Don’t Kill Me; or, Why Sam Disliked “The Dark Knight Rises”

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.

 

Catwoman:

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.

 

Batman:

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.

 

Blake:

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?

 

Bane:

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.

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  • The Pixie

    I hope JGL has a cure for cancer because that radiation explosion just fucked Gotham’s health care for the next 20 years. A+, Sam! 

  • http://twitter.com/danmcmurray Danny McMurray

    You are right. Your points are totally valid and I’ll be the first to admit that my love for TDKR is, in all probability, largely founded on the delicate mix of abs, angst, and Christian Bale’s heart stopping good looks that managed to somehow override my well cultivated love for the Batman canon for a few hours. That said, I have two thoughts:

    1) I don’t actually think Bats or the Batwing went back to Lucius after the detonation! I understood it as a software patch Bruce completed before he was hauled off to Bane’s Indian-not-Caribbean pit of Sarlacc and just never told anyone about until Arbitrary Wayne Employee #1 noticed it in the computer system. I believe they were sitting on a totally different Batwing in that scene, as Batman’s black one surely must have been blown up. How did Batman escape though? Yeah, I have no answers for that. When did he find time to put in (and MAKE) a new Batsignal? Ditto.

    2) Re: BatVoice. Yes it was ridiculous sounding, and unnecessary/awkward when he was talking to himself; however, if I can play devil’s advocate for a second, I think there was some thought behind that. Gordon tells Blake early in the film that he, “know[s] who he is; he’s the Batman” which sounds like dismissive old man nonsense but what the movie seemed to be implying is that, whoever Batman is, he is Batman first and foremost and Bruce Wayne is his alter ego. That thread was picked up later in Bruce’s conversation with Selina at the costume gala when he tells her he’s “[pretending to be] Bruce Wayne, eccentric billionare” as well. I THINK that’s the logic motivating the excessive use of BatVoice in this movie: that Batman is Batman, dumb voice and all, not just Bruce Wayne in a costume. Also, we sometimes forget that Bruce Wayne is a seriously unbalanced individual and does some really bizarre things (like dressing up as a pleather bat and running around Gotham to avenge his parents’ deaths every night), and in light of that, I think using BatVoice when no one is around was a solid (albeit sometimes hilarious) character decision.

    I feel your disappointment though, Sam. You are right on so many counts (ESPECIALLY on Bane, and the prison scenes) and I admire you not only for being ballsy enough to write this post, but also for steeling yourself against the persuasive power of brooding, a great smile, and that little touch of grey on Bruce Wayne’s temples that melted my higher faculties and I into a big, complacent puddle.

    And yeah, it is pronounced RAYSH.

  • Anonymous

    Yes! Awesome article.  I largely enjoyed the film but hoo boy are there a ton of things wrong with it.  I chalk it up to my belief that Nolan is better about the feeling of something than hard details (hence why a movie about dreams was perfect for him :P ).

    Also, I found that I didn’t really give a crap about Batman for the whole movie.  Whenever he was onscreen I was wishing it was someone else (JGL >_>)

    My question: Did Fox die? He wasn’t at the funeral and the last we saw about it was him climbing out of the flooding room..

    PS I thought I was crazy when they were saying RAS not RAYSH. Thank you for that clip!

  • http://twitter.com/SamMaggs Sam Maggs

    Pixie!!! Amazing point re: cancer. In an alternate Gotham the Cancer Bats are not a band, but charitable organization made to support cancer victims.

    THANK YOU DANNY! <3 You are legit right about the abs, angst and Christian Bale. This is a difficult combo to overcome. I have to say that you could totally be right about The Bat, I actually really like that explanation for it. I think Batman must have ejected out over the ocean I guess?? The Batsuit doubles as a scuba wetsuit.

    And re: Batvoice, your explanation for it is the best one I've heard and I actually really want to believe it. I just wish he would have like a little voice box or voice modulator or something because the Batvoice CANNOT be comfortable haha.

    And thank you Annabelle!! I wish the whole film had been JGL as well, then I wouldn't have paid attention to the plot at all tbh. I think Fox must survive because isn't he the one who discovers the fixed autopilot on the Bat after the funeral? I think it's to Fox that random lab technician mentions the fixed autopilot.

    • Anonymous

      Oh yeahhh totally forgot he was in the autopilot revelation scene. *phew*

    • http://twitter.com/danmcmurray Danny McMurray

      No, dat voice cannot be comfortable.

      “WHERE ARE THE COUGH DROPS?!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamieMJay Jamie Jay

    This is a horrible review, although seemingly well written, let me answer some of your facepalm worthy questions.

    1. The way the Nuclear bomb was disposed was nothing like The Avengers. Everybody knew Iron Man would survive, but many believed Nolan would actually end the Trilogy with the death of Batman

    2. Shooting weapons at it, what’s so bad about this? You are confusing this with a typical Nuclear Bomb, perhaps this fusion reactor bomb thingy can survive some bumps in the road, being as its state of the art technology and whatnot?

    3. Who says Bruce spent 4 hours rigging the Bat Symbol on the bridge? We have no idea how long it took, and obviously there was a reason behind doing it because it brought hope to the people. That one police guy whos named I forgot who was hiding behind his wifes dress for example.

    4. I’m fairly certain the Bat they were looking at was a different Bat all together, and they were trying to figure out why the autopilot doesn’t work and obviously they find out it does work, and that it was fixed 6 months ago by Bruce. Nothing says Bruce only fixed the autopilot on that one Bat, honestly I would expect him to fix it on a few at the least incase he needs another.

    5. There wasn’t meant to be suspense in Batman’s imprisonment, it was so that we could get backstory on Bane (and obviously Talia) whilst Bruce “Rises” – Some of the prison scenes were extremely intriguing, like the concept of how fearing death is a strength and not a weakness. If you watched these scenes in the mindset that “OMGOMG HE MIGHT DIE” then you are doing it wrong. Not every part of the movie is meant to make you wonder “will he/she die or will he/she live?”

    6. Bane’s plan was explained in the prison scene with Bruce, there cannot be true despair without hope, he wanted to give Gotham and Bruce hope so they could feel true despair. It was soul-torturing.

    7. He put the Bat signal back together to let Gordon know he survived and as a hint that John Blake will be taking over as Batman

    And as for Bane’s critique, here’s my views on filling this ????’s in.

    “Bane-in-the-film is from ??? and really hates Gotham because he is following Ra’s Al Ghul’s plan, simple as, he’s doing it for Talia because he loves her. When a guy loves a girl there’s almost nothing he wouldn’t do for her. and was in Peña Dura prison because ??? and is super strong because he’s got big fucking muscles and is fed constant pain relief so pretty much feels no pain? When someone doesn’t feel pain they are inherently stronger and wears the weird Goatse mask because he has to have his morphine hits & as a way to inflict fear clearly. “Nobody cared who I was until I put on the mask”

    Also if you couldn’t understand Bane then you need to go see your doctor about those ears, I understood 99% of his words. There’s always a line lost in translation, I had it with Gordon in this movie in the scene where he’s watching Bane on TV

    Hope this helped.

    • That Dude

      Just shut up you sound like a re-tarted fucking fanboy who doesn’t understand storytelling at all. I would write a whole page on your buffoonery but i’m to tired.   

    • http://twitter.com/SamMaggs Sam Maggs

      Your rudeness and condescension is stunning. I apologize on behalf of whatever has made you so bitter. Best wishes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamieMJay Jamie Jay

    Also regarding Bruce’s trust issues, I admit the way John Blake guessed he was Batman was abit far fetched, although how many people in Gotham could both afford the gadgets and tools Batman has and be fit enough to fight like he does, the list of billionaires in that city cannot be that vast. And his trust with Selina to run off and start a life with her, I think this wasn’t so much trusting her as it was doing what Alfred always wanted. Sure he did it with Selina but at this point I suspect he would trust her given she saved his life.

  • http://twitter.com/SamMaggs Sam Maggs
  • http://twitter.com/bad_subject Adam J. Langton

    Awww… now I’m sorta disappointed that no rabid fanboy has commented on my fake medical article! This is fun :)

  • http://twitter.com/gurudata Andrew Gurudata

    My problem with this movie is that Batman was useless the entire movie. Not just some of it, all of it. And not just physically, but – and this is the part that really killed it for me – intellectually. It was bad enough that he spent the entire movie getting his ass kicked. Batman did not win a single fight in this entire movie. Not even near the end when he was supposed to have “risen”. Ok, fine, that could be forgiven to a degree, because he was supposed to be “broken”. BUT… here to me is the bigger problem: Batman is the hero detective who wins his battles more often by intellect than by muscle. Batman is the guy who defeats his enemies by piecing together clues and by outwitting them, either by outright intelligence or by the clever application of his gadgets and tools.

    So, what did we see in this movie? A guy who had to have every problem solved for him and who depended on others to figure out anything. Catwoman had to find Bane for him, he could not have found him without her. And Bane had to explain his whole plan to him – while beating the crap out of him – rather than him figuring anything out. And how many times does Batman get “tricked” in this movie? I lost count…

    (Then again, this Bruce Wayne was so stupid, he put ALL of his money into a single place accessible by a fingerprint, rather than spreading it around in such a way as to protect his finances. OK, again, he’s been out of it. But wouldn’t Alfred or Fox have been in charge of his finances and been a bit smarter about this if Bruce himself wasn’t? Was Bruce paying his own hydro bills?)

    The entire movie fell apart to me at the pit, the metaphoric “rise” of Bruce Wayne back to being himself again. Did Bruce/Batman, using his intellect, figure out how to escape the pit? Heck, no. A morphine-addicted doctor had to spoonfeed him the answer of “Oh, hey, by the way, do it without the rope.” Something every member of the audience already figured out (at least, it seemed damned obvious to me, and I should never be smarter than Batman). If we had seen him deduce this on his own, I might have believed this was Batman. Maybe. But no, this was some fellow too stupid to use his own intelligence to figure out the puzzle and escape the trap that the villain had set forth for him using his own deductive abilities. That’s not Batman.

    So he escapes the pit because somebody told him the answer. And then, by magic, the penniless Bruce Wayne magically made his way from the middle of Asia to inside a Gotham that was under siege and supposedly cut off from the rest of the world. Nice trick that. And so, finally, off he went to fight Bane. Did he use his intelligence to find a way to defeat a physically superior enemy? Nope, he just started using brute force to hit him over and over again. Fortunately, at least this time he had enough brains to hit that Great Big Obvious Target in the middle of Bane’s face. His flash of intelligence didn’t last long though, since he quickly found himself tricked – YET AGAIN – by a woman he foolishly allowed to get close enough to him that she could stab him with a knife. Again, the Batman I know watches his back at all times, but even “risen”, this Batman didn’t have the intelligence to do so. Fortunately, she then spoonfed him exactly who she was and why she was doing this. The real Batman would have had some clue, or would have figured it out. But not this guy. Again, this “detective” had to be told everything or he would have known nothing.

    He didn’t even defeat Bane at the end, Catwoman did it for him.

    Think about it. In this entire movie, what does Batman actually do that is Batman like? Does he win any fights? Does he solve any mystery? Does he outwit a single villain?

    Nope. This Batman spends the movie losing fights and then watching helplessly as other characters did the heavy lifting and the villains told him the answers to everything. It’s not Batman, it’s not even a Broken Bruce Wayne. It’s some dude who wears a bat suit for about 20 minutes out of the whole 3 hours. Even his final act of heroism wasn’t anything that he had to be Batman to do – any of the other characters could have (and probably would have) flown the bomb over the water to save the day.

    There was just a lack of Batman being Batman in this movie, and I had expected a broken but still smart Batman, especially by the end of the movie, and I never got it.

    On the plus side, while I do agree that there were problems with Catwoman, the scenes between Bruce/Batman and Selina/Catwoman were a joy to watch. I kind of liked her, despite the flaws. That said, it may be because she had all the brains in this movie while Batman seemed to have none.

  • Darkstone Ross

    I did not have as many problems with the film as Andrew and Sam, although I did share many of their concerns.  I must say they raise some valid points I did not think about previously (call me too forgiving if you want).  I won’t bother to repeat points that have already been made, but will add a few of my own.

    I was willing to overlook a lot (more than Sam and Andrew), but what really got me are the little, easy to fix things (many of which relate to the comics) that for me, ruined things. 

    If the point of Bane’s mask is to give him anesthesia, would it really have been so hard to make it a steroidal/pain-killer combo called “Venom” that is fed into the mask by a tube (that Batman could cut in the final fight)? 

    For that matter, if we don’t ever see Hardy out of the mask, why not just hire a (bigger and more ripped) prob body builder to put in the mask and let Hardy do the voice.  If I were Hardy, I would be really pissed about all those hours in the gym (presumably just for this role) when he could have just gone to the ADR studio where you don’t even need to put on pants.

    Talia, should have been Talia “Head” as she is in the comics (The English translation of “Al Ghul”).  The comic fans already knew who the hell she was going to be, and it would not have been a spoiler for the uninitiated. 

    However, I could have and would have forgiven everything else if at the end, Blake had said his name was “McGinnis”. 

    I would like to close by saying that I love  and respect Sam even more than I already did for her use of the following two sentences:  “the chick Batman needs to sex on” and “welp, I guess Batman’s gotta put his penis in something now, the movie’s been going on for like, over an hour”.

  • Anonymous

    TDKR would have been a good movie even with the plot holes if they had just changed two things; Not call it TDKR and not have it have anything to do with the Batman Mythos at all. Like most I agree it was a entertaining well made movie to watch but it was not the “Real” Batman. I mean I agree with the idea that they wanted to make aspects of the story be more rooted in “reality” but you should not strip away the foundation of what makes the characters who they are. I mean comic books are always messing with the little details to keep them relevant but the “root” of who the characters are always remains. I think classes could be taught and term papers written on how they could have kept the realism that they wanted while still sticking with the root aspects of the mythos.

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  • Dan Rankin

    ‘The Dark Knight Rises! I am your reckoning!’ – Sam (w/ Bane voice)