Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thoughts on the new "The Dark Knight Rises" trailer

So yesterday, the new trailer hit for "The Dark Knight Rises".

This isn't going to be one of these "Here's what I think's going to happen based on every individual shot in the two-minute trailer" posts. I hate people who waste their time on such rubbish (ahem). I just thought I'd post a general reaction to the overall feel of the trailer and the direction the film seems to be going in.

First off, I really hoped they'd adjust and improve the visual of Christian Bale's Batman, but they haven't. He's wearing the exact same costume he wore in the last film and it looks completely ridiculous.

I know what you're thinking "Blah, blah, blah all superhero suits are ridiculous." Well, that's as valid an opinion as any, but personally I think compared to other superhero uniforms and even other Batsuits, this one just doesn't cut the mustard. The Batsuit in Batman Begins was amazing, imposing and intimidating. In "The Dark Knight" they slimmed it down into something that looks more like something from Power Rangers than the world of Gotham City. Batman just looks too skinny and the cape just doesn't drape on his shoulders the way it did more effectively in other films. And the mask/helmet makes the Dark Knight look like a Ninja Turtle. I just don't get how people think it's an improvement on the first Christopher Nolan Batsuit.

My other problem with Bale-as-Batman is his nasally, lispy voice. Again, in Batman Begins, the bat-voice was perfect. It was a throaty rasp, perfectly suited for urban crimefighting. In the second film, it uncomfortably deteriorated into the ridiculous lisp, so often lampooned online. It's the one flaw of the film that no one can even come close to defending.

I've heard talk that Nolan was aware of this and planned to adjust the voice for the film and just never quite go around to it. I had hoped that this would be rectified for the new film, but again, Batman sounds silly in the trailer. Listen to him say "Not yet." It's as if he's being choked by the mask.

As for Catwoman, I think she looks great. I love the idea that the cat-ears on her costume are actually night-vision goggles, and I generally love the Julie Newmar-feel they're going for with the costume. It really helps to differentiate the look of this Selina from that of Batman Returns. People have complained that her mask just doesn't disguise her enough, and that's certainly fair, but as a professional thief (again, assuming that they go in that direction with the character in the movie) is she even really trying to be seen at all? I just hope her acting ability stands up, as she's rarely excelled in that department (although she was fairly good in "Brokeback Mountain"). Aside from that, the trailer seems to indicate that she's going to be some kind of field-partner for Batman, which I like and which ties in well to the more anti-heroic direction the character's headed over the past twenty odd years. People are calling her this movie's answer to the problem of Robin and they're not wrong.

Personally, while Catwoman looks to specifically be Batman's sidekick in this film, I'm fairly certain that Joseph Gordon Levitt's mysterious character 'Detective John Blake' is going to act as a stand-in for the feel and spirit of Robin in the comics. He looks like Dick Grayson, he's a cop in the GCPD (which Grayson has been in his career as Nightwing) and he seems to be every bit the clean-cut, honest-living young man who believes in Batman's mission that Grayson is. In the comics, Robin provides Batman with a link to grounded humanity; the kind of outlook that escapes him the longer he spends scrambling around in the darkness. I suspect Blake will provide Batman with a similar outlook. People have opined that Blake might also act as an Azrael/Terry McGinnis type of character and will actually take over from Batman after he falls in this film...I really don't think the film is going to go in that direction. This is Bruce Wayne's mission. The hard lesson he had to learn in "The Dark Knight" is that he's the only man who can save Gotham. Batman has to come from him, not a successor.

And then there's Bane. A lot of people complained that his dialogue was unintelligible in the previous trailer, so they seem to have isolated it in this one. I think he sounds great in this one, although I certainly preferred him in the last one. I'm keeping a completely open mind about Bane in this movie. The character in the comics was effective and credible both psychologically and physically as someone who could defeat Batman. Unfortunately, his eventual downfall led a lot to be desired and within Batman's world they haven't really done anything particularly noteworthy ever since. I'm looking at the character in this movie as a blank slate, and I like that. This movie has the impossible task of having to carry on from a villain as culturally and aesthetically iconic as Heath Ledger's Joker. With Bane, they seem to be taking a streamlined, toned-down approach. He's much more of an invisible villain than the Joker, indicating that they're taking a quieter, streamlined approach to topping their previous film.

The last thing I'll say is that I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed by this film. I don't believe this will be the grand-standing epic the last film was. I'm personally hoping for a smaller, more personal, more Batman-centric story, than another extravaganza and I have a feeling that that could be the film we get. If "Batman Begins" was the prologue, than "The Dark Knight Rises" will be the epilogue, leaving "The Dark Knight" as the central, magnum opus in-between. The main thing this film provides is an appropriate ending to a really significant time as a comic-book fan, when one of the two or three most iconic characters of the medium was elevated in the public's eye to the stuff of legend. I'll see you all on opening night.


  1. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

  2. while i can agree on almost all of this i have to say in regards to the Batman suit. the redesign was entirely by Christian Bales request, he simply asked that they trimmed down the neck line so he could move his head better and needed a bit more space because the cowl gave him migraines from being so restrictive *the train scene from Batman Begins required two different cowls so he could look forward at Ra's. the same can be said when he was attacking the van in Dark Knight.* unfortunately it made the rest of the suit look as if he gained weight so they decided to build a suit entirely for better movement and combat capabilities overall. however filming was already underway and they were pressed for time so they filmed all scenes from his fight with Scarecrow in Dark Knight while the second suit was in development and compensated by adding a quick scene of his costume request.

    *this is all detailed in production interview during Comicon 2011*