Christopher Nolan, the creative force between the highly successful reboot of the Batman franchise joined stars Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Tom Hardy (Bane), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake) at the AMC Lowes Lincoln Square Theatre for the New York Premiere of the final installment of the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.
Predictions for Christopher Nolan’s visionary Dark Knight trilogy’s swan song, The Dark Knight Rises, to trounce the competition with a massive opening this weekend is backed by its record-breaking $25 million advance ticket sales. Early tracking for The Dark Knight Rises indicates the film will have no problem surpassing the record set by The Dark Knight’s $158 million opening in 2008 for a non-3D movie.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Christopher Nolan and star, Christian Bale discussed the “thematic lynchpin” of the trilogy that was set-up in the first installment, Batman Begins.
Nolan reveals it was always his intent to make three Batman films and approached each project as if it was the last. He employed three key strategies to keep his goals on track:
“pour every Batty idea into the work at hand; remain consistent with the themes and plot of the previous chapter; keeping a fuzzy option or two open for what might come next… except for Rises which Nolan swears is his Batman swan song.”
Nolan took the stance that he needed to tell one “great story” at a time and only continued on with another if there was a demand for it. He always wanted to tell more of the Bruce Wayne story but didn’t allow himself to jump ahead.
“’The truth is I always wanted to tell more of Bruce Wayne’s story, but in a superstitious sense, you can’t plan on that,’ says the helmer, whose other credits include Memento and Inception. ‘You have to tell one great story, one great film. And if people demand another one, you have permission to make it.’”
In Batman Begins, Nolan provided an origin story for the iconic superhero and laid the foundation for what Batman could and would become. Bruce Wayne’s wealthy parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne instilled in their only son a sense of social conscience and to lead by example. They used their wealth to build-up a now declining Gotham City to its former glory as a pinnacle of an American metropolis. Through Wayne Industries, they infused technological advancements such as a light rail system and funds to fight the rampant poverty and crime encroaching on the once illustrious city. His parent’s murder by the petty criminal, Joe Chill was the catalyst that would form the man who Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman would become.
The Wayne’s death gave the wealthy patrons of Gotham City an example “to carry on the good work of sacrifice and investment.” The city hobbled along still under the weight of rampant corruption. Bruce Wayne grew up against this shadow of greed and corruption. He carried the darkness, anger and helplessness of seeing his parents being murdered in front of him into adulthood. Informed by his time spent with Ra’s Al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) League of Shadows, Bruce Wayne felt he could exact change in Gotham by purging the city of the corrupt elements that controlled it.
He soon realized that the League had no intention of being vigilantes to incite change for the good of the city. Their intent was to dismantle and destroy cultures they deemed broken beyond repair. The Leagues’ purpose was to destabilize the city economically and plunder Gotham into a state of lawlessness eventually leading to its collapse. When the Leagues’ attempts failed, they then tried to burn the entire city down.
Out of the ashes of the Leagues’ failure to bring down Gotham, Bruce Wayne realized the League represented the line he could not cross. He also felt change had to come from the good people of Gotham who needed a role model to inspire them and not a “savior that did not work for them.”
The “lynchpin scene” Nolan talked about earlier took place on Bruce Wayne’s private jet with longtime guardian, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine).
“’People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a symbol — as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.’”
Nolan revealed that was a pivotal scene and the theme it introduced would play throughout the whole trilogy. He had to build up to that scene correctly without shortcuts. It had to be believable to sensible Alfred and the audience.
“I had to understand why the imminently sensible Alfred Pennyworth would sit there and listen to his employer explain that he’s going to dress up as a bat and fight crime as a vigilante. That’s a huge leap to make. We had to build that correctly, and we couldn’t cheat. So in each film, we talk about the symbol of the character being the key thing. It’s not about what he can achieve beating up criminals one by one. We address this again at the beginning of The Dark Knight, where you have these copycat Batmen popping up. The idea was to ask: Is that the meaning of the symbolism? To raise an army of these guys? No. Bruce sees himself as a catalyst for change in Gotham, and to me, in that conversation with Alfred, it’s very clear to me is that Bruce only ever thinks of this as, like, a five-year plan, a short-term thing. I talked to Christian about this idea a lot during the making of all the films. It was the only way we knew to understand the reality of the story of Batman.”
In the Dark Knight, Gotham is plunged into chaos by the psychotic, Joker (the late Heath Ledger) who put his theory to the test that you could push a person to betray his “idealistic values” by knowing what button to push. He further proved his point by turning righteous District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) into a hideous two-faced deranged man who passed moral judgement by flipping a coin. Gotham needed even more a symbol of hope to write the evils perpetrated by the Joker. A plan was hatched between Batman and conspirator cop, Jim Gordon. Batman would be blamed for all the crimes Harvey Dent committed and in turn Harvey Dent would become the hero Gotham needs but doesn’t necessarily want.
Jump eight years later to the Dark Knight Rises and Gotham has a modicum of peace. Crime and corruption are under control because of the seeds of hope planted by the Harvey Dent lie. The city is due for a reckoning under the weight of the lie perpetrated by Batman and now Commissioner Jim Gordon. Christian Bale believes it should worry us when a superhero; a symbol of honest good is lying to keep the evils of the world at bay.
“’Superheroes should tell the truth, right? That’s exactly what they’re meant to do,’ says the actor. The Batman/Gordon conspiracy ‘was a decision… that the truth was too damaging or too much for people to handle,’ says Bale. ‘It’s not a philosophy that [we] want to hear. It’s elitist. It’s a belief in the inability of the public to handle complexity — and it’s probably, really, sadly true, as well. It was very interesting because it’s not what I wanted. I don’t mean playing it — I mean as an audience. You want this guy will tell the truth regardless of how harsh and regardless of how cruel that is. And it’s a great problem for him as well. And as you see, at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, it’s one that almost destroyed him, because he’s looked back on what his original plans were and seen how far he’s drifted from that by not believing in the people.’”
Christopher Nolan agrees that this reckoning is coming and sees this idea related to the real world. The truth has a way of always coming out and once it does, the consequences can be severe.
“’What I see in the film that relates to the real world is the idea of dishonesty. The film is all about that coming to a head. The truth will out. The idea that Gotham is literally crumbling from underneath. It looks like a better than place than it was in Batman Begins – but is it? I see that in the world. I worry about that in the world.’”
The Dark Knight Rises opens this Friday, July 20.