Unpopular Opinion: why the Nolan ‘Batman’ films aren’t as great as the internet wants to believe
With a combined hundred and twelve awards, two Oscars, a combined user ratings score of 26 out of 30, and a combine worldwide earnings of nearly 2.5 billion dollars, it is clear that the latest reincarnation of Batman in the movies has been a hit. But what is it exactly that director Christopher Nolan has done to earn such love and loyalty from the audience? Why does it seem like a crime to say that you don’t like his trilogy? Why all the devotion?
It certainly isn’t the well-written plot.
There are plenty of spots in all three films that can make a person go “now, wait a minute”. Whether it is on purpose or not, there are gaping holes all over the place. Here are just a few of the largest ones I’ve noticed:
In a “is this a flashback or is this him going back” scene from Batman Begins, we see how Bruce completed his training and learned that Ra’s al Ghul believes that it is necessary to take over and destroy Gotham. Interesting how a group of ninja-monks know what is going on in Gotham, which is halfway around the world. Maybe they just get really good wifi because they’re on top of a mountain?
Later, in the climax of the film, one has to wonder why there is no way to cut off the power remotely for the trains. Even setting up a block on the tracks would have been beneficial to preventing the train from pulling into the tower station. Instead, we have Gordon blowing up supports to try and stop it. Of course, given how much damage it did to surrounding buildings and their street-level supports, there’s no real comparative tally to how badly that idea went. Then again, it is the Narrows, Gotham’s slums, so who cares?
At the dinner party scene in The Dark Knight, in order to save Rachel, Batman leaves his party. That is, he leaves an entire floor of some of the richest people in Gotham, along with the target, Harvey Dent, with Joker and his thugs. But, in the next scene, everything is hunky-dory. Sort of a gaping hole there, hmm? Are we to expect that the Joker didn’t continue his mayhem? That he didn’t keep looking for Harvey and killing people until he found him?
For the climax of the film, Batman uses his biggest new “bat-toy;” a sonar that uses cell phones to map out 3D spaces. It makes sense for the device Fox used to allow Batman to make his move in Hong Kong, but how did the phone’s sonar system work when it came to saving Gotham? Is it something that is downloaded, like aps or digital content? If that’s the case, how did it get on basic phones that don’t have wifi? When it was first introduced, Fox made it sound as if it was something he outfitted his own phone with and, if that’s the case, then it would be impossible for all the cell phones in Gotham to get it retrofitted! How would you round up peoples’ phones? Say that the local Verizon was giving away free ringtones if you brought your phone in?
But, really, when it comes to holes, The Dark Knight Rises takes the cake.
In the very first film, Bruce Wayne disappeared for nearly seven years and was proclaimed dead. In this film, he disappears into solitude at the same time that Batman does… and NO ONE thinks that’s odd?
Apparently some people were paying attention, though. Many years ago, when Blake was a kid, he saw Bruce and, somehow, that allowed him to make the connection in the present-day situation. Alright, let’s think that one through for a moment: just because Blake saw that Bruce Wayne felt the same anger and pain that he did, how does that make him into Batman? There is NO link there at all. It was a sweet scene and everything, but made no sense. And why is it that Blake can nail Bruce as Batman, but Selena and Gordon can’t? Then again, Bane made him immediately, so…
And speaking of Bane, don’t you think that, if Ra’s al Ghul wouldn’t want Bane around in his League, after training him, that he would do the same thing he tried to do with Bruce and have him killed? After all, a powerful enemy is bad enough, but one that knows all your tricks and moves is usually considered even worse. And excommunication doesn’t mean very much if the guy is still around, using your moves to rule the world.
How did Bruce get back into Gotham after he had escaped from Bane’s prison? Every available eye was on air, land, and sea travel in and out of the city. But, somehow, he was able to just stroll in like everything was perfectly normal.
The point where I, as an audience member, finally gave up on caring at all about this film was when the plot made the real link between Ra’s al Ghul and Bane. Not only does it make very little sense at this point to reveal, since changing hands with the detonator won’t help it not go off, but it really does nothing to round out either the plot or the characters.
However, the absolute biggest complaint I have about any of the films is the backstory of the villains. In The Dark Knight, the joker is never properly revealed. Sure, it keeps him nice and mysterious, not to mention crazy, but it does nothing to make the audience invest properly with him as an antagonist. Likewise, in The Dark Knight Rises, the audience is fed only minute bits of information about the antagonist and, until the absolute very end of the film, only a fraction of information is given, but nothing enough to really make you care. Who is he? What is his backstory? How did he get his scars/ mask/ other distinguishing features? Why is he doing what he is doing? These are questions that are important for the audience to have an answer to in order to connect to an antagonist; they’re not necessarily rooting for them, but everyone loves to hate a good bad guy. If you can’t understand who he is and why he’s doing what he does, then what’s the point?
It certainly isn’t the engrossing performances from his actors.
While, in Batman Begins, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine are brilliant as engaging, secondary characters, Christian Bale sounds less than the mournfully angry vigilante he is supposed to be and more like he is stoically musing boredom when he’s not fighting crime. The same carries over in both The Dark Knight, where Heath Ledger does a bizarre interpretation of the Joker in his final role, and The Dark Knight Rises, where Anna Hathaway is an interesting choice as Catwoman. No matter what, Christian Bale seems somewhat bored through all his dialogue, unless he’s rasping away pretending to be Batman. Then he just sounds upset because he can’t find a throat lozenge.
Speaking of quirks from actors, I find it interesting how well the audience can understand Ra’s al Ghul under his gas-mask in Batman Begins and the clown criminals when they’re wearing their masks in The Dark Knight, but Bane in The Dark Knight Rises practically requires subtitles to be understood.
And it certainly isn’t the new design of the batmobile.
Introduced in Batman Begins, the tumbler is a bridging vehicle that is used in the army to go into a rampless jump while towing a cable in order to create a bridge. It is about a large as an SUV and as adorable as Wall-E, but when it tries to become the batmobile, it fails on the single basic purpose that the batmobile has stood for since the comics first came out in 1939: the batmobile is supposed to be sleek and sexy! By turning it into what is basically a tank that jumps from rooftop to rooftop, it is no longer anything that falls into the very definition of “batmobile.”
In the end, I’m not saying that the wacky films of the 90s (after all, it gave us Jim Carry in green tights) or that the bizarre ones from the 60s (dancing Adam West, anyone?) were any better than what director Nolan offered the world. I just don’t think that they deserve all the blind devotion that people seem to give his trilogy.
What do you, as the reader, think? If you disagree with this unpopular opinion, feel free to write me back!