Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FILM TOPIC: What Should Christopher Nolan Have Done Differently in the Batman Saga?

Now that it's all said and done and the Christopher Nolan phase of the Batman saga is (allegedly) over, we can truly assess the director and co-writer's contribution to the character's film history. As fans, we all have our own gripes or criticisms about the hero's character arc and storylines. Some of us would've preferred different villains (The Riddler, Penguin, Poison Ivy, the original Two-Face, etc.). Some would've enjoyed the addition of Robin. And some grew weary of brooding-and-bummed Bruce Wayne and wish he'd lighten up like Tony Stark, or at least have a balance of light and dark, like Peter Parker. And all of those are valid complaints/suggestions. Alas, my personal issue with the trilogy involves the female characters.

Yes, I'm female. But this isn't a feminist rant. I'm not vying for more screen time, better roles, or less damsel-in-distressing. I just don't think Nolan ever truly thought through Bruce's romantic relationships. I could care less if Batman falls in love, but if you're going to spend a quarter of the film dwelling on what flavor of the week he's suddenly intrigued by, you might as well make it substantial. I think that's what Spider-man has always excelled at above all other superhero films. It truly does have a perfect balance of romance, personal growth, and heroics, and they all carry equal weight.

While it's true that Nolan could not have foreseen the backlash of casting Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, he did manage to establish a relatively interesting love triangle in The Dark Knight containing Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart. But once that came to a devastating end, he owed it to the character to either find him someone who could love such a burdened, broken man or to forever pine after his "one true love" (even though she rejected him in a letter before she died). Instead, in The Dark Knight Rises, [mini-spoiler] he basically courts both Marion Cotillard's Miranda and Anne Hathaway's Selina/Catwoman, and ends up with whichever woman would take him. [mini-spoiler ends] The addition of love triangles in the saga seems to only be for the purpose of accelerating the plot. Whether or not Bruce is in love or if he's meant to be with any of these women is irrelevant.
What I would've preferred is if Nolan had established Catwoman as an easter egg character early on. If you remember, Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow shows up in all three films—the first as the secondary villain, the second in a fleeting moment as a drug dealer, and in the third as a self-appointed judge/executioner of the rich and insubordinate. He was sprinkled throughout the series as an unofficial on-going character. If Nolan had set Hathaway's character up like that, perhaps making her Lucius Fox's secretary or Commissioner Gordon's daughter, we could've seen the beginnings of Selina Kyle. Hathaway could've broken out her Princess Diaries dork schtick and led us to believe for two whole films that she was clumsy, defenseless and generally harmless. And then in the third film, in an unguarded Gotham City, we could've seen her true colors. That she only pretends to be innocent. That she's actually quite flexible, quick, cunning, and devious. And that the only reason she worked for Fox was to nick gadgets from Batman's armory or that she came back to live with her dad to gain access to criminal files. And throughout all the films, we could've seen brief interactions between Selina and Bruce/Batman, where she barely registered on his radar, while she secretly crushed on him. Then when he discovers what she's really like and, you know, everything else happens, they could establish a real relationship. Of course, Nolan or any other screenwriter could come up with something better, but you get the idea. It was a missed opportunity and now we're left with a gaping hole in the hero's tale.

What do you wish Nolan would have done differently?

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