Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Not Everything, Not Yet: Some Thoughts on the Ending of "The Dark Knight Rises"

The Dark Knight Rises is arguably the most anticipated movie of the summer. I think the anticipation for the film comes from the questions the film raises. Can the film become the box office hit The Dark Knight became? Can Tom Hardy deliver a performance that do justice to Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker? And can Christopher Nolan break the third movie curse that plagues the superher genre and deliver a film that doesn't feel anticlimatic next to the previous film? But I think the biggest question looming in people's minds is whether Nolan will make the decision to kill the Cape furtd Crusader.

It would certainly be a bold move- maybe the boldest in Superhero movie history- and after the ambition of The Dark Knight,  it would feel like Nolan was pushing things ever further for the Batman franchise and the Superhero genre as well. What started as rumblings through the grapevine has become a genuine goosebump inducing "Could it really happen." This theory has gained momentum because of the inclusion of Bane as the villain of the film, the man who broke Batman's back in the Knightfall storyline in the comics. There's also the moment in the latest trailer where Anne Hathaway's Catwoman tells Batman, "You don't owe these people anymore. You've given them everything," to which he replies, "Not everything, not yet," implying he'll have to sacrifice himself to save Gotham.  It seems that Nolan will include Bane's most iconic moment in the film since in the last two trailers we've seen Bruce Wayne with what appears to be a cane and also in a wheelchair. If any villain from Batman's Rogue Gallery could kill Batman, it'd probably be Bane. Though of course if Bane breaks Batman early on in the film, wouldn't it be overkill to have him kill Batman at the end. We may be looking at a Batman gets broken, gets better and then defeats Bane. This sounds a little too straightforward for the end of the trilogy and I hope it's not that conventional.

If Batman dies, I wonder how Nolan will make it satisfactory instead of awkward and disappointing. It's weird to think of Batman dying on screen- particularly since Bale's Batman has become the subject of parody over the last few years. You can almost see the College Humour spoof right now. If Batman was to die, it'd have to be in a way that also leads to Bane's death, which brings us back to the idea of self-sacrifce. People have discussed the possibility of someone taking up the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne dies. This would be a great thematic paradox to play on. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne tells Alfred that as a symbol he can never die- meaning that even if Bruce Wayne dies- the symbol of Batman can live on as another person. Though at the end of the film Rachel tells him that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is the real face. Furthermore, in The Dark Knight we see men trying to be Batman but failing. The question is- can someone else be Batman- is he a symbol- or is Bruce Wayne Batman, still a symbol but one that's forever linked to Bruce Wayne. If the film ended with- say Joseph Gordon Levitt's John Blake becoming Batman, as many have theorized, it'd be a great ambiguous note to end the trilogy on.

I can't say for certain how exactly The Dark Knight Rises will end- and that's why I'm excited. However Nolan ends it though, I think he's done a bang up job with the Batman franchise. And remember...this isn't a car.

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