. The Jade Giant has had two films in the last ten years, which haven’t gone down well at the box-office, 2008′s Incredible Hulk is the lowest ranked film from Marvel Studios, earning an unimpressive $263,427,551 worldwide. While The Avengers will undoubtedly open doors for new characters into the cinematic universe, ruling the Hulk out so soon is a tad drastic considering the story potential left for the character. In the two films we’ve seen the Green Goliath, all he’s done is run from the military, and face some sort of rogue science experiment in both film’s endings. There’s so much more to the character than crushing tanks and running as a fugitive.

When The Avengers pre-production geared forward, it was obvious Joss Whedon had decided to make Bruce Banner more comfortable with himself, as opposed to the tortured character we are so used to seeing. This appears to have gone down well with audiences, as most early reactions from the film point towards how well the Hulk was handled. Baring there’s not a sudden rush of scathing reviews next week, surely now is the perfect time to create the fun Hulk sequel we all wish to see. Granted there’s a television show supposedly in production, but there are still plot threads left open from 2008′s Incredible Hulk to be addressed.

Tim Blake Nelson impressed as Dr. Samuel Sterns in 2008, and we still haven’t seen how his transformation to supervillain The Leader occurs. While there is supposedly an Avengers comic book addressing the Leaders whereabouts, I feel a Hulk vs. Leader showdown would be an epic contrast to 2008′s underwhelming brawl with the Abomination.

I can’t help but feel Marvel will go back on their word and give the Hulk a sequel some time in the near future. Feige has hinted Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy films are on their way as well as guaranteed Iron Man, Captain America and Thor sequels. Marvel are preparing a cinematic onslaught and I doubt they’re going to leave out one of their most beloved characters

 

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2 Thoughts

Screen capture from The Avengers: Earth's Migh...

Screen capture from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode, "Breakout". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a while, but The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has finally returned to our TV screens, debuting its second season with an impressive episode, bringing classic characters such as Dr Doom and The Fantastic Four into the animated universe. With an impressive season behind it already, I believe Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is well on its way to becoming one of the best-animated superhero shows of all time!

What separates EMH from other animated comic book shows, is that is has the potential to benefit the comic book industry in a huge way. Several legendary story arcs from the comic books such as ‘Ultron Unlimited’ and ‘The Kang Dynasty‘ have already been spectacularly featured in season one, which is great for introducing some of the older Avengers stories that modern fans may not have seen before.

For example, after viewing the fantastic ‘Kang Dynasty’ arc in season one, I went out and purchased the book that influenced the show, The Kang Dynasty’ by long-term Avengers writer Kurt Busiek. While for new readers, the book may be a bit long, I found it to be an example of how to do a comic book event right, with effective characterisation, and a fantastic level of unpredictability. Hopefully the show can influence more viewers to pick up the comic books, which would be a huge bonus for the comic book industry, as well as perhaps leading to some of the classic storylines receiving re-prints, which is a benefit for long-term Avengers readers.

One of the strongest features of the show in no doubt is its ability to build up future storylines. In season one, we received hints at The Kree-Srull War, Secret Invasion, and The Ultron War. While this doesn’t some please some fans (particularly those who didn’t like Brian Bendis’s New Avengers series), I find it captivating to watch future storylines unravel. Especially now Spider-Man and The X-Men are set to feature. For comic book adaptations, the difference between an animated television show and a blockbuster movie, is that a television show has the time and the audience to develop more intricate storylines, and introduce far more characters. For instance, a Marvel Civil War movie would never work as a feature film, but it fits perfectly for an animated television show with the rights to a whole host of characters and the time to build it conflict. Judging by a season 2 preview, the show is set to feature the Civil War storyline sometime in the future!

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is a comic book fan’s dream. Unlike many animated comic book television shows, it takes itself and the source material extremely seriously. With a full second season to look forward to, I can’t wait to see where the show is heading. I just hope it doesn’t reach the same fate as Spectacular: Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men.

 

 

Judging The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the summer begins, so does the massive on-going debate over which comic book movie will reign supreme in 2012. Will it be Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie? Perhaps the return of Spider-Man to the big screen will win over fans and critics alike. Or will the final instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Rises prove to the best comic book movie yet?

While I’m a bigger Batman fan than I am Avengers, I feel as if The Dark Knight Rises isn’t offering audiences anything new than what we’ve seen before. Like so many comic book fans, I’m fairly critical of Christopher Nolan for waiting over three years before creating a sequel to arguably the greatest superhero film of all time. I understand reasons beyond his control may have caused him to change from his original script, but I felt as if he needed to strike while the iron was hot.

Now, four years later, The Dark Knight is going to be competing against the likes of Marvel’s Avengers, and the return to cinema of Spider-Man. If we take a look at what The Dark Knight Rises is offering us, there is the existing dilemma over whether Bruce Wayne is able to stay on as The Batman, Commissioner Gordan facing more criticism from his peers, and a new villain that will push Batman to his limits, wielding a potential weapon of mass destruction.

It all sounds a bit similar. Don’t get me wrong, I am greatly looking forward to what Anne Hathaway can bring to the Catwoman role, as we’ve yet to have a true breakout female character in the trilogy. Batman’s previous love interest, Rachel Dawes, was a bland character, who seemed to regress over the course of the two films before meeting her demise. I’m sure we’ll hear more revelations about who Marion Coltillard is really playing, but for now, there just isn’t enough to make me believe The Dark Knight Rises will be able to outclass The Avengers or Spider-Man for that matter.

Perhaps The Dark Knight has returned at a time where it faces much tougher opposition. New dark fantasy film, The Hunger Games has opened up with a weekend of sensational success, massively exceeding expectations by having the best opening weekend for a non-sequel, and third best opening weekend of all time. Not bad for a film that has had the misfortune of being labelled as the next Twilight. The Avengers is approaching in a month’s time, and in terms of scale and ambition, blows the Batman franchise out of the water.

While The Dark Knight Rises will undoubtedly have its class, as Nolan has demonstrated how to perfectly mix superhero action and intimate drama, it’s not holding the same impression The Dark Knight had in 2008. Perhaps coming towards the end of the summer wasn’t the best idea for Warner Bros. The storyline seems good, borrowing from one of the most critically acclaimed Batman stories of all time, in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Perhaps this is another problem that might not work well for Warner Bros. The Dark Knight Returns is a brilliant story, that could easily be translated into a fresh trilogy of films. If this is to be the last we see of Christian Bale as Batman, a future trilogy based on Frank Miller’s story would have been an effective way for Warner Bros to keep the Batman franchise going. If Nolan has already covered the storyline of an aged, weakened Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement in The Dark Knight Rises, it doesn’t leave much for Warner Bros to able to continue developing the existing Batman franchise without resorting to a franchise reboot.

While The Dark Knight Rises will undoubtedly earn a great deal of success, whether or not it will live long in the memory of film fans remains to be seen. In a cinematic year where we’ve already had a masterclass in dark fantasy, a group of Marvel’s best superheroes facing an alien army due, and the return of Marvel’s most beloved wall-crawler, 2012 may prove to be beyond Nolan.

 

 

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