It’s hard to believe it, but The Dark Knight Rising is almost here–just a few hours in fact for some of us. At midnight, it’ll be screening at just about every theater in America, and on multiple screens at most megaplexes. For me, this is huge. I’ve been looking forward to this since… well… since the credits rolled on The Dark Knight–and that was back in 2008! I can still remember eagerly scouring the web for any clues as to when the third installment would come out, and was greatly upset to find it’d be nearly 4 years in the works.
And now it’s almost here! I just hope by some cruel fate I don’t get zapped by lightning on the way downtown.
For me, one of the best parts of the movie finally hitting the silver screen is that it means an end to the Dark Knight hype. The past year has been especially difficult for someone like me who doesn’t want to ruin a movie by obsessing over every little screenshot beforehand. I already wasted a good chunk of my teenage years gobbling up every bit of info I could find on Star Wars Episode 1 before it came out.
To be a comic fan and try to avoid Batman hype though is about as difficult as avoiding sunlight (although a lot of nerdlingers do that fine, too). Let’s look back at some of the more interesting hype from the past couple of years.
In 2008, the question on everyone’s lips was “Who will play the Joker?” It was widely–and rightly–believed that no matter how great the actor was, he wouldn’t live up to Heath Ledger’s incredible success as Batman’s greatest nemesis. It was iffy for a while Christopher Nolan would go down that route–he did replace Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal after all. Thankfully, Christopher Nolan decided against using the Joker again, which was good for two reasons: the one already mentioned, and because it’d simply be repetitive.
The next question was, if the baddie isn’t Joker, then who will it be? Everyone postulated, everyone guessed, and no one as far as I know got it right. This confusion was in part fueled by Christopher Nolan himself, who let the word get out that not only would the villain be the Riddler, but that he’d be played by Johnny Depp. Turns out, this wasn’t just a red herring, it was inside joke. Nolan would later laugh about how ludicrous the idea of having Riddler in the picture would be.
The low point in the hype was when photos were first released of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Countless fans protested her costume design, and it’s rumored her outfit was changed because of that. Twitter was at max capacity with a deluge of people griping about her, but the whole thing reaked of the pseudo-sexist bullying that makes the whole comics’ culture look bad.
Rather late in the game, it was revealed who the central villain would be: Bane. I sighed–part with relief, and partly with disappointment. I was relieved it wasn’t an annoying villain like Maxie Zeus or a cliche brooding bad guy like the Black Mask, but disappointed Bruce Wayne’s final foe would be Bane, one of the lamest characters I can think of. Bane was the ultimate 90s villain. If you’re too young to remember, superhero comics in the 90s tended to be all about one thing: body mass. All of the characters bulked up as if given a cocktail of roids and creatine, and Bane was the beefiest of all.
Bane is mostly associated with one of the most sordid storyline in Batman’s history: Knightfall. This was an event where, for some reason, the folks at DC thought, “You know what we need? Less Batman.” To that end, they had Bane fight Batman and eventually cripple him in one of the most iconic violent moments in comics since the crippling of Barbara Gordon or the stabbing of Elektra. At that point, the rest of the Bat-family took on extra duties, and a new “hero” was introduced to fill in for Bruce, a hardly-interesting vigilante known as Azrael. Then, a relatively short time later, Bruce Wayne’s spine was somehow mended, raising the question, if he could come back from a major spinal injury, why couldn’t Barbara (it’d take more than two decades for her to walk again).
Since finding out Bane was the new villain, I have been constantly hoping the story won’t hew too closely to Knightfall. How depressing would it be if the greatest franchise of the 21st century would simply end with Bruce Wayne in a wheelchair for life?
It’s preposterous at this point to theorize any more on what might happen in The Dark Knight Rising. We simply have to wait a few hours. Maybe use this time to re-watch Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. Or, if you’re like me, you should start wondering what to look forward to next now that the Batman hype is over.
–Check back on this site soon for my review of The Dark Knight Rises!