I never wanted you to come back to Gotham. I always knew there was nothing here for you, except pain and tragedy. And I wanted something more for you than that. I still do… You know, there are quotes that just crush your heart every time. Alfred has a lot of great sayings in this trilogy, but this will always get me. And also, if there were “trailers / teasers” award, this one for The Dark Knight Rises would win. It’s so good that often at work I just listen to it for 4 hours. Even though for me (and many others) The Dark Knight is the best part of this trilogy – plot and character wise, The Dark Knight Rises carries emotional charge, that makes my heart skip a bit.
Summer 2012. I got on a train to Szczecin and from there, I went to Germany with my godmother and my uncle. As much as I loved spending my vacations at the seaside, I also loved going to Bremerhaven. Family is one thing, but I have a lot of friends there. Plus, this is my city. The docks, Deich, fish market. Without a doubt, this is my second home, my favorite place on Earth. It was mid-July and I knew that The Dark Knight Rises will have its premiere soon. And my aunt knew exactly how much I love Batman and what it would mean to me. So, she got me and my uncle tickets to the local cinema. Fun fact – I really wanted to see it opening night which in Poland is typically Friday. In Germany it was Wednesday. I’ve been in German cinema before and I was aware of “dubbing culture” – and let me tell you this: I kind of love it?
Let me explain. I love it in TV shows, because it’s the best way for me to learn any language, even Swedish now that I know basics. Dubbing movies is a butchery – I am more used to voices from big screen. It doesn’t bother me with TV series, I know it’s strange. So, you know, it was weird for me to see Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Michael Caine but not hearing their voices… You know? Watching films in German still gives me creeps. Unless it’s a film with Till Schweiger. Then it’s all good.
One more thing about German cinema – they do breaks. Not for commercial, but for people to get more popcorn, beer, go to the bathroom… And that was something, my heart couldn’t bear. Like what the actual heck? I am stressed enough and they make 25 minutes break. Does that mean, that Germans don’t get emotionally involved? Ugh. Overall though, nothing stopped me from enjoying the film and that is the most important thing.
Friend told me few weeks ago that DC has excellent villains. And I could not agree more. This is still “new” field for me, because I am more of a Marvel fan, than contemporary DC, but when it comes to antagonists… I won’t fight. Hands down, DC’s bad guys/girls are far more captivating, then Marvel characters. Just think about it and take Batman for example: the Joker, Bane, Scarecrow, Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul… Each of them is so complex, so well-written into the comics, deep and unpredictable. The thing is, they all seem like criminal master minds, with one great enemy: Batman.
The cycle is complete: Batman Begins is a story about embracing fear, The Dark Knight is about fairness of chaos and The Dark Knight Rises is a story about pain that comes in the end. And I am well aware, that second part of this trilogy set the bar very high, but… TDKR did not fall behind, at least for me.
Christopher Nolan said, that this will be his last superhero movie, even though the end of this part is open – but this is just what Nolan likes, right? Perhaps in a different lifetime, someone will be worthy picking up his mantel and will tell story of Robin. But now, that I think about it – maybe that’s for the best, to end it this way. We all know, that sometimes there is no point of dwelling and stretching stories. And even though I would love to see Nolan work on another Batman movie, I understand his point.
Bane, the masked evil. Necessary evil, carrying on with the plan of Ra’s al Ghul to purify Gotham. Ruthless, adaptable, man on the mission. Remember when I told you, that Joker is the greatest enemy of Batman? Well, Bane is the arch nemesis of Bruce Wayne. He doesn’t care about the legacy nor the symbol Batman once was – after all, he was just a man. Man, who could be broken.
What makes Bane one of the most dangerous foe? Contrary to Joker, he has a plan. And he executes it with killer efficiency. He had man, who followed him with admirable loyalty, without any questions. Even though they knew they will die – one way or another. Bane brought back memories from Batman Begins because Ra’s wanted the same thing, but somehow, he was much easier to stop. So, what was that about Bane? Or was Bruce Wayne simply out of shape, too old, too tired? A lot of factors contributed to Bane’s successful path towards unexpected failure. Firstly, as I mentioned – loyal army. His men were exceptionally committed. Secondly, he was intimidating. There were stories about him, settling over Gotham like a mist. No one knew who he really was or where he came from. And lastly, he… Had a point. I know – I said the same thing about the Joker, but that only proves how “down-to-Earth” DC criminals can be.
Bane had ulterior motives – that’s for sure. What at first seemed like giving city back to the people, turned to be decoy for mass destruction. He is the Gotham’s final bill, yet he shows some kind of mercy – giving citizens time to be together or to… Pick the last fight with the depraved.
“We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please. Start by storming Blackgate, and freeing the oppressed! Step forward those who would serve. For and army will be raised. The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests, and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive, as they learn to serve true justice. This great city… it will endure. Gotham will survive!”
So, yes in a way – he has a point. So very current… If you look around the world and examine how Governments operate – destroying values our ancestors fought for, implementing policies that allow them to do anything (literally) or only considering elite’s opinion. And it shouldn’t be this way, but I know. World is not ideal, and it will never be. But we can make it a little bit better, piece by piece.
First fight between Batman and Bane is epic – for the lack of another word. But you must admit, that it is epic, in its simplicity. There is no soundtrack in the background, which makes it even more intense. Just the pure sounds of fight and sewer surroundings. Which means, that you can hear the pain, struggle and Bane’s mechanic voice. Sounds of punishment for crime against the people. Punishment for lying. For me, this was the most intense scene in the film – not the last one with timer and bomb. This defying moment of Bane breaking Bruce’s spirit, is the ultimate proof that everyone can be destroyed.
Bane forced Batman out of his hiding, retirement. Condemned by society, deemed the murderer of Harvey Dent – the white knight of Gotham, he must return to stand in his final battle. Only four people believe in him – Alfred, Lucius Fox, Jim Gordon and… Young police officer, Blake.
His comeback is part of Bane’s masterplan – his deeds are pushed to the sidelines, and he continues to operate in the shadows. The police prioritize catching the Batman, whatever it takes. Even “sacrificing” Bane. Everything is part of the plan. And at this moment, he won’t kill Bruce, as this would be an easy way out. After all, Batman fought to save Gotham, he believed that this city can be fixed. The most severe punishment would be for him to watch his city fail and be destroyed to ashes.
John Blake is one of my favorites, well-written characters in this film. He grew up in boy’s home so he had to toughen up. Life was not easy for him, but he stood still, patiently tackling obstacles that were thrown at him. His heart was pure and maybe that’s why he still believed in Batman? Blake wanted a change – he didn’t agree with Bane and punishment he planned for Gotham.
He was not afraid to confront Bruce about who he really is, and he didn’t do it for fame or satisfaction; Blake wanted Batman to act, to help, to do something. He was not afraid to step out of his rank and investigate on his own, and he didn’t do it to impress anyone. He simply cared for the city, for the children like him… And even though he is a little bit clumsy in his doings, Blake tries.
He is the spark – a beacon of hope – that Bruce Wayne was saw in Harvey Dent. The critical difference though is that Blake’s heart remained pure. He quitted rotten to the core police after everything was over because he knew, that there are other ways of helping the city. It’s such a shame that we will not see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robin. Despite not wearing a mask (though Bruce advised that all the time), for me he was the best Robin. But who knows? Maybe WB will pick this subject up in a shape of miniseries…?
Few years ago, I considered Anne Hathaway to be great Catwoman – especially with the way she looked in the movie. Wow, just wow! Sadly enough, recently she resurfaced with ridiculous statement on how Christopher Nolan does not allow chairs in his sets, explaining Nolan’s thoughts that “if you have chairs, people will sit, and if they’re sitting, they’re not working”. Once again, my feelings for him aside, that sounds absurd. Obviously, she later added that she sees the point of this “philosophy”, as Nolan’s movies are amazing. But his spokesperson, Kelly Bush Novak had to release a statement saying that “for the record, the only things banned from [Christopher Nolan’s] sets are cell phones (not always successfully) and smoking (very successfully)”.
And I will be honest with you – this situation made me look at Hathaway differently. Before, she was just another actress for me, no good or bad. Her roles were fine for me, but really nothing exceptional (is it unpopular opinion?). But yes, I was very harsh during this re-watch. And guess what? Her portrait of Catwoman was only visually pleasing, but we can agree that it’s all thanks to makeup artists and costume designers. As for her character’s attitude and how she played it… I could not stand it. Look, I get that Catwoman was always cheeky, ignorant and sassy, but I just couldn’t stand it in Hathaway’s acting.
I like Catwoman as comic book character, I really do. She truly is a cat – independent, seductive and dangerous. And Anne’s performance had none of those for me. She was flexible, but her attempts of being independent were… Silly. I guess Nolan had bad luck with casting Batman’s ladies.
There is only one thing I liked about Marion Cottillard’s character (and no, not her death) – she was an unexpected plot twist. For me at least, because I am sure you comic lovers saw that coming. I should start by saying, that I never liked Marion Cottillard, there is just something about her that bugs me. And here, she played this boring “savior” who seemed above everyone’s bullshit. To be honest, she was to good to be true, and I should’ve suspected something will come up with her. Also, Chris? Her dying scene was… Goofy. Sorry, my Love but it’s the truth. If you ever have dilemma who to cast as strong female lead, please give me a call?
However, there was another thing that she did right – her character triggered all the right emotions in Tom Hardy. His performance as Bane is A+, hands down. Acting with a face mask like his is, contrary to the popular belief, harder than without any mask: your eyes, neck veins, forehead – those are the primary attributes, that audience will focus on. Throw mechanic voice to the mix and you just can’t look away. But there is this penultimate scene with Bane, emotionally reunited with Talia – child he protected and woman he grew to love. Single tera streaming down his face broke my heart. As Talia said, “his only crime was that he loved me”.
Christian Bale is my favorite Batman and his performance is so much different – he is more of a Bruce Wayne than Batman, which is new in the DC universe. Yet, I don’t feel the need to praise him. And it’s not that the villains are stealing his spotlight, because there are no spotlights in Nolan’s films. Each part is equally contributing to the picture. But Tom Hardy absolutely crushing it is Bane deserves the recognition. His character proves, that Nolan is devilishly skilled storyteller.
On July 20th 2020, around 12:38 am, James Holmes entered movie theater in a small town in Colorado called Aurora. Armed with firearms and tear gas grenades. Using the film’s midnight premiere as his “cover”, Holmes started shooting to over 400 people inside. At first, they though those come from the movie, but it was just good synchronization. The first phone calls to emergency services via 911 were made at 12:39 a.m. Police arrived within 90 seconds – which is outstanding response time. Still, in that time… Holmes killed 12 people – Batman fans. Youngest girl was 6 years old. 70 people got injured. World stopped for a moment, shocked. The jurors found Holmes guilty on all twenty-four counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of possessing explosives, and a sentence enhancement of a crime of violence. In result, he was sentenced for life in prison.
Hans Zimmer, on his concert in Prague told story about his journey with Batman and how he felt after the Aurora shooting: “Devastated was the first word that popped into my head. And I realized, that everybody will use that words, and I don’t use words. Words aren’t the way I express myself. And all day I was been thinking about victims and their families and the loneliness they must experience. So, that night I found a choir and I said: Can we do something, can we do a piece of music with no words, that should feel like we’re stretching our arms out all the way across the Atlantic to the small town in Colorado and let them not feel alone anymore, let them know we’re thinking of them, let them know we’re feeling things with our hearts… And the world hasn’t gotten any better. (…) This is Aurora.”. Each time I hear this music, my heart screams in anger.
Christopher Nolan said that “the movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families”.
2 years later, one of my lecturers at Military Academy gave me copy of “Aurora Century 16 Theater Shooting: After Action Report for the City of Aurora” and asked me to write a paper about it. Never in my life, have I cried this much while writing. I realized that this could’ve happened everywhere, even in CineMotion theater in Bremer haven, during opening night. It could’ve happened to my parents watching this film in Wroclaw. I was angry and sad, devastated and broken, I couldn’t handle those feelings at all. Cinema was a sacred ground and someone shook that ground.
For me, The Dark Knight Rises carries extreme emotional charge. The tragedy amid my ruined heart, after losing Heath Ledger… Suddenly, Nolan’s trilogy became even more profound. Plot wise, the story was captivating for me from the start – living a lie that comes out eventually and it’s not like people love Batman all over again. His ultimate sacrifice makes them realize that the hero they needed is not coming back anymore, and he saved the city for the last time. Perhaps now, the citizens will take better care of Gotham.
Christopher Nolan redefined superhero movies and proved, that extraordinary powers or money are not what makes you a true hero. After all, it’s not who i am underneath but what I do that defines me…
“We were in this together, and then you were gone. Now this evil…rises. The Batman has to come back.”
“What if he doesn’t exist anymore?”
“He must. He must…”
We watched the planes leave us behind…
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