Dark Knights, Bad Girls, Red Lips

I’m in revisions so I’m going to skip a full review, dodge the politics, and just offer these few thoughts on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises:

* Despite my love for all things Batman, I was dreading watching this film. The trailers made it look so unrelentingly bleak, and with a running time of almost three hours, it felt like a pretty miserable way to celebrate my friend Morgan’s birthday. Well, turns out I not only have to eat my hat but my cape and cowl as well, because I LOVED IT.

I think this is because, more than any of the Batman films, it felt most true in spirit to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. This was the graphic novel that brought me back to superhero comics as a teen. Say what you will about Miller, but I think this book was for me what Watchmen seems to be for everybody else. It was bloody and brutal and sad and so effing human. Also, goofy 80s sunglasses.

* Bane’s accent seemed really over the top, like a punchy Sean Connery imitation. Also, when the bat symbol caught fire and he said, “Imposhible!,” did anyone else want to shout, “Inconceivable!”?

* Catwoman. When Hathaway was cast, I wrote about the Kitty Conundrum here and my response to this Catwoman is basically a good-natured shrug. I love that Hathaway played with caricatured female response and male reaction to that response. I love that Nolan made her insane heels functional if not utilitarian. I guess I just hoped that he would dirty her up a little.

Anarchy descends, yet Catwoman is still rocking a shiny blowout and a perfect red lip? I get that her glamor is basically DC canon (though Miller went to town on her in a totally depressing way), but I don’t get why everyone else gets dragged into the muck and she stays so… glossy.

There’s also nothing scary about her. If she’s meant to occupy a morally gray area and she doesn’t mind using guns or making mayhem, why doesn’t she feel like more of a threat? I suspect there’s a point to be made here about femininity, evil, and the grotesque, but for now, I’ll settle for saying that, one of these days, I’d like to see a genuinely terrifying super villainess on screen.

(Sidenote: Though she’s not strictly super, I’ll be curious to see what happens with Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. But after the whole Grendel’s Mom fiasco, I’m keeping my expectations in check.)

 

 

12 Comments

Filed under The Violet Hour

12 responses to “Dark Knights, Bad Girls, Red Lips

  1. The way you spelled “impossible” in Bane-speak made me laugh. Well done. :)

    Interesting points about Catwoman. She was actually one of my favorite characters in the movie, if not my favorite, and it wasn’t because I’m a warm-blooded male. (For the record, I do agree that it was a little odd that she looked pristine in post-apocalyptic Gotham.) I think it all came down to her encounter with Batman on the roof about an hour into the movie–when he turns around to see that she has disappeared, he says, “So that’s what that feels like.”

    Up to this point, there was no other character like her in Batman’s world. He’s gone head-to-head with plenty of crazy, scary people, but no one with a set of principles and a shroud of mystery like her. Catwoman is Batman without the funding. That, to me, is interesting.

    As for a genuinely terrifying super-villainess, though, I completely agree–that wasn’t her. Will we see such a character in your next book? I wonder how Ravka would have been different if the Darkling were a woman…

    • Touche! I’ve definitely had female anti-heroes and villainesses on the brain. We’ll see how much of that makes it into the Grisha Trilogy.

      I loved that moment on the rooftop, too. That said, Catwoman welcomes the “storm,” then frets at the wreckage. She sells out Batman, then makes sad faces when Bane nearly kills him. I don’t have beef with that ambiguity, but I’m not sure that it points to a clear set of principles– in fact, that’s canon, too. Catwoman is intended as more of a worthy adversary than a villainess. But I would still welcome a single real moment of menace from her.

      I was trying to think of truly scary women on screen, and Nurse Ratched and Annie (Kathy Bates) from Misery were the first two to come to mind– interestingly, both caregivers-gone-bad.

      • Those are all good points–all of them illustrate moments of contradiction for her. She seems capable, but not menacing or dangerous.

        Misery is a great example! And I certainly look forward to any female (or male) anti-heroes and villainesses in books 2 and 3.

  2. Thanks for posting this–the unrelenting bleakness of the trailer had me worried I wouldn’t enjoy this, so I really appreciate hearing your thoughts. And I gigglesnorted at the comment about Bane’s accent–I have a friend who will call me and say random crap like “Where can I find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” in that voice and it kills me every time.

  3. Alwyn

    I had to spend half of the movie trying to convince my mother (who is the most infuriating Movie Talker, seriously try enjoying ‘Ever After’ while a Renaissance Art Historian talks through it) that Bane was not in fact voiced by Patrick Stewart. To the point that she made us sit through credits to prove it was and that this “Tom Hardy” I spoke of was just the stunt double.

    And speaking of looking great after the Apocalypse, I’m just gonna put out there that I kind of figured Marion Cotillard was evil as soon as she appeared in a post apocalyptic world in which she clearly had access to curling irons.

    • Patrick Stewart!! That is hilarious.
      Curling irons and her eye shadow was perfection.

      MORE SPOILERS… She’s about to blow up an entire city, but by that point, you know the Bat is going to stop her so it’s sort of like, okay, keep mumbling about your dad, pretty lady. Again, threat without any real sense of menace.

  4. name

    To be honest, my opinion here, I never really did want Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman. She just felt odd to me…oh well.

  5. Maybe I wasn’t scared of Catwoman, but I’d say I’d be pretty scared of losing any expensive belongings she was in the same county as, ha!

    I haven’t read “The Dark Knight Returns” but I LOVED “Watchmen” and my favorite Batman comic is “Batman: Year One” which was also so a Frank Miller masterpiece, so I’m putting this at the top of my to-read graphic novels list!

  6. Pingback: Monday Movies Cannot Recommend That You Go Heli-Skiing « An und für sich

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  8. Jay

    This seems to happen to every girl in any movie. The one in the avengers, while the rest of the world was falling apart and the men looked like they had been through hell, she still looked all shiny in her outfit and her luscious short red hair looked intact. I mean, seriously?

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