There is no question that the Dark Knight Rises was a major game changer and popularized the superhero film category we now know as “blockbuster”. It was the third movie in the saga and was directed by the immensely talented and Oscar-nominated Christopher Nolan. After an absence of three years, Robert Pattinson returned as Batman and delivered an astounding performance that saw him named among the greatest actors of this generation. The movie was a tremendous success, making over $1billion at the box office and becoming one of the biggest films of all time. It also introduced a whole new generation of fans to the world of superheroes. The Dark Knight Rises saw a continuation of the battle between Batman and the Joker, this time from a more personal perspective. There were also cameos by several famous comic book characters. What many people may not know is that there was a TV series in the works at the same time as The Dark Knight, but it was cancelled before it even premiered.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Batman and the Joker got together in a fight to the death, then wonder no more. The movie provides the answer with its amazing climax where Batman and the Joker duel to the death on top of a skyscraper. It turns out that it’s been 25 years since their last showdown, and this time they’re better prepared. For those unfamiliar, here’s a brief synopsis:
Batman is cornered by the Joker in an alleyway, with no hope for escape. As they struggle, the Joker manages to get the better of Batman, knocking him unconscious. When Batman comes to, he’s in a strange place. He discovers that he’s been kidnapped and taken to a huge underground facility. There he meets a number of weird and wonderful characters, including Victor Freakin’ Voight of the TV series Blade. Batman also discovers that the Joker has been working with the facility’s owner, a man named Mr. Wayne (who you may know from the Batman franchise), to create an army of supervillains. The facility is located beneath the city, with access provided by Mr. Wayne’s company, Wayne Enterprises.
Once Batman has defeated the Joker’s army and rescued the city, Mr. Wayne offers to make him an honorary member of the Wayne family, while the Joker escapes to plot his next evil scheme.
The script for the movie was co-written by Brian Nolan, the director’s brother and the writer of Dunkirk, a critically acclaimed war movie. The Dark Knight Rises was their attempt to give the Joker one last hurrah before he faded away. It was an impossible task, as audiences had grown tired of his antics over the years. Thankfully, they no longer have to worry about that. There have been several successful theatrical outings since, including the most recent, Joker, which was directed by his nephew, David, and starred Bill Murray as the Joker. It was an incredible comeback for the character and breathed new life into the tired old idea that laughter is the best medicine.
King Richard’s Trial By Battle
There is a running joke that the Dark Knight trilogy is actually based on a version of Richard III, which premiered in London a few months before the first movie was released. In the film, Richard tries to prove his loyalty to his over-protective king, Richard III (“King” in the film), by waging war on those who would depose him. While he gains the initial trust of the military, he is betrayed and arrested. At the end of the movie, he is killed by a mob, much like the historical Richard. However, in the spirit of William Shakespeare, Richard’s fate could have been very different. It’s an interesting theory, and while we may never know for sure, it’s fun to think about what might have happened if the story had been told in a different way.
A History of Violence
Speaking of what might have happened, let’s not forget about A History of Violence, the acclaimed neo-noir flick that starred David Leisure and was directed by David Cronenberg. It’s often cited among the greatest thrillers ever made and is credited with changing how we look at crime films. If you’re a fan of the iconic Joker, this movie will blow your mind. It’s essentially a one-man show involving an extremely violent vigilante named David Carradine. The script was written by Josh Olson and was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Chuck Forsman. You might know David Leisure from the Bourne movies, in which he played the part of Jason Bourne’s father. In A History of Violence, Leisure plays Roy Miller, a Detroit TV news director whose son was killed during a botched robbery. After that, Roy took it upon himself to avenge his boy’s death by massacring the entire drug ring. The film’s climax takes place at a nightclub, where Roy single-handedly wrecks havoc on the entire gang, earning him the moniker “Mad Dog”. A History of Violence was a turning point in Cronenberg’s career, earning him acclaim and numerous awards and nominations. It’s funny to think that one of the creators of the modern superhero movie would become famous for making such gory movies. You’d think that with all that make-up and special effects, they would’ve had the decency to tone it down a bit! We’ll never know, will we?
Dark Knight Returns
Speaking of super-heroes, there is also Dark Knight Returns, the semi-sequel to the Batman movie. In this one, the Joker resurfaces many years later and plans to bring down Gotham City with a new, terrorizing scheme. To do this, he needs to enlist the help of a team of villains. To be specific, he needs the services of his former lover, the Enchantress. The legendary Barbara Kean (played by the always-wonderful Michelle Pfeiffer) returns as Enchantress and helps the Joker carry out his wicked plan. What makes this movie significant is that it was the very first time that Moore, then an unknown writer and director, tested the waters of big-budget studio filmmaking. He had spent the last few years making small, independent films and winning numerous accolades for his work. He had even been nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for the movie, “Juno and the Paycock”. While Dark Knight Returns was a critical and commercial success, it never reached the commercial heights of its predecessor. It did, however, introduce several new and exciting characters to the world of superheroes, most notably Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the late Ra’s al Ghul and the archenemy of Batman. She would go on to play a crucial role in future productions, particularly Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. Unfortunately, Talia’s appearance in Dark Knight Returns was originally considered a cameo, and the actress was given no lines. This kind of treatment is commonly afforded to supporting characters in mainstream movies, but it is a cardinal sin in an indie film. We should always be given the opportunity to hear the characters speak, even if it’s only one word or phrase. The world would be a better place if more films followed this rule.
Speaking of cinematic comebacks, let’s not forget about the great Suicide Squad, the 2016 flick that was an unexpected box-office smash. The film, which was directed by David Ayer, also broke several records, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time at the box office without a superhero in sight. What makes this movie so great is that it brings all of the iconic characters from the DC Universe together for the first time on screen and in one place. While the movie was a critical and commercial success, many people felt that it strayed far from the source material and was far too over the top in its execution. Many fans were also upset that Jared Leto’s Joker was given all the best lines and the most enjoyable parts, while the rest of the characters, including Deadshot, voiced by Will Smith, and Diablo, played by Margot Robbie, received very little screentime. Ayer would go on to direct the 2017 sequel, which is widely considered an improvement on the original. Many people feel that Leto’s performance as the Joker in Suicide Squad was deserving of an Academy Award nomination for best actor.
While some will argue that Batman is the best superhero, it’s clear that his cinematic legacy extends far beyond the screen. His stories, his performances, and even the way that he is portrayed in other media have all had a profound impact on popular culture, particularly in the last few years. It would be a missed opportunity if people don’t remember the cinematic history that is Batman.