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.
Jared Feldman: Considering the dark tone of the film I wouldn’t at all be surprised if a few complimentary people are killed off for dramatic effect. As if Bruce Wayne needs anymore inspiration for his heroic deeds, the death of his father figure Alfred might send Bruce over the edge into a gripping finale. I don’t see Lucius Fox passing unless Wayne Enterprises is randomly attacked.
Jay Sage: It seems as if all of Gotham City is under attack from Bane, so Wayne Enterprises could be included. Frankly, I was among the many shocked parties when Rachel Dawes was killed off in The Dark Knight. When Maggie Gyllenhaal was hired to replace Katie Holmes, I figured she was in it for the long haul. So I guess you could say that nobody’s immune. Like you, Alfred dying wouldn’t surprise me. I could see Commissioner Jim Gordon (executed perfectly by Gary Oldman) getting it too.
2. Will Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman/Selina Kyle performance finally allow us to forget Halle Berry ever tried it?
Sage: Berry is an Academy Award winning actress, which just shows you how important the writing and direction fields are. In other words, you can’t polish a turd. I only saw the first half of Berry’s Catwoman before giving up on the faux-gritty, hyper-sexualized style. Hathaway is a capable actress as well, and it would be hard to imagine Nolan’s guiding hand not shining through on any character.
Feldman: I think the issue is not with the acting but with the character. At least when looking through some of the comic book series with Selina Kyle, she plays as the villain, sort of, while also sharing a good deal of sexual tension with Bruce Wayne. I just don’t think that sort of playful humor really works in this gritty adaptation. In the tongue and cheek style of Batman & Robin it would play perfectly but I feel its going to be out of place in The Dark Knight Rises.
Sage: Should be noted that Michelle Pfeiffer also took her turn as Catwoman to pretty good critical avail in Batman 2. There was a kitschy feel to her performance, but with the help of Tim Burton’s eye-winking weirdness, it definitely worked. We can assume Hathaway’s character will be more serious, right?
Feldman: I would seriously hope so. I think it will be interesting to see how she toes the line between good and evil. We know that Bane is the villain, but Catwoman is the sort of a character who isn’t evil, but rather just selfish and concerned about her own gains. It’s likely the evil, turned good by the warmish heart of Bruce Wayne.
3. Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow and Liam Neesons Ra’s al Ghul are part of the cast for TDKR, but not listed among the principal actors. Are we talking supporting roles or cameos here?
Feldman: Murphy’s Scarecrow also made a cameo in The Dark Knight though I do believe the he is currently in Arkham Asylum. Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul perished in the train crash of Batman Begins, so (assuming he’s not a zombie or something) I would suspect he would appear in a flashback to Wayne’s time in the Bhutanese prison where he learned the ways of the ninja.
Sage: Yes, I’m not a fan of flashbacks but that would be the only way. When villains terrorize Gotham City, one of their dramatic moves tends to be letting all the criminals out of Arkham Asylum. It serves a dual purpose in the Batman canon – creating chaos for the caped crusader to quell, and engendering more storylines by re-introducing villains. I assume Bane is going to free Scarecrow at some point. Then again, the psychopharmacologist is no use to anyone without his mind-bending drugs.
Sage: Christian Bale actually stated upon signing onto the franchise in 2004 that he would refuse to make the movies if Robin was part of the story. Regardless of Nolan’s feelings on the matter, I doubt he would betray his star’s trust like that, so I’m going to say no. And frankly, a typical sidekick doesn’t fit in whatsoever with the lonesome personality of Bruce Wayne in this context. JGL will portray a young naive police officer, so he’s probably more likely to be taken under Jim Gordon’s figurative wing than Batman’s literal wing.
Feldman: Dick Grayson did become a beat cop in one comic book series, so there is at least a bit of precedent to think its the case with JGL. However, the Robin character has always been a regarding as a bit more of comic relief than Batman. A fun loving kid, as opposed to the hard nosed Batman. Just doesn’t fit with Nolan’s series, nor does it fit with Joseph Gordon Levitt. It’s clear that Nolan likes to put his favorite actors into all of his films, see the entire Inception cast but Ellen Page and Leo DiCaprio in TDKR. Levitt is too talented of an actor to get wrapped up in a prepacked role like Robin, so though they might make a few playful hints at it, it’s not going to happen.
Sage: One wonders if Ellen Page would have played Harley Quinn had Heath Ledger survived. Rumor was the the Joker was supposed to return in the 3rd installment in a limited role. Anyway, that’s pure speculation.
5. Is there any way TDKR lives up to The Dark Knight?
Feldman: I don’t think its possible. Yes TDKR will be an epic finale, but from early reviews its very good, but not up to the same level. The Dark Knight had a great balance of storytelling, acting and surprisingly depressing realism for a superhero film. We’ve also lost an amazing actor in Ledger, and despite Hardy’s talent, the brutish role of Bane doesn’t lend itself as much to an Oscar winning performance. I think TDKR will be good, but The Dark Knight, as the middle piece is similar to The Empire Strikes Back, a balance of real life allegories while setting up nicely for a finale to wrap up the loose ends.
Sage: There’s been a minor controversy over at Rotten Tomatoes where reviewers who gave the film a “rotten” rating are being seriously dressed down by commenters who haven’t even seen the movie yet. It stands at 84% right now (though the raw number is sometimes not indicative of objective quality). I have to agree with you. Four years removed from the hype of The Dark Knight, I still think it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I’m sure we’ll get a great ending to the story, but just like Star Wars the middle segment will be remembered as the best.