In what’s predicted to shatter box office records, the third installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Rises, will be released at midnight on Friday July 20th. Early reviews for the film are glowing, but most of the plot details are being kept under heavy lock and key, leaving many to guess at filling in the blanks. Here at the Entertainment Bureau, we’d like to take a stab at some predictions.
6. Is 2 hours 45 minutes simply too long for this movie?
Sage: I have an aversion to films with over-indulgent length. Yes, it’s true that not every story fits into a cookie-cutter 100 minute time frame. But unlike pretty much every other source of entertainment media (books, tv, music, etc.) you’ve got to be in your seat patiently for the duration of a movie. And when you push on 3 hours, interest tends to wane. Peter Jackson’s Return of the King was a similar length and everybody but the diehard Lord of the Rings fans disliked the longevity, despite praising the rest of the film.
Feldman: Yes its too long, but I do think it will be entertaining throughout. I trust that Nolan knows what he’s doing, however I think he backed himself into a corner with raising a number of questions that need resolution. He also has such a star studded cast that he’ll need to make sure that they all receive at least a modicum of screen time. I’m sure that Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Joseph Gordon Levitt to name a few will be given solid roles with good scenes, but because of the sheer magnitude of the film, they won’t really get to make enough of a difference on screen.
7. Will Tom Hardy’s Bane match up favorably to Heath Ledger’s Joker? Even close?
Feldman: No, but that’s not Hardy, Nolan, or even Bane’s fault. Acting talent aside, Bane is a far less compelling character than the Joker. I do believe they’ll do enough to develop a decent backstory and the character will be well written, but there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell it can even come close.
Sage: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Bane and Tom Hardy will come close to matching the Joker. It won’t quite be the same affectation, but there won’t be an appreciable drop in quality. Why? Well, by all accounts this version of Bane sort of breaks the mold. Typically, physical brutes are the dumb jocks of the supervillain world, but Bane is also hyper-intelligent. No matter how bad things got with the Joker, Batman could always just beat him up. Not the case here. Add to that the fact that Bane has an actual systematic plan of attack, rather than just random chaos, and that’s a very formidable enemy.
8. What’s the nature of Marion Cotillard’s character, Miranda Tate? Friend or foe?
Sage: There was a rumor going around that Cotillard’s secret identity would be Talia al Ghul, daughter of…well…you know. But those rumors have been quashed and it appears that she’s the love interest. Then again, that might be a double reversal to draw us off the scent. However, conspiracy theories never tend to be true.
Feldman: I think Tate will be a sort of moral compass for Wayne. Remember that TDKR is eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Wayne is still spinning like a top figuring out what he’s suppose do with his loneliness and his billions. Tate is going to be the character that gets him back on the right track, possibly with some sexy results. I don’t see him getting as attached as he was to Rachel Dawes, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Tate was killed part way through providing additional motivation for Wayne.
9. If Bruce Wayne is able to stop Bane with his life intact (we’ll get to that), will he retire or continue to don the mask?
Feldman: Knowing that TDKR is the final in this series, Bruce Wayne will need a pretty compelling reason to stop being batman if he does survive. I’m also guessing he doesn’t lose all his limbs or his sanity so the choice to retire would need to be motivated by something else. I could see him leaving Gotham for good, either after succeeding in protecting it, or failing to do so. It is difficult to speculate, but if he does survive, the Caped Crusader won’t be Bruce Wayne any longer.
Sage: We have to remember that TDKR occurs roughly 8 years after the events of its predecessor and Bruce Wayne is no longer the joie de vive playboy that he once was. Batman is, from a legal perspective, an enemy of the state after he and Gordon performed the cover-up to save Harvey Dent’s good name posthumously. So I think it’s safe to say that his code of conduct and morals may have shifted, as well as his trust in people. Having said that, I don’t believe he’d have it in him to simply retire. The spirit of justice is too ingrained in his psyche.
10. Will Bruce Wayne die? If so, how?
Sage: Yes. I think Nolan is one of the few guys with the testicular fortitude to end this franchise with a period instead of a comma. If Gotham is in serious danger, he will sacrifice himself for the cause. That much is obvious from the end of The Dark Knight. Plus, some have speculated, and I agree, that the purpose of John Blake might be to tacitly take up the mantle upon Wayne’s death. Additionally, one of the primary motifs if this trilogy is the degradation of heroic behavior. Batman never gets the treatment he deserves for his good deeds and his death would be all too fitting for the people he served. As for how, I actually prefer not to guess. The details are too muddy for TDKR, but you’d assume it’s in some sacrificial capacity.
Feldman: I couldn’t have said it any better myself. From a general filmmaking perspective. To end such an epic trilogy without Wayne’s death would practically be sacrilege. I agree that he will sacrifice himself for the good of the city, especially considering the dwindling number of things that Bruce Wayne cares for. I’m sure his demise will be some kind of heroic leap into a vat of death along with the primary villain Bane. I do appreciate the idea that John Blake will take the torch, as a spin off, hard hitting crime series could be pretty solid under Nolan’s direction.
Sage: So, let’s say it happens how we predicted. Batman dies, Blake takes up the mantle. Would there even need to be a separate set of movies, or is it enough to know that Batman’s actions were enough to prompt somebody else to live for the same cause? I think that would be a nice symbolic ending.
Feldman: The issue with symbolic endings is if they are too suggestive, those crazy fans might clamor a bit too loudly on the message boards for a film to satisfy them. I’d rather have very subtle hints that may or may not lead viewers to that conclusion, beginning discourse without the demand of a sequel. Much like the slightly ambiguous ending to Inception.
Sage: Well, there you have it folks. Be sure to check out The Dark Knight Rises in theatres this Friday and Jared and I will see just how correct we were.