Comic fans are notoriously difficult to please when it comes to film adaptations. Deviate too much from the source material and directors are accused of spitting in the fans’ faces. Don’t add enough new material and directors are accused of playing it safe and lacking originality. With The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan trod the tightrope beautifully. But with The Dark Knight Rises, he wobbled for a bit then plummeted to the safety net in the final reel.
Fair warning – here, of course, are spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises. Big whopping ones.
Firstly, there’s a lot in TDKR to please fans. Anne Hathaway owns Selina Kyle, and Nolan nails her characterisation. She’s sexy without being objectified, tough without being hard, socially conscious without getting on a soap box. She needs a spin-off now. Batman’s new toy the Bat was pant-wettingly cool. And the ending, with Bruce faking his own death and handing the Bat mantle on to someone else, was drastically different from the comics, but in a way that thrilled and pleased fans. It was a nice ending for Nolan’s troubled billionaire. And, of course, Nolan recreated one of the most famous comic panels of all time: Bane breaking Batman’s back across his knee.
But why, as a massive Batman nerd (and I can’t overstate just how massive my love of Gotham is), did I leave the cinema disappointed, feeling like I’d just watched a film made by someone who didn’t have a hell of a lot of love for the Batman canon? I expected more from a film that was garnering five-star reviews. But here are the five things that’ll tick off comic fans the most:
5. Talia Al Ghul
In a move that surprised no-one, Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate turned out to be Talia Al Ghul. I was really excited to see Cotillard – who gives good sympathetic villain – get her teeth into Talia. But instead, she had two and a half hours of being an undercharacterised love interest, and 15 minutes of being Talia. From a film-making standpoint, an audience needs more than 15 minutes to relate to and enjoy a villain. Talia’s true identity should have been revealed with an hour of the film still to go. From a comic nerd standpoint, one of Batman’s most interesting villains/love interests was given annoyingly short shrift.
4. Tom Hardy As Bane
Tom Hardy is a great actor and, like Heath Ledger as the Joker, it was an interesting casting choice. He did a great job of bulking up for the part and Bane’s look was very effective – differing from the comics in order to make sense in Nolan’s more realistic Gotham. But what was that voice all about?! Unlike some people, I had no trouble understanding him, but the accent and tone was just bizarre. My friend spent the entire film convinced that he was being dubbed by Sean Connery. Bane had the right amount of intelligence and ruthlessness, but wasn’t fleshed out in the way Joker and Two-Face were, his origin story was handed to Talia, he was white-washed, and he ultimately turned out to just be a henchman. Which was a bit disappointing.
3. No Holly
In this film, Selina has a female friend played by Juno Temple. She’s never mentioned by name, but IMDB names her as Jen. Seriously, would it have been so hard for her to have been Holly Robinson? As a fan of Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman run, it just bugged me.Tags: alfred, anne hathaway, bane, batman, Catwoman, christopher nolan, dark knight rises, holly robinson, john blake, marion cotillard, michael caine, robin, selina kyle, talia al ghul, tom hardy