Chris Clow is a comic book expert, retailer and contributor to Batman-On-Film.com and Modern-Myth-Media.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.
Welcome back to the Dark Knight Rises Countdown! With news regarding Nolan’s last Batman film being relatively little (but steady) lately, it seemed like we’d have smoother sailing at least until the first trailer hit. This was definitely not so! We have a lot to get to, so let’s dive right in.
The Empire Covers Bats
The first hint came from over at Empire Online, the website for the British movie magazine, when they revealed that they would be showing two new covers for their upcoming issue: one featuring Christian Bale as Batman from the new film, and the other featuring Tom Hardy as Bane. Not long afterward, both covers made it online showcasing great full looks at both Batman and his upcoming enemy.
The most obviously anticipated first look is at Tom Hardy’s Bane. On the cover, you can see that he looks like he’s wearing a flak jacket of some kind, and definitely carries a far more militaristic tone than his counterpart does in the comics. Hardy’s expression is hard to read here, but comes off as rather detached. The mask looks very much like a muzzle, which is appropriate because given what Batman fans know about Bane, he can very much be an animal in combat with the Dark Knight.
As for Batman, it doesn’t appear that his costume has changed at all between the second and third films. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess at exactly what device he’s carrying in this cover image, but the surprising thing about this image to me is on Batman’s skin: maybe I’m reading into it too much, but it seems like his skin has a slight jaundice to it. It may be the contrast of the picture or the light playing off of Bale’s face, but something might seem to be wrong with Batman. I arrived at this theory in an episode of the Modern Myth Media podcast
before some other details leaked out, which I’ll soon get to.
Nolan Opens Up: Plot, Character, Time, and Prologue Details
The day after the cover images were fully released, Jett posted a portion of the magazine’s interview released via EmpireOnline
with director Christopher Nolan on the subject of the main character and the film at large. One of the things Nolan reveals to the magazine drops a relative bombshell about where the forthcoming narrative takes place relative to the last film, and has definitely changed my perception of exactly what this movie will be going forward.
On the subject of Bruce Wayne himself, Nolan said, “It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story. We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after The Dark Knight. So he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state.”
Not in a great state? Jaundice look on the photo (maybe)? Is something physically wrong with Bruce Wayne? But beyond that: EIGHT YEARS LATER?! I don’t know about you, but the fact that Bruce Wayne has some sort of ailment coupled with the fact that he’s much older than he was in the previous film changes my perception of this film from being the end of the first chapter of Batman’s career, to a perception that by the end of this film, Batman may “R.I.P.” Bruce Wayne might be another story, but the words “epic” and “conclusion” that we saw in the teaser trailer have far more weight now than they did previously.
Nolan also opened up a bit more to EmpireOnline about what the Prologue for the film will bring when it arrives on the back of IMAX screenings of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in a couple of weeks: “[It's] basically the first six, seven minutes of the film, [and will serve as] an introduction to Bane, and a taste of the rest of the film.”
One note about the Prologue, if you plan on going to MI4
in an IMAX screen to see it: the Prologue will only be shown on IMAX screens that are in the original 70mm film format, and NOT on digital screens. You can find out if any theater worldwide is a 70mm screen by checking out this link
, and looking for the “1570” code by the prospective venue. If your theater has the 1570 code next to it, you’re good to go this December 16th! Thanks to the film’s visual effects supervisor, Paul Franklin, for tweeting
Bale Leaves Behind an Old Friend
Because this film will be the final hurrah for Christian Bale portraying Batman, he has some very in-depth feelings on leaving the role that he shared with AceShowBiz.com
. While doing press for his upcoming film The Flowers of War
, Bale had the following to say on the subject of Gotham’s Guardian:
“How long will you let the pain and loss define your life? Walking around chasing bad guys is very heroic and attracts attention, but at the end it all accounts for, as a means to deal with the pain of a huge loss.”
“We agreed that Bruce Wayne is absolutely sincere as Bruce Wayne, and as Batman utterly sincere," the Oscar-winning actor added. "But Bruce Wayne, the playboy, is a pure facade, it's a lie he has, somehow, to control one side of your soul that's not really under control. In fact, only Alfred knows who he is. It's time for Bruce Wayne to face the pain that has always stirred his life.”
On working once again with Christopher Nolan and his team, Bale said, “Shooting in seven different locations chosen by Nolan was a pleasure. It's really a privilege to work well, especially with the extraordinary troupe of actors, who always manage to meet Chris' expectations.”
Bale also spoke with Inquirer.net
about several thoughts of his heading into Rises
, including this rather poignant one about wearing the mask for the last time: “I wrapped a few days ago so that will be the last time I’m taking that cowl off. Everything’s finished. It’s me and Chris-- that will be the end of that Batman era.” He also had very kind words about several of his fellow cast members from the film, so check out the full piece.
As a dedicated Batman fan, I’m very comfortable with saying that Christian Bale, for all intents and purposes, has been the definitive cinematic hybrid of both Batman and the multi-faceted Bruce Wayne, and it will be very sad to see him leave the role behind. But in truth, I feel very fortunate that an actor of Bale’s caliber has stuck with the role for three consecutive films, making him the first of the seven men that have portrayed the character in a live-action theatrical motion picture to do so. If I could, I would thank Bale greatly for the dedication and ability he used to bring my favorite character of all time to life for some of the greatest stories ever told in his world.
Gary Oldman Speaks…Sort Of
caught up with actor Gary Oldman, who plays Commissioner James Gordon in Nolan’s Batman films, and was asked about the way that The Dark Knight Rises
will conclude Nolan’s story. There’s also an interesting bit from Oldman about how Bane can possibly live up to the standard of Heath Ledger’s Joker from the last film. Give it a look!
Breaking the Bat: On the Subject of Bane
(via Empire), both Tom Hardy and Christopher Nolan divulge details about Bane, both as a character and as a choice for the next cinematic Batman villain.
Hardy details what sets Bane apart, not just from other threats Batman has faced in the past, but also the gory details of how he approaches combat: “He’s brutal, brutal. He’s expedient delivery of brutality. And you know, he’s a big dude. He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and orientated fighting style. The result is clear.
“Do you know what I mean? It’s: f**k off and die. Quicker. Quicker. Everything is thought out way before. He’s hit you, he’s already hit somebody else. It’s not about fighting. It’s just about carnage with Bane. He’s a smashing machine. He’s a wrecking ball. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty. Anything from small joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. It’s anything he can get away with. He is a terrorist in his mentality as well as brutal action. So he’s horrible. A really horrible piece of work.”
Hardy also relates an amusing anecdote about sharing time on-screen with Christian Bale as Batman: “He looks really intimidating! There’s a three-year-old in me that’s going, ‘Oh my God that’s Batman! That’s Batman and he’s going to hit me! But I love Batman!’ Then I look in the mirror. And I hit him back. Twice as hard.”
Nolan’s words center more on why Bane was a logical choice for Batman to go up against in the conclusion of his story: “With Bane, we are looking to give Batman a physical challenge that he hasn’t had before. With our choice of villain and with our choice of story we’re testing Batman both physically as well as mentally. Also, in terms of finishing our story and increasing its scope, we were trying to craft an epic, so the physicality of the film became very important. Bane’s a very different kind of villain than Batman has faced before in our films. He’s a great sort of movie monster, but with an incredible brain, and that was a side of him that hadn’t been tapped before. Because the stories from the comics are very epic and very evocative — very much in the way that Bruce Wayne’s origin story is epic and evocative. We were looking to really parallel that with our choice of villain. So he is a worthy adversary. What Bane represents in the comics is the ultimate physical villain.”
It looks like we’re in for quite a grisly ride courtesy of Nolan, Hardy, and the Bane character this coming July. If you’re at all curious about Bane’s history in the comics and other Batman media, check out an op-ed I did for Batman-On Film
back in February, entitled “So, Who is Bane?"
I hope that roundup satiates some of your desires for a lot of new film news! With that, let’s check out some other areas of Batman’s world, beginning with his first home: comics!
This Week in Bat-Comics – Batman: The Black Mirror Hardcover Collection
I’m not detailing this week in Bat-Comics, because in truth, there aren’t any of note! This is one of those months that contain five Wednesdays, and because DC has been sticking to a rigid four-week schedule since the New 52 relaunch, this odd fifth week is reserved for lower-tier titles and contains no ongoing monthlies. If you’re really jonesing for a good Batman story, though, pick up the hardcover collection of current Batman writer Scott Snyder’s run on Detective Comics: The Black Mirror. This is an excellent mystery featuring Dick Grayson’s last leg as the Dark Knight, along with a chilling psychological profile of the black sheep of the Gordon family. The artwork by Jock and Francesco Francavilla is also equally stunning. I’d encourage anyone needing a good Batman story to give it a look!
Next Week in Bat-Comics: Detective Comics #4 and Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #3
Next week, however, does
bring a couple of high-profile Batman-related releases. First up is Tony Daniel’s fourth issue of the new Detective Comics
, featuring the continuation of the story with the new villain Ragdoll. Daniel’s story has proven ambitious and rather engaging thus far, and while the story took a bit of a dip in the second issue, the third managed to pick things up in an interesting manner. We’ll see how the fourth issue manages to hold up next Wednesday! BOF
will have a review of this issue written by the founder himself, Jett, sometime late next week. Give it a look then at the Detective Comics review page
One mini-series of particular note that hasn’t been getting much coverage is Penguin: Pain and Prejudice
. Partially inspired by an issue of the Joker’s Asylum
mini-series that focused on the Penguin written by current Wolverine
scribe Jason Aaron, this series takes things a step further by driving headfirst into the childhood, loss of innocence, and ultimate sadism that drive the Penguin. While BOF
doesn’t actively review that title, I’d encourage you to check out the review that’s sure to come from BOF
’s friends at Modern Myth Media
You may think that news surrounding Arkham City is over and done with. Afraid not!
The Boy Wonder Arrives in Arkham City, New DLC Coming
For those of you that picked Arkham City
up at Best Buy, this won’t be news to you. For everyone else, this should prove an awesome addition to your Arkham City
gaming experience: now available on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, the Robin pack can now be downloaded. The pack comes with new challenge maps and the fully playable Robin character. If anyone was half as impressed with the game’s design of the Boy Wonder as either myself or Movies.com’s esteemed Erik Davis
, then getting behind the controller to play as Batman’s partner will be pure joy. Robin comes fully equipped with new gadgets and his bo staff, flailing about with devastating results for all that get in its way.
Word also came about that more downloadable content is on its way. The first bit will be released on December 6th, in the form of a “Skins” pack featuring all of Batman’s alternate costumes only previously available in preorders. These include costumes in the stylings of graphic novels like Year One
, The Dark Knight Returns
, and the upcoming Batman: Earth One
, to his 1970’s era costume, along with his looks in both Batman: The Animated Series
and Batman Beyond
! Another pack is on its way that brings gamers a couple more challenge maps to test their skills as Batman (or Catwoman, Nightwing, or Robin), including both combat and Predator maps set in the eponymous Batcave.
That about does it for this edition of The Dark Knight Rises
Countdown! Thanks so much for reading, and be sure to check out the other great Countdown features here on Movies.com
. Be sure to check out the next DKR
Countdown in two weeks, and if there’s anything you’d like to see from this article feel free to let me know in the comments section below!
231 Days Until The Dark Knight Rises, the Epic Conclusion to the Dark Knight Legend