If I Wrote "The Dark Knight Rises"

In this long-overdue follow-up to TDKR: A Fitting Ending?, BIGBMH reveals his detailed proposal for an alternative 3rd film in Nolan's Batman Trilogy. Disappointed with TDKR? This may be more to your liking.

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By BIGBMH - 1/25/2013
The following article is the third and final part in my series on The Dark Knight Rises. Part 1 was an extensive review of the movie. Part 2 was an in-depth explanation of the issues I had with the direction of the story. Now, in Part 3, I present my ideas for the movie I would have made instead. While it is not entirely necessary to read the earlier parts, reading the entire series will help you to understand the reasoning behind my version of the story.

Before I begin with my description of the movie I've envisioned, I want to make it clear that I'm not arrogant enough to believe that I could have made a better movie than Christopher Nolan. I'm no writer and I'm certainly no director. I have a lot of respect for Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David Goyer. However, I was quite disappointed with the direction they decided to take for The Dark Knight Rises. This article is about the basic ideas that I think these very talented people could have developed into an amazing movie that would have been more satisfying for me. Obviously, I don't have the benefit of a fully realized blockbuster film with which to present my ideas for this alternative third movie, so use your imagination.

(My goal here isn't to criticize TDKR. I've already done quite a bit of that. However at times I will contrast my own ideas against TDKR to explain my disappointment and why I think the story should have done certain things differently)

Where do we begin?

Most people would probably agree that the story of The Dark Knight did not feel like it was leading to Bruce's retirement from being Batman. On the most basic level, the final scene of the movie feels like it is setting up for a sequel in which Batman continues his war on crime while being hunted by the police. (Gordon literally says "We'll hunt him." You can't get much more direct than that.) While maybe not the central focus of the third movie, I really think this should have been a key element in the state of affairs at the beginning . The Dark Knight Rises shows Batman as an outlaw, but it doesn't deliver on the premise of the hunted hero nearly as excitingly as it could have. The police chase Batman in one scene, and that happens when Batman makes his first public appearance in almost a decade and gets in the middle of a police chase in progress. Even then, it isn't an intense chase partly because the emotions of the scene are pretty mixed. The police are mainly showing feelings of surprise and excitement that Batman is back. The fact that Batman is a wanted criminal that they need to apprehend is really secondary. As a result, the movie's one scene in which the police chase Batman is pretty lackluster.



I would have begun the movie about one year after the events of The Dark Knight. The police have been hunting Batman this entire time, but have not managed to catch him yet. The people of Gotham are growing impatient and putting increasing pressure on the GCPD to catch Batman. Keep in mind that the Joker had managed to turn many of them against Batman halfway through The Dark Knight. Now that they believe he 's an unstable criminal that murdered the heroic Harvey Dent, Batman is almost universally hated. Because of Harvey Dent's victory against the mob, criminal activity is down and the police are able to concentrate more of their efforts on catching Batman. As time has gone on, they have gotten more aggressive in an effort to give the people of Gotham what they want. Bruce knows it is getting more dangerous to keep going out as Batman, but he doesn't stop. He tells himself that it's all about the mission and that he has to keep going if he wants to take down the mob for good, but he knows there's another reason. He will not allow himself to be captured, but there's a part of him that doesn't care if he's killed.

At the beginning of The Dark Knight, the two things that drove Bruce were his mission to end organized crime and his hope that one day he would be able to settle down with Rachel. He loses Rachel so the only thing keeping him going is his war on crime. While I'm glad that The Dark Knight Rises chose to show that this loss had a major effect on Bruce, I would have shown him clinging to Batman desperately. With his hope for happiness taken away from him, Bruce's mission becomes an all-consuming obsession. He's still fighting, but he's absolutely miserable. Bruce has given so much and he's lost the one thing he really wanted for himself. Along with the sadness, there's an anger and bitterness with the way his life has turned out. Batman serves as an outlet for these feelings, but when negative emotions are the only thing fueling a person like Bruce, there's a noticeable change in the way he operates. He's reckless and excessively brutal.

There's a line that Alfred says in Batman Begins that perfectly sums up my idea for Bruce's state of mind in the first part of this story. "You're getting lost inside this monster of yours." It's an idea that was never really addressed in this trilogy. At the time, Alfred's concern for Bruce was somewhat unwarranted because Bruce was still balanced and able to keep things in perspective. Bruce harnesses fear, anger, and darkness to create the monster of Batman in order to fight criminals, but he's always kept himself in check and never fell off the deep end. What if he started to lose his grip? What if after all the pain and loss, Bruce started to lose his humanity and let the monster take over? How would this take shape? Would the lines that he would never cross start to blur? I think these questions would have been very interesting to address in the conclusion of the trilogy.

Batman has always been steeped in darkness and Bruce is aware of the danger of compromising in his morals (watch Under the Red Hood). This is a Batman teetering on the edge. He's more dangerous than ever and he just might have a death wish. Bruce's self-destructive behavior culminates in police chase in which he sustains a serious gunshot wound.

(In terms of drama and intensity, it would feel something like this.)



If the embedded video above is not working, please click HERE to watch the video on Youtube.


He narrowly escapes and makes his way home. Alfred tries to attend to his injuries, but he knows they require someone with abilities beyond his own. Bruce needs to go to the hospital, but he refuses. The police know Batman was shot and will be looking for someone with a serious gunshot wound at the hospital. Batman is the thing that drives Bruce. He would rather die than have his life saved and not be able to continue his mission. Alfred understands this, and decides to call on an old family friend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins. She was a mentor to Thomas Wayne and knew Bruce as a child (possibly a godmother?). She's concerned for him and wants him to stop being Batman, but Bruce is determined to continue. After she sees how important his mission is to him, she makes a compromise. Bruce must take a hiatus from being Batman long enough to fully recover from his injuries. If he goes back to being Batman before Dr. Thompkins determines that he is ready, she will reveal his identity to the Gotham City Police Department. Alfred is in agreement and promises to tell her if Bruce does not comply. With no real choice, Bruce gives up being Batman, leaving him in a state somewhat similar to how we found him at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises. He's lonely, depressed, bitter, and hopeless.

The Road to Recovery

With Bruce unable to be Batman, Alfred seizes this opportunity to try to get Bruce to see what life can be like when it's not completely consumed by his war on crime. Bruce is stubborn and just wants to bide his time until he can get out again as Batman, but Alfred persists and eventually convinces him to attend a Wayne Charity convention. The evening's entertainment is the famous Haley's Circus.

Bruce watches as a young acrobat named Dick Grayson loses his parents and it's like he's been hit with a bucket of ice water. The surroundings are different, but the horror of this moment feels startlingly similar to the loss Bruce suffered many years ago. He sees the look of helplessness on Dick's face and for the first time in a long time, Bruce is taken outside of his own pain. Bruce decides that he has to help this boy however he can.





(click the picture above for a quick lesson on Robin)

This scene marks a crucial turning point both in the plot of the movie and in Bruce's emotional journey. For years, I have strongly believed that the story of Robin needed to be at the center of the third movie in Nolan's trilogy. This trilogy has always been the story of Bruce's journey, so it may seem odd to put so much emphasis on Dick Grayson's story in the conclusion. However, the way I see it, if you tell the story of Dick Grayson properly, it's also a meaningful and essential part of Bruce Wayne's story. I've expressed my disapproval of the way TDKR told the story of John Blake/Robin on multiple occasions, but I feel like many people still don't understand why people like me found this so disappointing. I don't care that we never got to see him in costume. It was frustrating that John wasn't a kid and even more frustrating that he wasn't Dick Grayson, but probably the most disappointing thing about this trilogy's use of "Robin" was the failure to establish a powerful connection between John and Bruce.

My vision of Robin in this story is that Dick and Bruce come into each other's lives when they need each other the most. Caring for Dick helps Bruce to rediscover his humanity and prevents him from becoming completely lost in the monster of Batman. Bruce's guidance helps Dick to deal with his grief and anger, steering him away from a path of hatred and vengeance. Bruce realizes the impact that Dick has had on his life and Dick feels the same way. This mutual appreciation, along with their ability to relate to each other, creates a very strong bond between Bruce and Dick.

Of course, everything doesn't happen at once. It's a gradual process of healing for both Bruce and Dick. Taking Dick into his home is the first step in Bruce's recovery, but he's been putting so much of his focus and energy into being Batman that he forgets about the emotional support Dick needs and tries to help him by devoting his time to finding the man who killed Dick's parents.

Here is my roughly thought out dialogue for a scene between Bruce and Alfred that is central to the story of the movie. This takes place after Alfred has eaten dinner alone with Dick and finds Bruce in the bat cave.


Alfred: "What is wrong with you? When you brought Dick here, I thought you were going to help that boy, but you haven't taken any time to get to know him. You barely even speak to him!"

Bruce: "I'm trying to help him. I'm tracking down the man who killed Dick's parents so that I can make him pay for what he's done."

Alfred: "You're looking for someone to beat up! That man is not Joe Chill and this is not your opportunity for vengeance."

Bruce: "Alfred, I put that behind me a long time ago."

Alfred: "Did you? I thought so, but I look at you now and I see that same angry, hateful young man who pushed away everyone who cared about him! Dick has just lost the only family he has and feels like he is completely alone. If you don't help him, if you don't guide him, then he is headed down that same path."

Bruce: "You were there for me when I lost my parents. If Dick needs someone to talk to and I'm such a terrible role model, why don't you do it?"

Alfred: (now in tears) "Because I failed you! I've done my best but every time I look at that boy all I see is you and I remember those terrible days when you were sad and lonely and I didn't know what to do. I tried to be strong and I held it together in front of you, but that was the most difficult time in my life. It wasn't just that your parents were gone. It was seeing what happened to you, seeing how you changed and knowing that the happy little boy that I used to watch run around that back yard was never going to be the same. As you got older, I saw how angry you became, and there was nothing I could do to help it. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get through to you because I could never really understand what you were going through. Not the way you understand what Dick is feeling right now. You have a chance to save him from some of the agony you endured, but not as Batman. Right now, that boy needs Bruce Wayne to show him that there is a life beyond all this pain and suffering, even if you've lost sight of that."

Bruce: (after a moment) "...I can't be his father, Alfred."

Alfred: "Then be his friend."

Following this scene, we come to something like this. Click the picture link to watch a clip from BTAS "Robin's Reckoning." Then watch the scene below it from Batman Begins. There's a very nice parallel there. While I wouldn't do it exactly the same way, thematically the scene really does feel like a follow-up of the scene from Batman Begins and I think something very similar to it would be perfect.





If the embedded video above is not working, please click HERE to watch the video on Youtube.

Setting up the Conflict

As much as I love all that emotional material with Bruce and Dick, this movie does need an interesting and exciting conflict to make it work. As I expressed in my article, "TDKR: A Fitting Ending?," one of the things that I really enjoyed about the first two movies was the way that Batman's war on crime allowed the conflict to really flow and expand. One of the issues I have with TDKR's functionality as the follow-up to TDK is that the conflict with Bane does not feel like a direct result of the conflict that played out immediately before.

Keeping the war on crime going enables the story to continue the theme of escalation started in Batman Begins. TDK showed the results of Batman's actions in Batman Begins and the time since. The criminals are intimidated. Copycat vigilantes are emerging, inspired by Batman's example. The Joker comes onto the scene and introduces the city to a "better class of criminal," more in line with Batman. The state of affairs at the end of TDK shows Batman on the run from the police. The mob has taken a significant hit after the Joker burned a significant portion of their money and Harvey Dent took many of their men off the streets for 18 months.

If we set he third movie of the trilogy about a year later, most of the mid level mob men are still in prison, but the organizations are still intact. With the mob leaders weakened, and the police hunt hindering Batman's ability to fight crime, this is the perfect opportunity for a new criminal to build an empire. We know that the appearance of Batman had a dramatic effect on the city. As the Joker said "You've changed things. Forever." Now that the city has been exposed to both Batman and the Joker, the game really has changed. The police and the mob are out of their league because these "freaks" make their own rules and have a unique kind of power. Now we come to the beginning of movie 3 and one man is looking to harness the power possessed by symbolic figures like Batman and the Joker to seize control of Gotham's criminal underworld like no one has ever done before. His name is Roman Sionis. Gotham will come to know him as...

The Black Mask



(click the picture above for a quick lesson on Black Mask)

Black Mask is the perfect villain for my story for several reasons. He's a theatrical villain capable of being a threat on the level of the Joker and keeps the story tied to Batman's war on organized crime. In this story, Black Mask's ascension to power would represent a shift toward a Gotham City that is plagued by villainous "freaks," thus threading the theme of escalation throughout the entire trilogy. Also, because Roman Sionis has a similar background to Bruce Wayne, Black Mask represents what Bruce could become if he loses his humanity and allows himself to be corrupted by pain and anger.

Honestly I haven't been able to figure out a great plot for the character aside from some broad strokes. (At some point it is revealed that Black Mask is behind the death of Dick's parents as part of the prelude to his larger plan) Black Mask arranges for the murders of members of various Gotham mobs. Eventually, the heads of the various mobs decide to meet to discuss the situation. With them all in one place, Black Mask seizes the opportunity and has them all killed. As in the storyline "War Games," the resulting power vacuum leads to a gang war on the streets of Gotham that puts Batman and the GCPD through the ringer. After the mobs have weakened each other sufficiently and are in a state of desperation, Black Mask makes his play for power. He informs them that their leaders were not attacked by rival mobs. Instead this has all been a plan formulated by Batman to get them all to wipe each other out. Since Batman took the blame for Harvey Dent's murders and has grown more brutal over the past year, it does not take much to convince these men that Batman has finally taken his war to the extreme. Through a combination of manipulation and intimidation, Black Mask is able to get the various mobs to pledge loyalty to him, making him the uncontested boss of bosses in Gotham. He then promises that under his leadership, neither the police or Batman will be able to touch them.



Black Mask tracks down Coleman Reese (the man who figured out Batman's secret identity in The Dark Knight) and tortures him until Reese reveals that Bruce Wayne is Batman. With this information, Black Mask formulates his plan to kill Batman. After enlisting Scarecrow to create diversion, Black Mask leads a group of his men to Wayne Manor to kidnap Bruce's butler. However, once they arrive, he alters the plan. When Bruce returns, he finds Alfred badly injured. Alfred tells Bruce that the men took Dick and that Black Mask will kill him unless Batman shows up to face him tonight. Bruce knows that this is a trap, but he is Dick's best chance for survival so, after getting Alfred to the hospital, he goes to face Black Mask.

While I'm iffy on most of Black Mask's role throughout the story, I've got the main parts of his final scene pretty clearly planned out. It definitely has to have Batman, Black Mask, and Dick Grayson (possibly Jim Gordon as well, but more on that later) and most likely takes place in Black Mask's office. Batman has just taken Black Mask down after a rough hand to hand fight. He turns around and sees that Dick is pointing Black Mask's own gun at him. He's angry but nervous and scared. This is the man responsible for the death of his parents. He deserves to die. But can Dick take a life? Batman pleads with Dick to put the gun down, telling him that killing Sionis is an action he can never take back. Dick responds tearfully that his parents are never coming back. Batman tells him that he understands that he's in pain, leading Dick to yell "How could you?!" Batman takes off the cowl, revealing his identity to Dick and, in the voice of Bruce Wayne, says "Because I've been there. I know what it's like to hurt so badly that you want to hurt someone else. And he deserves it. But you're better than this. You're better than him. Killing this man won't make the pain go away. You'll only be lowering yourself to his level. That's not the man your parents raised you to be. Please, Dick. If you won't listen to me, think. What would they want you to do?" Dick stands there with the gun pointed at Black Mask, hands trembling for a few moments. Then he falls to his knees and begins sobbing. Bruce kneels down, takes the gun away and embraces the boy, telling him that it's okay and that he did the right thing.



This scene serves multiple purposes. First it marks an important crossroads for Dick Grayson. The two men in the room with him represent the choice of letting the darkness corrupt him or choosing to rise above it. It also harkens back to multiple scenes from the previous two movies. First there is the ending of TDK with Two-Face looking to take vengeance on Gordon and his family. TDK told the story of Dent's corruption culminating at this very dark point. This movie would tell the story of how Batman managed to rescue Dick Grayson from the darkness, so by creating this parallel between Dick and Harvey, it is almost as if Bruce is making up for his past failure. Second, there is Bruce's plan to murder Joe Chill in Batman Begins. Bruce had the gun and was committed to going through with it. That's why he understands that there is a very real possibility that Dick will shoot Sionis. The choice was taken out of Bruce's hands, but by choosing not to kill Black Mask, Dick has already taken a major step toward recovery and will not be plagued by a desire for vengeance the same way that Bruce was. Third, there is the culmination of Bruce's training in Batman Begins. At the end of his time with the League of Shadows, Bruce was given the task of executing a criminal. While Ra's al Ghul urged him to kill the man, Bruce refused due to his own ideals. Now, at the finale, we come to a similar scene where a criminal's life hangs in the balance. However, now the mentor, Bruce is urging the apprentice to spare the life. Finally, there is a similarity to the murder of Bruce's parents, the moment that created Batman. In the version of this scene from Batman Begins, we see Thomas Wayne trying to stay calm and reason with Joe Chill as he complies with his demands in an attempt to protect his family. As Bruce tries to reason with Dick, he channels a bit of his father to finally become the guiding, paternal voice that Dick needs.

Commissioner Gordon's role

My thoughts on Commissioner Gordon's role in the story haven't changed much in the time since I wrote about the character a few years ago so I'll pull pretty much directly from that. Gordon has to struggle between trying to steer the police away from hunting Batman and trying to avoid having suspicion cast upon himself. He knows Batman is doing good for the city and wants to help him, but he can't easily communicate with him anymore. Everyone already knows that he was involved with Batman before so any hint that he's still working with him would land him in deep trouble. He has to keep everyone convinced that he is actually trying to catch Batman. The whole situation is putting a lot of stress on him and making his life difficult. Both he and Batman are having a really hard time so I think at some point they would take it out on each other and have a big argument. By the end they'll reconcile and the relationship will pretty much return to its normal state. Somehow, Batman needs to regain the respect of the city and the hunt needs to end, but I'm not quite sure how I'd have the truth come out about Harvey Dent's crimes. (I'm also not sure how I would tie up the story of Black Mask knowing Bruce's secret). I would also like to show that the GCPD is becoming more respectable by introducing the audience to good cops like Renee Montoya and Harvey Bullock. Their roles would be small but their presence would be a way of showing that Gotham has made some progress.



For Batman and Jim Gordon's final scene together, I would adapt a scene from Batman: Year One. In this scene, (altered for the movie) the police are coming to the location of Batman's climactic confrontation with Black Mask. Bruce is unmasked and Gordon, who has arrived ahead of the others, can clearly see who he is. For some reason, his glasses have fallen off (maybe Black Mask could have him as a hostage too so he's there the whole time) . Gordon looks Bruce right in the face, and tells him "You know, I'm practically blind without my glasses." They exchange a smile that shows that they've transitioned from allies to friends. Bruce turns to leave, but stops, looks over his shoulder, and says to Gordon "I never said thank you." Gordon smiles and replies "And you'll never have to." Bruce runs off, and Gordon stays back with Dick to wait for the rest of the police to show up. Their final words to each other are a refrain of their lines at the end of Batman Begins with the roles reversed. I think it would be a nice touch. Gordon finding out that Bruce is Batman would be a suitable place to end the story of their relationship for this trilogy.



I came up with this concept for the final scene between Batman and Gordon a few years ago and I'm very attached to it. It felt like it should occupy a similar position in the movie to the Dick Grayson scene so the easiest way to resolve this was to combine them. Gordon could be around the whole time, incapacitated. This would further emphasize the parallel with Harvey Dent's final scene. The other way to do it would be to have Gordon come in at the end, then have the exchange between the two. Either way it would have to be done very well so that this shift in focus from Dick's story to Batman's relationship with Gordon doesn't take away from the drama of the earlier part.

Conclusion

After a few brief scenes (including the restoration of the bat signal) that tie up loose ends regarding the state of affairs in Gotham, we come to the final scene which takes place at Wayne Manor. Alfred has been released from the hospital and Bruce comes to his room to speak with him. Alfred is smiling as he looks out the window and watches Dick playing in the backyard with his a little black puppy who they've decided to call Ace. Bruce tells Alfred that he thinks that Dick is going to be alright. Alfred agrees and commends Bruce on what he has done for Dick. Bruce replies with something like "I've learned from you that one person who cares can really make a difference." Alfred tells Bruce that he's glad he feels that way, because he's taken the liberty of arranging a date for Bruce tonight. Bruce chuckles, shakes his head, and says "After all this time, you still haven't given up on me?" to which Alfred replies "Never. As the saying goes 'Difficult things take a long time, impossible things take a little longer.' (referencing both his efforts with Bruce and Bruce's never-ending battle against the evil within Gotham) Bruce makes a remark about not being ready to go head to head with another boring socialite and Alfred replies "Give her a chance. I think Ms. Kyle may surprise you." Bruce leaves the room as Dr. Thompkins, who is staying at Wayne Manor as she cares for Alfred, enters. It is implied that there is romantic relationship between Alfred and Leslie. Bruce then makes his way downstairs and calls Dick inside to talk.

Here's my very rough dialogue between Bruce and Dick that serves as the final scene of the trilogy.

Bruce: "After everything that's happened, I understand if you want to leave, but I want you to know that this can be your home for as long as you'd like."

Dick: "Thanks, Mr. Wayne. You and Alfred have been so great to me. I can't imagine going anywhere else."

Bruce: "I'm glad to hear that. Also, I just wanted to say that I'm proud of you, Dick. Pain and anger can make people do terrible things, but you were able to rise above that."

Dick: "It still hurts though. I still miss them."

Bruce: "I know. That pain never really goes away, but in time it gets easier. I've learned that you can't cling to the past so tightly that you never move forward and see what life has to offer. Remember the ones you loved and honor them by living a life that they would be proud of."

(camera pans, showing the audience that a portrait of Dick's parents has been placed alongside portraits of Bruce's parents and Rachel Dawes)

Dick: "That's what Batman is for?"

Bruce: "That's what Batman is for."

Dick: "Then can you teach me? To be like you?"

Bruce: "Dick, this is a hard life. It would take years to train you and even then, you would constantly be putting your life at risk. I don't want this for you."

Dick: "But is it worth it?"

Bruce: "...Yes."

Dick: "Then that's what I want."

Bruce: " You're pretty stubborn, aren't you? I can certainly relate to that. Well I guess my question for you is...are you ready to begin?"

END

Bruce's final words are a refrain of Ra's al Ghul's line near the beginning of Batman Begins. I feel that it perfectly fits some of the themes that are at the core of this version of the story. By setting this movie a year after TDK, the entire trilogy is now focused on the early years of Batman. Rather than serving as the ending of Bruce's story, this finale is the ending of the beginning. As the song "Closing Time" says, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." It feels very fitting to conclude this story with Bruce completing his journey from student to master and stepping into the role of mentor as Dick Grayson begins his own journey.

People seem to be baffled about how to faithfully adapt Robin for a realistic movie. If he's a young boy, it's silly to have him fighting alongside Batman. If he's older he can be a crime fighter, but you lose a lot of the power that comes from the similarity to Bruce's own loss and the real need for a father figure to guide Dick as he grows up. By keeping Dick Grayson a child and only suggesting his future as Robin, you can successfully capture the emotional core of the story while maintaining the realistic integrity. It would take years to train someone to be Batman's partner, so it has never made sense to attempt to fully tell the Dick Grayson origin and show him begin his career as Robin in the same movie. Doing this at the end of a series may seem like a frustrating creative decision since we would never get to actually see Batman and Robin fighting side by side. In the ideal situation, Nolan and the studio would come to an understanding. This trilogy is his story and no one is going to mess with it afterward. However since the Batman franchise will go on, this finale of Nolan's franchise would serve as a handoff to the next creative team that does a new, semi-rebooted Batman movie series that features Robin and uses Nolan's trilogy as a loose backstory. This way fans could choose to disregard it or think of it as a continuation.

Each movie in the series has ended with the revelation of the title. I believe "Shadow of the Bat" suits my story in multiple ways. It can be taken as a reference to Roman Sionis who is a dark reflection of Bruce Wayne as well as a reference to the inner darkness the Bruce struggles with. Since the final moment of the movie is the "Are you ready to begin?" line, the title can also be taken as a reference to Dick Grayson, who as Bruce's student will follow or shadow him. Finally, since this movie would feature Batman regaining the respect of Gotham to truly become a living legend, we would see the restoration of the bat signal. The bat signal serves as a physical representation of Batman's role within the city. And how does this light project its symbol onto the night sky? It literally casts the shadow of a bat.



Story Influences
Origin of Robin- BTAS: Robin's Reckoning, The Batman: A Matter of Family, Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: Year Three, Robin: Year One (in regard to the relationship), Nightwing #0
Black Mask/conflict- Batman: War Games, Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Year Three
Batman's emotional state- Batman: Year Three, Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying, Lethal Weapon
Leslie Thompkins's role- Batman: Year Two, No Man's Land

Before I conclude, I'd like to share with you my dream teaser poster for the movie. With the consent of the original artist, Jordan Gibson, I altered his Batman 3 teaser poster, to create this. Click the link to check out the poster on Deviantart and please check out Gibson's original work.



Thank you very much for reading my ideas for "Shadow of the Bat." Whether you loved it or hated it, please leave a comment below. I appreciate any feedback as long as it's respectful and constructive. Also, please check out the abridged, video version of this article here! It's flashier, more concise, and a great alternative if you really didn't feel like reading this whole thing.



If the embedded video above is not working, please click HERE to watch the video on Youtube.
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19 Comments
RedNTheHood - 1/25/2013, 7:49 PM
I've been a big fan of your ideas and article since i first got on cbm.com. This is great! I'd watch this movie!
MovieGuy2178 - 1/25/2013, 9:16 PM
Ok, so while your ideas are great, I have a problem with the main story. First off, (it might seem that I'm about defend TDKR, I'm really not) one of the things about The Dark Knight Rises was that it was about Bruce's fall and rise as Batman. I think because of the eight year difference between TDK and TDKR, most fans have a problem with the whole idea about Bruce fall & rise as Batman

What I've would done, is set the movie three to four years following the events of The Dark Knight. Therefore, there's a correlation between both films. Also, one of the problems I'd had with your main story was Dick's age. Now, I don't know the actual age you have him at, but it seems you have him at young age. To me, his origin and age is not really realistic.

Also, I didn't like the villain mainly because I can see him as a mobster, as opposed to a big villain like Bane. Remember Bane was chosen because while he is strong, he's also a master at strategics.

Now, You did a really good job on this version of The Dark Knight Rises, the comments above are just how I would do the movie.
BIGBMH - 1/25/2013, 10:30 PM
@RedHood13, Thanks a lot!

@MovieGuy2178, Thanks for reading. I appreciate you expressing your disagreement respectfully. Why exactly is Dick's age unrealistic? He doesn't really do much in this story. He's pretty much just a child at the crossroads in need of a father figure.

Also, I'd really appreciate if you guys could help me out by hitting the like button on this article.

ToTheManInTheColdSweat - 1/25/2013, 10:37 PM
well written article but it like another how-to-fix tdkr "problems":
1 dick grayson as robin not john blake
2 crime infested gotham no dent act
3 batman doesn't "quit", he runs into the night cliche ending
4 villain that is not bane i.e black mask

it's tdkr with a different paint or more specific its Batman Forever.

my issues:
-black mask. he is a mobster, thats all he is, its falcone as the main villian of tdk, that would be more underwhelming than anything tdkr is accused of. bane was a mental and physical threat, black mask is two face with more guns... been there, done that. I'll take bane or hush or even a nolanized freeze before black mask.

-batman "forced" retirement by leslie thompkin? thats worse than his voluntary retirement after rachels death/because he wasn't needed/wanted criminal. even doctors warning "no cartilage" and a broken back didn't stop tdkr batman, he found magic rope to fix that. leslie blackmailing him not to be batman makes him look weak.

-robin. whats the point. nobody watches batman for robin, spending half the movie to show bruce and grayson are similar and go over the same themes from batman begins is infuriating. exhibit a: batman forever.

- no love interest? every batman movie has a femme fatale/lover. because bruce is a lonely character, his relationships show his human side.

-last minute cameos, i.e. ms kyle, ms thompson, robin. is cruel teasing. the trilogy ends and thats when new characters are introduced?

good article but was hoping for a more actiony, detective story. imho, thats the only way to improve tdkr
ToTheManInTheColdSweat - 1/25/2013, 10:39 PM
i hit the like ^_^
BIGBMH - 1/25/2013, 10:58 PM
Thanks for reading, ToTheManInTheColdSweat.

-black mask, my vision of black mask is that he mixes the traditional mobster like falcone with the freakishly brilliant joker to show the escalation of the war on crime. he would have to be written cleverly to feel like more than just another mobster, but i think it's very possible.

-batman's forced retirement, it's more like a break. the guy almost died. he's got serious injuries, so physically he's almost incapable of being batman anyway. with leslie and alfred working to keep him off the streets for a few weeks and the respect that he has for them, what would he really be able to do. i also see the near-death experience as a wake-up call that would lead him to do some self-reflection anyway.

-robin, you cite batman forever, a mediocre telling of the origin that completely misses the point of creating a powerful connection between the characters. watch robin's reckoning. it's awesome.

-no love interest, i have always felt strongly that forcing a love story into a movie just for the sake of doing it is bad writing. the fact that every one does it doesn't mean that it's the only way. it isn't even done well in some of those. this is bruce grieving. it makes more sense to show him dealing with his pain like riggs in lethal weapon than to have him get into a relationship that there isn't time to develop well. you ask what's the point of robin yet you note that his relationships show his human side. on a fundamental level, bruce's story begins when he loses his family. i ended this story with him regaining a family by becoming a father figure. that's the point.

-last minute cameos, i only mentioned two scenes with leslie thompkins, but she's in the movie throughout. hardly a cameo. dick grayson is given a lot of attention and development. we don't see robin, but "nobody watches batman for robin" selina kyle is the only one we don't get to see in the movie. the idea is that even though we aren't going to follow bruce's entire life, we know there's more there and, after he has finally moved on from his grief over rachel "ms. kyle" represents the possibility of hope for his romantic future.
SAT - 1/26/2013, 9:04 AM
Awesome articel, at first I wasn't going to click cuz I was thinking "Oh great... Another list of random plot changes that could quite possibly have made the movie worse..." But something told me to take a chance, I'm glad I did! I wouldve so prefered this over the actual movie (Not that I hated it) I'm a huge Dick Grayson fan (Bigger Jason Todd fan, but if you have Robin in a movie you start with Dick) and I really like the idea of Robin in general, actually I wouldv'e watched a Batman movie just for Robin... I like Robin a bit more than Batman (Whew I'm gonna get killed for saying that..) Anyway, like I said, great ideas, really loved it! I wouldve left so much more satisfied!
BIGBMH - 1/26/2013, 9:09 AM
Thanks for the comment SAT! I really like Robin too. I've been reading the New 52 Nightwing series, so I'm getting to be a pretty big Dick Grayson fan.

I'm trying to get as many people as possible to see this, so I would really appreciate if you could help me by hitting the like button.
ager - 1/26/2013, 11:17 AM
I am rightly blown away by this. U did not give yourself enough credit. All of the subtle connections, the cameos, it's all so artistic and dead on the money, if you ask me. You capture what Nolan started out with and end it with such fluidity. What Dick represents to Bruce is spot on. I would love if you read my Batman Begins revision fancast and give me your input here. I can't say enough about this. Even your choice in the main villain is a smooth connection of the past 2 movies. A+ thumbs up
SAT - 1/26/2013, 1:18 PM
@BIGBMH yOU GOT IT!
SAT - 1/26/2013, 1:19 PM
Argh... stupid caps lock...
BIGBMH - 1/26/2013, 4:37 PM
Thanks a lot, ager! I look forward to reading your Batman Begins revision fancast!
ager - 1/26/2013, 5:21 PM
Here's the link to the final part which will link you to the prequel

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/ager/news/?a=72622
BIGBMH - 1/26/2013, 10:28 PM
Commented on part 1!
YipCha - 1/27/2013, 12:42 AM
I loved this so much. I wish it existed. I really wasn't a fan of TDKR and I loved how this returned to the emotional core of the Batman mythos.
BIGBMH - 1/27/2013, 7:48 AM
Thank you very much, YipCha!
RMN666 - 2/28/2013, 6:53 AM
Had to make an account to comment on this superb post. Being a big fan of DKR but still seeing its flaws I understand how this would most likely be the superior movie. My only problem, as mentioned above, was the villain.

One of the best parts of the DKR was Bane but this version of the character was very different from the comic. I think that the character created in the third movie can easily be edited to fill in black masks role and be the main antagonist of the film.

I would really like to know your opinion on this idea.
BIGBMH - 3/12/2013, 7:29 PM
Hey RMN666! Sorry for the late response. I haven't checked this article for comments in quite some time. Thanks for the comment! Given Bane's role in Knightfall, I could see how he could fit into Black Mask's role in this story. He'd be quite different from TDKR's Bane with no League affiliation and more interested in crime, but it could potentially work.
BIGBMH - 7/20/2013, 5:07 PM
AnnoDomini, Thanks for reading and commenting.

I think it's important to emphasize that Bruce is severely injured when he temporarily stops being Batman in my story. If he was in his right state of mind, he would take a break himself. At the beginning of this story, he's pretty much got a death wish, so even though he physically can't be Batman he's gonna try to do it anyway. Thompkins and Alfred are basically like "Are you f#%$ing crazy?! This is too much." They can't stop him and they don't want him to quit, but he needs to heal before running out and getting himself killed and the sensible part of him knows that. In that context, it's not really being force to quit. Unlike TDKR, he always has something driving him and never loses a sense of purpose.

What role did the mob play in TDKR? It's been a while so you may be right, but I don't remember that. I don't see how Black Mask would contradict Joker's new kind of criminal. Unlike Bane, Black Mask's emergence shows a direct cause and effect, triggered by the conflict played out over the first two movies. It's more about a style and way of doing things outside the normal order. Batman is the "freak" version of the police while Black Mask is the "freak" version of the mob.

Fans defend this interpretation of Robin because it's the only serious live action adaptation of the character we have. However, it really misses the essence of the character which is mostly about his powerful bond with Bruce. I leave things open-ended. He might be a sidekick in a few years or Bruce will train him to take over when he becomes an adult. The important thing is that their relationship continues.

As for the symbol argument, the symbol was meant as a weapon to fight the mob and show the people of Gotham their city didn't belong to the criminal and the corrupt. At the beginning of TDKR, the mob is no longer an issue so that's already been accomplished. By the end, Bane and Talia are defeated, so there's no threat that this symbol is needed for. If TDKR suggested a never-ending struggle, John Blake stepping up to keep the legend alive would make more sense. As it is, having him take the mantle with no notable mission and without Bruce as his mentor is a rather weak version of Robin's story.

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