– A tribute to the Batman Trilogy by Christopher Nolan
In the beginning, there were schemers. Schemers who wanted Batman to fit into their little world. A world of a righteous, idealistic Batman, who would pound villains into the ground and get to keep all the good-looking women.
No one panicked, because it was all ‘part of the plan’.
It worked for a while, but then came along a campy, insipid, uninspiring (in other words, plain boring) era. Corny villains, ludicrous sidekicks and annoying accessories – the ‘plan’ had started to go horribly wrong.
Out of plain and simple fear, they stopped making Batman movies. It was too great a risk, they said. It would need a complete overhaul, they said. No one can wipe out those years of mediocrity, they said. Batman was finished – in the movies, and in soul.
The First Act: Fear
But you weren’t listening to them, were you, Christopher Nolan?
You took their ‘Batman plan’ and turned it on its head. Look what you did to us fans by just taking Batman, and making him Bruce Wayne.
Yes, Bruce Wayne. That’s what it was all about, right?
With Batman Begins, you got the ethos of the character spot on. Batman’s story wasn’t really about Batman, it was about Bruce Wayne. Most other directors decided to play safe by introducing Batman first-up and sweeping his backstory under the carpet.
You didn’t show us Batman up until the interval, did you? That’s because you wanted us to understand Bruce Wayne first. HE was the main character, not Batman. You wanted us to feel the pain Bruce Wayne felt. You wanted us to like him first, then Batman.
You wanted us to understand that without Bruce Wayne, there would be no Batman.
Moving onto those ‘corny’ villains – you sucked all the ‘corny’ out of them. You made them real. You made us fear them. Ra’s Al Ghul and the Scarecrow were terrifying. Simply because they were very powerful human beings with a devious agenda. Nothing over-the-top, nothing supernatural. Just evil human beings.
The woman? You didn’t make her a damsel in distress. You gave us an independent, upright and very brave woman to match up Bruce Wayne.
And what a stellar support cast – a protective and fatherly Alfred, an honest and idealistic Commissioner Gordon and a sheer genius, Lucius Fox.
So finally we got the Batman we deserved, but there was still fear – would you be able to back it up with a second act?
The Second Act: Chaos
You made us wait 3 years for this one. Surely you didn’t think there wouldn’t be any chaos?
We had some of the wildest theories flying about in these 3 years, about what you were going to do with this movie.
Especially with Batman’s greatest foe, the Joker.
Out came all the graphic novels. Would you take part of the story from The Killing Joke? Or would you just follow Tim Burton’s lead and try and match the Jack Nicholson arc? How will you explain his bleached, white face and ruby red lips? Will he crack goofy jokes? Or will you make him more serious? Was he going to be the only villain?
Amidst all this chaos, you unleashed Heath Ledger.
Most fans (me included) expressed surprise, even rage, at this decision. Who the hell is this guy? He was gay in Brokeback Mountain. He had a bit part in Monster’s Ball. He starred in that goofy movie, 10 Things I Hate About You.
This… UNKNOWN was going to take over the mantle of Joker? From the great Jack Nicholson? Honestly, for that one moment, I thought you were out of your mind.
Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent didn’t seem such a bad thing, but you had focussed our energies squarely on the Joker. Even Katie Holmes had quit on Rachel Dawes, and we felt a little sore about Maggie Gyllenhaal. But the Joker…
Then, in 2008, quite inexplicably, Heath Ledger left us. The chaos grew. Critics started writing in, calling it the ‘greatest performance ever’. Nicholson fans were angry. Many said the movie rested squarely on Heath’s shoulders.
Chaos. We didn’t know what to think.
But then, when we saw it… we realised what fools we were.
Heath Ledger not only reserved a posthumous Supporting Actor Oscar for himself, he also, to an extent, erased the memories of Jack Nicholson’s Joker (no mean feat). Non-believers said that the movie ‘gained leverage’ only because he died, but that’s just being stupid.
Aaron Eckhart, though, really was your ace in the hole. A finely sketched out character, every bit as tragic and angry as his best friend, the Dark Knight.
You made us believe, and at the end of it all, what do you do? You made Batman the bad guy. You made him take responsibility for Dent’s crimes.
And now, you had left us on tenterhooks. What were you going to do next?
The Final Act: Destruction
My mind was destroyed by this time.
I couldn’t see other superhero movies in a different light. Everything had to be dark, everything had to be gritty and everything had to be serious. This is why the only superhero movie I truly enjoyed in the interim period was Iron Man – another great origin story.
But I digress. Back to topic.
You have no idea how much I floundered in these 4 years. I read up the great graphic novels (again), made notes and discussed with fellow Bat-fans what you could possibly do to blow us away one final time.
In the interim, you went away and gave us the brilliant ‘Inception’, where we were introduced to two fantastic actors (who would eventually be part of your ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ cast) – Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
We raved over Inception too – critics and audiences loved you. It was bloody brilliant.
But we were waiting for The Dark Knight Rises.
There were also rumours that you didn’t want to do a third Batman movie (I almost died hearing that), but fortunately, you said you’ll give it one last shot.
And then you revealed Bane.
Again, my mind was destroyed. I read and re-read graphic novels (again). I had played the games. Was Bane going to… do THAT? Would we relive that epic panel from Knightfall?
My mind was a mess. And then you tossed in Anne Hathaway as the Catwoman. Anne Hathaway? That girl from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’? As the sexy, seductive, demure Catwoman?
This was Jack Nicholson v/s Heath Ledger all over again.
However this time, I decided to put my faith in you. The teasers, trailers and posters started flowing all over the internet, and the wreckage in my mind got worse.
And today, I saw the movie. And got blown away. With one destructive sweep of your magic wand, you brushed aside The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor and any other superhero movie that even attempted to create a ripple in the past 4 years. The Avengers was good and succeeded, yes, but damn. YOU showed them how a superhero trilogy can be sustained. Damn, you redefined the word superhero.
With the destructive, pleasing and jaw-dropping ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, you have finally put me at peace. And a lot of other Bat fans, I may add.
All I can say is, from all the crazy Bat fans the world over, thank you for enriching our lives over the past 7 years. We can finally be proud of Batman. And you have totally obliterated Joel Schumacher from memory. But as they say, all good things come to an end.
But the end is only the beginning, isn’t it Mr. Nolan?