The evening of Thursday July 19, hundreds of thousands would gather at movie theaters around the country eagerly awaiting the release of the release of the third installment of Chris Nolan’s Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises. The first film, Batman Begins, was released in 2005 with highly positive reviews. It was the first attempt to recreate the Batman franchise after the last Batman move from late 80s, early 90s series. The next film, The Dark Knight, would be released three years later. It was met with greater reviews than the first, grossed over one billion dollars worldwide, and is highly regarded as one of the best, if not the best, superhero movies ever made. Now here we are, another three years later where the third of Christopher Nolan’s caped crusader movie will be viewed by millions on Friday, a number that will likely triple before the weekend is out. So as good as the first two movies were, is there any way for The Dark Knight Rises to become as good, if not better? And where will this finale land the trilogy in comparison to other great trilogies?
Batman, one of our favorite comic book heroes, had its first shot at a feature length film in 1989 when Michael Keaton donned the cape and cowl. That movie, was great for its time, really playing toward the audience that would actually pickup the comics and enjoy them. Three sequels later and film producers decided to take the franchise in a different direction. Instead of a mainstream heroics and the family rated sort, they went back to Batman’s basics, and went with the Dark Knight, geared for a more adult audience. Batman Begins was a great movie. But as great as it was, it paled in comparison to its sequel. The Dark Knight took the film series to a new level. Fans of The Dark Knight attribute much of its success to the film’s protagonist, the Joker, played by Heath Ledger. Previously, I wrote about my feelings on Ledger and his performance. Good or bad, he obviously is not in The Dark Knight Rises, but does he hold the magic formula for a superlative Batman film?
The next couple of weeks we’ll find out if we have another one of the film’s stars to steal the move as Ledger did in the last. There is some new talent in this one too. Up-comer Tom Hardy and former child actor turned genuine A-lister, Joseph Gordon-Levitt are some powerful contenders. There’s also a serious female lead in this one with Anne Hathaway. So which one will steal the show? There’s some fear and early reviews that say one of them will have to. But we can’t really expect The Dark Knight Rises to be better than its predecessor, can we? Besides, how often does a movie trilogy get exponentially better? Usually film trilogies get exponentially poorer. Or at worst, there’s a weak link in the trio.
Not for nothin’, but this last film of Nolan’s new look Batman films will probably go out with a buck, as opposed to going out with a bang. It’s going to be hard to top The Dark Knight without going into the “best movie ever” territory. I’m not saying it’s going to be the Spiderman 3 of the series, but it’s not going to be the Return of the King of the series either. But this trilogy could rank with the all-time great trilogies with Star Wars, Godfather, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future. But those movies told some very great stories, in addition to having a memorable cast of characters to stand the test of time, where we will always bring those movies up when any movies are serialized into three. That being said, this is already better than the previous Batman series. But better doesn’t make it great. And mediocre can still make a lot of money.