Is It Just Me

The first act of The Dark Knight Rises, set eight years after the Batman’s last sighting, delivers an out-of-shape and genuinely hobbled Bruce Wayne in a brilliant encounter with Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle. The scene promised far more in terms of personal conflict than this blowhard of a film could deliver. Wayne’s return to action goes far too smoothly. There should have been more struggle and Batman should have gotten walloped on his first time back: an out-of-practice pianist taking the stage. I assume the producers didn’t want the audience to sit through two disparate Wayne rehabs, but the one they chose just bored me to tears. We all knew Batman would rise—it says so, right there in the title. The lunatic from Frank Miller’s eminently superior The Dark Knight Returns, pulling on the batsuit and going on obvious suicide missions, would have motivated the film much more efficiently. Alfred’s walk-out would have made a lot more sense had two-thirds of the movie featured a clearly out-of-his-league Batman, too angry or too proud to hang it up for good or who needs the humiliation to break through psychologically to the mental state required to resume his career. They could have saved millions on CGI effects and silly explosions had they only written an actual script.

Full essay is here



  1. Thad says:

    I certainly thought it was uneven but had its moments. I think my favorite thing about it was that Batman got an actual, honest-to-God ending (and a happy one) — something that simply doesn’t happen in the infinitely-serialized medium of comics.

    The beginning was solid but it was wrong; it was a sequel to a completely different film than The Dark Knight. The ending of TDK promises a Batman who continues to operate outside the law, chased and hounded by those who should be his allies for a crime he didn’t commit; TDKR reveals that nope he just retired that very night and crime totally fixed itself because of the Dent Act. The urge to shoehorn in Dark Knight Returns with a dash of Batman Beyond (on top of Knightfall, No Man’s Land, and whatever other kitchen-sink stuff I’m forgetting) overwhelmed any sense of continuity from the previous film.

    I could also complain about the politics of the film, but I’m actually perfectly all right with Batman being a poorly-thought-out right-wing power fantasy. I think that’s absolutely true to the spirit of the character.

    On the whole I’d say I liked it. But it didn’t hang together nearly as well as the preceding films. It was a whole lot of big thematic noise and a plot that didn’t make a damn lick of sense.

    • priest says:

      Yes, yes, and yes! The Dark Night Hunted would have been a much better movie. And, as Ebert points out, they forgot to make the film fun. It was relentless in its oppression (as was, IIRC, No Man’s and Knightfall. I just burned out on The Big Gimmick Comics). This is what worked with Amazing Spider-Man, his being hounded by the cops, misunderstood, etc. Had they worked a little harder on the villain, that would’ve been a real home run. And yes, one assumes that, since Nolan gave his film an ending, the next Bat film will be, sigh, a reboot by a new team… seems to be the pattern.

      Note to Dwight W: I actually wrote an Avengers review and forgot to post it. 🙂 Will get it here later this week, along with Lincoln.

      • Thad says:

        Yeah, it was tough. As grim as the previous film was, it didn’t blow up any stadiums or bridges. Of course, the real-life tragedy surrounding Rises just made it that much grimmer.

        Selina provided a few moments of levity, but they were basically just the beginning and ending of the movie. (And boo to the cheap shot of Bane’s defeat.)

        Haven’t seen ASM yet but I hear good things. Always liked George Stacy as a character. (I really liked his portrayal on the animated Spectacular Spider-Man; a real pity that it got cancelled after two seasons. Greg Weisman can’t catch a break — or he can, but every time he does he loses it after two seasons.)

        • Dave Van Domelen says:

          I seem to be in the minority of my social circle in really liking the crane sequence in ASM. Yeah, it was cheese, but it was GLORIOUS cheese, soaking up the whole point of being hero to the little guy, even as the rich and powerful call him a menace.

      • Looking forward to it, whether we agree on it or not.

  2. Nick says:

    Just came by to see if Priest had said anything one way or the other about Quantum & Woody. I don’t think there’s a fan in the world who wants anybody other than Priest in the driver’s seat on this one, so fingers crossed. I for one miss reading my favorite comic book writer, and I can’t imagine I’m alone.

    PS: Where’s that Avengers review your promised us, Priest? If you’re not going to give us new comics and rants to enjoy, we’ll happily(ish) settle for your take on the film versions of characters you used to write (albeit in most of those cases, mostly in guest roles). I’m particularly curious to see how you feel about their take on the Hulk.

    • Dave Van Domelen says:

      Looks like no Priest or Bright involvement. And while it’s possible the publishers did get Priest’s blessing, from what other stuff I’m hearing about the Valiant relaunch, it sounds like pretty high-handed “those contracts that would let you buy back the rights were ‘lost’, the properties are ours now, nyah!”

      • Tom says:

        I don’t know what happened but I’d assume any dispute over the rights is resolved. Acclaim went through Chapter 7 bankruptcy which means liquidation. At that point any assets they have fall to the court to be distributed. That includes intellectual property.

        Priest and Bright would have been debtors at that point entitled to either the property itself or compensation for the property. To get that they would have to petition the court. Then legal wrangling would ensue.

        But the court’s entire job is to settle all the obligations Acclaim had in the most equitable way possible. All contracts with Acclaim are, by definition, voided at that point.

        So whatever happened it was between Priest, Bright and the Bankruptcy court and is likely resolved by now.

      • Priest Priest says:

        Hi Dave– I don’t think they ever said, “Nyah!” but the legal wrangling is behind us.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Nick: wow, this is hilarious– that anyone would care what I thought of The Avengers movie! Ok, I’ll actually have to post it, now… NLT Monday, Nov 4 ’13, I promise!

  3. Jp Pollard says:

    I second everything the above commenter said.

  4. Tom says:

    Seriously Priest, how much do you pay for hosting? Because I’m pretty sure I’m going to be hitting refresh every 10 minutes for the next who-knows-how-many-days until you post your opinions on the new Q&W.

    If you don’t want to talk about that suitable substitutes would include the Avengers review you promised or the remainder of the Q&W completed material you promised to post 12 years ago (I’d also accept any behind the scenes impact comics junk you have lying around but that would probably only make me happy)

  5. I can’t find your email address. Long time no speak. I wondered if I could ask you something that *does* have to do with comics but does *not* have to do with being Black in comics, Q&W or any of the other foolishness people (present company included) have asked you about in the past.

    “No, this is *new* business!”

    Please advise at your earliest convenience, thank you in advance and I hope all is well with you and yours.

  6. Chris says:

    Stephen Bond would like to disagree with your positive opinion of The Dark Night Returns:

    I was wondering, how would you respond to his characterisation of it as a “neofascist wank fantasy”?

  7. Jp Pollard says:


  8. Kevin Bastos says:

    Welcome back.

    Luck to you.

    Read this in my Valiant pursuit, then read all of Black Panther in parallel. Then, bought and read everything I could find by you.


  9. And now we know more of the story as of October 2013, to our shared joy.

    Congratulations on the gig being successfully negotiated, friend Priest, and may there be more fun of this sort in your future, whatever projects end up taking form!