Monday, July 23, 2012

The Batman Trilogy (Christopher Nolan)

On the 20th of July 2012 The Dark Knight Rises was released, finishing Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. He is rumoured to be involved with a film based around the Justice League - DC's attempt to compete with Marvel's The Avengers - but for now, Nolan can put to bed the series that he was hired to direct all the way back in January 2003.

Christian Bale as Batman
The series appropriately begins with Batman Begins, detailing the origins of how Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) became Batman. The opening few scenes showing Wayne's phobia of bats and how he later embraced his fear really encompassed the series in terms of effect and emotional impact.

Along with Bale as Batman, other long term stars were recruited. Michael Caine signed up as Wayne's butler Alfred, Morgan Freeman as loyal tech guru Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman as police sergeant James Gordon and Katie Holmes as love interest Rachel Dawes. All of these form the backbone of the cast, but they were joined by other well known faces as the series progressed.

Despite a stellar cast, Nolan's opening film didn't release to a huge fanfare, but it did go on to take nearly $50 million in its opening weekend. Not bad seeing as the Marvel train hadn't yet started rolling and films based around comic books were not yet all the rage.

Nolan soldiered on to create his next film, The Dark Knight. He drew on the success of Brokeback Mountain and brought in Heath Ledger to play the Joker, along with retaining Cillian Murphy's services as Scarecrow. Aaron Eckhart joined the line-up as Harvey Dent, Gotham's district attorney. Katie Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal - keeping the Rachel Dawes character as part of the famous lineup.

The Dark Knight promised to be far darker than the original, with the destruction of parts of Gotham in Batman Begins opening the door to transform the city. It was also more heavily marketed that its predecessor, but before its release it would gain yet more publicity.

Heath Ledger as Joker
All variants of superlatives have described Heath Ledger's disturbing performance as The Joker and some have even speculated that it was this mindset that caused Ledger's demise. Ledger was tragically found dead on the 22nd of January 2008 - 6 months before the release of The Dark Knight. Overnight, even casual moviegoers knew that The Dark Knight was a film they needed to see, even to get a glimpse at Ledger's final hurrah. Ledger - rightly - went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor posthumously.

With all the extra publicity, The Dark Knight created its own record book for highest grossing film, quickest grossing film and most amounts of theatres showing the film on release. To say it was a success would be to do it an injustice. It took a ludicrous amount of money and earned Nolan a free passage to do what he wanted with the third film.

Nolan finished writing the basic story for The Dark Knight Rises in 2008, shortly after The Dark Knight's release. He moved on to other projects including the critically acclaimed Inception, while his scriptwriters polished off the screenplay.

Tom Hardy as Bane
He continued to use strong actors - from Inception, Nolan took Tom Hardy and used him as another of Batman's nemeses, Bane. Anne Hathaway was also brought on board as Selina Kyle, alias Catwoman.

On July 20th 2012, The Dark Knight Rises was released. Empire Magazine made Nolan's trilogy only their fifth star film series, following Apu, Lord of the Rings, Toy Story and the Trilogy of the Dead into the echelons of cinematic greatness. Despite the hype, the film's opening weekend results suffered because of a shooting in Colorado.

While it didn't receive the same critical reception as The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises was given mostly positive reviews. Bane was praised for being the psychical and mental opposite of The Joker. Of course, it is too early to be talking about the award season for the final part of the trilogy, but undoubtedly it will be nominated for some - even if it falls short.

All that can be said for certain is that the entire series - as a whole - set a new bar for comic book adaptations. Nolan rewrote Batman's past in the original reboot, and battered all similar films into oblivion with The Dark Knight before ending the series in an acceptable and sombre note.

A truly remarkable trilogy.


  1. I'd need to see TDKR for myself before I can really say anything about the trilogy as a whole. But I'm sure glad the final movie has been well received by critics and moviegoers. Here's hoping the Hollywood executives don't tarnish the high standard now set by Nolan, by releasing a reboot anytime soon. After all, we enjoyed a good 8 years between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins.

    P.S: Remember how you said I should let you know whenever I needed help with a website? Well, I sorta do at the moment. I'll shoot you an e-mail with details.

    P.P.S: Boy does that last sentence look bad in the context of this discussion, considering what happened on Friday.

    1. Lucky I read back over my reply otherwise it could have looked equally bad.

      Send away!