The Dark Knight Rises starts this Friday and is certain to be a massive success at the box office. But it has been four years since the last Christopher Nolan movie, The Dark Knight, and even longer since the first of the trilogy, Batman Begins, so for those of you that ain’t going to go back and watch them this week (something I am doing), here’s a primer.
You know that Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed in a mugging outside a theater, but in this version of the story it is due to Bruce’s fear of bats. When the opera he and his parents are attending stage a scene with bats he his frightened because of the movie’s opening scene where he falls down a well. The well is attached to a cave where bats live, they attack the young boy and he is scarred for life. He goes on to try and teach himself to fight by traveling the world and diving into the criminal element where he is finally found in a prison by a man named Ducard. Wayne goes thru Ducard’s training process for something called, “The League of Shadows” which is a group allegedly determined to rid the world of corruption, even if it means destroying entire cities. When Wayne realizes that Ducard, who actually is the character Ra Al Ghul, is intent on dismantling Gotham he flees the group, but not before blowing up their compound.
Returning to Gotham, Wayne finds his families company under the control of others, works to build his Batman persona and begins the process of bringing down the main mob figure. During this he is also working to protect his childhood love Rachel Dawes (Katy Holmes), but because his need to hide the fact he is Batman his public persona is one of the drunken, nutty, billionaire playboy – hence pushing Dawes away.
Wayne comes to find that a plot to destroy the city is actually the continued work of Al Ghul, with the help of the villain Scarecrow, and an epic final scene is set as Batman covers a lot of ground and busting a lot of stuff with his new vechile, The Tumbler. Included in the distraction is Wayne Manor – burned to the ground. He ends up saving the city, killing Al Ghul and Dawes finds out that Batman is Wayne. Batman is a hero to Gotham, but a stranger to Dawes who has no interest in a relationship with the new Wayne and what he is doing.
(Side note: In re-watching the movie I was shocked to realize the kid that Dawes rescues is actually the same kid that plays King Joffery in Game of Thrones (Jack Gleeson-right). He has to be the best actor, ever, because I hate King Joffery SO much that even seeing his face, as a much younger kid, in a different movie, I want to punch that little fucker in the face.)
Batman’s vigilantism lead us to The Dark Knight where not only is there rampant crime, but Batman is being imitated by other, less able people. There is also a new crime boss in town, The Joker (hinted at in the end of the first movie) and the movie opens with a bank robbery scene (shot in real IMAX format) that is now a icon Hollywood scene. The Joker puts Batman in the position of having to chose between saving Dawes or the city’s DA Harvey
Richard Dent. Dawes dies, Dent survives, but is disfigured creating the “Two-Face” character. The movie is a continuous series of moves between Batman and the Joker, the latter creating chaos across the city just for the pure love of chaos. In the end Dent is killed and Batman takes the blame for it to help preserve the public’s perception of the man and his legacy and to help give the city a leader to look up to. The Joker is also, presumably, killed captured by the police and taken into custody but Batman has to disappear knowing that the public blames him for the death of their beloved Richard Harvey Dent.
The Dark Knight Rises will begin seven years after the fact with the public not having seen Batman since the death of Dent and still holding him to it. But a new, bigger, badder criminal is coming to town to shake up the newly found peace and prosperity that has befallen the upper half of Gotham’s society. Bane. This is a movie that isn’t going to result in a happy ending. In the comic the character Bane actually breaks Batman’s back and almost kills him. I suspect that this movie will have a terrific ending, but as with anything Nolan directed, don’t expect a tidy, ‘ride off in the sunset’ ending.
After you see it, please come back here and put your review in the comments!