Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Break from Dissertating, or Why Everybody Else Is Wrong About The Next Dark Knight Villain

While everybody on the internet and their mothers are speculating as to which member of the Rogues Gallery will be the villain in the next Batman movie (exhibit A), I'd like to take this moment to shout into the Abyss:

There shouldn't be another villain!

At least nobody is arguing for Calendarman yet.

Nolan isn't just retelling the Batman story. He's recreating it. Sure, there are over the top moments, but his Batman exists in a real world, not a serial. That means that when people die, they die. When Batman makes a choice, he has to deal with its consequences. And when the baddest bad guy of all makes his appearance, you simply cannot top it.

This is the existential problem in Nolan's created world, and frankly, it should be the guiding problem of whatever movie follows The Dark Knight.

This Batman series has emphasized symbolism from the beginning, taking special care to show that the idealism of the first movie could in fact be twisted. It turns out, ironically, that Bruce Wayne had it only partially right when he said that as a symbol, he could be incorruptible. It's actually the man behind the mask who resists corruption in The Dark Knight, and the symbol that becomes tarnished. In fact, that's one reason the Bruce Wayne/Batman character is so relatively boring in the second movie. Call me a cynic (I am), but I say it's time to take this to its extreme and logical end: Batman must be the villain of the third and final movie. More than that, the symbol must die, and the man must learn what it is to give up everything to achieve his goal.

I give to you my concept, in varying degrees of detail, for the last Batman movie:

Our first shot opens on a pair of scruffy wingtip shoes waddling away from us. The camera pans up slightly, just enough to let us see that the man wearing them is obese and carrying an umbrella.

Cut to the back of a woman's head, well-coiffed. She's at an expensive restaurant, seated with a group of women dressed in businesswear. She holds a cat.

Cut to a side view of a man wearing a purple top hat. He stares at a group of children on a playground.

Cut to a woman wearing a labcoat. She drops a fly into a waiting Venus Fly Trap.

Cut back to the original man, who enters a convenience store and tries to hold up the clerk using his umbrella. The umbrella is awkwardly rigged to fire a gun, but it doesn't work. He runs out of the store and into an alley, panting. Someone hands him a piece of paper. [The cuts begin to increase in pace] The woman with the cat begins to call her lunch meeting to order when the waiter hands her a piece of paper. She opens it and sees a coded message. The man in the hat is looking at his paper, a few letters of which he's deciphered. The botanist has completed half of the message. The message is quickly revealed to be an invitation to a "Rogues' Gallery" by someone calling himself "The Riddler."

Cut to Commissioner Gordon having a conversation with an underling about proliferation since the Joker's capture. "Every two-bit nut is putting on a costume and calling himself a supervillain. There's no room left for the normal people in this town."

Cut to assembled villains in a warehouse (here's your chance to stick Calendarman in the movie). There is a huge round table, big enough to seat them all. In the center is a note in the shape of The Riddler's mask. Most of the villains eye each other warily. A few are talking themselves up to their neighbors, the rest are annoyed by the amateurish efforts. Finally the Penguin jumps up on the table and waddles towards the note. He picks it up, and the note tears to reveal a smaller piece of paper in the shape of a bat. The villains look around worriedly.

Cut to outside of warehouse. It explodes.

Tune in tomorrow, same Bat-channel, for continuing developments in this story...

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