An Illustrative Review of The Dark Knight Rises

Why are you interested in this adaptation?


No one who reads our column will be surprised that I am a huge Batman fan. I think I was introduced to Batman through the excellent Batman: The Animated Series as a kid, but since Saturday morning episodes weren’t enough for me I was also picking up whatever comics I could get my hands on.

I love Batman. I love the whole Bat Family! They’re all so DAMAGED!

Needless to say, I’ve seen Nolan’s Batman Begins (I FELL ASLEEP in the theater watching that, you guys…I own it, though, so I’ve since seen it several times. I hate it. I HATE IT), and it’s not my cup of tea. Nolan’s obsession with making Batman realistic, the made-up character of Rachel…. The Dark Knight is much better and far more watchable, but I still feel like Nolan’s take on Batman is more like a Bond film with a different suit and not a comic book movie. I’m interested in The Dark Knight Rises because I want the Nolan trilogy to end. That’s kind of harsh. But it’s true. I’ve sat through the other two and I’m going for some Batman kicks.


Can we change the question to be “why are you not interested”?  Because I am not interested.  Do you guys remember how when The Dark Knight came out in theaters, everyone loved it—and I mean everyone—except there was always that one token friend or friend of a friend that you had who didn’t like it, but they were such a minority they were almost the exception that proved the rule?  Y’all recall that?  I was that one friend.  I was the one person I and all of my friends knew who didn’t like the movie.

I liked the first one okay.  I don’t have a strong attachment to Batman or any of the old manifestations, so I didn’t mind the attempt to make it more realistic and less comics.  Whatever.  The directing was good, and the story didn’t piss me off.

The Dark Knight was awful for me. Too long by about an hour, waaaaay too many ancillary and pointless plotlines, and I guess it made me dislike Batman’s entire ethos because it is clearly not preventing awful people from doing awful things but rather punishing them for doing awful things.  Totally different thing.  Drop the Joker off the building, city-destroying disaster averted.  Oh, wait, what’s that, it would be immoral to do it?  Look, I’m as libertarian as it gets on civil liberties, I respect things like due process more than 99% of politicians would like, but that’s if you’re acting within the law—it’s to prevent the government from trampling your rights.  In the context, Batman has SEEN the Joker plan atrocities and LAUGH.  And his decision as a goddamned vigilante is to not kill him when he has the chance?  THE FUCK?  And then that shit went on for a whole nother 90 minutes before it was over.  It’s the closest I’ve come to walking out of a movie in recent memory.

I’m still traumatized by that one.

So I was only enthused about TDKR in the abstract, in the sense that if it exists to finance Nolan’s next Inception then I am all on board with him making it…I just don’t want to see it.  The one thing that would make me want to see it would be if it turns out to be, as the title suggests, Batman giving up his morality to actually be a dark knight who kills the motherfuckers before they can burn his ghetto to the ground.  Give me THAT movie, and MAYBE I will go see it.

What would make it awesome?


I believe I just answered that question.  Abstain from redundancy.


What would make it awesome is if Batman is in the movie? The other two films show Bruce having to discover then rediscover Batman. If Batman has to re-Batman again in another hour and a half of “inner struggle” about how Gotham doesn’t need Batman…I will freak out.

I’m hoping for some Catwoman action. Out-smarting all these tech obsessed boys would also be great.

What would make it suck?


I know already that it’s going to be three hours long…so that will probably suck. Only because I know how the Nolan Batman films can DRAG, and sitting there for three hours while Batman batrasps at me and moons over dead fakeRachel will suuuuuck.

I’m really nervous about Bane. Why is Bane British? Why can I not understand him in the trailers? What’s going on with his aerosol mask?  Is this movie going to be one unintelligible guy shouting at another unintelligible guy with Anne Hathaway making stupid jokes in between?


It will suck if it is as needlessly overcomplicated as the second one was.  That many plotlines that are ancillary to the main story are basically masturbation fodder.  Which, fine, if you’re into that sort of thing, but I’m not, so save it for the director’s cut and let me skate out of this with only two hours of my life lost and not three, k thx bye.

Thoughts on casting/production?


I am ambivalent about Tom Hardy. He’s cloned Captain Picard from Stark Trek: Nemesis. He has puffy lips. Those lips will supposedly never be seen as he is playing Bane, and Nolan’s version of Bane is a dude permanently hooked up to Darth Vader’s respiratory machine. I don’t know why. Will we learn why?


Wait, Tom Hardy is Bane?  Suddenly I almost want to see this!  Hardy is still on my automatic-cred list because of Bronson.  It’s going to take a few more stinkers from him for that glamour to wear off…although he does seem to be trying pretty hard to just play the same character every time now.  I guess that’s ergonomic.  Maybe Bane will add some range to his recent portfolio.


Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is both really interesting and really terrifying. Hathaway has that old-fashioned brunette with a round face look that Nolan casts IN ALL OF HIS FILMS. The Catwoman costume I’ve seen is OK. It’s a black jumpsuit with stupid-ass goggle cat-ear things. There appears to be no whip. She also wears RIDICULOUS shoes. Nolan is so obsessed with making everything hyper-realistic, but he’s got Catwoman in shoes she wouldn’t be able to climb around buildings on. So I’m going to assume that she doesn’t climb around buildings and she just wiggle-walks everywhere…hopefully while flipping everyone off. Her casting is definitely a callback to Julie Newmar rather than the Darwyn Cooke design with the head gear, goggles, and short hair.


Gotta be honest, Hathaway is a challenge for me. She is one of those actresses that I can never see as the character; I always just see her as Anne Hathaway, even though I think she actually is kind of okay at acting?  Maybe?  So she seems pretty much like a terrible choice to me for Catwoman.  But I don’t know who would do it better so why not?

Reaction to film: ***Spoilers Abound***


So.  Convince me to see this one. If you can.



That was…that was, well actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, Batman did have to re-Batman his Batman for two hours. WHY? WHY CAN’T HE JUST BE BATMAN?

Bruce has spent the last eight years being a shut-in with a cane (why he needs the cane is unknown, because he seemed FINE at the end of the last film…I guess he was shot?) even though, and this is the fundamental part of Batman that Nolan seems to not understand, Bruce would never STOP being Batman. This is an issue that comes again and again in the film, culminating in an ending where Bruce permanently gives up Batman.


That’s just a Batcation, right? Bruce is going to get bored in about 12 seconds (five seconds after Selina realizes spending all her time with a no-longer-super-rich dude not stealing things suuuucks) and head back to Gotham and the mansion he left to the city for a Vigilante Orphan Boys Home. He’ll go down into the Batcave and let notRobin know how to sign in to the Batcomputer and then call out to Alfred, who would also HAVE NEVER LEFT BRUCE, “Alfred! Bring me another Orphan Boy!”

And all will be well with the world.

Wedging Bane in as Talia’s protector and tying it all back to the League of Shadows in Batman Begins felt a little forced, an attempt by Nolan to bring his trilogy full circle. (I see what you did there, you Lazaraus Pit hater! GHOST LIAM NEESON CAN BITE ME!)  However, I still appreciated the fact that Nolan dipped more into the comics for TDKR than in his previous Batman films. Several scenes seemed pulled straight from the comics, if not in meaning then at least in visual language.

I still found Bane to be absolutely unintelligible.  I got maybe every fifth word. It was incredibly frustrating. Nolan’s attempt to make Bane more intelligible seems to have been to just up his dialogue track by 200 percent and give us the finger. Thanks. That didn’t help at all! It just made Bane seem like he was being dubbed in and mixed by a telenovela team.

Elena…I know you are not into Batman, so I want to make it clear: ROBIN’S NAME IS NOT ROBIN. His name is also not John. I…don’t understand how this happened. Nolan is so anti-Robin that he’ll make up a dissatisfied cop character and…NAME him Robin? IT’S SO WEIRD! There are plenty of actual Robin name’s to choose from but…well, what’s wrong with naming him Richard?

If he was worried that his heavy-handed foreshadowing throughout the film was ruining the surprise, then keep the John name and change the “actual” name stupidest last line for a movie ever from “Robin” to “Richard.” What? Was he worried that people who didn’t know DICK about Batman wouldn’t get the reference?

Here’s a thing…

…How about you shouldn’t CARE! If my mom watched that movie and didn’t get why having him named “Richard” (assuming “Dick” was too old fashioned) was related to the character taking on the Batmantle, as it were…WHO CARES?! My mom isn’t watching this film. You know who is? FANS. People for whom the reference is a Google or a lean over to the person next to them away if they didn’t get it already.

ROBIN IS NOT HIS NAME. That would like me becoming “Rachel Gal” and then attempting to have a secret identity.


I think the people who are really into the Nolan Batman films are fine. I’m glad they enjoy them. I’m glad that they can watch those films and read the comics and not have issues. I’m not one of those people. I don’t think an adaptation should slavishly follow the source material, but I do think that the main identifying characteristics and personality of the most important characters should make it from page to screen.

Nolan’s Batman has always been a tool for Bruce Wayne to go from damaged child to well-adjusted adult. Batman is something that holds Bruce back, if Nolan’s Alfred is to be believed. In actuality Batman has always been more than a mask and more than a symbol. Batman IS Bruce Wayne. The play boy, the rich kid…he is the tool of Batman. Bruce is the mask. Nolan doesn’t think this, and so I’ll never like these movies as much as some of you, but I respect that Nolan has ushered in an era of comic book movies as more than comedy action flicks. They should be as topical and inspiring as the comics. Hopefully though, the next Batman reboot won’t take it QUITE so seriously. I’d like to see a Gotham that has room in it for a Batman that never gives up.


Even your fake enthusiasm was not enough to sell me on this one.  Maybe some pictures might help?








3 thoughts on “An Illustrative Review of The Dark Knight Rises

  1. SarahSommer

    Personally, I think the John/Robin character is being set up for  Nightwing film, but rather than being a direct adaption is attempting to mix in a little of the sidekick Robin with the Nightwing comic character. I hope anyway, I’d much rather see a Nightwing film anyway. I also didn’t have any trouble understanding Bane, I found him quite awesome. I loved that they gave him such a proper accent to counteract his exterior appearance. While the Batman trilogy Nolan gave us isn’t as close to the comics as fans would like, if you watch them for what they are. i find them quite good and entertaining even if some of the plot holes bothered me and some of the characterization was over the top. =]

    1. DarthRachel

      SarahSommer  Except a Nightwing film doesn’t work unless Nightwing has an existing and fucked up relationship with Batman. To me it was Nolan saying: Batman will go on bc he is a symbol, more of a Batman, Inc kind of thing. 


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