"The Fanboy Who Lived."

Last weekend, I joined a record-setting chunk of America in seeing the eighth and final installment of the Harry Potter film franchise. It was a midnight screening filled with plenty of mixed emotions, though that had less to do with the movie and more to do with the ninety minutes it took to drive to East Bumble Fuck, Wisconsin. I could’ve personally done without the awkward Epilogue at the end, but Mr. Yates handled Snape’s final moments quite tastefully. Before I knew it, it was 2 AM and yet another addition to my summer blockbuster experience had concluded.  I never really thought about it until now, but it does feel strange that we won’t have any more Harry Potter.  A bit sad when you think about it, no?  Ah well, on to the important stuff.

How about that Batman trailer?

Now it certainly helps the credit of this post to see an official version out on Monday, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t caught snippets from horribly bootlegged copies on YouTube.  Well, the wait is over,so I thought I’d offer my own breakdown.  Beware, possible spoilers and epic loads of geekery are to follow.  You’ve been warned:

  •  0:11 – 0:14  What is presumably a shot of Gotham City.  We seem to be looking at several lower-end apartment buildings.  Also, note the piece of debris falling downward.  Is the city falling apart?  That might account for the strange creaking noises.  This looks like it was rather hastily rendered on a computer, but I’m guessing Warner Bros. may have been a little low on available footage.
  • 0:15  EVERY HERO HAS A JOURNEY
  • 0:19  We hear Ra’s al Ghul’s lines: “If you make yourself more than just a man…”  This is played over a shot of Bruce on his initial climb to the League of Shadows’ fortress in “Batman Begins.”
  • 0:23  EVERY JOURNEY HAS AN END
  • 0:26  More from Ra’s: “If you devote yourself to an ideal…”  Bruce rises to his feet in the bat cave.  Another recycled clip from “Begins.”
  • 0:31  Ra’s speaks “…then you become something else entirely.”  FROM CHRISTOPHER MOTHERFLIPPIN’ NOLAN (emphasis added)
  • 0:34  The icing on the cake: “Legend, Mr. Wayne.  Legend.”  That final shot from “The Dark Knight” with the Batpod riding into the light.
  • 0:37  Cut to Gordon lying in a hospital bed.  This is new footage.  His neck seems to be bruised or scarred from something, and he’s holding an oxygen mask in his hand.  He’s clearly having trouble speaking and breathing.  Gordon is talking to a figure, presumably the one in the foreground, though we’re not able to tell who.  He croaks, “We were in this together, and then you were gone.”
  • 0:45  Gordon smashes the Bat signal, our second clip from TDK.
  • 0:47  More of those apartment buildings now.  The camera tilts upward.  More falling debris.
  • 0:50  Back to Gordon.  “Now this evil rises.”
  • 0:52  A silhouetted figure is climbing out of a tunnel or well.  Judging from the dangling rope, it’s likely the latter of the two.  It’s difficult to tell who this is, but the shot is pretty well timed with “…evil rises.”  The build on the upper body also looks a bit too bulky to be Bruce.
  • 0:54  Gordon again.  “The Batman has to come back.”
  • 0:58  This is clearly Bruce talking now.  “What if he doesn’t exist anymore?’  The footage is more difficult to make out here, but with the hairstyle and nose it looks like a heavily-bearded Bruce (yes, a rigorous nasal comparison was undertaken).  He’s doing push ups in some sort of cell.  If you pause it, you can also see figures standing in the background.  Perhaps guards?  The only question this begs is why Bruce would be in prison in the first place.  The voiceover would also seem to validate this as Bruce.
  • 1:01  Gordon.  “He must.”
  • 1:03  Very quick shot of Tom Hardy as Bane
  • 1:04  “He must.”
  • 1:06  A much clearer image of Bane here.  His mask and overall look matches what we’ve seen so far, though it’s a rather peculiar interpretation.  His face mask almost appears insect-like and it seems to function more like a muzzle, covering his mouth and his nose.  Is this how he feeds off his Venom serum?
  • 1:07  Loads of debris now.  We’re facing straight up as the outline of the Gotham skyline forms the iconic Batman symbol.  More of that pesky creaking as we zoom upward into the sky.
  • 1:17  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.  Eggshell with Romalian type…  We also get more of those strange chants from that first bit of viral marketing back in May.  Weird.
  • 1:23  Bats is soaked and clearly out of breath as Bane’s hulking mass lumbers out from the foreground.  The set here looks damp and you can hear running water in the background.  Sewers?  Check out the bit of steam.  Maybe rain.  It looks like Batman’s rocking the same suit from TDK, judging by the abdomen and tighter-fitting neck.  There’s also someone clearly standing behind him, but your guess is as good as mine on that one.

Now for a healthy dose of speculation:

It isn’t much, but I’ll hand it to the studio for really driving the point home that this is the final chapter in Nolan’s saga.  No fourth movie.  No second trilogy.  And for the love of Bob Kane, no Robin.  That doesn’t rule out a reboot, but more on that later.  The revisiting of moments from both “Begins” and TDK is a welcome one and really gives this a sense of continuity.  There’s a sprawling story arc that’s being told here, and this is the final chapter.

Liam Neeson’s role in particular is a bit troubling to me, as one might assume he’d be limited to flashback sequences at the most.  What caught my attention was that voice-over.  Those lines are from “Begins” but not exactly.  Ra’s never repeats “legend.”  See for yourself:

So what, right?  Well, for one thing the inflection is completely different, and that likely means one of two things:

  1. Warner Bros. simply took a separate take from those dailies and slapped it on the trailer
    OR
  2. Liam Neeson recently did some additional voice-over work for “The Dark Knight Rises”

Two scenes from both films are already used, which makes one wonder why they wouldn’t just do the same for five seconds of dialogue.  Neeson has officially signed on to reprise the role, but how much he’ll be in the film remains uncertain.  There’s a fair amount of chatter on message boards you wouldn’t dream of going on about a “Lazarus Pit.”  To make it brief, it’s basically a supernatural bath tub that Ra’s al Ghul used in the comics to gain immortality:

 “Quick.  Hand me my Loofah of Shadows.”

Here’s what was spotted on location in India that’s got all the nerds so riled up:

Hole in the ground.  Big frickin’ deal.  The key part of that photo is the green, which is actually only there for post-production purposes.  The studio will presumably insert whatever is actually supposed to go in there.  That could indeed be a Lazarus Pit.  It could be that same well from the teaser.  Or it could be the secret hideout of Crazy Quilt:

Yes, that’s a thing.

It’s a total leap of faith at this point.  Plus, the problem with bringing back someone from the dead is that it sorta would flagrantly violate what has been Nolan’s hyper-realistic take on the franchise thus far.

Gordon is where we get the real meat and bones of the trailer, or at least as “meaty” as a teaser trailer can get.  At least it’s meatier than TDK’s was, right?  I’m going to stop saying “meat” now.  It’s made pretty clear that when Batman leaves at the end of TDK, he stays out of the picture for a while.  “We were in this together” and “Then you left” both validate that.  What’s interesting is that Gordon mentions both a “you” and “the Batman.”  Since he seems to be talking to Bruce Wayne, that begs several questions.  Does Gordon know they’re the same person?  If so, for how long has he known?  Gordon seems to buy Bruce’s staged car accident in TDK, so it seems unlikely he would’ve figured it out on his own.  Then again, Gordon’s glasses are off, and if his prescription is as bad as mine–minus 10 in both eyes, thank you very much–he might not even be able to tell who he’s talking to.

More importantly, how did Gordon get there in the first place?  And what about those marks that ring his neck.  Did he have a bit of a tumble at the hands of Bane?

I’m digging what we’ve seen of Bane so far, especially that last shot.  It’s amazing how a few camera tricks and the right staging can make Tom Hardy, who’s only 5’9″, look that massive.  The old batsuit from TDK suggests that this fight sequence takes place earlier on in the film, as Nolan has been keen on necessitating upgrades in the previous installments.  Oh, and in the “Knightfall” storyline, Bane breaks Batman’s back.  Literally.

As far as that weird chanting playing behind the title card?  The two main camps of speculation credit the language as either Spanish or Moroccan.  While I can’t make out a word of it, a supposed translation either gives you “Bane, Bane.  Kill him, kill him.” or “He Rises.  He Rises,” respectively that is.  I know about four phrases in Spanish and my Moroccan is as rusty as my Esperanto so you’ll have to take the geek community’s word on this.  The good news is that either interpretation seems to fit with Bane’s South American background.

This brings me to my final point.  Again, this journey supposedly “ends.”  It’s a complete arc, so the back-breaking’s worth mentioning only because we can’t rule out Bruce becoming incapacitated or I dare I say, even dying?

Woah.  Easy.  Sit down, and put your pants back on, please.  Let’s agree on a few things:

  1. Box office records or not, this movie is going to make a shit ton of money.
  2. Rest assured, those Warner Bros. executives aren’t going to sit through the third quarter of 2012 and think, “Well, we’ve clearly milked Batman for all it’s worth.  Let’s respect Mr. Nolan’s creative vision and refuse to make another movie ever again.”
  3. An inevitable reboot isn’t likely to have any actors reprise their same roles.
  4. Christopher Nolan isn’t afraid to kill off characters.

This movie could totally end with the death of Bruce Wayne.  If one indulges the idea of a complete, three-film story arc, we should go back and look at some of those exchanges between Bruce and Señor al Ghul:

  • “Death is not considerate, or fair! And make no mistake: here, you face death!”
  • “You must become more than just a man in the mind of your opponent.”
  • “Is Ra’s al Ghul immortal?”

Suddenly that stuff about mortality and transcendence kinda fits in with all this “rising” nonsense, eh?  Legend, Mr. Wayne.  Legend.

I need to go outside today and try talking to a girl or something.

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