Before you start yelling blasphemy, allow me to explain. I am in no way doubting Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy or anyone else involved with The Dark Knight Rises. I fully believe that this film will be huge, massive, gigantic and any other synonym that would be apt to use. I fully believe that it will make over $1 billion dollars and I fully believe that it will have the impact that everyone is expecting it will have. I also fully believe that it will be an exceptionally well done film that will leave most moviegoers with their most memorable theatre experience of 2012. I really do fully believe all of that.
Fanboys, you can relax now. This article is not doubting the film, not in any way. It’s simply asking if it will meet expectations, expectations that have been set astronomically, perhaps even unreasonably high. Expectations that despite how good the film is, may never be met because they simply can’t be.
Now do I have your interest? Now am I starting to make sense? Keep reading and you’ll see that I just may be right. Feel free to disagree but personally, I don’t think that The Dark Knight Rises can meet expectations, no matter how good of a film Christopher Nolan turns out. The reason you ask, read on to find out.
The first reason that I think people may not find their expectations met by The Dark Knight Rises lies in the villain, Bane. I love Tom Hardy and I think he’s a fantastic actor. While I don’t doubt that he can create a menacing and formidable opponent for the caped crusader, the real question is, can he match Heath Ledger‘s Joker? In fact, will any comic book villain ever be able to match up to Ledger’s Joker?
In my mind, I just don’t see Hardy’s Bane being able to please audiences more than Ledger’s Joker did. For one, the role of the Joker was a much tougher one than that of Bane, in my eyes at least. The transformation that Ledger had to go through and the mannerisms, posture, personality and voice he had to adopt for the role were all far more challenging than what Hardy had to do for Bane.
Aside from the physical transformation, it really doesn’t look like Hardy has transformed that much for the role. Granted, when we see the full film, more of a transformation may be apparent but as it stands, Ledger’s transformation for the Joker is much more impressive. He even kept a diary during production and recorded in it the Joker’s thoughts and feelings.
And it’s not only the transformation that Ledger has over Hardy, it’s the character himself. The Joker has always been one of the most well known and widely recognized Batman villains. If you ask even the most casual Batman fan what the number one villain is in the Batman universe, the Joker is a pretty common answer. Bane, on the other hand, isn’t as well known.
Perhaps hardcore Batman fans will dispute this but ask any casual fan who Bane is and they likely won’t know. How many of you had no idea who Bane was when he was first announced as the villain for The Dark Knight Rises? I bet a lot of you. The Joker is a far more iconic villain than Bane and thus, in most people’s eyes, a more formidable opponent.
Another reason that I don’t think Bane will match up to the Joker is because in The Dark Knight, the Joker pushed the limits and plunged Gotham into chaos. What else can Bane do that the Joker didn’t? Or what else can he do that would surpass the anarchy that the Joker brought on? Did Nolan already give us the be all and end all of villain-y chaos with The Dark Knight? Can he give us something that feels more perilous, more potent, more frightening and higher stakes? Or will Bane’s actions pale in comparison to what the Joker did in The Dark Knight?
Very rarely in a film do I feel like the villain may win. Sure, sometimes the stakes are high and sometimes it looks like there is no way our hero will prevail but in the end, you know that somehow, against all odds, the hero will overcome the villain and peace will be restored. In The Dark Knight, I didn’t have that feeling though. I honestly felt like there was no way that Batman would be able to overcome the Joker. Nolan and Ledger crafted such a fantastic villain that for once, I actually thought the villain may win and that peace would not be restored to Gotham.
Think about it, out of all the films that you have seen where a hero was pitted against a villain, throughout all those films, how many times did you ever doubt that somehow the hero would prevail? For me, the answer is only once, and that was in The Dark Knight. The Joker’s plotline, character development and embodiment by Heath Ledger was so effective that for once, I doubted the hero’s ability to overcome his adversary.
With the Joker, Ledger gave us a ”psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy,” as he put it in an interview with The New York Times. To me, that sounds like the ultimate villain and despite the fact that I think Hardy is a tremendously talented actor and despite the fact that I think Nolan is a brilliant filmmaker, as of now, I’m still not certain that Bane will turn out to be a better villain than the Joker.
The second reason that I think The Dark Knight Rises may not meet expectations is because it’s the final film in a trilogy. Whenever a trilogy comes to an end, there are always people that aren’t pleased. No matter how Nolan ends it, there will be people left feeling letdown or wanting more. It is impossible for Nolan to conclude such an epic trilogy and such a widely loved trilogy in a manner that will please everyone.
Making his job harder is that the film isn’t directly following any source material. Sure, it’s obviously inspired by the comic but unlike say Lord of the Rings, where Peter Jackson had an ending he had to follow, the ending here, will be mostly conjured up by Nolan. This, while may be seen as a positive seeing as Nolan has freedom, can also be seen as a negative since if he fails to impress moviegoers, he’ll come under scrutiny since he did have the freedom to end things in an appropriate manner.
The script is being handled by the Nolan brothers and David S. Goyer. Between the three of them I have no doubt that they’ve penned quite an ending for our beloved hero but that being said, there will undoubtedly be people out there who feel like the trilogy ended poorly or people who will feel cheated out of a proper ending for the iconic superhero. It’s inevitable and because of that, the film may not meet the expectations of some.
Finally, the third reason why The Dark Knight Rises may not meet audience’s expectations is simply because we’ve set ourselves up for failure. When you expect so much from something, very rarely will it ever live up to what you expected. Expectations set too high lead to a reality that doesn’t fully satisfy (due to your expectations being so high). It’s just simple human psychology and it applies to this situation.
Many people, especially the fanboys, are positioning The Dark Knight Rises in their minds to be the be all and end all of movies, to be not only the best film of 2012 but possibly the best film ever. Due to this, no matter how good of a film Nolan makes, these people’s expectations will not be met.
Look, when all is said and done, The Dark Knight Rises is going to be one hell of a film, no one is denying that or doubting that. I myself can’t wait to see it and I know I’m going to love it.
All I’m saying is that if you put the film on such a high pedigree, you may not be satisfied with the end product.