The Critic Talks The Dark Knight Rises

I’m kind of doing this the opposite way most sites seem to be doing things, but who am I kidding The Ubiquitous Gentlemen isn’t most sites. This post is going to be me talking about The Dark Knight Rises in depth so yes THIS POST IS GOING TO CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS CONCERNING THE FILM. Tuesday’s edition of The Critic will be my actual spoiler-free review. I found there are just too many things I want to talk about in this movie and share my opinions about it that I thought it wise of me to make this post about the movie. So here we go!

ONCE AGAIN THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FILM THE DARK KNIGHT RISES!!!


I’m going to say this one last time because I don’t think I can express how important it is for you not to read this if you have not seen TDKR yet, it is going to be filled with spoilers, this post is me analyzing the film, well more praising but we’ll get to that later, and I’m going to talk about things on this that will give away major plot details. If you have not seen the film yet DO NOT READ THIS, once you have feel free to come back and let me know what you think about my thoughts on the film in the comment section below. Now that I’ve got that out of the way let’s talk about Chris Nolan’s latest masterpiece.

Yes some of this post is just going to be me saying the stuff that happened but I hope also to look at it in an enlightening way, if I have the ability to do that. There are a few things I would really like to say about the movie that I simply can’t in a normal review so I decided that this would be the best place for it. My goal is to try to explain some things that non-comic book readers wouldn’t quite grasp and hopefully settle some concerns that movie fans and comic fans have about the movie. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on what people thought about the movie, just regular people not reviewers, and I noticed a lot of complaints about things but most of those complaints, to me, seem to come from a type of ignorance; the main of these being that Blake’s real name was Robin as opposed to Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. More on that later though, I’m going to try to do this as chronologically as possible.

First I’m going to talk about the character of Bane in this movie. When the announcement was made that Bane would be the villain and it was going to be played by Hardy there were some concerns, not with the casting choice but with the fact that Bane has been so poorly portrayed in the bast, in Batman and Robin to be specific. I didn’t find this concerning though, Chris Nolan is known for making great choices in not only the casting department but in writing characters we can believe in, which is something very special indeed in a film where he is trying to make Batman as realistic as possible. Another thing people didn’t like about the fact that it was Bane was well…the fact that Bane was the villain cast in this movie and not a recast of The Joker, which to me would have been totally disrespectful to Heath Ledger’s performance, and most people complained that it wasn’t The Riddler. The Riddler would make no sense in this movie and I don’t think he could pull off a whole movie by himself, he is too much like a watered down version of The Joker for it to work. Bane was the perfect choice. Why? Because he is a genius. I know he hasn’t been portrayed as one in the past movie version but he is. He is calculating and everything he does has a purpose behind it. Then there is the fact that Bane is the biggest physical threat to Batman as he is The Man Who Broke The Bat (go read Knightfall volumes 1-3 for more on that).

I personally believe that nothing at all needs to be said about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, she did an amazing job and it was a pleasure watching her on screen. So more on Bane. At the beginning of the movie we get my favourite quote of the film from Bane “No on cared who I was until I put on the mask.” This made me realize that we were going to get a different Bane then ever before, and I was excited to see that. Tom Hardy’s Bane was in a prison simply called “The Pit” which I draw connections to The Lazarus Pits but more on that later. He protected, as we find out later, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and helped her escape from the prison, there is a weird love connection between Bane and Talia that I really enjoyed even though the whole character of Talia was underdeveloped. He suffers from a disease that seems to almost be eating away at his body, which explained the scars on his body, and the mask helps prevent him from suffering from the pain he would go through otherwise. I thought this was a brilliant take on one of the most terrifying characters in the Batman mythos. I have nothing to explain her I just wanted to talk about Bane…cause he’s awesome…MOVING ON!

For those of you who don’t know a Lazarus Pit is a group underground pools of some liquid, usually shown as a green slime in the comics, that prevents Ra’s from dying or ageing, it has even brought him and many others back to life in the comics. The reason I draw the connection between The Pit and Lazarus Pits is mostly symbolic. The Pit in the movie represents rebirth every time it is used. Talia was born in The Pit but rose out of it to find her father and become part of The League of Shadows, Bane came out of The Pit as a ruined and plagued man to become the monster he is in the movie. Bruce gets put into The Pit after Bane breaks his back and when he Rises he is healed and ready to truly become The Batman once more and over come this great foe.

Cool picture of Ra’s rising from a Lazarus Pit

I could go on even longer then I am about this movie but I’m only going to touch on two more points, maybe in the future, once I’ve seen the film more times, I’ll write more but for now this is all I really want to talk about. At the top of the movie Alfred tells Bruce that in the seven years he was gone, before the events of Batman Begins, he would take a vacation once a year to a cafe and look around hoping to see Bruce with a woman and possibly a few kids. Alfred held onto the hope that Bruce wouldn’t return to a city that he thought didn’t have anything for Wayne to come back to but pain and sadness. At the end of the movie after the very small service for Bruce, Alfred goes back to that cafe once more, he sits down and gets his drink. Right before opening the news paper he looks up, hoping beyond hope, that he would see Bruce, and there, a few tables away are Bruce and Selina, they nod at each other and Alfred knows everything will be all right. This, to me, was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

A lot of people disagree with me however from what I’ve read. To me this makes perfect sense and brings Bruce’s story to a beautiful close. Why do we need to see this? Why can’t Bruce just be dead? Those are questions all over the internet. Well first off we find out that Bruce fixed the autopilot sequence in The Bat, so we know that he wasn’t in it. For another thing we needed this closer, I’m not one for getting everything handed to you in a neat bow and finding out absolutely everything that happens in a movie, but this was something I strongly believe had to be shown. There was no reason for Bruce to die, of course he had the ability to fix the autopilot, and he did, so he lives. But again, why do we need to see this? Because the whole point of that scene was to show the Bruce no longer needed The Batman anymore. In his opinion he did everything he needed to do as Batman, and that was a big theme in this movie, he did not feel that he was done or had given enough to the people of Gotham, but now he has. He can go off and live a life without Batman and without his fortune, which he doesn’t really have. This scene brought Bruce’s story to a great close.

That just leaves one story in this movie to be wrapped up. Or more accurately one story to begin.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made his debut in this trilogy as Beat Cop John Blake and I think that, as with all of his performances, this was a very strong one. I think everything about this character was great, the only thing I wish hadn’t happened was me going into this movie already speculating that Bruce would die and Blake would take up his mantle as The Batman. The only part I didn’t count on was that his birth name would be Robin. When he said “Check under my birth name” i was expecting it to be Dick Grayson, but it wasn’t and I’m okay with that. But a lot of people were not. Not only were they not pleased with that they weren’t pleased with the fact that someone else becomes Batman and to a lesser extent that we won’t ever see him be Batman. I’ll address both of these points.

First off why was his name Robin and not Dick Grayson, or for that matter Tim Drake, both of whom are Robin in the comic books. Here’s my take. Naming Blake’s character Dick or Tim would be too alienating to the casual Batfan, those who have only seen the movies wouldn’t catch the connection, maybe some would if they named him Dick but I doubt many would draw any connection to the two. The reason Robin was used I think is two fold: One Blake carries a lot of traits similar to both the character of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, he has the fun loving quick witted side of Grayson but he has the keen detective skills Drake had. In the comics A Death in the Family Tim Drake is introduced after figuring out that Bruce Wayne is Batman and that Jason Todd, the current Robin, was taken by The Joker (read it, it’s a classic Batman book), so by combining the two characters we get Blake and simply naming him Robin made it so that he wasn’t just one of the characters when he so resembled the two. This problem came up in the original Batman movies, when Robin was introduced as Dick Grayson I was expecting a Dick Grayson like character, instead I got a Jason Todd, an annoying, arrogant, complaining character. So this was a much safer way to do it I think.

Finally: Why did he have to become Batman and why can’t we get another movie with Blake as Batman? I think this is the easiest one to understand. Blake had to become The Batman for one very simple reason. The Batman is a symbol. Symbols cannot die. Even though Bruce is gone Gotham still needs it’s protector and Robin takes that upon himself. This also comes back to why he is named Robin. In the comics, after Bruce is killed by Darkseid (see Final Crisis and Battle for the Cowl) Dick Grayson becomes Batman. So with the character of Blake already being named Robin it was a natural progression. It was both symbolic and metaphorical, Nolan seems to do that a lot in his movies. And why won’t we see another Batman movie with Blake as Batman? Because we don’t need to. As I said earlier we don’t need everything presented to us in a complete package with a nice bow on top, leave this to your imagination. He becomes Batman, that much is obvious, what will he do as Batman? Go out and buy an issue of Batman or Detective Comics and judge for yourself. Both Series have just started new story arcs so it’s a good time to check them out.

Let me know what you thought about the movie and anything you thought differently or anything you interpreted differently in the comment section below, I’d really love to hear your thoughts.

And what’s me posting about comics without me throwing up a link for an IGN page. Here’s is IGN’s Spoilercast for TDKR, enjoy!

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Follow Nathan on Twitter @Nait93.

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