EDITORIAL: Realism or Bat to the future?

EDITORIAL: Realism or Bat to the future?

Criticism against the Dark Knight Rises has partly focused on the fact that some of Nolan's decisions don't seem to be realistic enough when he claimed that his version of batman was more realistic than previous ones. But does the story even require it at this point or may there be a different reason for the 8 year gap between TDK and TDKR?

We all have heard how Nolan apparently has sold out, how he does not stick to his idea to make batman a realistic character, especially with Bane's mask, the flying vehicle called "the Bat" and Bane's "instrument of liberation". The defining question is: does he even need to stay realistic with the kind of story he's likely to present to us? The author would like to examine whether TDKR is more of a science fiction film rather than a realistic one and whether or not the 8 year gap has a different purpose than we originally thought.

First of all, as far as the themes go, Nolan has dealt with culturally relevant isues before: TDK got much critical acclaim for presenting a paranoid post-9/11 world, in which the freaks are not the people like the Joker or two-face but the people casually reporting their hideous crimes, therefore spreading the fear of terror. Now TDKR comes along and is apparently ready to give us a healthy and unpleasant dose of reality: namely the income inequality and class warfare from above, corruption and recession that was there already in BB and has not been resolved in TDK. The only thing is: we have the same problem right now across the world, as the capitalist system comes crashing down in flames...but that's not entertainment and many people don't want to think about things like that in a batman film, except that it's also partly addressed in batman comics like the Dark Knight Returns. The film is making a political statement and I don't know which side of the issue Nolan will fall on because, while his batman is supposedly the hero of the story we look at him from the outside so we can judge his actions with a greater emotional distance. So, while the film might not be realistic in the sense many people want it to be it does not take away from the fact that it deals with real and timeless issues in a serious way.

So now that that's out of the way we can delve into the real issue at hand: the realism that was supported by so many "Nolanites" as people call them. I don't condone the pejorative meaning of that term but hey the loudest people apparently can say whatever they want (just like the crazy GOP candidates can invent their own facts).
I believe the 8 year gap was deliberately chosen to allow Nolan a less realistic take on batman because earthquake machines, while apparently having been invented already, would probably not work as well as the do in the trailer at this stage of our History. Fast-forard 8 years and that idea might suddenly look more plausible. I had no idea 10 years ago things like ipads, iphones and drones would become the focus of so much attention. So is it that hard to imagine a military device like a flying vehicle that looks like "The Bat" being developed between the end of TDK and the beginning of TDKR when there are 8 years between those two films? One of the strengths of Batman: the Animated Series was that it took Batman and transposed him into an environment where stange technologies (Hugo Strange's thought-reading machine, the Mad Hatter's Dream machine or Mr. Freeze's suit) could co-exist with black and white television and old cars. I am only asking this because it seems that technology, especially military technology like cyber warfare, drones and missiles, is advancing at a fantastic speed and it would not be unlikely to see parts of Nolan's Batman technology in the future being used by real soldiers (like the body armour or the gliding cape). I therefore don't see why a batman film set in the future should not have a more fantastic arsenal of gadgets and technology because that's how science fiction works and there certainly are many elements to batman that are science fiction.

But then I hear "wait a second: you defended Nolan's realism before and now you suddenly say he will make it a more fantastical story? How does that not sound like a betrayal of what he set out to do?"
The answer is: context. Noone complained that "A Clockwork Orange" presented us with a dystopian future that looked like just more of the present, undermining our ability to socially and culturally evolve.
I think that the technology used in TDKR might be plausible for the context in which we'll see it. If indeed 8 years have passed since TDK there's no reason to think that technology has not advanced since then and even in TDK we had the sonar-device, which was no stretch of the imagination for most people while they watched the film, despite the fact that such a device probably does not exist yet, because of the people's awareness of the fact that the State and the private interests behind it have an interest in spying on our lives so they can sell us more consumer goods while slowly taking away our social safety net, civil liberties, social security, and our education system just so they can get more money to start yet another war in another Middle Eastern country...because that's all they can do, they don't know anything else. It did not matter what type of technology was being used in TDK because there were very real methods on spying on people available to the oligarchs in power (maybe not the ones in the film but similar ones).

To present the kind of corrupt society that the US is undoubtedly going to get in the future...well you have to set the story in the future, which comes with a certain suspension of disbelief that we've been told should not be necessary with this interpretation of batman. I am just saying that criticising a science fiction film for presenting you with technology not yet available means that one fails to understand the implications of science fiction...a possible future with the director's idea of what the society would then look like. While watching BB I did not know the memory cloth was actuall something the Us military is working on now. In a weird way TDKR might actually do what Batman: The Animated Series has been doing all along and I don't understand the resentment behind the criticism. Calling Nolan a sell-out and hypocrite at this stage is pointless because his batman films have never claimed to be 100% reality but they've tried to make batman less fantastical and, to a certain degree, they've succeeded in making that interpretation entertaining for a lot of people.
Nolan already explained that TDKR returns to elemnts of BB but that it will retain the serious tone of TDK (and we all know that BB was much more fantastical than TDK). I however can see how people will be expecting more of a TDK realism and Nolan's biggest challenge will be to convince people of a middle ground. One can argue over the looks of the characters but, again, it's his interpretation so he can do whatever he wants and it's a very dangerous thing to let fans decide what should and should not be in a film because then you'd end up with something like for example Planet Hulk, which the general moviegoing public has no interest in.

TDKR might actually not be intended to be a realistic film set in present-day but rather a science fiction film set in a dystopian future where the poor have literally no other option but to rise up against the corrupt society around them (whether that would be realistically possible, given that even today's peaceful protesters are pepper sprayed to death, is a different issue). It is therefore not a sell-out to present us with technology not yet available, since we have all witnessed the growth of the Internet and technology in general, and military technology in particular. The claim therefore that Nolan is a hypocrite is unfounded because there is no way we can know what kind of technological advances await us in the future so I would not fault TDKR for some people's false assumption that TDKR is set in the present day. It taps into real issues that are probably getting ignored now that the GOP debates are such a nice distraction for so many of you out there. Plus, it might actually make more sense in the future than it does right now.
This is why I personally don't think that a faithful comicbook adaptation is enough to make a great comicbook film today because films like the Avengers or the Amazing Spiderman, which may be good and entertaining films, haven't given me any reason to believe that they are actually challenging the status quo or stand for something. Films like that are a product of their time, namely a product for mass consumption that does not aim high and does not take any risks on a philosophical or aesthetical level (as they don't want a political discussion about what, given the current cultural climate and contempt, our society might be like in the future because that only divides audiences and so they avoid taking a firm standpoint on any controversial issue and at the end of the day that's all you're left with), unlike the Marvel comics which sometimes delved into discussions about real issues set in an unrealistic context.

In conclusion, the criticism levelled against Chrisopher Nolan as a sell-out and hypocrite is not justified because he's never done anything other than making his films the way he wanted them to be. The 8 year gap may mean that TDKR might actually be more of a science fiction film. However, that could only be so if we were all ready to accept the idea that TDK is set in present day and that technology evolves extremely rapidly and so it should not be unusual for us to see technology like Bane's "instrument of liberation" or "The Bat" in Nolan's final batman film. While tastes differ I like the look of what we've been given because science influences fiction, and fiction inspires reality.
Posted By:
Member Since 2/7/2012
Filed Under "Batman" 2/28/2012
DISCLAIMER: ComicBookMovie.com is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE]
Paulley - 2/28/2012, 2:48 AM
you know the first film had an Electromagnetic water evaporating device-thingy right... and a car that could jump buildings..... i think realism went out of the window in the first film.

let along the whole CSI-bullet-fingerprint rubbish, and the front wheels turning into the batpod thing.

I think people have to realize when he said realism i think it only meant compared to the Schumacher batman films
batfan175 - 2/28/2012, 3:10 AM
@Paulley: that's what I mean: context is important. If you say more realistic then please I want people to remember that the Burton and Schumacher films were a bit more fantastical and less political than Nolan's interpretation. While you were watchig TDK you did not have a problem with it (at least I didn't). I don't think that the fantastical elements in Nolan's batman films are because of an oversight but because he undestands the extreme nature of batman, which also would explain why in the comics batman is such a fearsome figure because gotham's citizens don't understand him, his methods and the technology he uses.
BarnaclePete - 2/28/2012, 6:35 AM
Batman Begins came out 7 years ago. I think the time jump has nothing to do with science, but rather to show that Gotham has changed for the better since Bruce became Batman. Show the good he has done and then have Bane tear it all down. Ever since the first movie there has always been an element of science fiction. With the time jump it will give us an older, experienced Batman not set in the future, but set in present day.
RidiculousFanBoyDemands - 2/28/2012, 6:57 AM
Why are people so hung up on the word realism? Good article dude, but I don't see why people have to defend Nolan or The Dark Knight. The majority of people love it. Those that bitch about it all the time come across as jealous fanboys. It always amuses me, that people can be so upset just because you like something so popular. Nolan isn't a god, but he is better than the majority of directors working today. There is nothing funnier to me on this site, than the Chris Nolan bashers. Why talk about something, that you claim to hate so much?
superbatspiderman - 2/28/2012, 7:12 AM
@RidiculousFanBoyDemands - I couldn't agree more because Nolan is a very talented director and the people who bash him are just jealous that he has transformed Batman into the biggest comic book frachise of all time. Also if you hate Nolan you should watch videos of Movieworldexpress on youtube and he also used to be on this site under the name CGblade because he is the biggest idiot ever.
LMFA0 - 2/28/2012, 7:31 AM
I disagree. I used to think Nolan was cool. I liked memento and insomnia was ok. Begins was awesome but the dark knight lost a lot of luster in my eyes. It may have been the fact everyone that thought it was tge greatest movie in the history of film, which it really wasn't. It was quite average. If it weren't got the joker (the only reason the film was praised and did so well) then most people would have thought it sucked. But that is just my opinion.

I hope that this new Batman franchise does something no christopher Nolan film had done yet, I hope it doesn't think it is better than what it is, a comic book movie. Lets face it, there its a reason the dark knight or iron man or any other comic book movie has been nominated buy the academy for best picture. None of then will ever be that good. I think that Nolan fans need to understand that and accept it because Batman is a comic book superhero and he needs a better movie than what we have yet had to show that.
RidiculousFanBoyDemands - 2/28/2012, 7:48 AM
"It may have been the fact everyone that thought it was tge greatest movie in the history of film, which it really wasn't."

So basically you don't like it to be acontrarian? That statement reminds me of when someone loves a band, but hates them the minute they become too popular. It's okay to not like a movie, but to say you don't like it because of the fans it ridiculous.

"Lets face it, there its a reason the dark knight or iron man or any other comic book movie has been nominated buy the academy for best picture."

Do yourself a favor and Google 2013 and Oscar predictions. Plus what is wrong for a comic book movie wanting to be more than it really is? Are you saying you want more Green Lanterns and less Dark Knights? Iron Man took itself seriously, are you saying it was wrong to do so? Just because it is "comic book movie" doesn't mean it can't be well crafted and deserving of an Oscar. A History of Violence and Road to Perdition were comic book movies? Were they terrible because they took themselves too seriously?

Why is it to wrong for a director to not dumb down his comic book movies? Again, as for movies not being good enough to win an Oscar, Google 2013 Oscar Predictions. Then Google 2013 Oscar odds. A certain "comic book" movie tops that list. Plus why can fantasy movies be "Oscar worthy" and not comic book movies?

Sorry dude you are entitled to your opinion, no matter how short sighted it is. But say comic book movies shouldn't take themselves seriously, and can't ever be good enough to win an Oscar is plane stupid. No offense.
RidiculousFanBoyDemands - 2/28/2012, 7:52 AM
Thirty years ago people were saying the same thing about Science Fiction movies. They would never be good enough to win Oscars. People only thought musicals, drama's and to a lesser extent comedies were "Oscar Worthy." I would rather directors try to be something more than "just a comic book movie."
MrReese - 2/28/2012, 7:55 AM
Everybody hating on Nolan has watched all his [frick]in movies point blank.The man is a very credible director so I really don't understand the hate.The reason they nitpick TDK is because they've watched it multiple times,thus catching its faults.IMO at the very first screening u guys went 2 watch it,u were [frick]in blown away n that speaks levels.Nolan's best movie IMO is The Prestige hands the [frick] down!! Insomnia is his worst movie at the time & that's starring [frick]in Pacino n Williams.Both incredible credible actors so that is still impressive in my book.(The movie wasn't even bad IMO)

p.s I got a ? 4 marvel fans - If Nolan never made Batman,is he still overrated?? :/
HireMeWBDC - 2/28/2012, 9:38 AM
@RidiculousFanBoyDemands- You couldn't have put it any better than that and backed it up with facts. Good Job... You basically did an editorial with those comments. I truly don't understand why they are bashing Nolan’s work. It is his interpretation and no one else’s. The majority love this trilogy. If you don't then don't watch it. People will hate and even though they are entitled to their opinions everyone knows what is a genuine opinion vs. hate.
SageMode - 2/28/2012, 10:27 AM
As quoted by HAWKSBLUEEYES..............

"I would venture a guess that most of the "hate" on Nolan's Bat films has nothing to do with the films, Batman or Nolan. Most of it is due to the fanatical, cult following of Nolan's fans, who seem so insistent on convincing everybody else that these films are the best thing since....air. For some reason, it appears that many Nolanites for lack of a better term, have the notion in their head that all other films should cease production because they can never surpass these films.

They are fantastic films without a doubt. They are not the best thing to ever grace the screen. And it's annoying as all Hell to have to listen to TDK this or TDK that in the middle of every single conversation about every other film. Get over it. Move on. Enjoy something else. Or, at the very least, allow everybody else to do so.
PapaEmeritus - 2/28/2012, 12:50 PM
LMFA0 - 2/28/2012, 12:58 PM
If nolan didnt make his batman movies most people wouldn't even know know he is. Yes, his early movies were great but not widely known besides the prestige. inception would most likely never been made and he would still be doing great character driven movies. To be honest, he might actually have been a better director and artist.if he didnt do the batman movies. Now his movies are more like action thrillers as apposed to his psychological movies he started with. I think the only reason he is even remotely as popular now is because of his overhyped batman movies
Irons - 2/28/2012, 12:58 PM
And if you say anything positive about Nolan you are a an irrational, penis sucking Nolanite and not just a fan of someone's work who has gained virtually universal acclaim critically and in box office. See how stupid this is? Stop generalizing.

As for the realism, it still amazes me how a few individuals hang on this word, but do not bother to understand the meaning of it. This is still fiction. There are plenty of liberties taken. There's a reason the shit you see in movies doesn't happen in real life.

Interesting article batfan175.
batfan175 - 2/28/2012, 1:01 PM
I'm not one of those people who'll defend everything Nolan does just because he's Nolan. I for example did not like Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes and the director has to be faulted for choosing her as an actress for that role. I also think that his action scenes were not too well-directed in BB but he got slightly better in TDK. I liked Inception but since I saw it 3 times at the cinmea I only watched it once on DVD, which to me means that I either don't enjoy it as much as his batman films or that i seriously need to catch up with it; the Following is good, especially since many people don't shoot in black and white anymore. Insomnia is good because Al pacino and Robin Williams are good in it but it's not an extraordinary piece of work. i love the Prestige because it's a great mystery and I enjoy period pieces but I could see how someone can pick apart the logic behind it. I recently watched Memento and that still is his best film. it's got good characters, an interesting spin on the story and a great structure that makes sense, even if you have to get into it. I know of the flaws of logic and realism in TDK but tehy don't bother me because I watched that film like 7 times in cinemas and I NEVER had to think about questions like "what happened to the guests at the party, and how did the Joker escape from there" because it was an entertaining film with a great cast, great score, incredibl cinematography, a string script with adult dialogue and a complex story. What more could I want? i understand people have different expectations but then I did not follow every scrap of news about nolans batman film and it definitely made a difference whilst I was watching it.

But if TDKR is bad i will say so (even though i'll be very sad to say so and say it without the shameful joy of some of the members here on the forum).
headlopper - 2/28/2012, 1:51 PM
Batman Beyond. That is all.


Director? Neill Blomkamp.
MrReese - 2/28/2012, 2:07 PM
@LMFA0 makes sense :)
95 - 2/28/2012, 2:30 PM
Warner Brothers wanted to go a different route from previous incarnations. They wanted a 'Year One' style reboot. A Batman grounded in reality. However, like any film, one must suspend all disbelief. Christopher Nolan implies realism in a thematically and dramatic sense.

'The Dark Knight Rises' takes place 8-years later for political reasons. Mayor Garcia was sworn in prior to 'The Dark Knight', just as DA Harvey Dent replaced the deceased predecessor. During this time, technology seems to have made significant advancements.

Well written. I agree with the points you've made. However, this article could be cleaned up to be more presentable to the reader. Pictures, smaller paragraphs, grammar corrected.

To other commenters:

I agree. If anything, I'd say 'The Dark Knight Rises' appears to be the most "realistic". The complaints made towards this trilogy carry a jealous tone to it. Some should study creative writing before making judgements on the artistic elements of this trilogy.


Spot on.
Minotauro - 2/28/2012, 5:41 PM
TDK is the definitive trilogy in CBM history. Over everything before and after it. And I'm being objective about this. Do people(marvel fangirls) really have to debate why these are considered great, or held in high standards? Because first and most they great films in general. That's something I think they don't understand.
alucard365 - 2/28/2012, 6:29 PM
When are we getting another TDKR trailer ?
Irons - 2/28/2012, 8:04 PM
Probably late April/early May.
Alexandre - 2/28/2012, 9:18 PM
i think when nolan uses the word real in his films i think he means by as, the superhero doesn't fly, doesn't have a powered suit of armor, his villains are all from earth and humans not from space and aliens, he doesn't turn into a huge bat when he gets mad, when he gets punch he actually feels it and that basically batman is human. and if you make him any other way than you would be creating a hole other hero. thats what i think he means by real
Alexandre - 2/28/2012, 9:40 PM
if you dont like that batman is real then dont blame nolan blame its creators. they already had a space flying character(superman) so they decided to go the other route,
a rich HUMAN playboy who fights crime. street crime, not trying to save the world from flying objects and powerful villains from other worlds.
thats why its early villains are mostly all gang members or associated with gangs and petty street crime. its years later when future writer create more "monster villains" to compete against marvel's villains.
i.e. mr freeze, bane, killer croc, poison ivy etc...
beastwork - 2/28/2012, 10:16 PM
I convinced my friend to go see TDK, and he is a person who has never watched Star Wars, or TLOTR, or any other fantasy/scifi movie. He absolutely loved TDK. That's evidence enough for me that Nolan is striking the right chord with this trilogy. I can't for the life of me understand why people choose to spend so much energy hating a film.

And just stop it with the whole "realism" bit. The movie is about I can running around in underwear fighting crime. It will never be realistic, AT ALL! Just enjoy the movies
beastwork - 2/28/2012, 10:24 PM

"If nolan didnt make his batman movies most people wouldn't even know know he is."

And how exactly do you know what would and would not happen if Nolan hadn't done X, Y, and Z? You have access to parallel universes or something? You just starting to sound like a hater now. Don't most directors start small and nameless?
BetaRay28 - 2/29/2012, 3:18 PM
It's Batman a comicbook character and let's face it the tumbler can't do all it does and no Batman can't fly with a cape it's what Nolan called hyper reality. It's just short of real life he just gives us the look of a real world where all that stuff does work.I still here bitch about Nolan's Batman but if they had done another nipples on the batsuite would people be happy...NO.For those who don't like don't go see it.
NOLANITE - 2/29/2012, 3:31 PM
google says TDKR is nominated and most of those sites who guessed right this year, have "guessed" it to win the best picture for 2013 awards. Go figure. Im siding with them.
nowtheresaBATman - 2/29/2012, 7:41 PM
^there's a pair of nolanites^
Alexandre - 2/29/2012, 8:56 PM
jon favreau on what he said about the avengers.
"It's going to be hard, because I was so involved in creating the world of Iron Man and Iron Man is very much a TECH-BASED hero, and then with 'Avengers' you're going to be introducing some supernatural aspects because of Thor. ... [Mixing] the two of those works very well in the comic books, but it's going to take a lot of thoughtfulness to make that all work and not blow the REALITY that we've created"
Robert - 3/1/2012, 5:27 AM
I love the Nolan Batman movies. To all the bashers, if you think you can do better...make your own Batman movie. Ha, ha!!
ValarMorghulis - 3/2/2012, 11:03 AM
Excellent write up, bud. Enjoyed this article thouroughly. So tired of people bashing these movies. They're great, solid takes on works of fiction that are incredibly entertaining. Reading all this makes me want to have a Nolan Batman marathon! Look forward to hearing more from you!
SpiderFan35 - 3/2/2012, 1:17 PM
I prefer that CBM's are well done too, I certainly want more quality than quantity, but this realism debate is crazy. They are comic books, they are fantasy from the word go, that is the point.

Nolan's Batman films are no more "realistic" than the Batman comics, and are no more realistic than Spiderman or the Avengers or whatever.

Batman, like Iron Man, are often said to be more "real" because they do not have fantastic super-powers, but they do have one, a ridonkulous amount of money. Which allows them to do things that are fantastic and outside of our boring reality in which people with lots of money are people like Bill Gates and Donald Trump.

Please log in to post comments.

Don't have an account?
Please Register.