Just watched the trilogy again, and I am more impressed than ever. I have never actually seen an origin story for the character, just the occasional flashback. Nolan decided to risk it, and managed to do so in a way that made the Batman dark, deep, morally incorruptible, and emotionally fragile while setting up a great superhero plot for his arc of movies. There is a background to his martial skills, a woman who has left her mark on him, a technological benefactor who can screen all of his gadgets, and the unique insight into the criminal mind necessary to be a great detective.
The Joker is traditionally his most difficult opponent, and both Nolan and Ledger did not disappoint. I have never seen insane played with such depth and intelligence. Coupled with the death of his childhood love it beautifully paints Batman’s character as a loner and a man afraid to commit to any relationship. Making that a part of the creation of Two-Face and tying the whole thing into Joker’s plan against Batman was brilliant. Having him bend a rule to beat the Joker, but then giving the means to that weapon over to someone else to avoid any personal temptation was a perfect way to demonstrate his integrity.
The end was classic Batman, even if I had never seen or heard it. To allow himself to be labeled the murderer of a beloved figure, to name himself as a criminal and live in hiding – wow what a statement!
Bane was amazing. Massive, powerful, incredibly articulate in both speech and planning. Like Batman’s other villains he was a conundrum. What I enjoyed was the bringing to life of one of the most infamous scenes in the Batman mythology, Bane breaking his back. Then the movie expands on the scene; by bringing him to a prison, by isolating him from the devastation Bane is causing in his absence, Nolan allows the character to find himself and re-find his purpose. In the scene where he risks all in one jump he finds that search and discovery is given a physical form.
Bringing in Ra’s al ghul’s daughter and making her the instrument of his revenge was a great idea. Tying her to Wayne through charities and her consistent integrity, then reaching a crescendo with the love scene, was elegant. Her very presence brought the trilogy to full circle.
But it wasn’t really wrapped up, was it? Bruce Wayne was intact, meaning he could be available if he ever wanted to come back from the “dead”. Robin had found the “Batcave”, meaning he could take over the Batman legacy as well.
Each movie was complete onto itself, there was no sense of a larger script as in the Star Wars films, and yet the continuity was beautiful. Most of all, I watched the trilogy and couldn’t help but think “this is how it really could have happened. And the stories I grew up watching could be mythology growing up around the truth.” That is a feeling I have never had before; not with the Marvel movies, despite their more fully developed characters. Not with Hancock, nor The Watchmen, which both have their strong points.