BAT TO THE FUTURE
Empire Magazine’s latest issue features an exclusive look at next summer’s highly anticipated film, The Dark Knight Rises, and in the article, director Christopher Nolan reveals that the third and final film in his trilogy takes place eight years after The Dark Knight.
My buddy Jason (@movieguy711) and I began speculating about what this means for the film.
In honor of the eight-year jump into the future The Dark Knight Rises, I decided to present eight theories/reasons as to why Nolan may have done this.
TECHNOLOGICAL EVOLUTION: I’m not going to lie, when the first images of the Batwing came out online this past summer from the Pittsburgh set, my initial reaction was, “WTF?” The one thing that has made Nolan’s Batman Universe so compelling and noteworthy is the fact that it grounds itself in reality as much as it can. In Batman Begins, we saw the Batsuit was actually designed and built using real military technology. Even the Tumbler had a military purpose. Unlike Mr. Joel “I-Think-This-Batsuit-Would-Look-Much-More-Intimidating-If-I-Put-Some-Nipples-On-It” Schumacher, Nolan’s suits and cars weren’t created to sell toys. And what made The Dark Knight an amazing movie, too, was the fact that if you substituted Batman and the Joker for a cop and serial killer, it still would’ve been a f*cking great crime movie. When I saw pictures of the Batwing, I started to worry that Nolan may be reverting to a more comic book themed movie this time around. I mean, a flying Batmobile? Not only that, but the rumors flying around that Bane is going to use some kind of earthquake machine to wreak havoc on Gotham also had me wondering what the f*ck was going on.
But knowing now that the film takes place eight years in the future makes this all seem plausible to me, somehow. I know that sounds stupid, but hey, a lot can happen with technology in eight years. Who would’ve thought eight years ago I’d be writing this piece from something called an iPad, or would be able to watch movies and TV shows on my iPod. That’s still a long way away from flying vehicles and earthquake machines, but f*ck it, I’ll play along.
WHERE FOR ART THOU JOKER? Let’s face it. No matter how good Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane is, people are going to be comparing his villain performance to that of the late Heath Ledger. Ledger’s Joker portrayal was a once-in-a-lifetime performance, and no one will be able to come close to replicating it ever. After the passing of Ledger and the success of TDK, people began wondering how Nolan could make a third Batman movie without the Clown Prince of Crime being the main villain, or at least making a brief cameo. Nolan was adamant from the beginning that the Joker would neither be recast nor make any sort of appearance from unused footage of Ledger from TDK. Most people, myself included, agreed with this decision, but some wondered if this was just Nolan trying to throw us for a loop.
But it’s apparent that Nolan is standing pat, and putting this movie eight years after TDK is proof of his decision. While we may be left wondering what happened to the Joker after we last saw him hanging upside down from a building surrounded by SWAT, it’s safe to assume that in Nolan’s Batman Universe, any justice and punishment for the Joker has been handed down and dealt with, and he is now nothing more than a bad memory for the people of Gotham. Time heals all wounds.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: The moment I heard this film was going to be taking place eight years after TDK, the first thing that came to my mind was Frank Miller’s graphic novel, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. In that story, a much older Bruce Wayne comes out of a decade-long retirement to fight an old foe. Sound familiar? It definitely looks, and feels, like Nolan has taken a page from Miller’s graphic novel—pun intended. Nolan has been influenced by the work of Michael Mann, and in Darren Francih’s great article dissecting the TDKR trailer, he points out that a recurring plot point in Mann’s films is that of a “haunted man of violence who tries to lead a peaceful life, only to be forced by circumstances and fate to return to his old ways.” There’s no question that Nolan is using the same plot point to conclude Brue Wayne’s story. It’ll be interesting to see what Wayne has been doing in the eight years since TDK, but as my buddy Jason said, “I foresee an awesome pulling the dusty cover off the Tumbler scene.” Agreed.
ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER: The Dark Knight picked up roughly six to nine months after Batman Begins. That means in the span of less than a year, Gothamites saw the arrival of the mysterious Bat Man, the poisoning of their water system with a toxic hallucinogen, the fall of Carmine Falcone and the mob, the Joker’s reign of terror and the death of their beloved District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Phew. Did I miss anything?). That’s a lot to take in in one year.
Although Batman took the heat for killing Harvey Dent, maybe eight years without the Caped Crusader—coupled with a likely spike in criminal activity upon Bane’s arrival—will make Gotham appreciate what they had, and welcome Batman back with open arms. Eight years will also allow enough time for the League of Shadows (the organization headed by Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins) to regroup and plot out their return to Gotham under the leadership of Bane.
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE: My wife made a great point when she said Bruce Wayne needs to find himself a girl. Running a billion dollar corporation during the day and jumping over rooftops at night doesn’t necessarily leave much time for a love life. Unless Bruce uses eHarmony or beautifulpeople.com (yes, that’s a real site) he probably hasn’t been on a real date in years, if ever. Sure he does dinner with European models and Russian ballerinas, but that’s mostly for show, although I’m sure he doesn’t complain about any something-something they throw his way behind closed doors. Point is, Bruce Wayne has been alone almost his entire life, searching for an identity and for someone who understands him. Yeah, Alfred’s great and all, but I don’t think he’d look too good sporting a white lace teddy in front of the fireplace in the master bedroom. Wayne needs a female counterpart to make him feel human. It’s why he loved Rachel Dawes. She knew who he was, but never treated him differently. With Rachel gone, maybe Selina Kyle will fill that void now?
DEAD MEN WALKING? Why not make it ten years in the future, you ask? Let’s be honest. Alfred and Lucius are old. Eight years seems like the right amount of time to have them still functioning normally before they start depending more on actual Depends than on Batman. Too harsh? Come on, you know you were thinking it.
CALLING ALL SIDEKICKS: Jason brought up a good point about supporting characters. While Nolan has shown us a good amount of villains from Batman’s Rogue Gallery, we’ve yet to see any sidekicks fighting alongside the Dark Knight
In TDK, we saw Gordon’s daughter, a young Barbara Gordon. For all you comic fans out there, you know Barbara eventually becomes Batgirl. While eight years still makes her too young to don the cowl—plus there have been NO reports of Batgirl making an appearance, thank goodness—we may see some sort of scenes hinting that her character is headed in that direction.
Then there is the Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robin rumors. Nolan has stated since Batman Begins that this is a younger Bruce Wayne, so Robin is likely still a kid, but an eight year jump would make him a young adult and the prime age to become Batman’s loyal sidekick. Although JGL’s character, John Blake, is a cop, rumors have been swirling that he may actually be Robin. While I don’t take these rumors too seriously, I do find it interesting that his character’s last name is Blake. The boy to take over for Dick Grayson as Robin in the comics was named Tim Drake. Is the name similarity of Gordon-Levitt’s character and the comic book Robin a coincidence, or something more?
And my last theory as to why Chris Nolan decided to put The Dark Knight Rises eight years in the future?
BECAUSE CHRISTOPHER NOLAN CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK HE WANTS: Word.
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