By Megan Sullivan
You might think that headline is an oxymoron – isn’t Batman, especially the Nolan/Bale incarnation, intense by definition? Well, the answer is yes, but the level of intensity brought to the theater in The Dark Knight Rises is beyond anything we’ve seen in the Batman oeuvre to date.
The Dark Knight Rises is a highly anticipated final chapter to this newest superhero trilogy, considered by many fans to be more authentic, more real than its other super counterparts this summer such as The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man. People who love Batman love him because he’s dark, intense and full of so much rage and anger that his only coping mechanism is to beat guys to a bloody pulp. Those fans will LOVE this movie, which is filled with so much rage, anger and despair that you’ll wonder if even Batman can save the day.
They will also revel in the introduction of Batman’s newest rival, Bane, a Darth Vader wannabe with terrorist tendencies. In truth, it is Bane and not Batman that gives this movie its dark overtones and feelings of utter desolation. He is the one who raises the viewer’s anxiety level, the one who stands as an implacable obstacle to truth, justice and the Gotham way.
One of the most delightful parts of this final installment was the introduction of two strong female characters: Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle and Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate. Selina Kyle, AKA – spoiler alert! – Catwoman, has been embodied by such varied actresses as Julie Newmar, Lee Meriweather, Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer. While she has almost always been a cunning and dangerous foe to our black-cowled hero, she has also always been played a little on the outrageous side of camp.
We should have known Nolan would not treat such a character in that way, and he doesn’t. Hathaway’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman is not only sexy as hell, she’s smart, devious and kick ass. In or out of costume, she’s a match for Bruce Wayne or Batman, giving the former hell for being so privileged and the latter an earful about saving a city so far beyond redemption.
I don’t want to talk too much about Marion Cotillard and Miranda Tate, if only because the complexity of her character and her dealings with Bruce Wayne lend such depth to this movie I don’t want to rob any of you dear readers from the joy of discovering it. What I will discuss though is the beauty of Marion Cotillard’s acting – her ability to appear both sexy and strong, vulnerable and vicious. She is a worthy foil for Bruce and at times, Batman.
The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy successor to the genre-changing The Dark Knight. While no one will ever touch Heath Ledger’s tour-de-force performance as the Joker, it’s good to see that Christopher Nolan and his Batman, Christian Bale, have provided fans and moviegoers alike with a finale that satisfies our rabid obsession with this dark superhero and our longing for some type of closure.