Before you start sending me death threats, let me be absolutely clear about something: I didn’t hate The Dark Knight Rises. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film: I love Batman; Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack was fantastic; Joseph Gordon-Levitt can get it any time; and some of the action sequences were incredibly well-shot. That being said, I think that TDKR is far from a perfect film; so, I’ve compiled a list of reasons that you might want to re-think your blindingly and fanboyishly-eager love for TDKR.
WARNING: MEGA-SUPER SPOILER ALERT.
Breaking the Bat:
So there’s this iconic scene from the “Knightfall” storyline in the comics where Bane “Breaks the Bat,” dropping Batman over his knee (as seen in the film), leaving Bruce paralyzed. In the comics, Bruce is healed by Shondra Kinsolving’s telekinetic powers, because it is actually very difficult in real life to not be paralyzed anymore after someone breaks your back; and, as we all know, Nolan’s Batman films are all about realism.
So IMAGINE MY SHOCK when Nolan showed us all that you can heal a broken back by hanging someone from their feet and punching them in the spine! Not even an old man with ancient Eastern knowledge in a dirty prison with ropes can convince me that this back-healing technique is possible. NOPE.
Can someone please explain to me why everyone thinks Anne Hathaway did an incredible job as Selina Kyle? I must admit, I enjoyed the fact that Nolan never explicitly calls her “Catwoman,” and I really loved that her goggles, when flipped back, just happened to look like ears. Well done, costuming department. Too bad you completely dropped the ball when it came to Selina’s footwear.
Pictured: Sensible footwear
Here’s the thing about a cat-burglar in 6-inch heels: when I’m at work, I can hear my obnoxiously fashionable co-workers coming from anywhere, because of their clacking heels. It’s physically impossible to maintain any kind of stealth mode while wearing heels, which makes them the most unreasonable shoe a cat-burglar could wear. Furthermore, I couldn’t take Selina seriously for a second, flipping off of buildings and down onto the Bat with these giant shoes on; it’s just not possible. Hathaway’s flimsy explanation of why it’s important that Selina wear heels was clearly written by a man who has never experimented with drag; she essentially says, “Well, it’ll really hurt if I kick you in the balls,” before kicking a henchman in the balls. HERE’S THE THING THOUGH, GUYS: getting kicked in the balls? It hurts even if the chick is wearing flats. If you’re going to continue to defend Selina’s use of heels, I say, go ahead; try it out. I’ll even volunteer.
In terms of the story line, poor Selina was completely wasted; she’s not a compelling character, because we hardly get to see or hear anything about her troubled past. Remember how Selina is basically a failed Robin Hood ninja? Yeah, that’s badass. Why is none of that in this script? Additionally, given that Bruce’s relationship with Selina is incredibly complicated – as the only true relationship he has is between himself and the city of Gotham – then why would he suddenly feel compelled to run away with her at the end of the film? Bruce wasn’t even going to run away with Rachel, and he mourned her for like, eight years. It just makes no sense.
In part, Selina suffers because Nolan is useless at writing female characters. Rachel was such a brick that literally no one cared that two different actresses played her in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight; at best, she was a peripheral character, existing solely to fill the role of “the chick Batman needs to sex on.” Rachel’s dullness was unfortunate because the audience was expected to care about her, which we didn’t (though I did care about Katie Holmes’s intense nipple situation through Batman Begins). As this article from The Moving Arts notes, the time that Batman spent rescuing Rachel actually far outweighed the amount of time Rachel ever got to speak through the first two films.
Speaking of poorly-written, under-utilized female characters:
Talia al Ghul:
Don’t get me wrong, Marion Cotillard is stunningly beautiful, and an incredible actress. Unfortunately, Nolan didn’t set up her character, Talia, at all. When Talia and Bruce get it on in the middle of the film, there’s just no chemistry between the two characters; other than “welp, I guess Batman’s gotta put his penis in something now, the movie’s been going on for like, over an hour,” I can’t really understand why they suddenly start banging. The worst part is, this one scene where Bruce gets some is supposed to convince the audience to care about Talia for the rest of the film? As someone that Batman absolutely must rescue? Nope, not cutting it. Talia and Bruce have an intense relationship in the comics – she’s the only woman the Bat ever truly loved. I don’t feel that intensity for a single second in TDKR.
By no means is this unique to TDKR, but the Batvoice KILLS ME. At least Bane has a mask to explain why he sounds so ridiculous (more on this later); the Batvoice is literally just Bruce Wayne in need of some cough drops. Even in moments when there was no need for the Batvoice, Bruce keeps it up: for example, after both Bane and Selina admit that they know Bruce Wayne is Batman, he continues to speak to them using the Batvoice. When Bruce turns around to find that Selina has vanished in the night, he says to himself “So that’s how that feels.” IN THE BATVOICE. To himself. On a roof. Alone.
Similarly, the new Batsuit requires some discussion. Batman is made to exist in the shadows, or in the night (like a bat, get it?) Bane, however, has the same “League of Shadows” training that Batman does, rendering his shadowy skills useless, forcing Bruce to fight in the light. The issue here is that, much like Batman himself, the Batsuit was clearly made to be semi-obscured by darkness. In broad daylight, Batman is just some lunatic in a pleather suit; the look doesn’t hold up, coming across as a tad preposterous.
As previously mentioned, JGL is a flawfree human who can do no wrong, and my body is ready for a Nightwing sequel ASAP (even though, you know, Nolan insisted that there’s no way TDKR could possibly have a sequel). I just don’t think that I’m buying the idea that, even though entire city of Gotham (including Commissioner Gordon) has no clue about Batman’s true identity, Blake picks up on it in a hot minute because Bruce has some deep metaphorical mask on. Su-ure. Also, really, Blake is just going to coincidentally be named ROBIN? How about just ditching “Blake” all together, and calling him “Drake”? You know, one of Robin’s names?
Small side-note: since when did Bruce, who has a history of trust issues (even in the Nolan films) decide that he can just run away with someone he doesn’t know and give his entire batcave to a dude with whom Bruce had, like, THREE CONVERSATIONS?
Where to even begin? Is it with the awkward sideways GOATSE on his face? Is it with the fact that he sounds like Sean Connery wearing a Darth Vader helmet, instead of like some guy from the Caribbean? And why did Nolan reduce Bane from The “Big Bad” to one of Talia’s pointless henchmen? If he was going to do that, why didn’t Nolan just make up some random henchman?
Sideways goatse mask. Go ahead. Try to un-see it.
Because, here’s the thing: Bane-in-the-movie is not the Bane-from-the-comics at all. Bane-in-the-comics is a badass supersoldier, born in Peña Dura prison, who becomes addicted to a super-steroid called Venom (which must be injected into his face, hence the mask) and takes over the city of Gotham by releasing all of the inmates from Arkham. Bane-in-the-film is from ??? and really hates Gotham because ??? and was in Peña Dura prison because ??? and is super strong because ??? and wears the weird Goatse mask because he has to have his morphine hits through his face because regular injections just won’t do???
Also, can someone please put some subtitles on the screen when Bane speaks, because I lost at least half of his lines.
Extraneous Plot Points That Made Me Want to Bat-Punch Chris Nolan in the Vertebrae:
- The disposal of the nuclear bomb. As the end of the movie approached, I turned to my date and said “Oh right, this is the part where Iron Man flies the nuclear weapon into space and then, just when you think he’s dead, he won’t be dead! Right? Wait, are we not in The Avengers? Oh, okay. Just the exact same ending. Okay. Cool.”
- While disposing of said UNSTABLE NUCLEAR BOMB, Batman is just going to shoot weapons at it and bounce it off the street a few times? Really? Is that what we’re going to do here? GOOD PLAN, BATMAN.
- So much unnecessary time-wasting nonsense! Oh, there’s only ten hours left to save the city? Better spend four of them rigging up a building to burn in the shape of a bat. Oh, there’s fifty seconds left until a bomb incinerates Gotham? This seems like the perfect moment to make-out with Selina. Faked my own death? Better take some time and put that Bat-Signal back together.
- How did no one in the entire city of Gotham, during Bane’s five-month occupation, not notice The Bat sitting on the roof under a huge tarp? I’d think every thug in the city would be immediately searching for that thing.
- How did The Bat survive a nuclear detonation and make it back to Fox’s headquarters, so that some random dude could mention that Bruce fixed the autopilot?
- How did Bruce get from Peña Dura prison back to Gotham in approximately twenty minutes without a penny to his name? P.S. Why does the Caribbean look like India?
- There was absolutely no suspense to Bruce’s imprisonment. OH GEE DO YOU THINK HE WILL ESCAPE OR WILL HE DIE HERE AN HOUR BEFORE THE FILM ENDS - oh, he got out.
- Bane’s whole plan is to “give the city back to the people” and “screw capitalism,” but the only way his plan can work is it they constantly get supplies from FEMA and the government? This plan makes no sense!
- If Talia wanted to blow up Gotham to fulfil her father’s great plan, why didn’t she just blow it up? Why wait five months with her finger on the detonator?
- It’s pronounced RAYSH al Ghul. Not RAS. Watch Batman Beyond. Play Arkham Asylum. Play Arkham City. RAYSH.
So that’s it. That’s my explanation for why I can’t possibly love TDKR more than The Dark Knight, and why I shake my head in sadness when someone tries to tell me that Nolan’s Bane is a better villain than Nolan’s Joker. If you loved the film more than anything on this planet, then I’m happy for you, but I don’t understand you, and that’s okay.
We can agree to disagree.