I can’t speak for our Social Media Specialist, Greg Esposito, but for me, this was never a laughing matter. When “Espo” first informed me that the first six minutes of next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises would be played before Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I was dead serious when I threw out the possibility of going to the theatre just to see the sneak peek… As in literally leaving after the sneak peek and bailing on the movie altogether.
Sure, I laughed and acknowledged how ridiculous it would be to pay for a movie (an IMAX movie no less), just to leave six minutes later, but behind my laugh all I could think was, “Go with me on this journey.”
He agreed to it, and after a couple of weeks of having the, “Are we really serious about this?” conversation, it became apparent we were in.
It was on the last day of Suns Training Camp that the thought occurred to us that we should ask fellow Dark Knight fan, Robin Lopez, if he wanted to check out the sneak peek with us. Like I did with Greg, I presented the idea to Robin as being completely ridiculous, but in my mind all I kept thinking was, “Come on, Robin, it’s the final installment of maybe the greatest comic book trilogy ever. If we don’t do this, we’ll have to wait until next July to see what’s in store for us. And besides, who really needs to see Tom Cruise in any film that doesn’t either feature a guy named Iceman, Cruise as a samurai, or a potential code red?… Go with me on this journey.”
Lopez was in.
So on the opening weekend of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (or what I will always refer to as the opening weekend of the First Six Minutes of The Dark Knight Rises), Greg Esposito, Robin and his brother, Alex, and myself headed out to embrace the greatness of Christopher Nolan. Afterwards, Robin, Greg and I sat down to discuss what we had seen, and to share it with the fans, we recorded the conversation. Here is what transpired:
Brad G. Faye: First off, Greg, why don’t you maybe provide us all with a recap of the six minutes that we saw?
Greg Esposito: I have to admit, Christopher Nolan is much like the girl in high school that always hints she’d like to go on a date and keeps you interested for months. He’s a master at the art of the ‘tease.’
The first six minutes of The Dark Knight were brilliantly edited and gave us just a taste of Heath Ledger’s Joker. A taste that would stick in viewers minds until the film’s release months later. Nolan did it again with the prologue to The Dark Knight Rises.
While the brief glimpse of the film didn’t give away too many key plot points, it serves as an introduction to the newest villain in Nolan’s reimagined Gotham, Bane. Based on first impressions, he’s the Hulk and Hannibal Lecter with a little Stewie Griffin thrown in for good measure. A massive force with a diabolical mind set on domination with an interesting voice and a dark sense of humor.
Nolan also didn’t disappoint in the special effect department. While I won’t give away any spoilers, I will say that he upped the ante from the prologue of The Dark Knight.
Faye: Robin, what were your initial thoughts about the sneak peek?
Lopez: After seeing the preview, I think I’ve definitely had my interest peaked a bit more. It’s difficult to make three good movies in a row, but after watching that, I think the Batman trilogy may accomplish this. It’s tough to tell a lot by six minutes, but judging solely on what I saw, it doesn’t appear anything is forced and it was proof again that Nolan knows exactly what he’s doing.
Faye: So it’s safe to say that all three of us are more excited for this film after having seen this sneak peek?
Esposito: I look at it this way – after Steve Nash won his first MVP, he probably felt like things couldn’t get much better from an individual career stand point. Then he won the award a second straight year proving that they could in fact get even better.
That was how I felt about The Dark Knight Rises prologue. I didn’t think I could get more excited or that the film could seem any better and then Nolan’s first two installments but I was wrong.
Lopez: I’m definitely more excited for this film than I was before seeing the sneak peek. The special effects were amazing. You could see that what they showed were things that they actually went out and shot. I loved that they went this route rather than doing it with computers. It’s pretty easy to take that for granted these days.
The other thing that probably stood out to me most was how strong the villain of Bane could be in the movie. He seemed so cold and calculated, it looks like he’s going to be a villain you love to hate.
Faye: Putting on your detective hats, was there anything you were able to draw from the sneak peek that might reveal something from the total picture? I was constantly looking for little clues, and was wondering if I was reaching on my theories.
Lopez: I wouldn’t say I pieced anything major together. I will say that I could see a return of Ra’s al Ghul, and that I could see a scenario where Bane is working with the League of Shadows. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nolan makes this cyclical and brings back the villain in the third film that he introduced in the first.
Faye: While on the subject of villains, we’ve now seen Ra’s al Ghul, Scarecrow, Joker, Two-Face, and at the very least will see Bane in this third movie. Is there a villain that we haven’t gotten to see in this trilogy that you feel fans really missed out on?
Lopez: I don’t know if he would work as a central antagonist, but I think Killer Croc would have been cool to see. You could maybe have him and Batman fighting in the sewers as a throw-in like they did with Mr. Zsaz.
Faye: Wait… What?
Esposito: Mr. Zsaz is a serial killer from the comic books. He makes a brief cameo in Batman Begins towards the end when all hell breaks loose.
Lopez: You didn’t know that?
Faye: Wow, it appears I’m out of my league here.
Esposito: So who would you like to have seen?
Faye: I’m glad you asked, Greg. Nolan has treated me well in his usage of Batman’s rogue gallery. He introduced audiences to the man I felt was the best antagonist we hadn’t yet seen in a Batman movie, Scarecrow, and more importantly, he made my all-time favorite Batman nemesis, Two-Face, respectable once again.
So this isn’t meant to be a fanboy soapbox moment for me to whine about something I had to reach on simply to have something to complain about.
Now, having said that…
HOW COULD YOU LEAVE OUT MR. FREEZE?!
Really, Nolan? You’re really going to leave me with the bad taste of Arnold Schwarzenegger telling everybody to “chill” in my mouth for the rest of my life?
With the psychology of Batman such a major part of why the character is so successful, it’s tough for me to accept that we never had the chance to see his Shadow, Mr. Freeze. Dr. Victor Fries is the complete opposite of Bruce Wayne, but at the same time is in many ways his equal. You can’t ask for a better arch nemesis than that.
Batman is the product of an injustice suffered at the hands of his parents. Mr. Freeze is the product of an injustice suffered at the hands of his wife, Nora, when he sees her fall deathly illness. The difference is while Bruce Wayne uses tragedy to motivate him towards justice, Dr. Victor Fries uses tragedy towards carnage. The dichotomy is fantastic because as we learn from their respected storylines, the line that separates those two motives is a lot tougher to define as we realize.
(NOTE TO THE READER: The above isn’t at all what I said at the time of this discussion. I have done myself a great service by going in and doing plenty of cleaning up and expounding on my ideas the way I intended to articulate them. What actually came out of my mouth at the time was, “Duh, I likes the man who makes the freezes.”
Esposito: Nice to see you haven’t put too much thought into this.
Faye: Sorry, I kind of went off there for a bit.
Esposito: Your nerd card has been reinstated.
Faye: It’s interesting to me that you (Greg) aren’t necessarily a big comic book fan in general, but really enjoy Batman. What is it about this particular superhero that makes him stand out to you?
Esposito: Batman is the every man of super heroes. He is a regular guy who uses everything he has to fight the injustice in his own world. Deep down I think that’s what we all, well most of us, strive to do in our everyday lives. We are each just working towards making our lives a better place. Bruce Wayne just happens to have billions at his disposal to do it and a mental propensity to take on those issues with hand-to-hand combat. I like him for the same reason I liked Elliot ‘Socks’ Perry when he played for the Suns. He may not be as talented as the other super heroes, but he works twice as hard and gets more out of his talent.
Faye: Wow, an Elliot Perry mention. This may be the most awesome conversation of all time. So what is it about these movies by Nolan that makes them so much more popular than the original Batman films, and other comic book movies?
Lopez: I don’t want this to sound like this is something that’s wrong with comic book movies in general, but I guess it’s that these have been comic book movies that doesn’t feel like a comic book movies. I think that’s what has really helped set them apart.
Faye: It’s amazing to think that anybody would ever manage to surpass the work of Joel Schumacher in Batman & Robin.
(Hysterical laughter goes on for several minutes… Okay, fine, I get a smirk out of Greg.)
Esposito: I have a question. If this is the end of an era, what direction would you guys like to see taken with the Batman franchise in terms of the silver screen?
Faye: Did you just call it the silver screen? What is this, Gone With the Wind?
Esposito: Silver screen is a reference to the movie theatre in general.
Faye: I’m pretty sure it isn’t.
(This is about the time that Greg and I notice that Robin is starting to feel uncomfortable.)
Faye: Why don’t you field this one first, Robin?
Lopez: I guess if this is the last one, it’s been a great ride. But since a more realistic direction was taken in the production of these films, I think it would be interesting to do a take which maybe embraces the comic book version of the character. I don’t want to say it should be outlandish, and I know it’s difficult to do, but that’s just the first thing that comes to mind.
Esposito: Like is the case with any great run including sports, there is one of two ways the Batman series can go. Disappear into irrelevance or rebuild and come back with a new cast. I think the latter happens.
Anyone else wonder why Joseph Gordon Levitt has been much like the hair on Marcin Gortat’s head, almost non-existent, in the trailers? Unless Nolan is crossing fictional universes and Gordon Levitt is playing the Invisible Man, there is only one reason why his character hasn’t shown up. It’s because he is involved in a key plot point that the director doesn’t want to give away.
What will that storyline be? My guess is that after being captured, imprisoned, brutally beaten and tortured by Bane, Bruce Wayne must pass on the bat suit to a new generation to carry on the mantle of the Dark Knight. That person will be the young Gotham City Police Department detective Gordon Levitt who is fed up with working inside of a corrupt system and who Commissioner Gordon recommends as the heir apparent. Much like a coach in sports chooses who his replacement will be, Wayne chooses Gordon Levitt’s character to replace him.
Lopez: I’ve thought the same exact thing!
Esposito: Either that or they just hadn’t filmed enough of Gordon Levitt’s character by the time the latest trailer was edited and I’m completely wrong. I guess we’ll find out in July, which is about seven months too long. It’s just that they barely show him in the trailer, so I’m thinking there’s going to be more to that character than we think.
(I crack my knuckles)
Faye: Alright guys, those theories are real cute, but prepare to have your minds blown…
(Espo and Robin roll their eyes but I cannot be stopped at this point)
… You’ll notice that there’s a blood transfusion on the plane that appears to bring a corpse back to life. While they never explored it in Batman Begins, Ra’s al Ghul was known in the comic book for his Lazarus Pit which can revive the dead. Whether or not this blood transfusion has anything to do with Ra’s or the Lazarus Pit, I’m not sure, but it did lead to some thoughts…
If Ra’s al Ghul does return for the final film, that could possibly mean that we see his daughter, Talia, as well. In the comic books, she and Batman have a son together, which I believe could work as the perfect bridge to a future trilogy. You can have three new movies set in the future that feature Batman’s son going into battle with the villains they were unable to incorporate into these first three films.
I know the fanboys will have a fit that it’s Batman’s son fighting guys like The Ridder and Mr. Freeze rather than his father, and I know they will point out the fact that it was Batman in the comic who fights these villains, and not his son. But I just think it would be a great way to still maintain some kind of connection to this great trilogy rather than waiting around ten years for another rebooted franchise.
Lopez: I’ll be honest, that’d be interesting.
Esposito: Not bad. And consider yourself head nerd for a while after that one.
Faye: Gladly. Perhaps I should quit while I’m ahead then, and ask one last question. After July when we’ve each seen this film about eleven times, what is left for us fanboys to look forward to theatrically?
Lopez: Definitely looking forward to the Avengers movie. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes because if it goes well, that could not only mean more great things from Marvel, but maybe forces DC to step up its game a little bit and bring us a Justice League of America film on the horizon.
In terms of a comic book that hasn’t been made yet, I’ve always thought Jack Kirby’s New Gods stuff would maybe be better in movie form than in comic book form. It’s almost heinous to say because he’s such an icon in comic books, but I think it lends itself very well to being an epic movie.
Esposito: I’ve got nothing. It’s why I can’t stop crying.