Friday, July 20, 2012

2012 King of the Hill: I'm Batman!


The Dark Knight Rises Above The Grey
Yes, you heard that right.  I announced the winner in the freaking title.  This movie rocked.  It was two hours and forty five minutes of pure awesome.  The story is very busy and there are a lot of details that were cut to keep this movie from being a week in film length.  The gaps are obvious, but the transitions are handled respectfully.  The movie jumps eight years from the second film and has an almost three month jump in the middle of it.  You miss pieces of that-  wait, hold that thought.

For those who do not know, the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge is my system for determining the best movie of year that I saw. One movie from each month will be selected and, at the end of the year, I will do a tournament style showdown where they will take each other on until the final movie has been selected. Bracket placement will be determined by the number of movies the monthly movie faced and won.

There we go.  Now where was I?  Oh yeah, spoilers.  Spoilers.  And more spoilers.  The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment of the latest Batman releases.  And it provides you with a very satisfying conclusion.  There are spoilers further down in this review for both this movie and The Avengers.  Honestly, I could talk about many points about this film, there is a lot to discuss, but instead of getting into the finer details, I'm going to talk about a tweet I made.

The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers
I made tweet after seeing the movie about The Dark Knight Rises does something that The Avengers did not do right.  Before I get into this deeply, you need to know that I firmly believe Iron Man is Marvel's Batman.  Both are millionaires without super powers that rely on their use of inventions to fight crime.  Through complete coincidence, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers both have a nuclear device as part of the plot.

In The Avengers, a nuclear missile is fired at Stark Tower to destroy the aliens and shut down the portal.  Iron Man responds to this by navigating the missile into the portal and ultimately defeats the aliens.  The weapon is incidental, adding a bit of tension and providing a last minute tool that can be used as a weapon to win.  Iron Man's choice to fly the weapon into the portal is a bit of character development.  Though the development is nice, the act is weakened by the fact the weapon is a last minute, external addition to the conflict that conveniently used to resolves the conflict.

In The Dark Knight Rises, the bomb is part of the plot from the very first scene though you don't realize it until half-way into the film.  It is the reason the government (and any other DC Super Heroes) aren't involved in the events in Gotham City.  It is the reason why the citizens of Gotham can't leave the city.  It is the reason why everyone has to work through blood, sweat, and tears to stop Bane.  After everything else has failed, the ONLY option is for Batman to remove the bomb from the city.  It isn't development either.  We know that Batman has given everything  for this city but his life.  It is inevitable that this is what must be done.  No one tries to talk him out of it.  It is understood.  And in this act, the Bruce Wayne Batman is no more.  A permanent, necessary sacrifice.

So, in The Avengers, Iron Man is given a convenient threat used for character development and conflict resolution.  In The Dark Knight Rises a similar threat exists, but throughout and the conclusion is not development, but the resignation that we the viewers must accept.

The Dark Knight Rises and DC Comics
In the same tweet mentioned above, I also said that The Dark Knight Rises did something that DC Comics could not do.  Actually, the truth of the matter, The Dark Knight Rises does multiple things better.  First of all, it passes the mantle.  If (and this is a pretty big if) Warner Brothers plans to do a Justice League movie properly, they can bring in a new Batman.  Even if they decide to not do the Justice League, they still have an opportunity to do more Batman with a new man behind the cape.  And, at the same time, they can end with the third movie and it ends, perfectly.  DC, however, cannot seem to bring themselves to end the Bruce Wayne reign of Batman.  Sure, he has had people wear the cape before.  Sure, Bruce Wayne has retired.  However, between the reboots, the new universes, and the inability to end a legend, Bruce Wayne is always back and behind the mask.

That's not the ONLY thing that The Dark Knight Rises did better.  The Dark Knight Rises actually surprised me when Bane detonated the explosives.  I jumped up in my seat as I watched the bridges explode and collapse.  You see, I actually have read the No Man's Land arc of Batman.  In No Man's Land, an earthquake severs Gotham from the rest of the world.  The city turns to chaos and the government declares it  a wasteland, unable to be saved.  In the story, Batman is gone from the city for three months as he, as Bruce Wayne, tries to get the government involved.  The city is without Batman for all that time and only underground police work is providing any sense of hope.

Yet, at the same time, the movie also managed to cover the events of Knightfall.  Knightfall is, well, basically the story of Batman getting his back broken by Bane.  It isn't a paraplegic break, but enough to disable him for a good portion of the movie.  If that's not enough, the movie actually managed to secretly slip in ANOTHER classic bat villain.  But, unless you are really sharp, you probably won't know it's coming until it is revealed.

The point here is that Christopher Nolen took TWO classic Batman stories, merge them together, make them better, and slip in another classic villain in such a way that it isn't painful.  And, then they end the legacy of Bruce Wayne all at the same time.  If that isn't impressive, I don't know what is.


  1. I loved this movie.

    GREAT review. And you're right. The writing in this was completely fantastic.

  2. The bad guy is named Bain?