Friday, January 13, 2012

Nolan and 'The Batman Canon'...

The more the weeks pass and the seasons change (Utah’s still waiting on winter), one thing seems to be undeviating at the megaplex--the collective anticipation for Christopher Nolan's final Batman foray in The Dark Knight Rises. The movie has sold out at IMAX theatres in major markets for the midnight showing—and we still have 7 months left. Someone could conceivably conceive a child and give birth days before the film even flickers on the projector. That’s pretty amazing. Further, people actually applaud after the trailer is shown--an absolute rarity of which I have never seen (except when Tosh rips trailers on his show, but obviously that's different). Probably not since the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has there been such "foaming-mouth" eagerness for a film.

Will it live up to the hype is entirely different than can it live up to the hype? And let’s be honest, this hype is something far different than what we generally consider ‘hype,’ even at the movie theatre. Sure there was hype when Kim Kardashian got hitched. There was similar hype when the new iPhone debuted. Yet, none of that compares to nerdgasm of anticipation welling in the minds of comic geeks the world over.

Though Batman Begins was a great film, it wasn’t until The Dark Knight the bar was truly set. Some refer to TDK as the greatest comic book film of all-time. It’s honestly not even debatable. Ledger’s performance, the stunning cinematography, the post-911 sub-text, and the Best Picture snub (Interestingly, the Academy expanded the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 after effing Nolan over).

It’s easy to deduce that crafting a film that surpasses its predecessor (TDK) is the real Mission: Impossible come this July. Though it seems all hope is lost, there is hope—which is at least well hopeful. The wild card in all of this is Mr. Nolan who has molded an already epic Batman film duo with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and one can only assume that his finale is as good as the near perfect predecessors. I'm also sure that with yet another post about TDKR and Batman all my readers (yes all 4 of you if you count my sister's dog Daisy) are tired of the exhaustive Caped Crusader coverage. I'll admit it, I'm obsessed. But I'm not going to stop; doing so would be the blogging equivalent of asking Paula Dean to abstain from cooking with butter. Yeah, not happening anytime soon.

This blog entry though is about why I think Mr. Nolan is set for not only succeeding, but surpassing previous entries. Yes, I’m honestly going on record saying The Dark Knight Rises will be the BEST Batman film Nolan has made--and really this reasoning comes simply after viewing the trailer. Yet, the reason for such confidence in this statement is simple: The comic book source material.

I’m sure some of you (all 4 of you) are shaking your heads in collective confusion. Let me explain with what my High School art teacher Kristy Carter used to say, “Always, always, always show with image what can’t be said with words." Thanks Kristy, she also taught me to both love and loathe Enya.

As a comic book geek myself, I admit that most of what I say will not be understood—kinda like when I took Calculus in high school (Thank Bob for Mr. Marelli). Nonetheless, and in the words of Batman himself, “stay with me…”

In the comic book realm, Batman and his extensive lore can be boiled down in what are typified as being the “Batman Canon.” Made up of three graphic novels, the canon is influential in covering Batman in three distinct points of his life. The three graphic novels are Batman: Year One, Batman: The Long Halloween, and The Dark Knight Returns.

Batman: Year One, much like the film Batman Begins portrayed Bruce Wayne/Batman in his earliest stages, exploring the “why” and “how” Batman does what he does. Nolan was very influenced by Batman: Year One. It helped set the framework for Nolan's hyper-realistic take on Batman.


Even the poster/cover of each work is eerily similar. Further, Batman: Year One and Batman Begins is integral to showing how and why Batman and James Gordon come to trust and work with one


Remember this scene in the film, when Gordon tells Batman about the Joker? Well, it actually came from Batman: Year One. It worked so well, Nolan plugged it into his franchise. Batman wouldn't be the same without it...


Though the death of The Wayne's is nothing new to Batman lore, it's hard to argue that Nolan didn't entireley rip his scene from the comics. The positions of both Bruce and his parents in each are identical. Each evokes an identical feeling of just how lonely Bruce has now become--a lonelieness that will forge him into The Batman also known as The Dark Knight...

With the sequel The Dark Knight, Nolan turned to Batman: The Long Halloween (Spoiler alert from here out, ye be warned). In The Long Halloween, the mob led by the Falcone crime family hire the villains of Gotham (Joker, Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, etc.) to do their dirty work and keep Batman at bay. Sound familiar? It certainly sounds like a synopsis for The Dark Knight doesn’t it? Also in the book is the two-faced personality of Harvey Dent, which again is prevalent in TDK. Check the visual similarities below…


Though not entirely similar both poster and cover do share some similarities. Notice the blue hues in each.

Obviously Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister looked no further than the source material for TDK.

Yes, Two-Face is pretty much the same in the comics, but in both TDK and The Long Halloween, they're almost duplicates of one another, like those twins from SisterSister Tia and Tamara (seriously, nobody can tell the difference).

Anyway, I think you get my drift. Nolan was heavily influenced by The Long Halloween.

Now comes The Dark Knight Rises, set 8 years after the events of TDK. This makes me think that Nolan will tackle arguably the greatest graphic novel of all time—The Dark Knight Returns. He is literally going for it all--like Charles Barkley at a Krispy Kreme. He’s biting off a lot more than most directors could chew, but remember this is Nolan. I Believe in Chris Nolan. You should too. How could he top The Dark Knight? Well, he’ll start by at least emulating the core canonical source material. Though the film isn’t out yet, we do have the trailer. Check out the similarities...


Hmmmmmm? Doesn't that look interesting. Honestly though, neither character is the same. The comic book character is the leader of 'the mutants,' while the other is Bane. Coincidentally, each is a leader of a band striving to overthrow Gotham. When the original pictures of Bane were released, some nerds complained, but if you look at what Nolan might be going for it makes a lot of sense. Even the colors in both images are similar. Could this simply be a mere coincidence? I really don't think so.


I'm right, Riiiiiiiggggghhhhhhttttttt?


You'll have to look close.. real close, but it seems Nolan is replicating the "worn-out" Batman look found in the comic. Though Christian Bale is sans mustache, they both have a similar frazzled demeanor. Neither looks ready to "save Gotham." They both look flat out wore out and frankly tired. Nolan didn't randomly set The Dark Knight Rises 8 years after TDK  just for kicks and giggles. He did it to emulate what's been done in the comics. Oh, and just a slight possible spoiler, but if Nolan is following The Dark Knight Returns story well be prepared for a funeral in Rises--well kinda. ;)


More similarities? Yes, each is THE Batmobile, but look at what Batman's got in Rises...

Okay, I think I've used plenty of proof here to show that Nolan, with his three Batman films, is seeking to create the film version canon of the comic book source material. If this is the truth, I see no way he can't succeed.

Oh, and what about this scene from the trailer? Where could Nolan be "plucking?"

Hmmmmmm? I wonder if maybe this could be where we are also headed?

But that's a subject for another blog and another time. You know this aint the last Batman blog... 

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