Batman Roundup & “The Dark Knight Rises” Open Thread

Holy end of an era, Batman! Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy is coming to a close with the release of The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. This is how we’re celebrating the event here on Overthinking It:

Movie Night in Boston

Friday, June 20, 7 PM, Loews Boston Common. Join us for the movie, or meet us for discussion afterward at Intermission Tavern (228 Tremont St) at 10:30 PM!

Content Archive

Enjoy some of our past content on the Caped Crusader and his exploits:

“Remember Bane” – “The Dark Knight Rises” Parody of “November Rain”

This just dropped a few days ago, but we thought we’d let you rock out to it again:

The Overview: The Dark Knight

Of course you’re going back to rewatch The Dark Knight. You might as well do so in the company of the Overthinkers via our commentary track.

Arkham City, or Punching Prison Reform

A look at the plot of the video game Batman: Arkham City and its implications on prison policy.

The Dark Bailout

Our society’s institutions are collapsing, and we have lost confidence in our leaders to save us. Wait, didn’t someone make a summer blockbuster about this?

Where do we turn in this time of crisis? Here’s what the Joker thinks about President Bush’s economic bailout.

 

The Philosophy of Batman Series, aka What Put OverthinkingIt.com On The Map

LOLJokers

IM IN UR ROUNDUP POST, REMINDIN U OF OLD INTERNET MEMES.

More Overthinking of Batman and The Dark Knight

Overthinking It Podcast Episode 10: The Dark Knight

The one where we had to go back and bleep out an epic spoiler to (of all things) The Wire.

The Dark Knight Rises Open Thread

Tell us about your movie-going experience! Did you dress up? Did you score a ticket to a (real) IMAX screening? Do you long for the return of the Joel Schumacher days? Sound off in the Open Thread. Anything goes, but please, if you’re going to include spoilers in your comments, please provide ample warning before doing so.

24 Comments on “Batman Roundup & “The Dark Knight Rises” Open Thread”

  1. Gab #

    I’m going to try to be vague for now. Offer of podcasting still stands!!! ;p

    I did an IMAX marathon of the trilogy. I lost a bet that there would be a Twilight preview, but won one regarding a Great and Powerful Oz. There was a very long Skyfall preview, too. I could say a lot about the trailers selected, but I’ll just say now that overall, they upheld a known fact about moviegoers: Studios know women will go to “manly” movies, but not the other way around (or at least not in nearly as high numbers).

    The first two films had a lot more cheering and audience participation (and I was extremely put-out when people laughed during the death of a character in TDK)- the finale only had a few moments of cheering, the most being when Lucious Fox was onscreen for the first time, and one part where Catwoman does something of particularly high-caliber-awesome. At the end of each, people sat during the credits and whooped/hollered/etc. for specific actor names as they were onscreen by themselves (you know, during the part where they just have one name for a second, then another, then another, before the credits start scrolling?). An uproar for Heath Ledger. Not as big for Tom Hardy.

    As for the movie itself, I could do for at least one more viewing because there were a lot of small plot connections I missed (which tends to happen when I watch anything by Nolan for the first time). And I had totally predicted some of the things that happened. The final scenes end like a typical Nolan movie with a whole lot of things going on at once that wrap things up while still sort of leaving space for speculation in a few areas. But enough closure for it to most definitely feel like a complete trilogy and an ending to the story. Some of the shots at the end were almost frame-by-frame remakes of ones from Batman Begins, a nice touch that gave it a wonderfully synergistic feeling (and that contributed to finality).

    Selina Kyle/Catwoman was written better than I had feared, but I still agree with the thesis that Nolan has woman problems.

    Final note (for this first of I’m sure many comments): Thoughts and prayers to viewers in Aurora, Colorado.

     
  2. JTStavrogin #

    Commenting on the pop culture aspect of things seems silly in light of recent, tragic events that will be forever associated with this day and movie, but I’ll still give it a go.
    Saw it at the BFI (True) Imax in London, 4.25am screening. A few non-spoilery thoughts: Technically speaking, it won’t come to you as a surprise I guess that it is awesome. The shots are beautiful,never lazy, the Imax is awe-inspiring, the cinematography is still brilliant, while being completely different from tDK (very reminiscent of Inception, actually). Acting? Well, you know who’s in it, right? And we’ve seen all of them in a Nolan movie before. So we know what to expect: brilliance, and that’s what we get.
    Most of the negative criticism I read around the web focuses on the screenwriting aspect. I feel the movie is a victim of overblown expectations here. Are there plot holes and heavy exposition? Arguably, perhaps definitely. But is it much worse than its already-canonized predecessor? Nope. I’m biased though, as a formalist who puts plot logic far behind direction, emotion or timing to evaluate movies. But even then, you still have to account for the ambition on display here. I expected a simple chronological transition from the Dark Knight, but this last chapter is heavily connected, thematically and plot-wise, to the earlier films. This is not a lowest-common-denominator trilogy, following the adventures of a common cast of characters (think Indiana Jones or James Bond); we’re more on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ turf here.
    All in all, a triumph, IMHO, can’t wait for a second viewing.

     
  3. Megan from Lombard #

    At first I was excited about seeing the movie, but then I started hearing a lot of mixed reviews about it (the Chicago Tribune gave it 2.5 stars while it’s sibling TV station’s movie critic gave it “a near perfect A” while a number of my friends who are big Batman fans simply hated the movie) and reading (albeit two) opinions here I’ve decided that I’ll be skipping it. I just simply feel that the movie was over-hyped and I can spend my ten dollars on something better.

    Plus I read the novelization of the comic arc with Bane and since Nolan said that this was the last film he’d be doing I pretty much know what’s going to happen.

     
    • Gab #

      :( I feel like I should elaborate on my post, because I thought the movie was fantastic, and I’m afraid you have the wrong impression of mine now.

      The smaller amount of cheering during the finale seemed to be due to the fact that no one had seen it yet. There was a lot of shushing and such by audience members. People cheered during the first two because they’d seen them before. You could just tell from the audience atmosphere and vibe coming from everyone.

      My needing to see it again to fill in plot points is just an informational thing to understand exactly how some of the little things connected. On the same token, my having predicted things was due to something similar to you, knowing various aspects of “Batman canon,” so to speak. But not quite understanding how things connected didn’t decrease my enjoyment because… well… even in real life, I sometimes need things explained to me more than once. ;) But anyway, I’m usually not that concerned with how well the minute details make sense, but with the overall feel and such with the movie. It’s hard to articulate, but I guess I’m not the type to care if an actor’s hair or body position change between camera angles, and as long as the detail isn’t one that’s too blaringly obvious or makes it impossible to buy what’s happening, I usually don’t even realize I don’t get it until later- I’m more intent on watching events unfold than having a complete and total grasp of them, perhaps because that’s how I experience life…? For example, it took me three viewings of The Dark Knight to “get” the bullet-in-the-wall stuff (and I still am not 100% on why Bruce shoots multiple bullets in his little lab- why not just one?), but oh my God do I love that movie! And thinking I may be correct in some event in the movie that would happen or the use of a character actually enhanced my own enjoyment because all of those things presented themselves after lots of leading in different directions. They were reveals, not standing facts one would know internally within the film and without foreknowledge of the Batman mythos. So there was sort of a sense of achievement/accomplishment (I fist-pumped and pissed some people off by saying, “I KNEW IT!” more than once, heh).

      In general, I’d give it an overall rating of A-. The sooner I see it again, the happier I’ll be. Is that because I wanted it to be good? Perhaps. But there have been plenty of times where I wanted a movie to be good and felt thoroughly disappointed, so I’m not sure. I can’t always tell what my mind is doing, and pop culture (isn’t always meant to, no, but sometimes) moves us and touches us deeply. I’ll admit fully, I have an emotional attachment to Batman, I have as long as I can remember, so maybe it’s kind of like the relationship everyone has with that one crazy uncle- he’s kind of a jerk, but you can’t not love him because he usually means well and he’s family. So even if this wasn’t the best movie of all time, I almost have no choice in the matter.

      But all that aside, and however hypocritical this is going to sound, small rant. While I sometimes read reviews, I don’t listen to them. Keeping them in mind always, always taints my movie experience and makes me enjoy a movie less because if they’re good, I expect too much from the movie; if bad, I nitpick and think about the movie too much to enjoy myself while viewing the first time. So I do my best to tune them out. At most, I’ll keep a vague idea of whether reviews were mixed or uniform before going in. Because in the end, no one can tell anyone else whether they should or shouldn’t like a piece of entertainment, and that goes for far more than just movies. You (universal “you”) are entitled to your own opinion, and to Hell with what anyone else says. This isn’t to say people should see/listen to/read/etc. everything, either- it’s everyone’s choice as to what they consume in the first place, too. And I’m not sure how to wrap this up without sounding like a total prat. But basically, I guess I always get sad to hear a person deciding not to see something because they read some critic’s angry rant about it, whether it’s something I myself like or not. And even if it’s people that individual knows, if they wanted to experience it, they should. And it’s not that I think everyone should experience everything, but rather they should be able to choose. But then you get into arguments of, “But they chose not to,” and to that I’d say, “But would they have made that choice without the influence of the others?” and it can go on and on, and I’ll stop now, before I ramble more incoherently.

       
      • Megan from Lombard #

        I didn’t think that you were being a prat at all-I even agree with what you’re saying!

        I generally don’t read reviews of movies (or listen to the TV critics as well) as well, but in some cases I can see the things that they’re pointing out and find that it takes away from the movie. Sometimes I just want to watch a bad movie and not give a care that it’s bad (or laugh with everyone else at how bad that it is). I’ll even admit that what happened in Colorado has made me hesitant to go to a movie theater right now-if I do I’ll most likely be spending the entire movie wondering if something like that is going to happen.

        I’m sure that most people feel that way right now, but at the same time it’s the way that the world is and I have to say that it’s the world that we live in now.

        And granted that the critic at the Tribune doesn’t like most movies that come out, and while most everyone else that has seen it have said that it’s pretty good-I feel that I still won’t go to see it. When it comes out on DVD (or maybe Netflix if I have it by then) maybe.

        I can also understand why you would want to see it more times in order to catch things and see how one plot line might thread into another; I had to do the same with ‘Avengers.’

         
        • Gab #

          Yeah, I know a number of people that don’t want to go to the movies now. I understand that feeling, and I hope you feel better sooner rather than later. I’m about to go off on a tangent about society and the power of acts like that, but I don’t think this is the appropriate place.

           
  4. Lavanya #

    I saw it at an RPX (mini-IMAX, basically) theater where the management decided “premium audio” means VERY LOUD audio. Bane’s voice in particular was like sledgehammer each time he spoke.

    (SPOILERS FOLLOW)

    Overall, I really liked it. I’d put in the #2 slot as far as the trilogy goes. I never in a million years expected to see the “No Man’s Land” story arc adapted in a live-action movie, but Nolan found a sensible way to excuse Gotham being cut off from the rest of the USA instead of the comic’s “that city is a real shit hole” handwave. A lot of the plot points seemed fairly predictable, but that’s probably my familiarity with the comics making it easier to spot the signposts. The audience applauded a few times during the movie, but the only real winner seemed to be when Dr. Crane made his surprise cameo.

    It was pretty clear early on that John Blake was being set up as someone’s successor, either Batman’s or Gordon’s, but I didn’t latch onto him being the former until Bruce talks to Blake about how Batman was meant as a symbol rather than a man. I don’t know if any of the Overthinking It regulars are familiar with the long, involved history of the various Robins — (there have been five total) — but John Blake was an interesting composite character of the first three Robins. He’s an orphan and eventual police officer like Dick Grayson, a canny street kid trying to make good like Jason Todd, and he figures out Batman’s secret identity all on his own like Tim Drake. Going with a composite makes sense from the POV of preserving surprise, as naming him after any of the Robins would have too easily telegraphed his destiny.

    io9 has a good article on the trilogy’s themes, but I want to point you in particular to the section labeled as “Legends Vs Propaganda.” It makes some interesting points about the stories of Bane and Dent: http://io9.com/5927630/nolans-batman-trilogy-a-unique-achievement-in-myth+making

     
    • Gab #

      Agreed about the Robin-esque character of Blake.

       
  5. Gab #

    Confirmed: Additional viewings= more understanding. That is all.

     
  6. Nathan #

    Loved the movie, and again great podcast Overthinkers.

    So, coming into the theater I was thinking about the big conflicts of the first two Nolan Batman movies. In Batman Begins, Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul is like a confrontation between two ideas of justice, one of which is completely whacked up. In The Dark Knight, the conflict is between good and evil, not necessarily the evil we are supposed to avoid, but the evil we supposedly are according to the Joker.

    I had trouble finding a new overarching conflict of ideas in The Dark Knight Rises. Bane just brings back Ra’s al Ghul’s vision. Maybe he is doing something new with that vision by introducing anarchism and holding trials for rich people. I kind of wish a new confrontation of ideas had emerged in TDKR, a confrontation that emerged from the previous two movies’ conflicts yet had brought something more original.

    Were any of you wanting a third big idea conflict? Or was this a movie to provide closure to Batman and bring the Bane? Am I overrating big idea conflicts?

     
    • Andy #

      I don’t think you are, because I definitely walked out of the movie thinking the same thing. Not so much that it was a let down, but that there were some ideas in the movie that never quite managed to flourish. Maybe that was the point.

      *****************SPOILERS***********************

      My first thoughts on leaving the movie (aside from “What the hell was Bane saying half the time!?”) were that the characters kept missing each other, and none of them really had the time to explore their full arcs.

      In my head the best example was Bruce making it back to Gotham twenty minutes before the bomb went off, and racing around with a half-assed plan to stop it, and Bane. It wasn’t bad so much as lack-luster. He has a fist fight with Bane, during broad daylight for god’s sake, during a police vs. thugs fist fight? What? Batman is basically an evil genius, that should have been so much cooler, right? Have him show up with plenty of time to make Bane afraid. Cut off his options, make him sweat, make BANE afraid of the dark, only for Batman to find his insight into Bane’s character flawed, setting up the (Seriously people MASSIVE SPOILER COMING) too-late realization that Talia was the mastermind all along.

      The same thing happened with the rest of the characters, I felt like there was wasted potential there. I enjoyed watching scenes with Robbin, Selena, and even Bane more than those with Bruce, but none of it quite came together. Then I remembered that Christopher Nolan is WAY better at telling stories than I am, and I thought “maybe that’s what he’s getting at here.” People muddle through, and if enough of them are willing to give all they can victories can be won, but there’s no perfect solutions, no neat wrap up.

      Unfortunately I don’t have time to really look into that thought while I’m at work, maybe I’ll revisit it later. In closing, how great was it that (GIANT SPOILER AGAIN) Bane was about to Scott Evil Batman. I love that they picked up on the fact that Bane may be huge and brutal, but he’s also smart. Smart enough to realize that Batman is, if anything, more dangerous with no time and no options than he is with them.

       
    • Gab #

      I can’t argue with that one. There seemed to be conflicting messages in here about big questions like the nature of humans, society, the rule and role of law and leadership…

      Here’s something I thought would have been cool to hit at one of those. Blake insists Gordon remain underground, but what if he did something like broadcast from hidden locations or something to give the frightened people a leader onto which they could latch? And it could have been really interesting if they at first rejected him because of the lies about Dent.

       
    • Cait #

      The themes of the three films were completely different. In Batman Begins, it’s fear; in The Dark Knight it’s chaos, and in The Dark Knight Rises, it’s about anarchy and control. Each film explores different challenges that Bruce Wayne has to face and how it has helped him to not only act like Batman, but to eventually become the essence of  him; goodness, selflessness, sacrifice — like Rachael Dawes says in Batman Begins, ‘Bruce Wayne’ becomes the mask; Batman is who he really is, and always will be.

      To say that there was no overarching conflict isn’t quite true — it may not have been an out-there, in your face, violent battle to the death in front of Gotham City Hall, but it was there. Bruce Wayne’s battle with his own mind and body while he tries to reconcile who he really is (Batman), with who he has allowed himself to
      become (just another man crippled by injustice) is a very important conflict that we didn’t see in the previous two films. The way he fights to reclaim his identity as Batman is awesome to watch. 

      As an aside, I think Christian Bale has been amazing. I will miss him as Batman :(

       
  7. DeanMoriarty #

    SPOILERS!!
    [I don't know if there will be any, but this will probably make more sense to people who've seen it anyway, and I wanna cover my arse]

    I didn’t like the movie. I thought it wasn’t good. Not awful, but not good. not liking it, broke my hear.
    I love, love TDK. I saw it 7 times in theaters (the second time, I walked out of the midnight showing and walked into the 3:00am showing). I “only” saw Begins 4 times in theaters. At first I was trying to find stuff I liked in it, and I did. But it was like trying to save a relationship after both people realize that the love is gone. I was depressed and heartbroken all day Friday. I was supposed to see it again in IMAX at 3:00 am. because of confusion w/ Fandango I got tickets to the wrong day, and instead of just coming back the next day, I returned the tickets and went to sleep.

    I thought the movie wasn’t well written. Both Begins and TDK have serious flaws, but neither of them have parts where it feels like the movie is killing time. Most of the middle just seems like everyone is sitting around playing cards or MIA ( where is Alfred, what the hell was Selina doing, why are the cops just sitting there?) The movie was just waiting for Bruce to get out of that hole. Also, we basically watch Batman “come back” twice. First in the beginning, then in the middle. We watch the same thing twice. Finally, what’s with the end? It felt tacked on to not upset the audience or because the story crapped out.

    For all the good stuff that the movie has, and there is some good stuff, the movie committed the biggest sin a Hollywood movie could commit: it bored me. If you make me bored during a Batman movie, you are doing something seriously wrong.

    As far as the No Man’s Land stuff, it ignored the most interesting parts of the whole thing, and just settled for borrowing some surface ideas.

    Speaking of No Man’s Land, one last SPOILER: not even a mention of the joker? everyone in that universe would be wondering what the fuck he was up to, but DKR pretends he doesn’t exist anymore?

    I imagine people will disagree with me, so I’ll leave the rest of my thoughts for the inevitable responses.

     
    • Gab #

      I think the reason it got boring was the need for so much exposition in the amount of time available. Not saying that makes it okay, but Perich put it pretty well in the Podcast. There’s a LOT of talking to get things across. And that hinders the speed. That may work in another movie, but for a Batman one, I can see how frustrating and, ultimately unenjoyable, it could make the film.

       
      • marc #

        There is a lot for talking. Unfortunately, a lot of it comes from a guy wearing a mask whose motivations are murky and confusing at best. Also, to contrast it with the TDK, in that one there’s a lot of explanation too, but the pace is so relentless that you don’t really have time to worry about it making any sense. In this one, every time someone is explaining something, I asked myself ” wait, why’s he doing this again?” A lot of scenes are missing the basic screenwriting 101 dynamic of characters wanting something and having to struggle to get it. This is especially true of Bane after he gets the bomb. At that point his story is pretty much done. I guess, the idea was that all the other characters would take over “plot” wise, but Batman’s story is somewhat monotonous, internal, and not terribly compelling (again, to me it felt a lot like his first “return” at the very start). Alfred and Selina are basically MIA, leaving only Blake and Gordon to carry the story, as much as watching trucks and passing notes constitutes a story, forward.

         
        • Matthew Belinkie #

          I’m with you. I think the big question for me is why the League of Shadows is doing what they’re doing. Do they honestly want to give Gotham back to the people? If not, do they feel like the people need to be punished? If so, is it merely to get revenge on Batman, or do they hate rich people? But if they really want to get revenge on Batman, does going on TV and publicly exonerating him of killing Harvey Dent make any sense? Also, how come they are totally prepared to die just to spite Batman? Couldn’t Bane and Talia at least have made plans to escape the city before the explosion, even if they decide to stay to protect the bomb?

          I’m having trouble buying that the plan is to have the people of Gotham turn on each other for five months, THEN blow up everybody. It seems like they really needed an evil plan that would allow for Bruce Wayne to undergo his rehab and return for another fight, and they were willing to kind of bend logic to do it.

          I would have much preferred the same plot without the bomb having a timer. Gotham is under siege indefinitely, unless somebody can convince the common people of Gotham to rise up. Not the freaking COPS, the PEOPLE. He needs to spend a few weeks in Gotham, taking out Bane’s goons, leaving bat symbols everywhere, saving the common people from thugs. He should be GRADUALLY taking back the city, with the help of Gordon and Blake. It should be a slow build. I totally agree with Andy above, who says that Batman is NOT about rushing at you in broad daylight. Batman makes people afraid, comes at them from the shadows. Batman has style. The burning bat symbol on the bridge was great, but that was the only Batman-like thing Batman does in the last act.

           
    • Cait #

      They didn’t mention the Joker once in the whole film as a respectful gesture towards Heath Ledger. Christopher Nolan explained this is in interview.

       
      • marc #

        that I didn’t know. I guess it makes sense now, but while watching the movie, it seemed odd. Especially since they used elements from No Man’s Land, where the The Joker’s absence is used well.

         
        • Timothy J Swann #

          However, I believe I saw one of the prisoners when they’re about to be released and join Bane’s army holding a card through the bars of the cell that made me think – wait, pause the movie, was that the Joker or just a guy with a playing card!

           
  8. Gab #

    Also, props to Senator Leahy for another awesome cameo. That’s his third time being involved with Batman in some way- he did a voice in one of the episodes of the animated series, gets grabbed by the Joker in TDK, and is on the board of Wayne Enterprises this time around. I fist-pumped when he showed up. ;p

     
  9. Nathan #

    Ohhhh, Senator Leahy? That’s awesome.

    Props to Scarecrow. I really liked that character in all three movies.

     
  10. Gab #

    This guy is doing a series overthinking the movie. Spoilers in each piece, of course. He said he’d do five, so there’s one more left at this point.

    http://listenjena.tumblr.com/

     
  11. mozahsuf #

    one thing that bothered me about TDKR was how cliched it was. how many times have we seen a city/nation threatened by a timed nuclear bomb? now i know the point of the movie was to explore the larger themes of anarchy/chaos/pain etc., but seriously, this has to be the millionth movie we’ve seen where a protagonist races against the clock to save humanity from a nuclear bomb. it’s lazy and uncreative writing.

    also, nolan does not know how to do twists. i was so unmoved by the revelation of talia. setting aside her knife-assault on batman that apparently rattled him but was left unresolved (did she strike any organs, was he fatally wounded?!?) her transformation was built upon reasons the first movie established that i never found convincing. fulfilling your father’s legacy to destroy gotham out of some misplaced and incoherent notion of fixing the balance of justice is rather uninteresting, to say the least. and hadn’t gotham been restored to justice during the past 8 years anyway? coherence? then she turned into some nefarious bitch mowing people down with her tank before setting off the cliched bomb and dying in a car crash. not really well played, mr. nolan.

    i haven’t even mentioned bane and his terrible exit. why build a character up so much only to have him exit so ungracefully? his death did not justify the build up. he was wasted.