'The Dark Knight Rises' at 10: Overshadowed, but Still Outstanding | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at 10: Overshadowed, but Still Outstanding 

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the middle of the trilogy of Batman movies that were directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale, is largely considered one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Its 2012 follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises, is much-admired as well, but not quite as respected as its 2008 predecessor. 

'The Dark Knight Rises' at 10: Overshadowed, but Still Outstanding | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

This conventional wisdom, I think, is deserved. TDKR doesn’t have anything like Heath Ledger’s performance, it isn’t nearly as tightly plotted, and its best set pieces fall short of those in The Dark Knight. There are too many characters, and the plot is way too busy. 

Nevertheless, The Dark Knight Rises is a very good superhero film, and easily better than every Batman movie that has followed it. It also features one of Hans Zimmer’s better scores. 

The Plot

Arriving four years after The Dark Knight — Nolan made 2010’s Inception in between the two movies — eight years have passed in movie time when The Dark Knight Rises begins. Batman has taken the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes, with Bruce Wayne abandoning the Batman persona. Dent-inspired legislation, meanwhile, has caused organized crime to disappear. 

Enter Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked supervillain who plans to serve as Gotham’s “reckoning.” With a shadowy past connection to Batman, he invades Gotham, as something between a terrorist and a Marxist/Leninist (the film has been criticized as spouting reactionary politics, with Bane reminding many of the Occupy Wall Street movement that was ascendant at the time, even attacking the Gotham equivalent of the New York Stock Exchange).

In the film’s most famous scene, Bane attacks a football stadium (portrayed by Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field) as the key part of his coup, which establishes something similar to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s:

It’s up to Batman to make a comeback, get his good name back, defeat Bane and prevent the detonation of a nuclear weapon. In this, he’s helped by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), Alfred (Michael Caine), and a character revealed at the end to be Robin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). 

The other fascinating thing the film does is establish Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) as a villain, and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) as a Bruce Wayne love interest, before having the two switch places. 

Snyder and Reeves

Yes, The Dark Knight Rises is dark, both thematically and aesthetically. But it’s practically sunshine compared to what first Zack Snyder, and later Matt Reeves, did with this material in the ensuing years. 

Should the Nolan Batman series have continued? It probably would have led to better movies than what followed from other directors, but there’s something to be said for the filmmaker making his statement in three movies and getting right out. 

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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