has always attracted a different kind of fan base than almost any
other superhero. What makes him so attractive, I think, is the idea
-- maybe not an idea that is verbalized, but certainly a gnawing,
lingering, back-of-your-mind idea -- that given the right
circumstances and enough will power, you could become Batman.
was born on another planet, so that’s not even an option.
Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, another nearly
impossible scenario. The Hulk was exposed to massive amounts of gamma
radiation, and I don’t even like to stand next to the
microwave. Aquaman came from Atlantis, and although I’m a
pretty good swimmer and can hold my breath for a reasonably long
time, I don’t think I’m ever going to figure out how to
telepathically communicate with dolphins.
if I had enough money and determination, I could train myself to
become a martial arts expert. I could learn hand-to-hand combat
techniques and the secrets of the ninjas. I could become a master
detective, honing my observational and deductive skills until I could
see things that most people missed. I could pay for the most advanced
technology and state-of-the-art tools and vehicles.
a cool cape and a cowl and a utility belt, and, well, I’m
Batman was first introduced to the world by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
in May of 1939 in Detective
#27. This was the Golden Age of comic books, and Batman was among the
first “superheroes” (notwithstanding his total lack of
any super powers), following closely on the heels of the first caped
hero to claim super-status, namely Superman.
1939, The Batman has been featured in tens of thousands of comic
books, newspaper strips, animated cartoons, novels, Saturday morning
serials, radio programs, TV shows, and feature-length films.
a character like that relevant is a perennial problem for comic book
publishers, because despite the passing of years (and decades), The
Batman must of necessity remain somewhat timeless if you plan on
selling more comic books to the next generation of readers. So, story
lines are interwoven with other story lines, characters are
occasionally killed off, new sidekicks and villains are inserted,
love interests come and go, and sometimes the origins are reworked
and modernized to bring them up to date.
you know it, your comic book hero is entertaining his third or fourth
generation of fans, and there’s more where that came from.
keeping a comic book title fresh and new and relevant is hard work,
perhaps impossible work, because the hero has to be immortal on the
one hand if he’s going to keep selling comic books, but on the
other hand has to be real enough for the fan base to relate and
suspend disbelief and keep buying books.
real life, however, people don’t live forever, not even heroes.
And movies are not subjected to the same demands as monthly
publishing, so a story can naturally have a beginning, a middle, and
an end. The movie itself lives forever, readily available to new
generations of viewers.
have been a number of franchises where our hero lives to fight
another day and film another sequel, although many of those tend to
be stand-alone films that simply utilize some of the same characters
without necessarily continuing the story line. The James Bond films
have successfully cycled through nearly a dozen James Bonds, but the
stories are not interdependent. You can watch all the Indiana Jones
movies, but if you skipped, say, The
Temple of Doom,
you’d still be able to enjoy The
But not all action movies are created equal.
Christopher Nolan wrote the screenplay for The
Dark Knight Rises
with his brother, Jonathan, with whom he had previously collaborated
He also co-wrote Batman
With Christopher Nolan behind the camera and the pen on all three
films, he was able to masterfully craft a story that brought life to
a much-beloved hero and that had a real beginning, a middle, and an
we see the movies as they are released, we see them initially a piece
at a time over a period of seven years. Having now seen them all,
however, I doubt that I will ever re-watch them without watching all
of them at once. This is one story, one volume with three chapters,
and it is a brilliant piece of work.
obviously deals with the origins of the Caped Crusader, and we see
the idyllic world of young Bruce Wayne shattered by a thug’s
senseless act. Orphaned, aimless, and wealthy beyond comprehension,
we watch the man-child drift in and out of some very dark places,
physically and mentally, as he struggles to come to terms with the
events and circumstances that have brought him thus far.
his quest for understanding, he finds purpose and direction in
protecting the city his parents helped to build. Gotham is overrun
with corruption and crime, and The Batman’s brand of
vigilantism brings welcome relief to a city collapsing under its own
the weight of his own dual identities is a heavier burden than Bruce
imagined, and we come to realize that the battles he fights in the
streets are secondary to the battles he fights in his soul. Which
identity is his real face, and which is the mask?
reveals a Gotham City where crime is still rampant, but where the
tide is starting to turn because The Batman is doing what the police
cannot. Enter a maniacal and homicidal master criminal, the Joker,
who has set his sights on organized crime and is methodically taking
over every criminal enterprise in the city. His genius is rivaled
only by his evil, and he proves a formidable and unpredictable foe
for the World’s Greatest Detective.
focusing on the Clown Prince of Crime, Bruce allows himself to be
more and more consumed by The Batman. A broader picture is revealed,
as well, that forces us to question our own humanity, and what
separates any of us from the dark side.
see the desperation that drives a good man to do horrible things, and
we see flashes of decency and sacrifice light upon individuals judged
by society to be unredeemable. And we see Bruce Wayne embrace the
darkness to become what his city needs, an anti-hero of sorts,
sacrificing himself for the sake of those he has sworn to protect.
Dark Knight Rises
finds Gotham City eight years after the tragic death of revered
District Attorney Harvey Dent, whose murder has been attributed to
The Batman and was the catalyst for a tougher set of laws enacted to
give the police the teeth they needed to eradicate organized crime.
Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, hardly emerging from his solitary
room at Wayne Manor. Wayne Industries is failing because of his
neglect, and the Batcave is all but abandoned.
all of the worst criminals now behind bars and serious crime
apparently a thing of the past, Bruce has retired The Batman and
whiles away the hours, months, and years wallowing in a pool of
self-pity and bitterness. Commissioner James Gordon has apparently
won the war against crime, but it cost him his marriage and his
family. He is also racked with guilt over the lie he continues to
live, knowing that the blame for Dent’s death is Dent’s
alone, that Dent had succumbed to the very things he had once fought
against, and that The Batman had in fact saved Gordon’s son from Two-Face, the
depraved monster Harvey Dent had become. Alfred continues his role as
long-suffering father-figure and man-servant, and pleads with Bruce
to move on with his life, to get a life and live
calm before the storm is ended with a brazen and brutal raid in broad
daylight on the Gotham Stock Exchange by a psychopathic terrorist
mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy). Bane and his army quickly overpower the city
and hold it hostage with a nuclear device.
comes out of retirement to face-off against this new nemesis, but he
is hardly up to the task. His body is showing the signs of years of
abuse from brutal street fighting, and his mind is still clouded from
relentlessly reliving the past.
even on his worst day in his worst shape, The Batman could easily
take on dozens of average criminals and mop the floor with them. But
Bane is no average opponent, and Batman is brutally, savagely beaten
until he is nearly dead, his back and spirit broken.
imprisons him in a pit from which no one escapes, a prison so
horrible and wretched that most men simply succumb to the
hopelessness and despair before disease and sickness can claim them.
But though The Batman is beaten, Bruce Wayne is not, and he begins a
long and painful climb, mentally and physically, to remove himself
from this hell-hole and return to defend the city and people he
Kyle (the alter-ego of Catwoman, although that name is never used) is
played with a cool, calculated smoothness by Anne Hathaway, matching
the pitch-perfect performances of the usual cast of characters,
namely Christian Bale (The Batman), Gary Oldman (Commissioner
Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), and Michael Caine (Alfred
Pennyworth). But even more impressive (if that were possible) is the
near-flawless performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective Blake,
a sort-of special attaché to Commission Gordon who figures out
the real identity of The Batman and pleads with Bruce Wayne to come
back. Gone is his childish goofiness of 3rd
Rock from the Sun
days, and gone as well is his boyish appeal in Inception
from just two years ago. Gordon-Levitt is a man whose maturing looks
match his very impressive chops as an actor. In some respects, he is
the heart and soul of this movie, his performance so impassioned and
driven that it keeps you anchored in the humanity of this story even
when scenes are necessarily so much larger than life. I expect we’ll
be seeing a lot of great work from this actor in years to come.
the comic books, this movie treats The Batman as a man, a mortal, who
must be subject to the forces of mortality, whose body can only
endure so much pain and abuse before it begins to break down.
Assuming that someone could actually do the things The Batman does,
no one could do them for more than a few years before the toll would
be devastating. But what we learn is that The Batman was always a
that anyone could be him. Anyone willing to stand up to the forces of
evil and fight, in the dark, against the darkness.
may come as a surprise or even a disappointment to some that Batman
doesn’t really get a lot of screen time in this movie. Granted,
the movie is nearly three hours long, so there’s plenty of time
for everybody, but this movie is less about the mask than it is about
as a single installment, it is the least “Batman” of all
the Batman movies. Taken as a necessary part of the whole trilogy, it
is a masterful conclusion to an amazing piece of storytelling, seven
years in the making.
is, in its entirety, a story about a man who seems to have everything
and then loses what is most valuable to him. It is the story of his
quest to find himself and some purpose for living, a purpose he finds
in losing himself in service to those who cannot help themselves. It
is a story of fallen heroes, of despair and desperation. It is a
story that is born of tragedy and blossoms with hope for a season,
before an apocalyptic darkness settles in and all hope seems lost.
And it is a story of hope restored and ultimate redemption.
Dark Knight Rises
is violent, and it is very dark and at times disturbing. But so is
life, and if this trilogy is a reflection of the dark and troubled
world we live in, perhaps it is also a reminder that we know how it
will ultimately triumph over evil. Faith and hope are more powerful
than weapons, and selfless sacrifices made for the sake of others are
never in vain.
Burke cautioned, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing.” OK, so maybe my boyhood fantasies
of becoming The Batman are a little far-fetched. But all of us can do
with a reminder that we should be doing something to make our little
corner of the world a better place. And if you do that, in my book,
you’re a real
Andy Lindsay can frequently be overheard engaged in conversations that consist entirely of repeating lines of dialogue from movies, a genetic disorder he has passed on to his four children and one which his wife tolerates but rarely understands. When Andy's not watching a movie he's probably talking about a movie or thinking about a movie.
Or, because his family likes to eat on a somewhat regular basis, he just might be working on producing a TV commercial or a documentary or a corporate video or a short film. His production company is Barking Shark Creative, and you can check out his work here www.barkingshark.com.
Andy grew up in Frederick, Maryland, but migrated south to North Carolina where he met his wife, Deborah, who wasn't his wife then but later agreed to take the job. Their children were all born and raised in Greensboro, but are in various stages of growing up and running away.
Andy (or Anziano Lindsay, as he was known then) served a full-time mission for the Church in Italy, and today he teaches Sunday School, works with the Scouts, and is the Stake Video Historian.