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It’s pretty safe to say that the release of The Dark Knight Rises was one of, if not the most, anticipated film this summer. Since 2005, Christopher Nolan has kept us on the edge of our seats with his wonderfully macabre telling of the Batman tale. On a personal level, I have always had a very strong fondness for the entire Batman world. The dark knight has always ranked at the very top of my list of superheroes, particularly because he’s the antihero. When you think about recent films, shows, and projects, antiheroes have really stepped into the spotlight lately (consider works such as Dr. Horrible or Breaking Bad). I’m sure we could spend all day considering the psychology of this, but today we’re more focused on Batman, and suffice it to say, the recent Nolan Batman films fit right into this antihero craze. Add the long-standing fandom of the Batman world to the antihero love, and cap it off with the brilliant success of the highly acclaimed last installment, The Dark Knight, and you have a recipe for some high levels of excitement. I do believe, in a lot of ways, the ending to this trilogy lived up to the hype. However, some aspects left me looking for more. Let’s get to that now.
From here on out, all you’ll see is SPOILERS. If you have not seen the movie, and don’t want it SPOILED, skip to the next article instead.
One thing I greatly admire about Nolan’s take on the Batman story is his ability to reinvent characters. Nolan faced the challenge of demystifying the characters in the Batman realm, bringing them more to life by making them more human, while still remaining true to the comics. In some ways, this leaves us with a lot of questions about specific characters and their origins, while lending a new sense of intrigue to them. Take, for instance, Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight: we never got a solid origin story out of that, but the way he spoke about his potential origins, he gave us a deep look into the psychosis of this character. This relates to the newly introduced characters, too. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, put simply, was brilliant. Throughout the film, Selina Kyle hints several times at a past filled with bad mistakes and regrets. We never get the details on what happened with her past, but we’re told why she wants it erased to badly, and certainly feel her sense of urgency to the point that we can feel her justification for all of her devious plots. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse at the remnants of Bruce Wayne’s internal torment. We see old, exalted photos of a half-forgotten life hindering his ability or desire to move on. We also get to watch him come back to life and force himself to be the hero he is, not because he wants to, but because he has to. This need to return to Batman is also hastened by Gotham City PD’s Officer Blake, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. Blake was an orphan, himself, who depended on Wayne’s contributions to local charities growing up, and who was inspired by Batman’s moral influence and strong will to help the people of Gotham. So with that in mind, we enter into this film being immediately greeted by three strong characters in desperate situations.
Next, we have Bane. In many stories, Bane has pretty much been the equivalent of a pumped up hired gun. However, the original Dixon story that influenced Bane’s presence in The Dark Knight Rises, “Knightfall,” gives him a much stronger presence. Because of that story arc in the comics, Bane became known as “The Man Who Broke the Bat,” for having broken Batman’s back during a fight. This is also true of TDKR. The very first fight between Bane, played by Tom Hardy, and Batman is an extremely powerful scene. After teaming up with Catwoman, Batman is brought down to the sewers to find Bane and confront him head-on. Before they get all the way there, Batman is pulled away from Catwoman, and thrown onto a metal walkway, going across the sewers below, with Bane, and locked there. Instantly, the music drops, so all you hear are select sounds from the confrontation and fight. The entire time, we see Catwoman clinging on to the bars of the walkway, obviously distraught about double-crossing the dark knight, and very concerned for his life. The blows go back and forth rather evenly for a while before Bane takes a very commanding lead, tossing Batman around like a rag doll. Eventually, true to the story it was adapted from, the scene turns more serious when Bane lifts Batman over his head, then drops the Bat onto his knee, breaking his back. To add insult to injury, Bane peels half of the broken mask from the fallen hero’s face while he’s writhing in pain on the ground, and tosses it aside. Leaving the scene with the symbolic gesture of discarding something that was meant as a beacon of hope for the people of Gotham.
Above all, though, I’d have to say my own personal favorite character here was Miranda, played by a fantastic actress, Marion Cotillard. Miranda is Bruce’s business-associate-turned-love interest throughout the story, growing more and more prominent in his life. While Batman is recovering, Bane is taking over Gotham, with the promise of destroying it with a nuclear bomb, and the entire city is left to fight and scavenge. During this time, Miranda appears to be working with Bruce’s business associates, but of course we come to find out this is a ruse. After Batman seemingly defeats Bane, we get Miranda’s reveal. Throughout the entire film, we’ve been teased with what is presented to be Bane’s backstory. A small child in a prison made out of a giant hole in the ground, nicknamed “Hell.” The child is the only person to ever escape this prison by climbing the walls. This is the same prison Batman is exiled to while recovering from his broken spine. To get out of the prison, he has to climb the same wall the small child did. After several tries, he manages this feat while the rest of the prisoners are shouting “Rise! Rise!” in their own language. We hear the story of the child – the spawn of a mercenary and a noblewoman – in pieces, but we hear the ending from Miranda. This child turns out to be Miranda, who reveals that she is actually Talia al Ghul, there to fulfill the legacy of her father, Ra’s al Ghul. In the Batman universe, Talia is a character with a long history of being Batman’s love interest, Catwoman’s rival, and Bane’s accomplice. However, showing Talia as the little girl escaping “Hell,” supported by her childhood friend and protector, Bane, gives a whole new level of emotional depth to both of these characters. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Marion Cotillard presents this reveal scene with a certain stoicism that makes the entire twist seem that much more significant.
As you may recall from previous posts, we’ve been following along with the progression of the teen superheroes from Young Justice. For those not familiar, Young Justice tells the story of some of our favorite DC superheroes’ proteges. We were lucky enough to get be able to catch up with the recent release of Young Justice: Season One – Volume Three.
In this volume, Robin, Superboy, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, and Artemis face dangers with a lot less help from their superhero mentors. Defending the world from their headquarters at Mount Justice, the team is sent in to foil a nefarious plot guided by telepathic villain, Psimon, to have their memories stolen, and have to fight their way back to reality. We also get a visit from Red Arrow as he tries to face down the assassin Cheshire on his own. This volume closes out with a suspenseful battle against Red Tornadoes mysterious “relatives,” Red Inferno and Red Torpedo. While all of these storylines were very exciting and well-told, my personal favorite on this volume will have to be the third episode, Terrors.
What’s particularly fun about this episode is the familiar faces we get to see. The plot starts out with Miss Martian and Superboy going undercover to enter into a maximum security prison, run by Warden Amanda Waller. They’re greeted by Dr. Hugo Strange as the prison psychology, and are there to keep an eye on Mr. Freeze and Sporstmaster as they occupy cells right next to them in the prison. We also get to see a timid, outcast version of Edward Nigma (the Riddler) get teased by the other inmates. Superboy and Miss Martian are forced to keep their cover while trying to unravel any plans these old time villains have in store. Care to see an example of these fantastic cameos? Take a look at the clip below:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. After being burned by the whole ‘young icons’ genre that went on in the 90s, I was very reluctant to give Young Justice a chance. I’ll be the first to say that WB has really been knocking it out the park with this series. If you’re timid to check out this series, I urge you to step and give it a chance. You will not be disappointed.
Our favorite superheros have been around the block a couple of times, and have this whole crime-fighting thing down to a science. But what about the next generation of heroes? If you haven’t seen it yet, the still-new Cartoon Network series, Young Justice, follows some of your favorite DC characters’ successors as they develop into full-fledged superheroes. And you know what? They actually do a really great job with this.
Now, personally, I’ve never really been a huge fan of next-generation storylines (you know.. except for Star Trek, of course). However, from the very first episode of Young Justice, I was impressed. It’s simply not your typical teenage angst when you have Batman breathing down your neck to get things right. So I was very excited when we got the chance to take a first-hand look at this series. With an animation style reminiscent of Return of the Joker, you’re led through the evolution of Robin (Dick Grayson era), Aqualad, Superboy, Kid Flash, Artemis, M’gann, and Red Arrow, all while watching classic heroes such as Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, and Black Canary teach them how to take down giant robots and mad scientists that have the evil laugh perfected.
We took a look at Season One, Volume Two (courtesy of WB), and learned just how much crime-fighty goodness you can fit into four episodes. Beyond battling Amazo, these kids got to meet Klarion the Witch Boy face to face, try to stop Black Manta’s attack on Atlantis, and stare down the assassin Chesire. We also find out exactly how Aqualad got his start, how Superboy is dealing with being a clone (oh, yes.. that did carry over from the comics), and what ever happened to Speedy. This segment left me wondering dying to know more about Artemis’ backstory, myself.
If you’re getting curious by now, don’t worry.. this volume was released October 25th, and you can now Own it on DVD.
But because we love you.. we’re going to give away two copies of this DVD to you guys, courtesy of WB. Yep, free. Want it? Okay.
Just to be sure you’re into it, though, we’re first going to show you the Origin of Aqualad. Take a look at the video, and to receive your own copy of the DVD, just post Aqualad’s real name below. Two winners will be chosen at random. Check it:
Post your comment below, winners will be chosen on Friday, Nov. 11th.