Friday, July 20, 2012

You don't need to be the World's Greatest Detective to know what the new Batman movie is about: What Richard Pryor and emo-Spiderman have to do with Bane

***This post contains no spoilers. Sorry to get your hopes up***
As I'm writing this, hundreds of thousands of fangirls and boys are reveling in the fact that they just saw Christopher Nolan's conclusion to his Caped Crusader story arc at the midnight showing, while millions more are lining up to see it today. Despite my self-proclaimed status as a comic book nerd ever since Thanos was resurrected in the pages of Silver Surfer, I'm not one of those fans that will see Batman today.
I'm sure these would have been hanging from my wall if they were around during my teen years.  And as a side note, it's amazing that I didn't get beat up more often.

Namely because Batman: El caballero de la noche asciende doesn't come out in Mexico, where I am currently writing from, for another week.  Despite this tragic turn of events, I know exactly what the new movie is about thanks to the "third-movie-inner-demons" plot outline that has become so ubiquitous in the super-hero mythos that it's amazing it was never described by Joseph Campbell.  Basically, the super-hero trilogy goes like this: part one is the origin story, part two is the established super-hero that has been ramped up, and by the time the third film rolls around, filmmakers assume that the only way to make the sequel to the sequel "bigger and badder than before" is to make the super-hero battle his or her own inner existential threat.  What better way to illustrate the point than with two cinematic gems: Superman III and Spiderman III.
The most fortunate of you have probably just finished years of self-hypnotism classes in order to purge these movies from your mind, so allow me to remind you how these two movies can illuminate the finer plot points of the new Batman movie.  In Superman III, the man of steel is turned into an dark version of himself by synthetic kryptonite created by Richard Pryor, who it turns out is a idiot-genius after taking an introduction to computing class.  In Spiderman III, the friendly neighborhood webslinger is corrupted by an alien symbiote that falls from outer-space.  In both cases, the protagonist becomes a dark shade of his former heroic self, accompanied by a gamut of horrible actions: Superman grows a five o'clock shadow, blows out the Olympic flame, straightens out the leaning tower of Pisa and has a fling with the villain's therapist.  Spiderman for his part turns emo, becomes a womanizing jerk as well as a horrible dancer.  Both heroes are forced to battle their dark selves, Superman in a metaphysical junkyard battle between the doppelganger and Clark Kent, and Spiderman by discovering that the symbiote's only weakness happens to be church bells.

There are countless other examples of the hero turned villain for the third movie.  In X-Men United, Xavier's mutants have to face the Phoenix force, manifested through Jean Grey.  In Karate Kid III, Daniel leaves Mr. Miyagi to be trained by the bad guy.  And in Land Before Time III, Littlefoot becomes an insufferable hipster, wearing his Keffiyeh everywhere and only drinking Pabst blue ribbon.  In fact, if you want to compare apples to apples, the appearance of nipples on the batsuit in Batman Forever should be evidence enough of Batman's corruption in the third movie (of sorts).
 So what does all this have to do with Christopher Nolan's coda?  I think it should be obvious by now: Bane is really just a manifestation of Bruce Wayne's dark side that will be overcome in a metaphorical final battle to save Gotham.  I'm sure that all of the carnage in the trailer is just part of a dream sequence, but it's always possible that I'm wrong.  To be honest though, all signs point toward Bane just being the yin to Batman's yang, so don't be surprised if Christian Bale turns out to be playing the surprise double role again (I know I promised at the first that there wasn't any spoilers in this post, so you shouldn't click on this link unless you know how The Prestige ends; and if you didn't, then I guess I just ruined it for you anyway).   
This foolproof theory can of course be extended to other threequels.  Many fans have been clamoring for Iron Man 3 to be based on the "Demon in a Bottle" arc, where Tony Stark dramatically succumbs to  alcoholism, which is guaranteed to translate into a surefire blockbuster.
Not depressing in the least bit.

2 comments:

Eric and Debbie said...

You're just jealous that we saw Dark Knight Rises today and you don't get to see it for a week. BANE = KEWLEST

Matt Howard said...

We finally saw The Dark Knight Rises and my final takeaway, after digesting all of the fun action, is that man, I want more fun in my comic book movies. These things are unrelentingly bleak until the end, which is kind of ok, except for all of the dead fish.