Previously in Funnybooks, we shared our perspective on Christopher Nolan’s grand finale to his Batman story, The Dark Knight Rises. We invited our listeners to share their thoughts as well. Enter David Slagle.
David is a fan of the podcast and crafted a very thorough response that I couldn’t help myself from sharing here:
First thing’s first–love the podcast. Listen to it every week. There’s no better way to enjoy comics (well, short of actually reading them). And I do that too, so don’t worry. There are still plenty of listeners fighting to keep the stores open, and the artists clothed and fed.
Anyway, I’m writing because you opened Pandora’s Box, and asked for listener’s thoughts on Dark Knight Rises. At least I think you did. I might be imagining things, because my cup runneth over with feedback.
The short of it is, I’m Team Aron. While my reasoning isn’t always the same, I share many of your complaints.
The long of it is:
1. The opening
Hermit Batman cut me to the quick. Here’s why. What defines Batman, and in fact most heroes, is their will. Their refusal to bow in the face of defeat. Even Superman gets pushed to a place where he has to dig down, deep inside of himself, and come back up with the will to keep fighting. Superman. The guy who can deflect bullets with his spit curl. If anything, Batman’s will needs to be stronger. He doesn’t have powers to fall back on.
So, Bruce Wayne’s retirement is an extremely bitter pill to swallow, especially since it’s based on events that occur entirely off screen. So what if Rachel died in The Dark Knight? You’ve shown me nothing in this film to help me understand why that would break Batman’s will to keep fighting–or at least help me empathize with him. Soliloquies don’t count. If we’re going to hinge such a vital story element on Rachel, we need to see what she meant to Batman. (And see how Gotham is prospering and has no need for him.)
The voice distracted me. It was menacing, to be sure–but also hard to understand, and a bit off-putting. What is that accent, Scottish? Am I supposed to be afraid of Scotsmen? Anyway, it didn’t help that the mask so obscured Bane’s face that the voice never felt connected to the body. I mean, it could have been coming from off-screen, for all I knew. Perhaps David Prowse deserves a lot of credit for what we think of Darth Vader–his movements seem connected to James Earl Jones’s voice in ways that Tom Hardy could only dream of.
But, I could forgive all of that. My true complaint is that I never understood Bane’s goals or motivations.
Ra’s al Ghul: Destroy Gotham to . . . burn out corruption.
The Joker: Destroy Gotham to . . . revel in chaos, or as Nolan might put it, show the insensibility of modern man, the heart of darkness.
Bane: Destroy Gotham to . . . set up the Talia al Ghul reveal?
Really, I can’t believe you didn’t mention how muddled Bane was as a villain. He wants to hand Gotham’s reigns over to the disenfranchised, the 99%. But he also wants to . . . kill them. Huh? Throughout the movie I found myself asking “And then what?” Why is Bane doing all of this? What does he care about the 99%? Is it supposed to be enough that he was once in the League of Shadows? Or does he only exist as an elaborate red herring? I think you know my theory.
What the hell does she want? She’s both telegraphed, and comes out of nowhere. (We know that Miranda Tate is important–and the longer we go without her story being defined, the more likely it is that she’s a plot twist.) But even as a plot twist, she leaves a lot to be desired. Her plan is the same as Bane’s, and his goes nowhere. The only possibility I can think of–this is all a PR stunt, “proving” that there is no hope for Gotham. An anonymous civilian would rather die than live with the status quo. Bonus points for killing everyone.
4. Christian Bale
With the first two movies, I never really got why sites like College Humor made fun of Christian Bale’s performance. I thought his Batman voice was unremarkable. But he went over the top here, mumbling his lines worse than Tom Hardy. Not very intimidating. Though it’s possible internet videos have simply poisoned my faith in man.
Anyway, those are my complaints. I still enjoyed the movie, and respect what Christopher Nolan was able to accomplish. Every choice he made was daring, from nearly killing Batman to casting Anne Hathaway (by the way, the movie you were thinking of two episodes ago is Love and Other Drugs. NSFW link here.)
The only opinion on the podcast that I strongly disagreed with was Wayne calling John Blake a Marty Stu. Yes, he has the traits of a Marty Stu, but that’s missing the point. Blake needs to be the good guy, the source of hope, vitality, and action . . . because Batman isn’t. He lost all of that off-screen, and in the previous movie.
Chew that over for a second, maybe you’ll agree.
Looking forward to more funnybooks!
For sharing his comments and since we used them here on the site – David has won an Ideology of Madness Surprize! You could win an one, too! Give us a call at 972-763-5903 and leave us your thoughts. If we use your voicemail, you’ll win an Ideology of Madness SurPrize