With the release of the latest trailer for the final instalment in Nolan’s Batman saga, the internet is again abuzz with speculation about the nature of the new images and scenarios alluded to by the clips. I too am interested to know more and cannot wait for the epic conclusion, however, this trailer left me cold and now I am asking questions about the potential for this film to fall short of its two prequels.
To make my point about why I am worried, I will analyse the trailer along with one from each of the other movies and speculate on the reasons for the differences.
Batman Begins is about origins; not only the origins of Bruce Waynes skills, motivation and fears, but also a great setup to a longer arc about the nature of Batman and all masked vigilantes. Issues of accountability, justice and order are discussed and left un-concluded for further examination in subsequent sequels.
The trailer gives people going into the movie a good grasp of the early story and how the movie plans to portray it. It shows, in order, the Origin of Bruces fear, the murder of his parents and his motivation for saving Gotham, his training and return home, the situation is outlined and Bruce is shown preparing his gear and abilities to take the bad people on, concluding with a montage of action sequences to wet the appetites of movie goers and threaded nicely with philosophical exploration of the effects of anonymous crime fighting both on the vigilante and those around him.
The Dark Knight
For the next movie in the series the same type of narrative trailer was employed. The reintroduction to Gotham, the new enemy and the new political landscape created by Batman’s appearance are all outlined. Quick cuts link people and places to the dialogue that threads the trailer. It sets up the battle between Batman and Joker, the ultimate hero and villain and seeds audiences with questions about what will have to be done, and what sacrifices will have to be made, for Batman to prevail. Again the nature of heroism and villainy are examined, foreshadowing one of the primary themes of the movie.
The Dark Knight Rises
The trailer for dark knight rises takes a decidedly different tone. The appearance of an impactful Nolan-style trailer is there but it is substantially less satisfying.
A lot of out of context sequences and phrases do not a narrative make. The powerful imagery and efficient exposition of the previous trailers has been replaced by out of context threats, hints about character arcs and isolated one-liners that come off as cheesy, cheap hype generation. Some more politicking carrying on from the second movie is present, but little explanation about the landscape of Gotham is given.
The previous trailers do this too, however, this time I am not assured that the answers will form a coherent arc because there is no thread, no primary voice like Ra’s Al Ghul or the Joker. The new trailer cuts Alfred in with tiny clips of anonymous police officers, Selina Kyle and Bane, suggesting that the film may turn into a mess as the characters compete for screen time much like the mess of villains in Spiderman 3. I still have faith, if the use of Harvey Dent/Two face in Dark Knight was to your liking, as it was to mine, then a reuse of this dynamic with Catwoman would be welcome again.
Bane is set up as the main villain using an uncomfortable scene in a Football Stadium. Nolans batman is supposed to be ‘real’ and gritty and Gotham is referenced as part of the wider world constantly in the movies but something about the decision to use a distinctive sport is off putting. The CGI is in need of a couple more passes before it can be called suitable for the final film. Maybe that is indicative of the state of the whole trailer, something needed to be put out there to begin generating hype but the film is not yet ready enough. In an effort to make up for the lack of information from the first trailer, and satiate the unrelenting hype as fans absorb every slyly took set photo, a lot of random clips were thrown together with a lot less care than for the previous two films.
The prison sequence with the people chanting rise looks like it would fit better into Batman Begins than in the upcoming movie. It also implies a supernatural element which Batman Begins cleverly avoided when dealing with its immortal villain. Meanwhile, Selina Kyle is occupying Wayne manor with a speech about how she hates rich people. Plans to remove Gordon from office are mixed in with scenes of him in danger, property is damaged and Bane strides around like a career criminal on a mission from a higher power. Putting it together with what else is known; that this film takes place a substantial amount of time after The Dark Knight, that Batman has been absent from Gotham between the films, and that there will be some reference to Ra’s Al Gul I can only imagine that Bruce Wayne returns to the Himalayas where he trained to investigate something.
The original trailer had a more coherent thread and alluded to Bruce Waynes downfall. However it lacked any other information at all. Leaving this trailer to provide the clips of Bane people have been anticipating. What the arc of the movie is, the new situation in Gotham, and what I have to care about, are not explained. Ra’s and the Joker had clear motivations outlined in their trailers; Bane has none. The restraint shown previously is not present here, whole sub plots of the Dark Knight were hidden until the film opened but this time a little bit of everything has been laid out. It watches more like a confirmation of rumours than an interesting prelude to the full feature.