The Dark Knight rises to the occasion
It’s been a long, long wait, 26 days to be exact, for movie buffs in the UAE. But today, as one of the most awaited films of the year, The Dark Knight Rises, is finally given the green light by local distributors, who claim to have held it because of Ramadan, it’s going to be one mad dash to the cinemas over the weekend.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that critics and audiences around the world have universally hailed the film, the last in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It’s already sitting second place in the year’s top grossing films behind The Avengers. There was also the tragic Colorado shooting, where a gunman at a premiere screening killed 12 people.
So, as one of the most successful movie trilogies comes to an end, we take you back to where it all began, to 2005 and bring you up-to-date with how this Batman story has evolved. Watch out for spoiler alerts.
BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
Main cast: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth; Liam Neeson as Ra’s Al Ghul; Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes; Gary Oldman as Sgt. James Gordon; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox; Cilian Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow and Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone.
Plot: The first Batman film starts with Bruce Wayne’s childhood, the murder of his parents and how his need for vengeance turned him into a vigilante. Wayne uses his family’s company’s resources and becomes a caped crusader fighting an army of shadows led by the evil Ra’s Al Ghul, who, along with The Scarecrow are planning to vaporise Gotham city’s toxin-riddled water supply to create mass hysteria and violence.
The Bat-ride: The much beloved Batmobile, also called the Tumbler, makes an appearance in this first Nolan film, which the production designer has described as a cross between a Lamborghini and a tank.
Villian: Ra’s Al Ghul, whose Arabic-sounding name has been translated in comic books as meaning The Demon’s Head, is played by Liam Neeson. In the film, he is the head of the centuries-old League of Shadows, an organisation that has taken upon itself to keep order and justice in a world, a place it sees as decadent and corrupt.
Budget: $150 million (Dh550 million).
Box office: $372 million.
THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
Main cast: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth; Heath Ledger as The Joker; Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent; Gary Oldman as Lieutenant James Gordon; Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox; Cilian Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow.
Plot: In Gotham city, an evil psychopath called the Joker is wrecking havoc, robbing banks and then offers the mafia a chance to kill Batman. His mission effects the lives of Lieutenant Gordon, Dawes and her fiancé Dent, with one tragic end. Batman races against time to hunt the Joker town before the city is plunged into complete chaos, and suffers a great loss.
The Bat-ride: The Batmobile makes a return appearance in this film but the highlight is the appearance of the Batpod, a motorcycle formed by the front wheels. The Batpod’s was imagined by Nolan and later designed by Nathan Crowley, who designed the Batmobile.
Villian: Joker, historically Batman’s arch enemy, has often been portrayed as an intelligent psychopath with a sadistic sense of humour. Sadly, Heath Ledger, who played the role so menacingly, died before the film’s release. He was later awarded a Best Supporting Actor Oscar posthumously for his role.
Box office: $1 billion.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
Main cast: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth; Tom Hardy as Bane; Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox; Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle; Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; Cilian Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow.
Plot: Peace has finally reigned in Gotham city and Batman has disappeared. But a new plot by a terrorist called Bane, who, with his hold of a nuclear-like power, turns the city into an isolated town and forces Batman out of self-imposed exile. There are enough twists and turns in this final instalment, with trusted aides turning foes and a few enemies becoming friends. Suffice to say, all loose ends, with many harking back to the first film, are tied at the end.
The Bat-ride: Batman flies this time in a Batplane, also called the Bat. The aircraft, designed by Fox, was originally designed for military operations. Fox warns Bruce Wayne in the beginning that the plane’s autpilot does not work – and that’s just another twist in the tale.
Villian: Nolan brings his Inception star Hardy as Bane, another classic Batman villain who is intelligent, prison-bred with almost superhuman-capability thanks to his addiction to Venom, a strength-enhancing super steroid. Hardy had to gain 14kilogramss to recreate this menacing masked villain.
Box office: $834million (so far)