MadameAce: So this movie is okay. I like it. I certainly like it more than other movies for DC. But I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would. Maybe that’s because I built it up so much in my head before watching it that it couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations. Or maybe it’s because the conflict is the exact same conflict in the previous films, only with an even drearier tone. Or it might just be the fact that I couldn’t understand Bane’s character at all. Among other things, of course. And that’s Bane, not Bain, dear Rush.
Lady Geek Girl: I was actually fairly pleased, probably because I didn’t build the movie up in my head. So it actually went beyond my expectations. Here’s the thing, if you were expecting the movie to be just as good or better than The Dark Knight then you were probably disappointed. I was so worried about being disappointed that I ended up liking it instead. That’s not to say that this movie isn’t without flaws though, because there are probably more flaws in this movie than in Batman Begins or in The Dark Knight.
MadameAce: You know, not being disappointed to the extent you thought you would be still constitutes as being disappointed. I should mention, however, that this is still a good movie. It has quite a ways to go before I would label it as bad. There were just some things that didn’t make much sense.
To start off, let’s talk about the inclusion of Robin in this film. So I always thought that Bale said he wouldn’t do the Batman movies anymore if Robin ever became a part of them. And judging from how the last Batman movies turned out, that’s not a sentiment I blame him for. Anyway, The Dark Knight Rises includes a cop character by the name of John Blake who more or less becomes Batman’s sidekick. John doesn’t really coincide with any one Robin, but he has a lot in common with some of them, specifically Tim. Like if Dick, Jason, and Tim were one person, but mostly Tim. John figures out Batman’s identity, he grew up as an orphan on the streets, etc.
I didn’t really like this inclusion. I don’t understand why they just didn’t put in Tim or any other Robin, rather than inventing a new one.
Lady Geek Girl: I actually liked John Blake and was pleased that at the end of the movie an extra mentions that his first name is Robin so that there can be no doubt that John is a Robin in some respect. I liked this because the allusions to Blake being Robin were so strong that to not reveal it would have been just silly.
But I do wonder why they didn’t use one of the actual Robins. Yes, Nolan draws heavily on the Frank Miller Batman comics and Blake is similar to Carrie Kelly in the way he is a completely original Robin to fit Nolan’s universe, but I don’t understand why there had to be an original Robin. Blake never becomes Robin, Nightwing, Red Robin, or Red Hood. He goes from being a cop who figured out Batman’s identity to—by the end of the movie—being Batman. So there was never a moment that Blake was actually the “Robin” character, even if he filled that role.
That being the case, why not name this character Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Tim Drake? Especially Tim Drake, since Blake already acted so much like him.
MadameAce: Well, I thought about this name thing, and the only reason I can think of would be that Nolan thought naming him after an original Robin would be too obvious. But watching the movie, it’s pretty obvious regardless.
Lady Geek Girl: I’m not sure if Nolan thinks his original characters are better than the comic ones or something, because this is my same complaint with Rachel Dawes in the other movies. Batman has a list of hook ups longer than several football fields and they aren’t all super villains or superheroes. So why invent an entirely new character? I can say this for Blake though, where Rachel Dawes was a bland and stupid character whose only purpose was to be Bruce Wayne’s conscience and love interest, Blake actually has personality and character development outside of being Batman’s sidekick.
MadameAce: Speaking of love interests, Anne Hathaway was pretty amazing as Catwoman. The tone was just so dark and hopeless, and she did a great job of lightening the mood. But she wasn’t in it nearly as much as she should have been. There were these long stretches where she wouldn’t appear at all, and I just wanted to see some more of her. Catwoman’s just a fun character all the way around, but I don’t feel as though the movie used her to her full potential.
Not only that, but her outfit was kind of meh. Before sitting down to write this, Lady Geek Girl and I had a long talk about her shoes. I’m sorry, but even if they can be used as weapons, four-inch heels do not belong on a cat burglar. Like, she’s jumping from ledges and out of windows, and we never actually see her land on her feet, but I guess she manages to, because at no point does she suffer any kind of broken ankle.
Now that I think about it, never at any point does she pull out a whip.
I did, however, like how her goggles look like cat ears whenever she pushes them up.
Lady Geek Girl: All the nay-sayers about Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman can suck it, because she was perfect. I can’t say enough about how much I love her character. I did like her costume with the exception of the heels, but at least the heels served a purpose other than to make Catwoman look sexy, and I liked her comment about how she was still capable in them.
Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Catwoman actually had me understanding Selina as a character a bit better too. I always had a problem with the femme-fatale aspect of Catwoman. In the comics she mostly only flirts with Batman, because she actually likes him, but will occasionally use her feminine wiles on other men to get what she wants. She even has hit on Superman before. Anyway, this femme-fatale aspect bothered me because I thought it was kind of out of character for Selina. But Anne Hathaway’s performance made me realize why Catwoman uses her feminine wiles to get what she wants.
Selina has had a tough life in the comics and has often been abused by men. She doesn’t hate all men like Poison Ivy does, but she is less likely to trust them and realizes how sexist society is. I never got that Catwoman was playing on the perception of women until Anne Hathaway. Probably the scene that sold it for me is the scene in the bar when the police break in and Selina acts like the typical, helpless, scared woman in order to escape. Whether it’s making herself a sex object or pretending to be helpless, Catwoman takes sexist stereotypes and uses them to her advantage. While that’s not exactly admirable (since she is using and manipulating men), it makes sense for her character and fits the moral ambiguity of Catwoman well. Three cheers for Anne Hathaway.
And Holly Robinson was in the movie! So hooray for Catwoman’s sidekick and best friend being include in the movies!
MadameAce: I’m not going to lie; I have no idea who Holly Robinson is.
Anyway, our other female character in a city of what seems to be nothing but men is introduced as Miranda Tate. It’s kind of hard to talk about this character without talking about Bain—I mean, Bane. You know, I feel like there may be some subliminal message to vote for Obama and not Mitt Romney this upcoming election. I’ll dwell on that later.
So I had been under the impression going into this movie that Talia al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, was going to feature. But then Miranda Tate was introduced, and for a while I worried that she was just going to be another Rachel’s Dawes. I knew she wasn’t an original character, because Miranda Tate was a familiar name. I just didn’t know who she was. Then partway through the movie, the story tries to trick us into thinking that Bane is Ra’s al Ghul’s kid. And I didn’t think of that as a trick. I thought Nolan was just screwing around with canon. I didn’t really agree with it, but near the end, the movie does reveal Miranda to be Talia, which I should have seen coming, had I not been too busy raging about Bane.
Unfortunately, the whole Ra’s-Talia-Bane relation just raises some questions about how old these characters are. Like, Talia looks like she’s thirty, which would make Bane at least in his fifties, but he doesn’t look that old. Furthermore, in the flash back to around the time Talia’s born, Ra’s looks the exact same age as he does in the first movie. That was decades ago, and I’m pretty sure that the Lazarus pits, what Ra’s uses in the comics to stay immortal, do not exist in the Nolan-verse.
Lady Geek Girl: Since Talia is our only other female character, I have to say I am more than a little happy that she and Catwoman didn’t fight. Usually in these types of movies, a good female character is brought in to fight the bad woman, because for any of the guys to hurt a woman, no matter how evil, is apparently in bad taste. So the good female character fights the bad one, while the guys fight the much stronger male mastermind.
Thankfully this was not the case with The Dark Knight Rises. Talia is the mastermind and is taken out (mostly by a truck) but partly by Batman. While Catwoman shoots the crap out of Bane. It was a nice change.
The ages of the characters did bug me and I have to say that’s not the first plot hole in this movie. Next I have to ask:
- How did Bruce’s leg get injured at the beginning of the movie?
- Did he walk back from the prison Bane locked him in?
- What happened to Anna Ramirez–who knew Harvey Dent was Two-Face and survived his murderous rampage–from The Dark Knight?
- And how did Crane get out of Arkham Asylum if Bane only blew up Blackgate Prison? (Not that I wasn’t happy to see him though.)
MadameAce: Let’s address the first question first. Actually, I’m going to ask another question regarding it: what was the point of his leg being injured? It was just more angst for the sake of having more angst, because I guess the movie wasn’t dark enough already. At first I thought he was just pretending to have an injured leg, but then he couldn’t stop Catwoman from stealing his mother’s pearl necklace, and the one doctor visit confirmed that he does have some injuries. But then how did he get them? As Batman, he did a lot of things that could have hurt his leg, but he hasn’t been Batman in eight years. He’s been retired for a long time.
I suppose we could say that he hurt it falling off the building with Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, but after that he gets right back up and runs away. Furthermore, his leg doesn’t serve any kind of hindrance to him as Batman when he puts the suit back on. He uses a nifty thingamajig that fixes his leg and it’s not a problem anymore. Never once does the issue come up again.
And speaking of unbelievable quick-fixes for medicinal problems, let’s talk about his broken back. Like in the comics, when Batman first fights Bane, Bane breaks Batman’s back. Then he throws him in some underground prison to rot. Bruce can’t walk and can barely move because one of his vertebras is out of place. The doctor of this little prison, that doesn’t have proper medical care, solves this problem by slamming it back into place.
Now, I’m not a doctor, or an expert on anything medical outside cardiology, but something tells me that it wouldn’t be that easy.
Lady Geek Girl: To be fair Bane may not have paralyzed Batman in the movie like he did in the comics. Breaking him over his knee may have simply been fan service and in the movie-verse the damage Bane did may have not been that bad. However, I would still agree that those prison doctors must be miracle workers.
MadameAce: They’d have to be since they shove his vertebrae back into place without proper care. But thankfully, Bruce is not permanently paralyzed by such a base treatment and he musters up the will to escape the prison—by the way, not using the rope to do so was predictable and I could see it coming a mile away—which is in some Middle Eastern country. Then without a wallet, legal passport, or any kind of identification or currency, he makes it back to Gotham.
Lady Geek Girl: At least in Batman Begins when he left Ra’s al Ghul, he seemed to get a hold of Alfred somehow. But we don’t see Alfred again in The Dark Knight Rises until the very end. So I’m assuming Bruce didn’t ask him for help. Not to mention that Bruce doesn’t have the money or the resources that he used to have before he lost his company. Maybe he called Superman for a lift? If he did he should have asked him to stick around. Superman would have made that whole movie go a lot easier.
Anyway, let’s address the next question. Where is Anna Ramirez? Bane goes on this whole big long schtick about how a corrupt hierarchy kept Dent’s evil deeds from them. And they did. Gordon and Bruce (and Gordon’s family) kept quiet about Harvey Dent’s evil deeds, but Anna Ramirez survived his rampage thanks to a lucky flip of Harvey’s coin. What happened to her? Did Gordon dismiss her? Silence her? Did she retire? Move to Metropolis? What? Because she knows about Harvey Dent I assumed that that loose end would be tied up this movie, but sadly it wasn’t.
And then there was Jonathan Crane. The infamous Scarecrow makes an appearance for the third time. I was so happy to see him that I yelled excitedly in the theatre. I’m pretty sure several other patrons thought I was crazy. As excited as I was to see him in the movie, afterward I wondered, how the hell did he get out of Arkham? When did that happen in this movie? And if he’s out then wouldn’t the Joker have escaped too?
MadameAce: Yeah, at one point, Bane releases all the prisoners from Blackgate. And though Arkham isn’t even mentioned, Crane is still there. Unless he got locked up in Blackgate, which he wouldn’t have been, his cameo was nothing more than fan service. And as Jonathan is my favorite character, I didn’t really mind this, but if he’s out, then the Joker would be out too.
No one will ever be able to pull off Heath’s performance quite as well as he did, and I understand not wanting to recast the role, but the fact that the Joker would have escaped as well completely changes how the rest of the movie should have gone. Maybe Superman was dealing with him while Batman and Catwoman fought Bane and Talia. Flash was potentially chasing down Zsasz at this time.
But how hard would it have been to have shown someone else playing the Joker for just a little bit? He wouldn’t even need lines, only to look like the part, and then there could have been an audio recording of Heath’s maniacal laughter. If not for Heath’s unfortunate passing, the Joker probably would have been in this movie. So would have Harley. The more I think about, the less this movie fits in with the rest of the Nolan-verse. Would it be too much to ask for some reason as to why the Joker wouldn’t have been out massacring people? As sad as it is, Heath’s tragic death should not impact the logic of the story.
Speaking of how difficult or not simple explanations are, Bane’s mask needed more work. Nolan’s movies have always been more realistic than the comics. It’s not really a world where Batman would ever have to face a chick who can control plants. But between Ra’s al Ghul’s age and Bane’s mask, less realism may have been better.
Lady Geek Girl: I was never sure what Bane’s mask was for in the movie. In the comics he wears the mask to help pump venom into his system that makes him super strong. In the movie it was somehow… made in prison or maybe by the League of Shadows to help Bane cope with his mysterious injuries to his face. Also why was Bane beaten for helping Talia escape? When it seems like the prisoners cheer everyone else on who try. The only thing I can think of is that women in the prison (for the creepy reasons that I’m sure you can imagine) are basically used and owned, but that’s never really explained or stated in any way.
And then there is Bane himself. With or without the mask, he’s quite the formidable villain, but he’s also completely in the pocket of Talia who is the real mastermind behind all the events of The Dark Knight Rises.
MadameAce: The fact that Bane blindly follows around a female villain and does her bidding reminds me of Batman and Robin, and I really don’t need to be reminded of that.
LadyGeekGirl: Come, come, MadameAce, don’t be sexist. Men are allowed to blindly follow a female villain in the same way a woman blindly follows a male villain in… numerous movies.
MadameAce: You were saying about sexism?
Lady Geek Girl: I’m not sure if Bane falling in love with Talia and blindly following her is in character for Bane or not. I have never seen him do anything like that for any female character in the comics or TV shows, but there is a series of comics where Bane is essentially taken in by Ra’s al Ghul, becomes his heir, and works closely with both him and Talia. I only know of these comics, but I haven’t read them, so for all I know Bane could have had a relationship with Talia in those comics. Whatever the case, whether it’s comic book canon or strictly movie-verse canon I like the change. Talia truly has Bane wrapped around her finger to the point where he was going to stay in Gotham to make sure that Batman would blow up with his city and it’s all for Talia.
All in all the female characters in The Dark Knight Rises are really very good. We have Catwoman, a strong independent woman who can handle herself and everyone around her. Though one could argue that Catwoman being yet another female villain is problematic, I would disagree. Catwoman, especially in this movie, is just as much the anti-hero as Batman is, and because of her conversations with Holly Robinson in the movie, The Dark Knight Rises also passes The Bechdel Test.
Talia, though she is the villain, she isn’t the usual feminine wiles sexed-up female villain that usually graces our screens. Talia is running a prestigious and powerful group of assassins, tricks Bruce Wayne out of his own company, nearly destroys an entire city, and she planned it all. Yes, she sleeps with Bruce, but I wonder if that wasn’t because she actually was a little attracted to him. Bruce and Talia have historically had a very complicated love/hate relationship in the comics, so it’s not out of the question. And as far as her relationship with Bane goes, it seems like they both actually care for each other. Talia hates and abandons her father because he wouldn’t accept Bane. Yes, she asks him to stay in Gotham with Bruce and die, but I think she did it because she knew she wouldn’t make it out of Gotham either. So they were essentially dying together.
Yes, neither of these female characters are “heroes,” but they are well rounded and well developed characters, and really that’s all I ask.
MadameAce: I will admit, I also thought both Talia and Selina were very well developed. I certainly didn’t leave the theatre feeling insulted over being a woman. And that’s more than I can say for some DC productions. Additionally on the plus side, the whole plot of The Dark Knight Rises seems to be based off this:
All in all, this is a good movie, it just could have been better, and I’m disappointed at all the lazy turns it took. Not to mention the ending. Oh, the ending, how I have problems with thee.
So it ends with Batman flying a nuclear bomb away from Gotham and into the bay so it can blow up safely away from all the citizens—again, I’m no expert, but I hope it was far enough that no one got radiation poisoning. It didn’t look that far. And because of Batman’s actions, everyone thinks he’s dead; however, he had fixed the autopilot beforehand and runs off with Selina to live the good life away from Gotham and Batman. So he pretty much did a three-sixty. At the end of The Dark Knight, he gives up being Batman and goes into hiding and gets really depressed. At the end of this he fakes his death and goes into hiding, but now he’s happy. I guess Bane terrorizing the city for three months, breaking his back, and making him wish for death gave him the confidence to be happy.
I know it’s supposed to be because he overcame all the hardships Bane put him through, but he had a lot of hardships in the last two movies as well.
Lady Geek Girl: I really don’t know if I want the “some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb” scene to be intentional or not. If Nolan did it intentionally, then that’s awesome, but if he didn’t intend it that might be even funnier.
MadameAce: I don’t care whether it’s intentional or not. It’s there. And it certainly has more merit to it than the Bane-Bain controversy.
Lady Geek Girl: Now I guess we should talk about the elephant in the room—the white-washing of Bane, Talia, and Ra’s al Ghul. I already talked about this in another post, but recently I have been hearing some comments about this white-washing. There are some people that think it’s better if characters like Bane, Talia, and Ra’s are ethnically white, because it avoids tokenism and takes ethnic characters that are stereotyped as villains and simply “fixes” it by making them white.
MadameAce: I don’t think “fix” should ever be associated with that scenario. They might as well say that all female villains should be made into men to avoid sexism as well. Just because someone’s ethnic doesn’t mean that character has to be a good guy to avoid racism.
Lady Geek Girl: As far as tokenism goes, tokenism is when there is one character of color so that the show can claim to be diverse. If Bane, Talia, and Ra’s where the ethnicities they were supposed to be, that would be three people of color; including Lucius Fox, it’s four. So I don’t really see making these characters white as “fixing” tokenism.
I will agree that if these characters’ ethnicities were kept as they are in the comics we would be seeing some massive stereotyping of people of color. Talia and Ra’s are both Middle Eastern characters—and they’re terrorists. Bane is from a fictional island in Latin America called, Santa Prisca—and he is a harden criminal running a gang. However, simply making these characters white, I don’t think that fixes the problem, but ignores existing problems. Furthermore, I would argue that in the Nolan movies at least all these characters are well developed even if they are problematic. To put this into perspective let me ask this question, Talia is yet another problematic female villain fighting a male hero. Would it have been better if Talia’s gender was changed? Would that fix the problem?
MadameAce: Damn it, Lady Geek Girl! Don’t you know that all movies should feature only white male casts? That is certainly the best way to stop stereotyping.
Lady Geek Girl: There are many things that are going to be problematic when talking about race and gender, but it’s better if we deal with these problems rather than brush them under the rug.
So some of you may have noticed that we haven’t really talked too much about Batman, compared to the other characters. That’s because Batman doesn’t really feature that often, compared to the other characters. I first noticed that this might be a problem during the trailers. We had whole previews where Batman didn’t feature at all. You know, when I go to a Batman movie, I kind of expect to see Batman. This is not to say that all the character-development scenes with Bruce Wayne should have been removed entirely for more action sequences, but Bruce was in it far more than his alter-ego, and that does make the movie less exciting.
Lady Geek Girl: It’s true Batman appears noticeably less in this movie than the previous ones. Even in Batman Begins, when Bruce is still creating Batman, Batman appears more.
Anyway, we have been really criticizing this movie, but it is actually really good. Is it as good as The Dark Knight? No. Is it as good as Batman Begins? Even here I would say no. But is it a good movie overall? Yes. It’s not without it’s problems, but every movie has those. It is certainly going to be one of the best movies of the summer and it is definitely a better sequel than some other comic book movies have done. I’m looking at you Superman and Spider-Man!