There was recently a meme floating around Twitter about opinions that could get your “geek” card revoked, and so here is mine: The Dark Knight is not my favorite Christopher Nolan Batman movie. Rather, its sequel The Dark Knight Rises is.
Certainly, the earlier film is superior; it’s just a chore for me to watch straight through. Whereas Dark Knight Rises is a guilty pleasure, just like a curious amount of 3rd movies in superhero franchises tend to be guilty pleasures: Superman III, Spider-Man 3, Iron Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, Batman Forever, and so on.
These three-quels tend to stuff way too many characters within a shaky plot, and Dark Knight Rises is no different. We got Catwoman, we got Bane, we got “John Blake” (more on that shortly)…we got a lot of stuff happening here. And honestly…2/3rds of it I don’t even care about. In particular, Tom Hardy—though God knows I luvvhim in Venom—is just not enough of a charismatic villain as Bane here (to be fair, it’s pretty hard to follow Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker).
Now, the 1/3 I do enjoy about the movie is the non-superhero bits: Michael Caine just being awesome as usual as Alfred, Gary Oldman just being awesome as usual as Commissioner Gordon, and of course Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. And generally all my favorite scenes from Dark Knight Rises don’t involve capes and hi-tech armor.
They’re also pretty soap-operatic and maudlin, so if that’s not your thing feel free to skip these:
Central to the relationship between Alfred & Bruce in the Nolan series is the former’s worry about the latter. Alfred assists Bruce, but he’s also really concerned about him & would prefer he quit the whole Batman thing. In fact, he’s so desperate for Bruce to have a normal life he’s even willing to set him up with Catwoman just like a kindly old busybody. Maybe “Alfred Knows Best”?
Blake Knows Bruce’s Secret
I’ll save the John Blake spoilers for later in this post, but suffice it to say that he comes reaaaaaaal close to telling Bruce he knows he’s the Batman. And Bale’s Bruce Wayne is so downtrodden & depressed at this point he doesn’t really seem to give a shit.
Bruce’s Prison Escape
This is the climax of a really great redemption subplot where Bruce essentially gets his groove back after getting his ass kicked by Bane. It’s a good example of how Bale outside of the armor & cowl is almost a better Batman than with them.
Throughout the franchise Nolan made it a point that this wasn’t your “childhood’s” Batman & that there would be no smiles (well, except for the Joker, but do you wanna know how he got those scars?). So it really seemed like including Robin the Boy Wonder was out of the question…OR WAS IT?!
This montage is just one of my favorite movie endings ever, hands down. (Though it would probably benefit from the Dire Straits’ “Walk Of Life” blasted over it.)