Chris Clow is a comic book expert, retailer and contributor to Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. When not geeking out, he is a Political Science major at Western Washington University. You can find his Dark Knight Rises Countdown column here at Movies.com every other Thursday, and his comic book reviews at BOF and MMM for various monthly titles. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
It seems like my mantra for the last few of these articles has been about the lack of a lot of new info surrounding The Dark Knight Rises. While that’s true, the world of Batman as a whole is buzzing over several different things across multiple mediums that any self-respecting Batman fan should be aware of, so I’ll do what I can to fill you in!
While the Dark Knight does have another major feature film on its way to us next summer, Batman is also in the spotlight again in comics, animation, and video games making it a pretty exciting time to be a Bat-fan. But, I know you’re all here first and foremost for Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming “Epic Conclusion to the Dark Knight Legend,” so what could be better to lead off with?
The Continuing Story after the Epic Conclusion
It shouldn’t be any secret that from a business perspective, the last thing that Warner Bros. wants is for Batman to fade into obscurity or out of the public consciousness. Piggybacking off of that fact, it also shouldn’t be a secret to people that the studio will still want to make Batman movies after Christopher Nolan turns off the Bat-Signal on his own film series featuring the character. Even though Dark Knight Rises has yet to be released, much less finish shooting, apparently Warner Bros. is already thinking about the future and a Gotham City without Christopher Nolan behind the lens.
In an interview with the LA Times’ Hero Complex back in March of this year, Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov stated that after the Nolan series is finished, the studio will “reinvent” the Batman film franchise. Robinov specifically said, “We have the third Batman, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman…Chris Nolan and [producing partner and wife] Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is.”
In a report from Batman-On-Film filed by Jett dated October 10th, Warner Bros. has apparently begun to actively search for what the next cinematic iteration of Batman will be. An “insider source” that is a friend of BOF talked in a few specifics, saying, “The [Batman film] franchise will be in much better shape when [Christopher] Nolan’s done next year than it was back in ’97…[THE DARK KNIGHT] RISES will certainly leave the audience wanting more Batman on film…that wasn’t the case after BATMAN AND ROBIN.” The source goes on to make some serious statements about the development of the next film, saying, “From what I’ve heard, they are already considering directors. I don’t know how much control Nolan and Emma will have over that decision, but it could be very similar to how [Zack] Synder got the Superman gig.”
Time will eventually tell what the next cinematic iteration of Batman will look like, but the fact that the Nolans are onboard as a producing team should at least inspire some confidence in the fan community at large. Regardless, that’s the future, and right now we’ve got a movie coming soon that should give Mr. Nolan and his version of the Dark Knight a hell of a send-off.
A New Actor Joins Rises
Per Variety, actor Rob Brown has joined the cast of The Dark Knight Rises in an unspecified role. Brown’s notable credits include Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery, and Coach Carter starring Samuel L. Jackson. He’s also a regular on the HBO series Treme as Delmond Lambreaux, a talented trumpet player and the son of one of the main characters. Any guess on who he’s playing in Rises? You got me!
It seems that the Occupy Wall Street movement is all over the news, and apparently, it may serve a purpose in the Batman's holy war on crime. From a report originating at the LA Times, reporter Steven Zeitchik has stated that Christopher Nolan may have decided to use the protests as a backdrop for events of the film in Gotham City. Zeitchik writes in a report dated October 17th, “…according to a person briefed on actors’ schedules who requested anonymity because production details were being kept confidential, cast members have been told the shoot could include scenes shot at the Occupy Wall Street protests.”
He also goes on to make a point that I heartily agree with, saying, “…using a real-life location like the Occupy Wall Street protests — particularly in the city nicknamed Gotham — would add an element of gritty authenticity to 'Rises." It also would fit with the franchise's preoccupation with themes of urban order and civil unrest, which "Dark Knight" explored at length.” This would definitely be an interesting move for the production, and would also lend itself to Nolan’s penchant for placing these films in as real a world as possible. It’ll be appealing to see how this plays out when the film moves to the final phase of production in the Big Apple later this month.
The Misdirection Abilities of Cillian Murphy
Known to pop up in a Christopher Nolan Batman film now and again, Cillian Murphy was recently promoting his latest film In Time on BBC Radio 5 when the discussion moved to whether or not Dr. Jonathan Crane would be appearing in The Dark Knight Rises. Take a look below!
A lot of deft misdirection from Mr. Murphy that may only serve to add to the rumors of whether or not we’ll see the Scarecrow one last time. He used similar language before the release of The Dark Knight back in 2008, so we’ll have to see if there’s one last encounter with the fear-obsessed villain next summer!
Dark Knight Rises Prologue in December?
Back in late 2007, IMAX viewers of the Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend were treated to something extraordinary: the first six minutes, or prologue, to The Dark Knight. That’s when the real buzz surrounding Heath Ledger’s incomparable performance as the Joker really began to take shape, and when the hype machine for the film kicked into overdrive. It seems that history is about to repeat itself later this year, as it looks like we’ll be treated to a prologue for next summer’s Batman film this coming December.
SlashFilm is reporting that late this year, a six-minute prologue to Rises will be attached to the IMAX release of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the biggest IMAX release of the forthcoming holiday season. Their report also contains some interesting news about a date. “If this happens, audiences would get their first chance at seeing The Dark Knight Rises footage in IMAX on December 16. That’s because Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is opening exclusively in IMAX five days before its general release, which is on December 21. The exclusive opening is one reason to see the film in IMAX. The full scenes shot in IMAX format are another. And 8 minutes from the most anticipated film of this decade are a serious bonus.”
Is the temptation of seeing the opening minutes to Rises enough incentive for you to go to see the next Mission: Impossble film? It is for me, and it lands a day before my birthday! Thanks, Mr. Nolan!
That about does it for all the major news surrounding The Dark Knight Rises, but there are a couple of other noteworthy areas of Gotham City left to explore. Let’s start with comics. The “New 52” initiative at DC Comics is still alive and kicking, and this week saw two very important releases in the world of Batman as well as the DC Universe at large.
This Week in Bat-Comics: Batman #2 and Justice League #2
First up is, of course, the second issue of the new ongoing Batman series written by Scott Snyder (American Vampire, Detective Comics) and penciled by Greg Capullo (Spawn, Haunt). This book continues to showcase the greatness of Snyder’s ability to write Bruce Wayne as well as Capullo’s extensive ability to render some great action for Batman to jump into. BOF has a review on the site for the new issue written by my fellow contributor (and Modern Myth Media podcast “Gentleman”) John Bierly, who rightfully points out, “This book's creators are giving us their best by giving our hero his. Don't miss it.” Couldn’t agree more!
Also on the docket for important releases is the second issue of DC’s new flagship title, Justice League, with the superstar creative team of writer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, The Flash) and penciller Jim Lee (Batman, X-Men). This issue contains a defining moment in the new DC Universe because in it is the first meeting between the “World’s Finest” heroes, Superman and Batman, and things don't begin very smoothly. Johns and Lee also bring in more Green Lantern and throw the Flash into the mix, and with that we’re beginning to see how the team containing the World’s Greatest Heroes begins to coalesce.
BOF also has a review on the site for this issue that is written by me. I won’t be extraordinarily pretentious and quote myself, so suffice it to say that I liked this issue a lot, I liked it better than the first one, and I think that anyone interested in the “DCnU” should definitely give it a read!
Other notable Batman titles that dropped this week include Neal Adams’ bizarre Batman Odyssey, Judd Winick’s controversial Catwoman, and Kyle Higgins’ delightful Nightwing. Check BOF at the early part of next week to check out reviews for all the major Bat-titles that were released this week!
In the meantime, we move onto animation.
Batman: Year One Animated Film Released
This last Tuesday, October 18th, saw the release of the highly anticipated DC Universe Animated Original Movie, Batman: Year One. The story begins with the return of a young Bruce Wayne (voiced by Benjamin McKenzie) to Gotham City after a long absence, and the genesis of his nocturnal persona. It also deals heavily with the arrival of Jim Gordon (voiced by Bryan Cranston) to Gotham City and its Police Department, and the kind of corrupt hell he’s discovering it is. At Gordon's lowest and most hopeless, Batman appears on the scene and the two men that begin their relationship with slight antagonism don't realize that they will go on to forge a powerful alliance.
The film is an adaptation of the comic book story of the same name by renowned comics writer Frank Miller and penciller David Mazzucchelli. Since the comic story itself is so short, the film is a pretty straightforward adaptation of the beloved comic, which some writers have placed at the top of the list recounting their favorite Batman stories of all time. For a couple of perspectives on the film, I invite you to check out Jett’s review over at BOF as well as Sean Gerber’s review over at Modern Myth Media. Both men are great fans of the story, but share some differing opinions about what the film accomplished (or didn’t).
Which brings us, of course, to the big news for anyone who loves two geeky things: Batman, and video games.
Batman: Arkham City Video Game Released
One of the most anticipated video games of the year has finally hit stores nationwide, and will soon go global. Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s near-universally praised outing Arkham Asylum, and if the reviews are any indication, the new game has surpassed its predecessor and then some. The game was developed by the UK outfit Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in conjunction with DC Entertainment, and features a story written by comics star and veteran Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini. Further adding to the authenticity of the experience is the voice cast, headed by the definitive Batman voice for the last twenty years, Kevin Conroy. The game is also a last hurrah for Mark Hamill, who portrays the Joker for the last time in this game. I remember being horrfied by Mr. Hamill's sardonic, witty, and chilling voice of the Joker since I was a kindergartner, so I'm very sorry to see him leave the Clown Prince of Crime. Thank you for your definitive work, Mr. Hamill!
Even having only played the game for a couple of days, I’m blown away by how immersive, extensive, genuine, and bad ass it is. While the last game really made you feel like Batman, somehow Arkham City manages to take it a step further, with more devastating attacks and a much larger, open-world section of Gotham City to explore and dish out Batman's unique brand of urban justice. This is definitely an awesome gaming experience, and I’d encourage any Batman fan that’s able to pick it up and give it a play. Believe the hype. It’s easy to doubt the truth of an experience that has a lot of hype surrounding it, but Arkham City delivers. Go try it.
That’s going to do it for this edition of The Dark Knight Rises Countdown! Make sure to check back in a couple weeks’ time for the next installment, and as always, feel free to leave comments about what you’d like to see from this column and I’ll see what I can do! Thanks for reading!
273 Days Until The Dark Knight Rises, the Epic Conclusion to the Dark Knight Legend