TDKR and Batman in General

It has been over a week since I experienced the ending of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. In the wake of the tragedy in Colorado I spent a lot of time collecting my thoughts and feelings about the film and the legacy of the Batman in general. I know I am biased, so I am not going to critique it. My love affair with the cape and cowl began when I was around 4 or 5 years old. My introduction was TV series from the 60s and also Batman: the Animated Series (1992). Who knows what it was, but I was captivated by Batman. I was Batman for Halloween and wore a Batman bandana as a cape regularly throughout the entire year.

I have to admit I stuck with the Animated Series for most of my childhood and didn’t really explore the Burton or Schumacher films. I did see Batman & Robin (1997), but it didn’t really paint the Batman in the light I remembered him. Batman Begins (2005) was the beginning of a new era for Superhero movies and more importantly for Batman. I watched the film with childlike wonderment. When I thought it couldn’t get any better I found out I was very wrong. The Dark Knight (2008) is arguably the best superhero movie to date (bold statement? perhaps, but seriously…it’s fantastic, and we can argue about it, I did say “arguably”). Christopher Nolan is a terrific filmmaker and Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is unsettling and perfect. As soon as The Dark Knight was over I began my mental countdown for the 3rd installment. I knew it would be 3 or 4 years but worth the wait. I counted down to The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with the same anticipation I had previously reserved for Christmas or the last day of school. I went to the midnight release of the film and was mesmerized for 165 minutes. I left the theater in tears feeling like my childhood had just ended. I couldn’t wait to talk to other Batman lovers about the ending, about their likes and dislikes. I also wanted to perfect my Bane impersonation. I went to sleep completely ignorant to the horrific events taking place in Colorado.
Waking up the next morning I heard the news from a text. I was in shock. People went to a movie theater and were killed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I have always found peace and comfort from walking into a movie theater. I often go to movies alone and enjoy being completely wrapped up in what is happening on screen. I never imagined that something like this could happen. A movie I loved and a place I loved will never be the same. People talked about the film in hushed voices or avoided the topic completely. How could you just have a normal conversation about it?

I will never blame Warner Bros, Batman, or Christopher Nolan for what happened in that movie theater. The positive messages and legacy of Batman far outweigh the bad. Throughout Nolan’s trilogy in particular was Bruce Wayne/Batman’s inner conflict with killing. The Dark Knight saw Batman trying to prove to the Joker that he wasn’t going to get him to kill. The Joker wanted to incite chaos and prove that anyone could be pushed to choose one persons life over another, essentially choosing who “deserves” to live or die.

It may take a few more days, weeks, or even years for some individuals to watch The Dark Knight Rises. I hope that by examining the deeper meanings and symbols in the story that people can use the Batman for good. I hope that one day Batman isn’t automatically associated with “shooting”, “massacre”, and “tragedy”. Batman meant a lot to me growing up, and I want a new generation to have the same opportunity as I did. So when you are ready again, go to the movies, pick up a comic book, and tell your kids about Batman. I leave you with a photo of me and my sister dressed as Batman. (I am in the passenger seat, didn’t have my Batmobile license yet)

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