Will The Real Batman Please Stand Up? A Franchise In Review.

First off, I’d like to point out that I’m an avid comic book reader. While Batman wasn’t necessarily my favorite character (Spider-Man was), I took a shine to some of his most prolific stories. Three of them were used in the plot of The Dark Knight Rises: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall (Bane’s debut), and No Man’s Land. The latter two were Bat Universe spanning events so Nolan‘s masterful use of them in one movie is marvelous. The franchise itself has new life…

Don’t get me wrong, Tim Burton hasn’t been rendered invalid; Michael Keaton is still the first actor to bring a proper Batman to the Silver Screen; and Jack Nicholson‘s Joker stands among the best comic book villains ever. However, blind loyalty to one franchise over another is inane in this comic book fan’s opinion. If you like Burton’s interpretation, I understand perfectly; I do too. But it doesn’t mean you have to absolutely dislike Nolan’s or dedicate whole blogs/articles to sandbagging whichever one you abhor. Respect each view as an evolution of the character, not a detriment.

With that said, I want to focus on the literary and contextual strengths of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. I don’t think it is necessarily superior but it did pay more attention to detail and did not fill the holes with camp or take too many liberties (with the material). The last line may irk comic book purists but face it: movie portrayals are never going to be exactly what the comic/graphic novel displays; the medium, casting, resources, and artistic vision will always be deciding factors. Now onto the meat of my review…

‘A’ Caliber Casting:

Nolan’s casting decisions were easily a welcome change in how seriously comic book movies should be taken. Each role was given to an Academy Award Winning or Nominated Actor/Actress or otherwise accomplished in their own right; also to those who he had previously worked with, comfort level established. Ultimately, each part was conveyed in a realistic manner, each character was fallible albeit relatable to the audience, even the villains (who weren’t grandiose or flat). In turn, this cast brought us (the audience) into the story without much of a fight. I’m not saying other films have not done this (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, for example) but not to this degree.

Dark Rises Trilogy mirrors Monomyth:

Any writer or reader who has read Joseph Campbell’s ‘A Hero’s Journey‘ or seen notable 80’s trilogies such as Star Wars or Indiana Jones (Kingdom of The Crystal Skull doesn’t count), has seen its structure and knows its effectiveness.

Here’s the structure: http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00212/monomyth.html

Stage 1: Departure = Batman Begins

Stage 2: Initiation = The Dark Knight

Stage 3: Return = The Dark Knight Rises

These elements made every nuance succinct and purposeful.

Foreshadowing as a cog:

foreshadowing – the act of providing vague advance indications; representing beforehand; the act of predicting (as by reasoning about the future)

While I won’t telegraph each line or instance the literary element was utilized, I will indicate its importance. Nolan told his audience plot points and the climax before it even happened and… it still worked.

Bye for now, KS.

 

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