Re: The TDKR General Discussion Thread - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P
I'm going to drop this here. This is something I've been thinking about for awhile. Its just a theory, I don't have proof for it, and I'm not going to die on this hill in terms of argumentation. Its just something I'm putting out there to think about.
TDKR: A Fan Theory on the Composition of the Story
Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both shared something in common. They were open-ended. Christopher Nolan seemed to have no concerns that someone would touch his version of the Batman universe. He repeatedly asserted, after all, that he planned one movie at a time. After each film he was unsure as to whether he would make another.
That all changed after the Dark Knight, and I believe one of the predominant reasons for this was the death of Heath Ledger. I think it hit the production crew hard. After the Dark Knight rumors swarmed about the role being recast. Nolan was adamant that he would not recast the role – that to bring the Joker back in this Batman universe would cheapen what Ledger had accomplished. He wanted Heath’s Joker to remain isolated in the Dark Knight, disappearing as mysteriously as he appeared. The Joker would not receive even a reference in TDKR. I agreed with Nolan on this completely. I felt that bringing in someone who would mimic what Heath did would be disrespectful.
Nolan seemed to think that the only way to prevent that from happening was to seal the TDK universe off at every point. Batman would be absent from crime-fighting for eight years, the last night of work being on the night of Harvey’s death. He’d return to face a final threat, then disappear again for good. It was the end of the story. Suddenly the universe wasn’t open-ended. It was being driven to a conclusion.
Keeping the universe closed off is not an idea that I’m necessarily opposed to. Unfortunately, it became the overwhelming function of the film to such an extent that the story was damaged. Bruce’s passive and inactive moping during his eight years in hiding was jarringly out of character – tragedy has always driven Bruce to action before, even foolhardy actions like trying to kill Joe Chill. Now Rachel is dead, crime is gone, and Bruce just sits around? Color me unconvinced. Even Gordon remained active despite the falling crime rates – his gut told him something was wrong. Bruce should have felt the same way at the very least.
The falling crime rates were attributed to a rather silly plot device, the Harvey Dent act. At the end of TDK, Gordon and Batman wanted Dent’s legacy to inspire Gotham to good action – to inspire Gotham to be redeemed. Instead, in TDKR, we find that Gotham was not inspired at all, rather, Dent’s death was merely used as a political weapon to keep criminals behind bars in a rather unconstitutional manner. The notion that this Act would have survived for eight years without being overturned in a court seems incredibly far-fetched and unrealistic. The Act is used to create some angst over lies, getting one’s hands dirty, and whatnot, but at the end of the movie the Act is never mentioned again and the plotline surrounding it is not fully resolved (Bane freeing the prisoners from Blackgate isn’t a resolution – it heightens the tension of the Act plotline because we wonder how Gotham will react and how that situation will be resolved, and then that resolution never really comes).
There’s a certain dark irony to the fact that Gordon is put under an unfair trial courtesy of the Scarecrow. “What sort of due process is this?” Gordon asks indignantly. How many prisoners in Blackgate might have wondered the same about their situation? Gordon has been sentenced with no hope of parole.
Whereas Begins and TDK were both open-ended, TDKR isn’t – thus Nolan feels compelled to stuff it full of famous plotlines from the comics, none of which are given their due attention. Knightfall, No Man’s Land, The Dark Knight Returns… all these help form the plot, in addition to Dicken’s “Tale of Two Cities,” plus the complex Batman / Catwoman relationship, and on top of that a pseudo-“Robin” origin story! It is too much, and it causes TDKR to lose the sort of focus and thematic power that the simpler and more straightforward BB and TDK had. You can’t make the decision to create story that seals off your interpretation of the universe AND that includes four or five more famous stories, arcs, and plotlines in that sealed off universe. The resulting effect on the story is crippling.