The epic finale to the dark knight trilogy is finally here! After months and months of nervousness, anxiety, and excitement, the end to this incredible film series has come to an end. All great things must come to an end, and so, Christopher Nolan and his wonderful crew, and the cast say goodbye to their iconic take on Gotham City’s dark knight. Think back to the ending of Batman & Robin (1998); did it ever cross your mind that we would ever come to see a series so well done and devoted to reinventing Batman’s legacy? To be quite honest, the answer was probably no back in those times. No one really knew about Christopher Nolan back then, and perhaps the mentality was that Warner Bros. would continue to release the rather comedic Batman films that had been released by Joel Schumacher. Tim Burton introduced us to the dark character that is Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego of Batman, but it was not until Nolan came around that we began to love the effective blend of drama and action he brought to these films. Despite the abundance of comic book films that have been released in the last decade by Marvel Comics, it is The Dark Knight that has been critically praised as being one of the greatest, if not the best comic book film of all-time. So what happens when you make a trilogy- ending film to continue the story of such an incredible film series already? Quite frankly, you put all the cards on the table. That is precisely what Christopher Nolan does in this film.
How high can you go in terms of excellence in film? Given the tools that you have to work with as a director, how far can you go to do the unthinkable, and raise the bar for film making even higher? The problem with trilogies in film is that by the third film, often times the quality of the production falls. From the first film in the series to the last, it is difficult to maintain the level of excellence that should be expected in a trilogy. The Dark Knight impressed on so many levels because it was a film that absolutely no one was expecting. It took what worked well in Batman Begins, and went a step further. That is what raised the interest and expectation for a third film in this series. Not only did Heath Ledger earn his post-humous Academy Award for his diabolical and disturbing performance as The Joker, but it was a film that kept us all at the edge of our seats. It was a film that was cleverly written, and critically put together to keep the interest of fans from start to finish. Far from simple in its execution, it presented a story that was direct and to the point. This is what makes any kind of film a great one. However, when you have a film that is the ending of an incredible trilogy, there is a simple approach that can be taken, however the bar had already been raised extremely high by the success of The Dark Knight. What movie fans may often overlook is how hard it is to really please everyone given the great screen time that every character in this film and series deserves. The more characters there are, the more people tend to believe that a film is overstuffed and bloated. That argument makes it easy to forget just how critical these characters really are to the development of the film’s story.
Something that has been very easy to overlook is the role of the supporting characters in these films. You can expect brilliance in the performances from the lead actors, and they do not disappoint in this film, but one thing that has been made very clear in Nolan’s films, and especially in this trilogy, is that every character has a vital role in the story. It does not matter if their role is major or small, they play a fundamental role in the film’s success. It is an aspect of a film’s greatness that can very often be overlooked. As the expectations and stakes are raised in a trilogy-ending film, the role that each of these characters play becomes that much greater. As the story concludes, it is the hope that things will be revealed in such a way that shocks and surprises at the same time. An all-encompassing approach to giving all the characters of this series key roles in this film makes it that much more memorable. It helps to secure the statement that this is the greatest comic book trilogy movie series. When you can appreciate a film in its entirety many years after its release, you know that it is truly remarkable and a great film. Whether you have read the comics, or have followed this series from the beginning, these are characters that we all have a great level of love and appreciation for. To see these characters come to life on the big screen under Christopher Nolan’s direction is truly a dream come true for many Batman fans.
A very important aspect of a Batman film is the role of the villain. What is great about the Batman film that works to Christopher Nolan’s advantage is the fact that Batman has a great number of villains. Each of them has very distinct personalities, and that allows Nolan to approach a story in a variety of ways from the villain’s perspective. What needs to be mentioned here is that from the beginning of the series until now, every villain has been a very effective part of each film’s success. Most notably, however, is the performance of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Perhaps you could argue that in Batman Begins, the roles of Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy may have lacked the diabolical personas that Ledger brought to the The Joker’s character. While that could have been improved, the quality of their performances got people excited to see more of Batman in action fighting against his villains in the films to come. Great credit to Nolan’s work as a director must be acknowledged for raising the bar in terms of great villains in film with Ledger’s performance as The Joker. The film as a whole is exceptional, and arguably the greatest comic book film that has been made. But it was Ledger’s performance that simply cemented his character’s legacy. His performance is what showed us all the kind of character Batman’s arch-rival deserved on the big screen. For years, we all had very fond memories of Jack Nicholson’s performance in Batman (1992). However, it is the interpretation of this particular character that really got under Batman’s skin and terrified the people of Gotham City. Which leads us to the role of Bane, played by Tom Hardy, in this film. If there was ever a time when you thought that Batman could meet his match, this is where Bane completely met our expectations. While he does not portray the sadistic personality of The Joker, that does not mean that he lacks the diabolical persona to threaten Bruce and Gotham City. He is a force to fear, and Hardy demonstrates that force in great style.
After watching such an incredible series of films that truly make up the best comic book trilogy, it really is hard to believe that this is the last ride for Bale and Nolan on this project. Bale took on his character with such grace and dedication that he raised the bar for being Batman as well. You can never forget the work that Michael Keaton did in the first two Batman films to introduce us to this amazing character, but the work that Bale has done in this trilogy is simply admirable. As Ra’s Al Ghul said in Batman Begins, Christian Bale further established the legacy that is Batman’s character in film in this trilogy, and you can only feel excitement for what he will do next in his career. With great class, Michael Caine has been the heart and human story of this trilogy as Alfred. He delivers such a captivating and heart-warming performance, that you should also anticipate what he will do next in his career as well. If Commissioner Gordon was hardly present in earlier Batman films, Gary Oldman really brought him to life in this trilogy, and in this film, he put the cherry on top of the cake. Through his character, Oldman’s performance inspired us all to find the will in us to always do what is right. Another actor who brought his greatness to his character is Morgan Freeman. He entertained us and surprised us, and you can only hope that he will continue to be a part of comic book films. Nolan has been a true genius in working with a core of people in his crew and cast. However, he does introduce three new actors in this film, and they deliver tremendously. It had been years since we last saw Cat Woman on the big screen, and Anne Hathaway really stole the show. Questionable, fearless, and daring, she has risen the curiosity of Cat Woman once again, and hopefully it is not the last time we say this feline heroine. After previously working with Nolan in Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an actor that is growing very quickly. His performance in this film inspires and captivates, and if there will ever be more Batman adaptations in the future, the expectation should be for him to be a part of it. Marion Cotillard brought her beauty and brains to her character, and is such an amazing actress that it is really intriguing to see what she will do next. As for Tom Hardy, we all know what to expect from him from here on out. A strong and rising actor, he will entertain crowds for so many years to come. Of course, this amazing trilogy could not have happened without the vision and brilliance of Christopher Nolan. He continues to raise the bar with every film that he does, so it is with anticipation that we should wait and see what he will do next. An admirable and respected salute to him and his crew, and the cast for sharing with us such a phenomenal trilogy that will never be forgotten.