THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: Did Christopher Nolan Get it Right?

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: Did Christopher Nolan Get it Right?

While Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy is considered a classic CBM achievement, some question the strength of the third chapter, The Dark Knight Rises (recently released on Blu-ray). Writer Vic Frederick has begun an exhaustive three-part look at that film, an excerpt of which follows.

by Vic Frederick. Even in the shadow of the superhero powerhouse film The Avengers that came out just months beforehand (April 2012), the triumphant film of June 2012 The Dark Knight Rises was indeed a success, as most would agree; “success” being defined as positive reception, profits, and lasting appeal. The “Dark Knight Trilogy,” as it has come to be called, created a universe with its own uniqueness and appeal, separate from all its predecessors. In the epic finale of this artistic and idealistic story arc, moviegoers see the conclusion of a journey; an end to a mission. A mythos that has been all but open-ended in every known depiction has for the first time been contained in a comprehensive three-part saga. This ending, which evoked tears of sadness along with cheers of praise, satisfied many followers, but could it have been better? Did Christopher Nolan capture the true essence of this legendary hero?


Christopher Nolan’s own version of Gotham City grounded itself in a mindset that begged the question: “What if Batman was real?” This notion thus created a vigilante that used plausible military technology to battle villains that were brilliant of mind, but not “super” in ability. The overall “realistic” quality of the trilogy created a visceral poignancy at times. This quality is unfailing in these films; whether it was seeing a young boy crouched over the bodies of his murdered parents, hearing a man describe the pleasure of using a knife to kill rather than a gun, or watching an old man weeping over a grave while proclaiming “I’ve failed you.” In many ways, Nolan took Batman to an entire new level of “serious” when depicting him in his universe. The result is breathtaking, but after close analysis, could be underwhelming at times.


In with the Old…

The initial statement made by The Dark Knight Rises lies in the title itself. The preceding 2008 film The Dark Knight was a groundbreaking success that not only set a new bar for comic book villains in filmography, but was made infamous in its association with the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger (The Joker) just after the filming was completed. To emphasize this success, take note of the following facts: The Dark Knight accumulated a worldwide total of $1,004,558,444, was the highest-grossing film of 2008, and was the thirteenth-highest grossing film of all time. Also, it made $199.7 million on its worldwide opening weekend, which ranks 28th of all time (statistics from With so much success, one would wonder how to approach making a sequel; a conclusion nonetheless. The original film in this trilogy was titled Batman Begins, which was considered appropriate considering the fact that Nolan was reinventing the character and starting a whole new thread of films very separate from the rest. In making this initial statement of “This is where Batman started,” one would wonder why the final title didn’t portray the overt message of “This is where Batman ends.” Rather, the redundant nature of the title implies two things: the creators were anxious to keep fans of the previous film hooked, and were afraid that people would shy away from a sense of finality.

For such a unique and standalone world that was created in the previous two films, this third and final installment appears to have a strong reliance on the comic book world. Whether this is to be praised or critiqued by the viewers is their choice to make, but the fact is that The Dark Knight Rises may be the most comic-based Batman film of all time. Take note of the following references to famous Batman comics present in the film:

Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight Returns (1986)
- Batman retiring for near ten years and then returning to crime-fighting.
- Bruce Wayne using advances prosthetics to make his old and injured joints more operable.
- A seasoned police officer telling a young rookie “you are in for a show tonight” at Batman’s first reappearance.”
Year One (1987)
- Catwoman and her younger sister “Holly” living a life of poverty, learning self-defense, and using thieving to get by.
Kingdom Come (1996)
- Someone disappearing while Batman’s back is turned and him saying to himself in response “so that’s what that feels like.”
Dark Knight Returns - KnightfallKnightfall (1993)
- Bane Proclaiming to Batman “I will break you.”
- Batman having his back broken by Bane.
- Bane’s systematic takeover of Gotham City in the absence of a “broken Batman.”
Son of the Demon (1987)
- Batman being caught in a grand-scale battle with the league of shadows during a simultaneous romance with Talia al Ghul.
Battle for the Cowl (2009)
- Batman’s heroic and sacrificial death during a time of “crisis.”
- The first “Robin” taking his place.

This list would not be this long for any other Batman film; although there are clear references to famous Batman story arcs present even in The Dark Knight of 2008 such as The Long Halloween (1996) and The Killing Joke (1988). Whereas the other two films set out to make their own fame and have their own new and innovative ideas, The Dark Knight Rises seems to be asking everyone else to do the work for it.

The only exception to this would be the characterization of the character Bane, on which the film had a heavy reliance. The original comic book character did indeed come from an oppressive prison and was made into a “monster” through an accident. This was described in the film as a brutal fight that gave him mortal injuries, thus he wears his mask because he is addicted to painkillers that hold back his “perpetual agony.” In the comics, however, Bane was used as a lab experiment to test a serum called “Venom” that gave him super strength, thus he wore an apparatus on his back that pumped Venom into his blood through tubes in his neck and arms. The new Bane seen in Nolan’s film brings viewers back to the familiar sense of “What if this was real?” and in doing so, makes Bane that much more terrifying, which gave the film success.

For the rest of Part 1, please click HERE.
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Member Since 11/24/2008
Filed Under "Batman" 2/6/2013 Source: Voices From Krypton
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FreedomFreeLife - 2/6/2013, 10:46 AM
I don´t really going into details.
I just liked movie, and that´s fine for me.
silverhawk - 2/6/2013, 10:47 AM
Bane was still just a henchman -__-
Squish - 2/6/2013, 10:48 AM
Movie was ok. Worst of the trilogy and possibly the worst Nolan film to date. Still enjoyable though.
Jollem - 2/6/2013, 10:49 AM
great article, ed

and yes, he very much did :)
StarkAnthony - 2/6/2013, 10:52 AM
No, he didn't. Was that supposed to be Batman? That guy who shot and killed people with missles?
CavEl - 2/6/2013, 10:53 AM
Nolan's first two were groundbreaking pieces of cinema, Nolan's last, while not as great as the first two, was still pretty damn good.

@ Silverhawk - As was Loki and The Lizard. -_-...
mrteaspoon - 2/6/2013, 10:53 AM
I don´t really going into details.
I just liked movie, and that´s fine for me.

Oh OK, thanks for commenting.
niceguyeddie - 2/6/2013, 10:54 AM

My feelings exactly. It was just inconsistent with the rest of the trilogy. Had it not been part of the same series of movies I would have been more forgiving. I mean at the end of the day it's okay. People also assume that if you criticize the film you're anti DC buy honestly The Dark Knight has to be my favorite CBM.
hell yeah they got it right. The [frick]ing comics never even got it right
CavEl - 2/6/2013, 10:56 AM
@ StarkAnthony - Yeah, Burton's Batman was an asshole for killing, good thing Nolan never did this with his Batman.
niceguyeddie - 2/6/2013, 11:01 AM
Yes, let us not forget that Nolan invented the theme of redemption. Not something so cliche and widespread in the ether as cinematic universe which no one is even touching.
BlackHulk - 2/6/2013, 11:02 AM
Nolan didnt get it right, but then again, what other choice do we have? Dont get me wrong, the action and cinematography in the movie was great, but the storyline was mediocre at best. What do all three films have in common when it comes to the villains? The common theme going on is that all three villains in the Batman want one thing. Its not money, power, influence or women. They all want to destroy Gotham in some way, shape or form. But speaking to the third movie, to anyone with an IQ over 85, the majority of the film left folks asking themselves questions like "How did Batman make a full recovery from a back injury, escape the pit and make it back to Gotham without any money or means of transportation? Or questions like "Why in the hell would a mob of cops with handguns try to bum rush a mob of mercenaries with machine guns and tumblers?" Then the ending to the movie is a discussion within itself. But Nolan missed the mark with the Dark Night Rises, but just as Michael Bay has proven, you dont need a great storyline to make a billion dollar franchise.
MyInnerDork - 2/6/2013, 11:02 AM
TDKR was the worst of the trilogy. Story was rushed, plot lines were crammed to wrap up character story lines and Bane just flat out sucked. I will honestly not watch this movie again but I'll watch Batman Begins and TDK over and over again.
ahhmynuts - 2/6/2013, 11:03 AM
i agree 100%!! just because these guys read some comics they think they know batman and own batman or something. id be willing to put money down that chris nolan and/or christian bale know more about batman than a bunch of these fanboys. its HIS movie and HIS take on a real world batman. not what you visioned him as. if you guys think you can make a better batman film lets see it
thespiderkat - 2/6/2013, 11:04 AM
I don’t understand the rabid love or the rabid hate for this movie. it was okay, but far from perfect and even further from being a batman movie. it was the weakest of the trilogy (and of Nolan's filmography). and it definitley fell under the weight of its own pretentiousness... time to accept it and move on.

maybe if the nolanite cult hadn't spent the past 4 years overhyping it as the second coming of jesus, it wouldnt be considered now the biggest dissapointment of 2012. (yes, more than prometheus)

Paragon79 - 2/6/2013, 11:06 AM
Flame on!!!!

*sits back to watch the show*
EdGross - 2/6/2013, 11:06 AM
From the beginning my biggest problem with The Dark Knight Rises was the fact that Nolan had gone through such great pains to bring the comic book world into the real world with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and it just felt like we were suddenly back in the comic book world with The Dark Knight Rises. And there's nothing wrong with a comic book "reality," unless you've tried so hard to strip it away from the source material.
thewonderer - 2/6/2013, 11:08 AM
Bane is the best villain we've had in a long time. Not counting Joker, I'd argue we haven't had an original one like him since Darth Vader.

TDKR was fantastic, people are forced to think answers to obvious questions and simply insult the movie when they don't want to think.

And the film takes so many events from the comics, as shown in the article, its an anomaly why people get so upset.

With an 87% on RT, and 92% USER rating, this film is far from mediocre and okay. Its fantastic, as the other two.

Every general audience person I've talked to loved the hell out of it. Its the hardcore comic fans I've met who have problems with it, and thats fine too.

TDKR still rocked.

Jollem - 2/6/2013, 11:09 AM
@BlackHulk - "but just as Michael Bay has proven, you dont need a great storyline to make a billion dollar franchise."

michael bay or joss whedon, etc. etc. :)
StarkAnthony - 2/6/2013, 11:10 AM
I wouldn't care that he made Batman kill if he hadn't made such a big deal about how he had one rule that couldn't be ignored, to never kill. Batman killed several people directly, and the Ra's al Ghul thing was pretty iffy. Batman says to blame Harvey's death on him, but he totally did kill Harvey by tackling him off a balcony. Then he wont let Catwoman use guns, but shoots missles from his flying Bat machine at a truck with a nuclear device, causing it to crash killing the driver and then Talia. HWAT
Jollem - 2/6/2013, 11:11 AM
the movies are more naturalistic

i knew reality went out the door as soon as there was a blue flower that made a "fear gas"
novaprime - 2/6/2013, 11:11 AM
thewonderer - 2/6/2013, 11:12 AM
Also, the people arguing that Nolan abandoned the reality based setting need to open their eyes.

Batman knocks into a moving metro rail in BB. Batman falls from his penthouse onto a car in TDK.

Nolan never said his world COULD HAPPEN. It has a realistic FEEL AND TONE, NEVER did he assert this is how it would exactly be like if Batman existed. This is what people don't understand.

Every supposedly impossible thing that happened in TDKR HAS an explanation. It isn't given but one can think of easy answers to the conveniences in the film. Sad some people aren't willing to.

Kyos - 2/6/2013, 11:13 AM
I think TDK was slightly overrated and TDKR is extremly overrated. Not because they weren't like the comics (whatever that means given the vast amount of Batman comics over the decades), but because I found them neither very entertaining (except Ledger) nor the high cinematic art many people seem to see in them.

But that's just me. I'm happy for all of my friends who like them a lot, and just as much for everyone else who can accept that there are different opinions about the Nolan Batman. :)
MrReese - 2/6/2013, 11:15 AM
Best CBM Trilogy!!!!
RPD - 2/6/2013, 11:16 AM
Put it this way: I purchased the blu ray set and the only one of the three I've watched is the second one...
Paragon79 - 2/6/2013, 11:22 AM
But Goku wouldn't beat Superman.
sinthegreat - 2/6/2013, 11:23 AM
People like chris nolan films because he makes people of average intelligence seem smarter than they are because they got all the plot twist in his movies. His movies are the equivalent of owning a hybrid car. It makes people assholes...
Tainted87 - 2/6/2013, 11:25 AM
Nolan made one glaring mistake that began in the Dark Knight with Batman's retirement plan. I've said it dozens of times - Batman never gives up. People say: "yes he did! Look at the Dark Knight Returns!" To that, I suggest glasses. In TDKReturns, Bruce is in his fifties, Jason Todd was killed by the Joker, and the government had been hunting down vigilantes like him. And yet, he comes back. Not because he has to, not because someone is demanding his return - but simply because he can't stand doing nothing anymore.

This Batman wanted to hang up the cowl after stopping Ra's al Ghul.

That tells me that Batman is really just a disillusioned terrorist who lost sight of his fanaticism and wanted to live happily ever after with his childhood friend. In all honesty, Bruce was trained to be Batman by a terrorist. That he did not look to expand his methods by seeking out additional... education, goes to show that he didn't really believe in himself.

That's where Nolan got Batman wrong. Batman is supposed to be a symbol of confidence.
whatevillurks - 2/6/2013, 11:27 AM
I liked it. But its definately the weekest of the three. The more time passes the more I feel that you need the Joker to make it work, should have recast him with Javier Bardem. I'm wondering why Bane let him keep the "Super Brace" on, that sure would have made it hard to get out of the prison. Bane's plan is so needlessly complex, it clashes with the ruthless effeciency of the character that Nolan was trying to get through. Amazing he left catwoman alive and Talia went along with the charade longer than was neeeded.
Saintsinnister - 2/6/2013, 11:28 AM
I honestly think Nolan intended on having Joker in TDKR and after Ledger died he had to rework his script. I think the results was the movie we got, which was full of holes.
Patient2670 - 2/6/2013, 11:28 AM
I think Nolan absolutely got it right. In terms of the character, over the years, there have been literally hundreds of artists, writers, directors, etc. who have each added their own ideas, some even creating their own versions of Batman. This was Nolan's version, and the trilogy was completely satisfying. And I have to disagree with the statement that the 3rd film borrows more from the comics than the first two. There's a lot of year One and Prey in the first, and The Long Halloween and the killing Joke (Thematically anyway) in the 2nd. TDKR has No man's land and Knightfall. Though, it might have been cool if instead of his knee brace, they borrowed from the Venom storyline for Bruce to come back to being batman. But saying that I might have done it differently, in no way invalidates what Nolan did.
Jollem - 2/6/2013, 11:29 AM
Paragon79 - 2/6/2013, 11:29 AM
Kamen: Watch this, and tell me Goku would still beat Superman.
shamo - 2/6/2013, 11:29 AM
best superhero movie to date.
Paragon79 - 2/6/2013, 11:30 AM
Deffenitly not the worst CBM ever, but it's deffenitly not the best either.
mattattack - 2/6/2013, 11:32 AM
It was good but not great. I think he should have just done a different story all together.
GUNSMITH - 2/6/2013, 11:34 AM
buzzman - 2/6/2013, 11:34 AM
I have to say it just didn't do it for me. It was too long and drawn out in places and while it wasn't a bad movie, it wasn't as good as the TDK.
Paragon79 - 2/6/2013, 11:39 AM
Kamen: you should watch the video. Besides, Goku wouldn't do that, he wants to fight people at their best, not use a cheap tactic. Plus Superman can move much faster then Goku, so instant transmission(which takes concentration) would be a little hard to accomplish while in a super speed fight with Superman. Also, that whole "instant transmission" thing is a Goku fans last resort. It's like arguing with a religious person. Went confronted with logic and science, their last resort is "it's in the bible" or "god says so".
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