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 for various monthly titles and his participated podcasts at BOF and MMM. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
Welcome back to The Dark Knight Rises Countdown, where we’ve observed that news for the forthcoming Christopher Nolan Batman film has still only managed to trickle in. I can’t help but feel that this is the final calm before the storm, as the beginning of the summer movie season is right around the corner. With that will come a lot of new pieces of info, but for now, we’ll just have to bide our time and talk about something that keeps me writing this piece, and hopefully, keeps you coming back.
Batman, of course.
Before we get to the news roundup, why don’t we take a look back at how we’ve arrived at the Nolan Batman series? In a very weird way, the bane of every Batman fan’s existence may hold a sizable chunk of the blame for how we arrived at Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City in 2005, but it wasn’t a straight road between what we had and what now exists. It had a few turns and twists and makes for an interesting story. It is a long one though, so I’ll give you part of it now and conclude it in the next DKR Countdown.
Rising from the Tragedy of Ivy and Ice
One of the more fascinating things in Batman film history is the transition point between the failure that was Batman & Robin and the triumph that was Batman Begins. The esteemed Batman-On-Film founder Bill “Jett” Ramey has said in the past that in an odd way, Batman & Robin is the father of Batman Begins. And in many ways, that statement is an accurate one. I think it’s very fair to say that the failure of Batman & Robin was a direct result of its “family friendly” directive, handed down from Warner Bros., and when they saw the reaction to their executive order being so profoundly negative, they realized that it was time to take Batman back to his roots.
According to Joel Schumacher, in an interview on the special edition DVD release of Batman & Robin, he was asked to return to the franchise for a fifth film featuring the Scarecrow as the main villain. His reasoning for not returning was that he, “just couldn’t do it.” According to a Variety article printed five months before the release of Batman & Robin, Schumacher had signed on to direct a fifth film with screenwriter Mark Protosevich replacing B&R writer Akiva Goldsman. Later trades placed George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone returning as the trio of heroes last seen in Batman & Robin. The new film would also apparently be bringing back the Joker as played by Jack Nicholson in a drug-induced hallucination at the hands of the Scarecrow. All of these hopes seemed so high, and then the Summer of 1997 brought them all crashing down.
If you’ve seen Batman & Robin, I don’t have to tell you what makes it bad. I’ll admit, upon my first viewing, I liked it. But before you slash my digital throat through your monitor, cut me a little bit of slack. I was nine years old in June of 1997. Going to see it was a big outing with my dad and my brother, and a young boy who was a huge Batman fan was seeing his hero on the silver screen again. As I got older and immersed myself in the celebrated works of the source material, I began to understand just how truly bad Batman & Robin is. We can ask what the hell they were thinking until time stops, but instead, we should be happy. A change was on the horizon. (In the next installment, I’ll examine the next few notable attempts to bring Batman back to the silver screen)
Let’s look at some news now, shall we?
Cool New Publicity Shot, More Merchandising
Back on March 8th, BOF reported about a new publicity still of Christian Bale as Batman that made its big premiere on the redesigned website for DC Comics. The shot provides a great look at Batman as he will appear in the film, with that classic scowl that Mr. Bale performs so well. The shot seems to confirm that, except for some minor alterations that may be present, this is largely the same costume that Batman fought in during the events of The Dark Knight eight years prior to the new film’s time. Several theories can be inferred from this in regards to Batman’s activity during that eight-year gap. Does no new suit mean he wasn’t active at all during that time? Or, did Lucius Fox’s design from the previous film prove so advanced that it still couldn’t be outdone nearly a decade later? It’s fun to guess!
BOF’s sister site, Modern Myth Media, also carried a report about the new “Movie Masters” line of screen-accurate film action figures for Rises. MMM has posted some great pictures of the John Blake and Alfred figures, so if you’re a collector of that type of memorabilia, check it out!
Rough Cut Screened for WB Executives
On St. Patrick’s Day (hope you all had a great one), BOF reported that, per a report from Heat Vision, director Christopher Nolan has screened a rough cut of the film for the top brass at Warner Bros. Pictures. The Heat Vision report specifically cites the head of the studio Jeff Robinov and production president Greg Silverman as being among the attendees. Jett shares his insight into this report by sharing a bit about his thoughts on the cut and where the film is at based on his invite to the Prologue screening in Los Angeles late last year.
“When I attended the premiere of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES PROLOGUE back in December, Chris Nolan told us that he hadn't yet began the editing process. So I'm assuming that he's spent the last two and a half months doing just that. Also, producer Emma Thomas told me back in June of 2008 that they had just finished the editing of THE DARK KNIGHT only a week before it screened for the press. So I'm quite sure that this Friday's screening of RISES was a very rough cut and the editing process will continue until mid to late June.”
Take it from Jett! Things are winding down, and this journey is nearly over. I’ll be happy when I see the film as I’m sure you will be, but in truth, won’t we be a little sad too?
Rises Going to San Diego?
Apparently, some rumors have been circulating that Christopher Nolan and members of the film’s cast and crew will be attending this year’s San Diego Comic Con for a presentation in the Convention Center’s mighty Hall H. As of now, these are nothing but rumors and should be treated as such. Part of the reason I personally doubt these reports is simply because of the past track record with the previous two films. Batman Begins had no presence at SDCC in 2004. The Dark Knight had a component of its viral marketing campaign play out in San Diego in 2007, but it wasn’t as part of SDCC. In 2008, the first year I attended the Mecca of comic conventions, everyone was still reeling over the recently released TDK and there wasn’t much of a need to promote it after the fact.
Because of these past events, I would seriously doubt that Rises will have a significant presence in San Diego this year. Jett addressed this question in a recent BOF mailbag, and since he’d know better than I would, this is a look at his take on it.
“He’s never been to THE Comic Con before, so perhaps he’ll make an appearance this time since RISES is his last Batman film. Also, I suspect that MAN OF STEEL will indeed have a big presence there this Summer. And guess who helped write the story with David Goyer -- Chris Nolan. Oh yeah, he’s producing it along with his wife, Emma Thomas.
Bottom line…I think there’s a reasonable chance for some sort of RISES panel/Team Nolan appearance in San Diego this July. However, I certainly wouldn’t expect it. I do not believe the film will screen at Comic Con, but you never know.”
This Week in Bat-Comics: Batman #7 and Justice League #7
This week sees two very high-profile Batman comics releases, headlined by the next issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman title. This issue continues the page-turning “Court of Owls” story, which will sprawl over into all the Batman titles very, very soon. In recent issues, Snyder has done a hell of a job by giving us a new perspective on Batman’s legendary will, seemingly showing us exactly what it takes to break our hero, and then when we’re convinced he’s down for the count, we’re awed by the unending drive and sheer force of nature that is the Dark Knight. I’ve read a lot of Batman stories my friends, and I have to admit that the one unfolding in the pages of Batman is a damned powerful one.
BOF will have a review for this issue later this week from the great John Bierly at the Batman review page, and if I can’t convince you, please give John’s review a read. If you’re not swayed by his eloquence or enthusiasm, you either have no soul, don’t like Batman, or can’t stand good writing.
The next comic spotlighted here is the blockbuster Justice League, written by Geoff Johns with art this month by Gene Ha. Jim Lee will return to the book with issue #9. This is the first “present day” Justice League story of the New 52, where the team knows each other and what they can do. This issue also sees the premiere of a back-up feature written by Johns with artwork by a personal favorite of mine, Gary Frank. This feature will focus on Billy Batson and the legend of Shazam in the new DC Universe.
BOF will be posting a review to the Justice League review page to be written by yours truly. I’ve generally been pleased with the series over the first six issues, even if I found the end of the first arc rather underwhelming. But, I’m anxious to see what the present day League is up to and what the Shazam story looks like, so please give the review a read when it hits the site.
That does it for this edition of The Dark Knight Rises Countdown, be back here in two weeks for all the latest news, and the conclusion of my look at the journey from the camp fiasco of Batman & Robin to the dream come true of Batman Begins. Also, make sure to check out many of the other great Countdown articles here on Movies.com, and be back here in two weeks when the next installment will be ready! As always, if there’s anything you feel needs to be mentioned in a future DKR Countdown, please feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to consider any requests. Thanks for reading!
The Legend Ends in 119 Days when The Dark Knight Rises.