You have probably noticed that there’s been a large amount of hate floating around Toronto Film Scene about The Dark Knight Rises of late. The Dark Knight Rises does not need to be defended. Most people seem pretty okay with it save for the writers of The Daily Mail, CNN, American Psycho, and this website which you should tell all your friends about. Obviously stated, the trilogy is highly influential on the 9000 adaptations that came out this year. Considering The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hunger Games or the new Star Trek movies, Nolan-ing it up is a great way to get funding, in addition to the hoards of fangenders hating the living crap out of you (sometimes sounding very nice about it). There’s often an aside thrown into press conference reports about how the next film in a franchise will be very “Dark Knight“ to its predecessor’s “Batman Begins” (much like any new rock album is compared to Automatic for the People or OK Computer, because nothing good has come out since the 90′s nor ever wilco) and it’s pissing folks off. Most importantly it’s pissing off my previously linked colleagues Ben and Trista, who I’m now worried about.
Passing references are made to death threats and boiling internal rage within this article by TFS’ Bennett O’Brian and it raises concern regarding the mental health of any engendered fan. Ben says that one would have to be a member of another escapist tribe to understand this point of view. He’s right, it’s not easy to understand. For example, when the videogame Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was in early development, series creator and writer/director Hideo Kojima revealed his intention to step down from the director’s chair, allowing the co-writer of the series’ previous installment (subtitled Snake Eater, obviously) only to quickly change his mind after a series of death threats convinced him only he could end the crazy story he’s been pulling out of a confused volcano’s ass for the past quarter century.
This kind of reaction even makes posting a negative review of the film an act of rebellion on its own. As if reviewers are risking their lives standing up to something larger than any review ever written. They’re forced into hiding in the alleys of the internet, leaving criticisms on the walls of friend’s Facebook pages. These reviewers are much like a French Resistance for Chris Nolan’s Batman.
I’d respond to Ben’s argument regarding the Hong Kong scene of The Dark Knight as unnecessary pizzazz (while regarding Burton’s scissor-fingered-skeleton-ape-soldiers-dancing-in-beetlejuice-trees films as superior) with the following: Please define what could possibly have been better? Schumacher’s Bat-card?
No Batman movie has ever presented a definitive Batman. Ever. Films from the 40s had Batman fighting ne’er-do-wells committing the heinous crime of being Japanese. But, unlike the previous directors’ attempts in which the most we got was a crappy monologue, Nolan’s films actually have a character progression. They are Batman movies in which Batman’s not the least interesting character. Even with Heath Ledger reigning in most of the attention in the second film, we still get a sense of Bruce Wayne motivation beyond Burton’s spirally-black-and-white-striped-daddy-issues.
Ben has a great analogy “Can you really expect a Toronto Maple Leafs fan to ever stop watching hockey?” – or any Toronto team from playing a sport. In spite of a incredibly dry personality, I have no judgements against feeling protective of art; I’m not above it. I get defensive when I hear negative comments on The King of Limbs. I’ll restate that no one needs to defend The Dark Knight Rises. The McGuffin in this film just was actually a lame follow up to a villain who burns a mountain of money because he wants to (wouldn’t anything be lame compared to that?). Bane’s voice was awesomely motivational during some grim lines. And, thankfully, no one uttered the phrase “I’ve got to get me one of these!” And its greatest achievement was that was not Spider-Man 3. Fuck that guy.