Rick Marshall (no relation) is a friend and writer living in NYC. We’ve both shared our thoughts on “The Dark Knight Rises.” I liked the film a lot more than he did, even though I did note some noticeable flaws. Few of which, interestingly enough, line up with what Rick disliked about the film and, in fact, run almost counter to them.
Recently he posted a list of 15 things that bothered him about “The Dark Knight Rises.” These are more logistical than critical problems; things like inconsistencies and plot/character turns that don’t make any sense. A friend of his, from all accounts a fairly decent fellow, posted his rebuttal on his website Batman-on-Film.com. He had some valid points, but unfortunately leans heavy and early on fanboy appreciation and particularly the “it’s just a comic book movie” sentiment, a defense that is as critically frustrating as it is potentially insulting to the filmmaker.
Anyway, I did want to touch on some of Rick’s issues.
Again, read this first: 15 Things That Bugged [Rick Marshall] About the Dark Knight Rises
Then read more after the cut (warning: SPOILERS).
1. The Gotham City Police Department’s crack team of investigators
RICK’S ISSUE: John Blake is the only guy who figures out that Bruce Wayne is Batman, even though both dropped out of sight at the same time.
I (somewhat) DISAGREE. With Wayne’s romance and feelings towards Rachel being public knowledge and likely tabloid fodder, it would be a fair assumption that Wayne would sink into a depression. I do think other factors, like the resources at Batman’s disposal, would cause at least some to suspect a connection. But given the circumstances and scope of what happened in the previous film, it would be assumed that Bruce became a recluse because of Rachel and that Batman went into hiding because he allegedly murdered Harvey Dent.
2. Bruce Wayne gives up being Batman because of his girlfriend’s death
RICK’S ISSUE: Bruce Wayne puts on the cape and cowl to fight crime and puts his life on the line, but gives up because his ex-girlfriend dies.
I DISAGREE. Nolan seems conscious of people making this assumption and goes out of his way to talk about how the aftermath of Dent’s death led to the passing of an act that almost single-handedly eradicated organized crime in the city. As Jett pointed out, too, Wayne himself (as Batman…kinda…) tells Gordon that he quit because Batman wasn’t needed. Yes, he was speaking as Batman and yes, emotionally, he felt like he had failed and was depressed over the loss of Rachel. But if the threats he battled in the previous two films were still present in Gotham, he wouldn’t have gone into retirement.
3. The part when Alfred takes off and leaves Bruce on his own
RICK’S ISSUE: Alfred just up and leaves Bruce because he can’t watch him put himself in danger as Batman.
I AGREE. I bought that Alfred would be very worried and torn up over Bruce going back out as Batman after all these years and given all that he’s lost. I don’t buy that he would then surmise that it would be even remotely okay for him to leave Bruce completely on his own. It would be one thing if we were talking about, say, Rachel. But not Alfred. And that isn’t fanboy attachment to Alfred Pennyworth; just looking at the character in the vacuum of the Nolan trilogy, it’s a move that doesn’t make any sense for that character to make.
“You’re like a son to me. I’m leaving so that it’s easier for you to die.”
4. Gotham to wherever-that-prison-is must be a direct flight.
RICK’S ISSUE: Bane beats up Batman, breaks his back, flies to an overseas prison, talks to him for a couple minutes, then flies back before dinner (essentially).
I AGREE. This drove me crazy, as did the treatment and passage of time in this movie (Rick goes further into it than I will). Suffice to say, this was really quite jarring.
5. Repairing a broken back with a hard punch to the spine is my new favorite medical procedure
RICK’S ISSUE: Seriously. Bruce’s broken back is fixed with a hard punch to the spine and push-ups.
I AGREE. One of the things I took Nolan to task for in my review was that he went to such great pains to keep this series grounded in a reality more like ours than other comic book movies, and yet such a serious injury is treated flippantly. It’s a laughably dumb moment for a franchise that prided itself on staying away from them.
6. Time is weird in Gotham.
RICK’S ISSUE: Wait, how long are they there? How’re those cops okay still?
I AGREE. Go read Rick for more thoughts, because he pretty much nails it.
7. What is Bane’s plan, anyways?
RICK’S ISSUE: Why didn’t Bane just blow up the city in the first place?
I (somewhat) AGREE. The justification, as presented in the film, is revenge. He wants Bruce Wayne to see Gotham devolve into anarchy, not only undoing all the work he had done to bring order to the city but leaving it worse than Wayne had ever thought it could be. Yet it seems silly even in this context that Bane would want to prove this point to the world and then blow everything up, himself included. Forget the socio-political inconsistencies in Bane’s motivations; the Talia al Ghul reveal at the film’s climax means that this guy who sacrificed himself time and again for her – not for a cause but for her - and devoted his life to fulfilling her mission would then allow her to accompany him on a suicide mission. Doesn’t make a Hell of a lot of sense either way.
8. Surprise! All you had to do was punch him in the mask!
IRICK’S ISSUESUE: Batman got his ass kicked during their first meeting, but didn’t think to go after that glaring weakness – the mask – until their second one.
I AGREE. Even if you are to argue, perhaps correctly, that Batman was in a better state physically and mentally during their second encounter, him not going after the mask when they first met was a glaring oversight.
9. The Batpod: It’s like riding a bike.
RICK’S ISSUE: Catwoman knows how to expertly drive The Batpod, a highly complicated and illogical piece of machinery.
I AGREE. This was the least of my problems with the Catwoman character, but it was still pretty absurd.
10. I’m crippled and at your mercy! Wait, no… it’s just a flesh wound.
RICK’S ISSUE: Batman is stabbed by Talia al Ghul and sells it for a few minutes, but then is up and walking around and fighting again and flying a plane like nothing happened.
I AGREE. Lazy writing. You can’t establish that a character is physically weak and near death and then conveniently forget about it.
11. It was a six-mile radius. Six. Miles.
RICK’S ISSUE: Batman escapes the bomb even though it’s a radius of six miles.
I AGREE. In fact, I was with a large group and it was the first thing out of everyone’s mouths. Then again, maybe he was able to stop time entirely and give himself enough room and space to escape the blast radius. After all, Gotham is a magical place where time is malleable (see #6).
12. “Frobbledee gramderbin wampavern Gotham! Fropp gramderbin ashes!”
RICK’S ISSUE: …what the fuck did Bane just say?
I AGREE. I was glad they did the additional ADR work to make Bane more unintelligible. It helped. There were still scenes, though, where I didn’t know what the Hell that boy was on about.
13. It’s like an ’80s action movie, except more ridiculous.
RICK’S ISSUE: The story of the hero returning, failing spectacularly, returning to his roots, and then coming back to achieve victory is the same basic narrative of most 80s action film sequels (Karate Kid II, etc.)
I (somewhat) AGREE. It’s hard to argue this, but it also fit the story Nolan was trying to tell.
14. We have how much time left? Oh, crap! Time for some tie-ins!
RICK’S ISSUE: John Blake (maybe) becoming Robin was shoe-horned in.
I AGREE. Particularly distressing was the “oh yeah haha your real name is Robin LIKE THE CHARACTER ROBIN” bit was lame.
15. So the big twist is that Bane’s just a henchman… again.
RICK’S ISSUE: The film spends two and a half hours trying to convince you that Bane is the brilliant and most toughest man on the planet, only to reveal in the last fifteen minutes that he was just Talia al Ghul’s goon all along.
I DISAGREE. I thought Talia made it pretty clear that Bane was a partner, if not the more important part of the pairing.
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