Posts Tagged ‘ Dark Knight Returns ’

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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A Fanboy’s Tribute: Batman Is The Best Comic Book Character Ever Created

Batman: Dark Victory #1

Some people argue superheroes are no longer relevant in today’s world. Golden Age characters such as Superman have struggled in a modern context due to their limited flaws and storylines. One character that has flourished in a modern setting is Batman. The Caped Crusader is probably the most socially and culturally relevant comic book character in existence. He lives and fights against a world governed by fear and evil. Based on what we’ve seen this week, is that any different from the world today?

We live in dark times. Just this week, the city of London was thrown into chaos by a bunch of rioting youths. With no political will, these were just mindless acts of violence by gangs wishing to install fear and violence across the capital. What started as a small isolated incident, quickly escalated into nationwide pandemic of violence. It was then I realised just how relevant the Batman character is to our modern society.

What I find most appealing about Batman is his origin. After witnessing his parents being gunned down at the age of eight, Bruce Wayne could have gone off the rails and grown up to be a revenge driven psychopath. An interesting idea was raised in Alan Moore‘s The Killing Joke. The idea is that Batman and Joker are two opposite parallels. Both were victims to what Moore describes as “one bad day” that sent them on the path to insanity. The suggested origin of the Joker is that the loss of his wife and baby, followed by his disfigurement sent him insane. It’s the decisions of Batman and Joker that keep them apart. Batman chose to harness his inner demons and use them to seek fair justice and fight crime. Despite his horrific experience, Batman essentially remains ‘a good guy’. This is further conveyed by his decision to seek justice under fair means. Whilst beating criminals to a pulp pushes ethical boundaries, his decision to capture criminals and let the justice system decide their fate keeps the Dark Knight’s ethics in the right place. Shooting them down, or murdering his victims, makes Batman no different from enemies. At the risk of sounding delusional, how many people can say that they don’t take satisfactions in the idea of a hero praying on the type of criminals we saw in the UK last week?

Another great aspect of the Batman character is that he can fit into any storyline/subtext. He can be used in storylines with political subtexts such a Frank Millar‘s amazing ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ or fantasy subtexts as seen in some of Grant Morrison‘s recent work. As long as the key mythos is the same, and that Batman is an ordinary man seeking to fight crime and evil, Batman works in any storyline. His mission is endless. As seen in the Nolan films, Batman fights for a day where he is no longer needed. He sees himself as a means to an end. A clever theme explored in ‘The Dark Knight’ is that a day won’t come where either Bruce or Gotham do not need the Batman. Frank Millar’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ also explores the notion that Batman had become crucial to society. Without him, crime will eventually take hold of Gotham. You won’t find many heroes that carry as much gravitas as the Caped Crusader.

Despite the rise of Marvel’s heroes on screen, Batman will always remain the most compelling comic book character ever created. Batman is relevant to the screwed up world we live in. His choice to fight crime is something many people can relate to. He carries more emotional weight than any other comic book character and his storyline potential is endless.

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