The Dark Knight Rises is, undoubtedly, the most awaited film of the year. 2005’s Batman Begins not only rejuvenated the Batman franchise, but also changed the very landscape of comic book movies. And Christopher Nolan’s follow up to that, 2008’s Dark Knight, took the genre on an extremely dark path. It pushed the limits of the PG-13 rating, at times delving into R-rated territory. With The Dark Knight, Nolan has established himself as one of the greatest living directors of our time, and if Dark Knight Rises lives up to the impossible hype that follows it, we’ll be seeing him push past that envelope.
Now Nolan’s films are the most grounded, most realistic interpretations of a comic book I’ve ever seen. Yet, in his pursuit of grittiness, Nolan has managed to preserve the very essence of the comics. He truly understands Batman, but treats the character more like a symbol than a… character. He doesn’t really lift anything off a comic book, but he and his writers Jon Nolan and David Goyer take inspiration from a whole bunch of comics, and put it all into a giant melting pot and fashions a great screenplay from it; one that is grounded in reality, but still exudes the comic book-iness that a Batman film needs.
Batman Begins was a twisted and epic version of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, while Dark Knight had elements of Steve Englehart’s Batman: Dark Detective run, mixed along with some of the ideas of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.
Now, The Dark Knight Rises isn’t out yet, but the trailers are out, and all of them look quite reminiscent of three comic books. Anubhav Dasgupta gives you a comparison and tells you what to expect from the new TDKR movie:
BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND
In Batman: No Man’s Land, Gotham has been cut off from the rest of the world due to an Earthquake that has shattered its surrounding bridges.
With little resources coming in and out of Gotham, Batman’s rogues as well as Commissioner Gordon form gangs and get embroiled in a war over Gotham’s dwindling resources.
Why do I think this has inspired Dark Knight Rises? Have you seen any of the trailers (see below)?
There you go. Here’s Gotham being cut off from the rest of the world.
Gotham’s a war zone now.
It seems to me that the setting of Dark Knight Rises has been heavily borrowed from No Man’s Land. But is the plot going to be anything like No Man’s Land? I doubt it. It’s just too convoluted and ridiculous to be a film. Then again, No Man’s Land really isn’t a great comic, just a good one.
The main villain of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is Bane. In the film he is portrayed as a terrorist-type and a cult leader/messiah (more on that later) but in his first appearance in the comics, he was depicted as a perfect negative to the Dark Knight, much like how Bizarro is Superman’s perfect imperfect.
Here was a villain who had as much intelligence as Batman himself, but used it for contrasting reasons. He wanted to prove to himself that he was better than the Batman. But he didn’t want to kill him. He wanted to break him. And break he does.
He breaks Batman’s spine and temporarily retires him.
Bruce Wayne retires (again, let me emphasise on temporarily) to his mansion on the outskirts of Gotham’s and relies on a cane to walk about until his back gets alright again while someone called Jean Paul-Valley AKA Azrael dons the cape and the cowl and masquerades as Batman.
Firstly, it has been strongly hinted in the trailers that Batman will die, and someone else could succeed him. One of the most likely candidates for the future-Batman is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake.
In the Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne has retired from being Batman for 10 years. We don’t know why (yet) but in the trailers we can see Bruce carrying around a cane.
And why is he carrying a cane? Again, we don’t know anything yet.
But what matters to this list is that like the Batman of the comics, Bruce Wayne eventually returns to being Batman, much like his story arc in Knightfall.
The scriptwriters Jon Nolan and David Goyer definitely must have come across Knightfall while researching Bane, so it isn’t far-fetched to think that they may have used elements of Knightfall in their screenplay.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most influential comics of all time. It’s really well written, brilliantly drawn and absolutely epic. It’s not only one of the greatest Batman comics ever written, but one of the greatest comics ever written, period.
Nolan has already used elements of Dark Knight Returns in The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, but if the trailers are any indication, The Dark Knight Rises is heavily influenced by Frank Miller’s magnum opus.
In The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne hasn’t donned the cowl for ten years and lives his life with absolute abandon. He’s looking forward to the end, but he wants it to be a kingly one, an end worthy of the Dark Knight.
We find Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne in a similar position in The Dark Knight Rises. He hasn’t been Batman for eight years since the events of The Dark Knight, and he doesn’t seem to want to be Batman anymore.
Thing is, Batman is, in essence, a very selfish character. What drives him is his personal vendetta, his quest for vengeance. Bruce Wayne’s arc in The Dark Knight Returns is brilliant because it focuses on this fatal flaw of his and makes it go away. By the end of the comic The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce is fighting for a much higher cause than vengeance: Justice.
Nolan’s The Dark Knight tackled this aspect, obviously influenced by the comic book and so did Batman Begins and from the looks of the trailers, it seems that Nolan’s going to tackle it again, but on a much grander scale, emotionally as well as physically.
It’s a safe bet to say that The Dark Knight Returns will influence much of The Dark Knight Rises.
But that’s not where the similarities end…
Just take a look at Nolan’s Bane.
He looks nothing like the Bane we know from the comics, does he? And he doesn’t really remind me of him that much beyond some little similarities.
What he reminds me of is this guy:
That’s the leader of a gang called Mutants, the primary antagonists of the first two chapters of The Dark Knight Returns. He is an instigator, a very brutal character, much like Nolan’s Bane.
Bane, however is a far more intelligent character than the Mutant Leader, and that makes him a thousand times more formidable.
To me, Nolan’s Bane strikes me as a gloriously unhealthy mixture of the Bane we know and love, the Mutant Leader from The Dark Knight Returns and the better Bond villains from the Sean Connery era.
And then there’s the common abbreviation that tells me that The Dark Knight Rises will be very similar to The Dark Knight Returns: TDKR.
Watch the Trailer of The Dark Knight Rises:
The Dark Knight Rises (read the review here) releases worldwide on the 20th of July. It’ll probably be the greatest Batman film of all time. Well hopefully…