Will ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ live up to fan expectations?

It’s only a few more days until the release of the final chapter of director Christopher Nolan’s darkly epic “Batman” trilogy. The first film, “Batman Begins,” successfully rebooted a franchise that was floundering after the genuinely awful “Batman & Robin” in 1997, and “The Dark Knight” earned the late Heath Ledger an Oscar for his brilliant and chilling performance as the Joker. Expectations for the final film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” are extremely high, and fans soon will find out if Nolan can deliver another masterpiece.

While there’s no doubt “The Dark Knight Rises” will do well in theaters, it’s a little tougher to predict whether or not the movie will be a blockbuster. I’m betting it will more than earn back its reported $250 million budget, but I don’t think it will beat “The Avengers” at the box office. Although there certainly is a high level of excitement about the release of “The Dark Knight Rises,” in general the film hasn’t generated quite as much buzz as “The Avengers” did going in (or at least that’s my impression). “The Avengers” has pulled in more than $1 billion so far worldwide, and I don’t think any film this year is going to challenge that (with the exception, perhaps, of “The Hobbit” this December). “The Avengers” was a marketing triumph for Marvel and drew a lot of attention due to the fact it had such a novel concept: a team of superheroes who’d already starred in their own individual films, thrown together in one epic mash-up. Still, “The Dark Knight Rises” certainly doesn’t have to take in as much money as “The Avengers” in order to be considered a financial success, and I think it will have a good run in theaters.

While I’m predicting “The Avengers” will wind up being my favorite film overall this summer, I do think “The Dark Knight Rises” will end up toward the top of my list. Christopher Nolan hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I think “The Dark Knight Rises” should be a solid conclusion to his Batman trilogy. Nolan’s films — which include “Inception” and “The Prestige” — are generally smartly-written, thought-provoking and mind-bending, with creative twists that keep the audience guessing. “The Dark Knight” probably deserved a “Best Picture” Academy Award nomination, even though it didn’t receive one.

I’m intrigued by the character “Bane,” especially since he’s going to be played by British actor Tom Hardy. I think Hardy is one of the most promising new talents in Hollywood. I loved him in “Inception,” his break-out role, and also in the recent spy thriller/romantic comedy “This Means War” (even though I was a little disappointed by “This Means War” overall, Hardy was great as the charming spy “Tuck”). It will be interesting to see how Hardy plays a darker, more villainous character. I’m also glad to see the addition of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (another “Inception” alum) to the cast.

I’m very curious about how Nolan will conclude his Batman trilogy. Plot details have remained somewhat vague, which helps to build suspense; the film’s trailers have hinted at themes such as social inequality and unrest, but whether or not Nolan intends to tie the film into the “Occupy” movement remains to be seen. I doubt the film will have a traditional happy ending, considering the tone of the series overall, but will Nolan actually make Batman a martyr, having Bruce Wayne sacrifice his life to save Gotham? I’m thinking even though it would be somewhat shocking for a major superhero film, Nolan will end the movie with Batman’s death; this type of ending would tie in with the series’ darker, more solemn tone.

So, will “The Dark Knight Rises” be as good as 2008’s “The Dark Knight”? “The Dark Knight” is certainly a tough act to follow, and there’s always the possibility Nolan’s trilogy will end up peaking in the middle (Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy and the original “Star Wars” trilogy are both examples of three-part series in which the middle film ended up being the best). Fan expectations are so high that sometimes it’s tough to live up to these expectations.

One of the film’s potential weaknesses could be the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman — a topic which has sparked some heated discussion among fans. Personally, although I like Hathaway as an actress and I’ve enjoyed her in other films I’ve seen, I’m still not convinced she’s the right fit for this part. Other actresses on the short list for this role (such as Keira Knightley) seem like they would have been more logical choices. Can Hathaway give Catwoman the dark tone the character needs to work well in this film? I don’t know, but I’m willing to give her a chance. Heath Ledger seemed like an unusual choice to play the Joker until I actually saw him in “The Dark Knight,” and he turned out be amazing in that role. I’m willing to trust Nolan on this one.

So, what do you think about “The Dark Knight Rises?” What do you hope to see in the film? How do you think Nolan will end his Batman trilogy?

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4 thoughts on “Will ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ live up to fan expectations?

  1. I think given how jazzed people were about Prometheus and then were so overly critical, it could go either way for TDKR at this point. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

    The only thing I DO NOT WANT is for Bruce to die at the end. If I knew Nolan was planning another film I’d be OK with it but otherwise it just seems like a cheap way to end a series.

  2. TDKR will do very well at the box office, on par with the previous movie. Will it beat the Avengers? Probably not. And of course some pessimistic media types will label the movie as a “disappointment,” which is stupid.
    But I will be there opening day, and probably a few more times this summer. Looking forward to this one.

  3. Even if TDKR only earns about half of what The Avengers does, that’s still pretty darn good. 😉 I’m going in with an open mind, and I’m anticipating enjoying the film. And Hollywood will always be in Nolan’s debt for saving the Batman franchise.

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