|Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Written By: Frank Miller
|The Dark Knight Rises
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
|Harvey Dent believes his disfiguration revealed a hidden evil side. Bruce pays for Harvey’s reconstruction surgery and psychiatrists allow him to be re-entered into society. He returns to crime and is captured by Batman. (Miller, 15-17 & 26)||Dent becomes “Two Face” when he loses faith in the law and resorts to the only way he deems fair, “chance”. Yet they allow Harvey to remain a “hero” to maintain hope for law enforcement in Gotham|
|We are aware that the Mayor is confident and that he is forcing Gordon into retirement, unsure as to who his replacement is. ( Miller, 11 & 59)||It is suggested that “the mayor is laying him (Gordon) off in the spring”|
|Selina works for Kyle Escort and is dressed as Wonder Woman.||Selina is Cat woman.|
|Batman is gone for nearly 10 years (Miller, 11)||Batman is gone for 7 years|
|Children think Batman is a myth (Miller, 11)||The children are all still holding faith in the Batman|
|“write them a cheque” says Bruce to Alfred (Miller, 119)||Forgets to write cheques for orphanage because his company isn’t making money since he locked himself away for 7 years|
|Master Bruce. Whatever happened to your mustache? – Alfred ( Miller, 20)||Bruce has been locked away for a long time; his facial hair has grown out. Upon his return to Batman, he shaves it off.|
|“….Though given your social schedule of late, the prospects of there being a next generation…” (Miller, 21)||Alfred tells Wayne he went to Florence, and while he was there he imagined seeing Bruce across the table, with a wife, happy, and though they never spoke it was enough.|
|Comic shows Bruce’s visions of his parents murder and his mothers pearls getting ripped off (Miller, 24)||Includes the pearls in the film when Cat Women steals them|
|Mechanical arm splint (Miller, 53)||Mechanical leg split|
|Rookie goes to shoot at Batman, “go to the car kid” (Miller, 40)||Rookie goes to shoot at Batman and is told to put it away|
|There is a flying vehicle shaped like a bat (Miller, 182)||Batman has a flying vehicle called “The Bat”|
|“it’s still dark in Gotham city, it’s still winter in august” ( Miller, 184)||It is winter in Gotham as soon as Bane takes over|
|Nuclear Warfare between Soviets and America (Miller, 165)||America creates nuclear weapon “fusion project” into a nuclear bomb|
|People turn against one another almost immediately (Miller, 179-181)||Bane’s threats and promises strike fear in the people of Gotham forcing them to choose sides and turn on one another|
|The Batmobile and motorcycle is used (Miller, 77 & 54)||“The Tumbler” and the motorcycle is used|
|Superman stops the Nuclear weapon and nearly dies. ( Miller, 166)||Batman stops the nuclear weapon and “supposedly” dies.|
The relationship between Frank Miller’s, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy (specifically The Dark Knight Rises but also, The Dark Knight) are rather obvious. Frank Miller prides himself on the crime noir genre as seen through his art work in The Dark Knight Returns (and his famous movie, Sin City). Nolan appears to have drawn from the dark version of Batman that Frank Miller created and simplified the story by breaking it down into three parts, making it more realistic to the viewers. There is also his obvious decision to utilize the title “The Dark Knight” which in itself appears to be representative of a cold, senile man (though slightly more optimistic than Millers version) with a grudge that he will never truly shake.
A film-noir is a cinematic term primarily used to describe Hollywood crime dramas. Often they emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations (Film Noir). Film-noirs were originally created as a high contrast black and white film and the term neo-noir has also been used to represent modern day film-noirs that utilize many of the same elements but with updated themes or visual elements. Modern versions of film noirs also incorporate colour while maintaining a majority of night scenes or scenes held in dim light. There is a range of possible plots such as the law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime or simply a victim of circumstance. I chose these two as my examples as they relate to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (and the trilogy as whole) as well as Frank Miller’s, The Dark Knight Returns.
The Dark Knight Rises, by Christopher Nolan utilizes low-key lighting schemes and dramatic shadows like many classic film-noirs. Its convoluted story lines and use of flashbacks that at times disrupt the narrative are all signifiers of a neo-noir (Film Noir). Batman being both a part of The League of Shadows and a character that hides in the shadows of the night sets the stage perfectly for this style of film and his character traits make him an ideal neo-noir protagonist. Batman is filled with existential bitterness, the unnecessary death of his parents by criminals lead to his loss of faith in society; thus resulting in his creation of Batman so as to take back control of Gotham in a non violent manor.
Generally a requirement of the protagonist is to be a part of a heist or implicated in con games or murder conspiracies (Film Noir). In The Dark Knight Batman is involved in The Joker’s con-games by force. Not only is he usually involved in them via his attempt to prevent them but this time The Joker literally makes Batman a part of them. The Joker forces Batman to choose between two locations one being Rachel’s and one being Harvey’s, knowing only one can be saved he must make a decision. So who to choose- his love or the cities hero? This decision of course is made more complicated by The Jokers games.
With this being said, crime is also another tell tale sign of a film-noir, often even murderous crimes; all of which occurs within Nolan’s Batman trilogy(Film Noir). Gotham is a city struck by crime, greed and murder and is inherently corrupt therefore it requires a hero. Even though their true hero is the Batman, as we all know, “he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.” Gotham needs more than Batman, it is a city that cannot afford to lose faith and hope in the law. For that reason Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s murders, once more proving his dedication to the city. Crime is also what leads us to our secondary character Jack, who is responsible for the crime investigations. He plays the role of the concerned amateur cop more interested in learning and protecting than investigating. Over all, the convoluted story line, use of flashbacks, murder, external bitterness and a life in the shadows fighting crime show us that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogies are in fact neo-noir films (as if the Title “The Dark Knight” wasn’t enough of a giveaway.)
I tried to find a clip that showed the shadowy darkness surrounding Gotham in Nolan’s trilogy as well as the corruption and crime within in the city of Gotham.
Similarly, Frank Miller uses a book-noir theme throughout his comic via pictures that are grotesque and dark. Unlike most comics that sexualize women, utilize bright colours and are often directed towards young adults, Frank Millers Comic touch on societal issues such as stereotypes, controversies ethics, neoliberalism and capitalism within American Culture. His anger is evident as he writes this comic (also using more text than the average comic would) and it is this anger and style of artwork that lead to a book-noir. Batman is once more the protagonist filled with existential bitterness, his parent’s death is a constant flashback we as the readers experience. Slowly we are unraveling more information about his bitterness towards society and ultimately his flashbacks are what drive him to become Batman once more. His disdain for crime and the turn of society causes him to act out more violently than your average version of Batman and we are even lead to believe he may even have murdered someone, though this is never proven. Batman is both surrounded by and drawn into con-games, once again by The Joker (who even frames Batman as his own murderer). And once more the society see’s Batman as a vigilante as opposed to a hero. Carrie Kelly plays the role of a concerned amateur detective seeking out Batman (while dressed as Robin) and eventually proving herself worthy of assisting him. Overall the tone is notably downbeat as Frank Miller addresses his issues with society through print culture. The use of dark and grotesque images along with a protagonist who has lost hope for a corrupted society taken over by criminals is the perfect set up for a book-noir.
“re-imagining of a superhero”…”Dark Knight specifically influenced every Batman to come since.”
This is a clip I have selected to try and show the reckless behavior of Bruce Wayne. The darkness, apathy and crime in Gotham, driving Bruce to a point where he can no longer resist being Batman again. All which when combined creates the book-noir.
Fun Fact: Film noir is often associated with an urban setting, and a few cities in particular—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago (Film Noir). Funny enough, Batman The Dark Knight is filmed in New York and Chicago (and Pittsburgh) and Gotham was a nickname given to New York City by Bob Kane when he was creating Batman.
I also found this blog related to the noir topic, that discusses some of the similarities between Blade Runner and The Dark Knight called Blade Runner meets The Dark Knight. Very Interesting! Take a look.
- Miller, Frank. Batman: the Dark Knight Returns. New York, N.Y.: DC Comics, 2002. Print.
- The Dark Knight Rises. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway. Warner Bros., 2012. DVD.
- “Film Noir” Wikipedia. November 28, 2012.
- “The Dark Knight Rises ‘Legend’ Trailer” Youtube, 2012.
- “The Dark Knight Returns (2012) Sneak Peak” Youtube, 2012.