Things That Would Have Made “The Dark Knight Rises” Better
As we all know, one of the most anticipated movies of the year was “The Dark Knight Rises”. The whole world was just dying to see how the journey of Batman would end and to see if it could possibly top its predecessor. There were some questions that popped up as more info about the movie began to leak out. Questions like “How will Bane be portrayed in Nolan’s realistic world of Batman” or “How does Catwoman figure into all this and why was Anne Hatheway cast?”
Needless to say, with all the hype it was virtually impossible for this movie to not be disappointing to the general public. The movie has divided fans and critics. Some saying it was awful, some indifferent, and some enjoyed it greatly. I had tempered my expectations about The Dark Knight Rises, knowing that Threequels tend to fall short in many series (Spiderman 3, X-Men 3 and many others that are too numerous to list here). The most apt comparison could be that The Dark Knight Rises is Return of the Jedi to The Dark Knight’s Empire Strikes Back. This is because the sequel was phenomenal and the third part was good enough to satisfy the need for closure but suffered from some major flaws and things that could have been better if done just a little differently without changing the story. For example, originally it was going to be Wookies in the climactic final battle instead of Ewoks. Look me in the eye and tell me you prefer how it turned out.
I enjoyed the Dark Knight Rises. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there were some changes that could have been made that would have made for a more satisfying experience without affecting the ultimate outcome of the movie or even the story. Now obviously I’m not a film expert and I don’t claim to be smarter than the director or writers (there’s a reason they are famous and I am not). However, I will say that it seemed to me that Nolan only made the movie because he felt like he had to. My opinion and that’s all. I am writing this assuming that whoever reads it has seen the movies and knows what I am talking about so I don’t have to go through every detail of the original plot. There are major spoilers, so those who have not seen the movie should look away I will now list the things I would have liked to see done differently to conclude this trilogy.
1. No Batman for Eight Years?
I have no problem with this movie jumping ahead in time. Its necessary to show that Gotham has changed and that Bruce Wayne is very weary of the world that he lives in. The problem I do have with this is that Bruce Wayne hasn’t been Batman for 8 years since the death of Harvey Dent. So why is he so weary and struggling with the fact that he wants to be Batman but knows that he can no longer be Batman? He was retired longer than he was actually active.
This is how I think it should have gone down. Instead of Batman being inactive for 8 years, how about he continues to act as Batman for some arbitrary amount of years (lets say six years) after taking the heat for the death of Harvey Dent. This would have been more of a sacrifice for Bruce Wayne and making his retirement more of a personal struggle because he would have been fully consumed by secrecy and the added stress of having crime and the law against him would have taken a greater toll on him. Also it opens up the possibility in the audience’s mind that Batman probably faced the Riddler or the Penguin or even the Joker again some time during that time span. This could play out easily. First, open up the movie with a really awesome sequence that shows Batman busting some bad guys. Throw in a cameo from one of Batman’s lesser know villains. During this scene we see him injure his knee and beat the crap out of some people. At this point we understand that he knows that he has to hang of the cape and cowl. Then jump to where the movie originally starts a couple years later with Bane hijacking the plan and then the scene at the banquet at Wayne Manor. See? The basic plot is the exact same to this point. The only difference is this: “Master Wayne, you haven’t been Batman for eight years” to “Master Wayne, you haven’t been Batman for two years.”
Another interesting point: Why the hell would Bruce have even bothered to improve the Batcave if he stopped being Batman since the end of the previous film? Food for thought.
2. Is He Robin or Not Robin?
Ok this change is a little more radical but bear with me and hear me out. The plot deviates a little here but once again it does not changed the ultimate outcome. First, a bit of a preface. Since the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, there was a lot of speculation on what his role would be. He’s kind of big name to be just some cop in the new Batman movie. This is where rumors went wild. Well he’s got to be Robin. I was fairly certain that his character was not Batman’s sidekick. First of all, from the beginning Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale denied that Robin would ever be a part of this series. Secondly, there is no version of Robin that I know of that (A) Wasn’t a kid (B) Was a Cop (C) Name was John Blake or (D) Actually had Robin in his name. For these reasons I was very confident that the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt was not Robin and would be just one more actor fighting for screen time. But lo and behold! Who else was he but the boy wonder? Why didn’t they just come out and say it? Ok he’s Robin.
Everything I listed above makes the filmmakers look like they were forced to include Robin in the story by the studio and that they didn’t have the balls to even try to make Robin work in this world and be cool. Hey Nolan, ever played Batman: Arkham City? They managed to make Robin not lame. Why couldn’t you? I understand that movies have to be self contained and can’t completely adhere to the continuity of comic books but to completely ditch everything that makes a character and conjure up something entirely different out of the blue is a little ridiculous.
There are plenty of talented young actors out there. And when I say young here, I mean someone under the age of twenty at least. Find someone you like and cast him as Dick Grayson instead of “John Blake”. Here is where you are now given some liberties to make the character work in the world of the movie. He’s a kid and his parents are dead in the comic books. It would have worked in the movie too. Maybe he’s even a part of that youth center for young boys or whatever. Hey his parents are dead and he’s kind of on his own so it would make sense. Already I’m bringing back some of the original plot. And instead of him being just some regular punk kid with a troubled life, make him have a gift or a skill that sets him apart. Not gymnastics like in the comic books. But you know what else involves flipping and jumping and great acrobatic skill? Parkour! Why not? It’s a comic book movie so its not that insane to think that a kid with nothing better to do in a big city with tall buildings would do something dangerous like that. It’s a skill that translates into who Robin is.
I’m going to start connecting it a little more to the original plot and talk a little bit about why it makes more sense. In the original plot John Blake somehow “just figured out” that Bruce Wayne was Batman and pretty much confronts him about it. In a more faithful rendition maybe the trouble seeker Dick Grayson sneaks onto the property and somehow meets Bruce Wayne and says that he suspects that he is Batman only to have these suspicions confirmed when he stumbles upon the Batcave. I don’t know why he would have snuck onto the property. There is a connection between Bruce Wayne and the youth center plot. I’m not a writer; the filmmakers should have figured something out. Ok now at this point, while everything else is pretty much occurring about the same way as it would have in the original plot, Bruce takes the kid as a disciple of sorts and plans on training him and instilling in him the values that Batman represents. This subplot would have taken up just as much time and the original one. We will come back to Robin in a later segment because we have to move on to other things but we covered the basics on why the final result was flawed and how it could have been better.
3. Remember when I told you I would never give up on you? I lied
Alfred, a great character that ultimately goes to waste and as a result Michael Caine is hardly in the movie. In the original plot, Alfred basically decides that it hurts him too much to see Bruce destroy himself by being Batman again and leaves. What happened to the whole “You haven’t given up on me” and “Never” schlock. Never say never. Anyways, what should have happened is that Alfred expresses his grievances and get emotional and breaks our hearts like in the original plot except he sticks around afterwards. This would show that he is sacrificing something and even though it hurts him to see Bruce put himself in harm’s way, he is NOT GIVING UP ON HIM. It would also have proven to have been an important relationship for Dick Grayson. It honestly felt like he was written out to make room for all the other characters that have been stuffed into the movie. He has a few poignant moments but is largely absent.
the original post was too long so part 2 is added below