I am a huge fan of what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman franchise. What was once thought impossible to salvage following the travesty of 1997’s Batman & Robin, Nolan took and breathed new and sustainable life. Along with co-conspirator David S. Goyer, Nolan crafted a world of the Batman that was real and interesting. With The Dark Knight Rises in theaters, Christopher Nolan is bidding farewell to a franchise that he has overseen through nearly a decade. In the book, The Art and Making of the Dark Knight Trilogy (available on Amazon), Nolan provided a foreword that caps off his run at the helm of the Batman franchise and brought a genuine tear to my eye. Just one though. Check it out here.
Alfred. Gordon. Lucius. Bruce . . . Wayne. Names that have come to mean so much to me. Today, I’m three weeks from saying a final good-bye to these characters and their world. It’s my son’s ninth birthday. He was born as the Tumbler was being glued together in my garage from random parts of model kits. Much time, many changes. A shift from sets where some gunplay or a helicopter were extraordinary events to working days where crowds of extras, building demolitions, or mayhem thousands of feet in the air have become familiar.
People ask if we’d always planned a trilogy. This is like being asked whether you had planned on growing up, getting married, having kids. The answer is complicated. When David and I first started cracking open Bruce’s story, we flirted with what might come after, then backed away, not wanting to look too deep into the future. I didn’t want to know everything that Bruce couldn’t; I wanted to live it with him. I told David and Jonah to put everything they knew into each film as we made it. The entire cast and crew put all they had into the first film. Nothing held back. Nothing saved for next time. They built an entire city. Then Christian and Michael and Gary and Morgan and Liam and Cillian started living in it. Christian bit off a big chunk of Bruce Wayne’s life and made it utterly compelling. He took us into a pop icon’s mind and never let us notice for an instant the fanciful nature of Bruce’s methods.
I never thought we’d do a second—how many good sequels are there? Why roll those dice? But once I knew where it would take Bruce, and when I started to see glimpses of the antagonist, it became essential. We re-assembled the team and went back to Gotham. It had changed in three years. Bigger. More real. More modern. And a new force of chaos was coming to the fore. The ultimate scary clown, as brought to terrifying life by Heath. We’d held nothing back, but there were things we hadn’t been able to do the first time out—a Batsuit with a flexible neck, shooting on Imax. And things we’d chickened out on—destroying the Batmobile, burning up the villain’s blood money to show a complete disregard for conventional motivation. We took the supposed security of a sequel as license to throw caution to the wind and headed for the darkest corners of Gotham.
I never thought we’d do a third—are there any great second sequels? But I kept wondering about the end of Bruce’s journey, and once David and I discovered it, I had to see it for myself. We had come back to what we had barely dared whisper about in those first days in my garage. We had been making a trilogy. I called everyone back together for another tour of Gotham. Four years later, it was still there. It even seemed a little cleaner, a little more polished. Wayne Manor had been rebuilt. Familiar faces were back—a little older, a little wiser . . . but not all was as it seemed.
Gotham was rotting away at its foundations. A new evil bubbling up from beneath. Bruce had thought Batman was not needed anymore, but Bruce was wrong, just as I had been wrong. The Batman had to come back. I suppose he always will.
Michael, Morgan, Gary, Cillian, Liam, Heath, Christian . . . Bale. Names that have come to mean so much to me. My time in Gotham, looking after one of the greatest and most enduring figures in pop culture, has been the most challenging and rewarding experience a filmmaker could hope for. I will miss the Batman. I like to think that he’ll miss me, but he’s never been particularly sentimental.
What You Need to Know:
Christopher Nolan wraps up his Dark Knight trilogy with a bang. Christian Bale returns to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne, aka the Batman. He’s joined by returning cast members Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. The incredible Tom Hardy joins the cast as the brutal Bane, along with Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, and Joseph Gordon Levitt as Officer John Blake.
Eight years following the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has shut himself away into the newly rebuilt Wayne Manor. The Batman has gone missing since the Joker’s assault on Gotham and the tragic loss of Harvey Dent, Gotham’s White Knight. The violent and intellectual Bane has a plan to take down Wayne and all of Gotham.
Warning: While I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, I will be spoiling portions of the first act. Hit the jump to read on. If you want to read what I thought and avoid spoilers, scroll past the “What I Thought” section and read “In Summary”.
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The countdown for The Dark Knight Rises is nearing its end. Some of you may still be asking who is Bane and why is he the villain of this film? What happened to the Riddler? Mr. Freeze? The Penguin? Or even the Ventriloquist? Why is Bane the choice for Nolan’s final Batman movie? To understand that, you have to understand who Bane is. Keep in mind as this is the source material for the film, there may be spoilers to what happens in the film. You have been warned.
Before the Bat
Serving a life sentence in place of his father, most of Bane’s life was spent in a prison called Peña Duro. From childhood, Bane learned from the various inmates and a Jesuit priest, honing himself physically and mentally. Versed in strategy and violence, Bane styled himself the king of Peña Duro. The warden became wary of Bane’s power and volunteered him as a subject in an experimental drug called Venom. Where most test subjects died, Bane gained enhanced strength, but he needed to re-administer the drug every 24-hours or else suffer debilitating withdrawals. After freeing some of his prison compatriots, Bane set his sights on Gotham City and the monster known as the Batman.
Breaking the Bat
Upon reaching Gotham, Bane did not directly seek out Batman. Instead, he decided to wear down the Dark Knight systematically. Bane destroyed Arkham Asylum, allowing the escape of many of Batman’s foes. While Batman exhaustively hunted down Gotham’s criminals, Bane consolidated power in the criminal underground. During this time, Bane also discerned Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne. In a final assault, Bane sent his three lieutenants to fight Batman and further wear him down. Then following the assault, he confronted Batman at Wayne Manor where the fight was brutally one-sided. To end the fight, Bane took Batman and broke his back over his knee. Wayne is left defeated and paraplegic.
Bane remained victorious until the successor to Batman’s mantle, Jean-Paul Valley, defeated him. In the fight, Valley, also known as Azrael, severed the tubes that delivered Venom to Bane’s brain, thus giving him the advantage to defeat Bane. Bane would rehabilitate himself while serving time in Blackgate prison and begin a hunt to discover the identity of his father. This search would lead to a confrontation with the infamous, Ra’s al Ghul. He is appointed as Ra’s’ right hand, and together with Talia al Ghul, they seek to destroy Gotham. During this time, Bane is defeated by Batman in single combat.
Bane – Rising from the Ashes
Since Ra’s and Bane’s attempt at unleashing a plague on Gotham, Bane has most commonly been portrayed as a thug and hired muscle. In other media, he is also lacking his tactical mind and simply represented as a Venom-powered behemoth, as such was the case in the abysmal Batman & Robin. In the upcoming Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has returned Bane to the tactical and brutal opponent. Nolan has exchanged Venom for a gas-based anesthetic which dulls the pain of a previous injury. Rumor has it that Bane also will have a previous tie to the League of Shadows from Batman Begins.