Matt Reeves’ The Batman kicked off a new era of Dark Knight tales earlier this year, one in which a broody Robert Pattinson punishes criminals night after night while completely shedding the billionaire playboy persona that has long defined Bruce Wayne in pop culture. It’s definitely a different take than general audiences are used to seeing in theaters. But this year’s film marks the beginning of just the latest era of Batman movies for Warner Bros.
Before The Batman, there was Zack Snyder’s DCEU take on the Caped Crusader. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck’s Bat branded and killed criminals without hesitation, although he softened up a bit for Justice League. Who knows what Affleck will do in his final outing in The Flash (although set photos give us a clue).
But even before the WB set out on its quest for cinematic universe glory akin to the one enjoyed by Marvel Studios, there was Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy of films. Starting with 2005’s Batman Begins, the director set out to redefine what audiences knew about Batman on the big screen after the sillier Joel Schumacher movies, giving the character a serious origin story heavily inspired by DC comics, as well as a more grounded feel. Nolan leaned even more heavily on realism to explore the morality behind Batman’s mission in 2008’s The Dark Knight, which is to this day largely regarded as one of the finest superhero films ever made.
Then there’s The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan’s attempt at a Dickensian superhero epic inspired by the French Revolution and America’s War on Terror. The director also sandwiched together three of the largest and most complex comic book stories ever told — The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall, and No Man’s Land — for his Batman trilogy closer. The 165-minute result, in which Bruce’s back is shattered, pulling him out of the action for a big chunk of the movie, while the regular citizens of Gotham are left to fend for themselves after Bane’s terrorist group traps every single policeman in the city in the sewers, proved to be a somewhat divisive one in 2012.
Although most critics gave the film high marks, and the movie has an 87 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, there are still those fans who maintain that The Dark Knight Rises ends Nolan’s trilogy on a sour note. Points of criticism include Nolan’s decision to (maybe) kill off Bruce at the end, Bane and Talia’s “nonsensical” plot to take over the city, and what some fans feel is a lack of a central theme or clear plot. Many thought pieces have been written in the years since the film’s release questioning what The Dark Knight Rises is even about.
While I still find The Dark Knight Rises to be a compelling farewell to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, it can certainly be argued that Nolan chased one too many plot threads in his final outing and that the film’s attempted commentary on class inequality is superficial at best. But when viewed as a whole, The Dark Knight Rises stands up against most other movies in its genre quite well, and there have certainly been far worse Batman films than this one.
Regardless of the discourse that still surrounds this movie, it’s clear audiences are open to giving The Dark Knight Rises another chance on streaming. This week, the film has found its way onto Netflix’s Top 10 Movies in the U.S. It’s currently third on the list and rising. The Dark Knight Rises dropped on the streaming service on July 1, just in time for the movie’s 10th anniversary on July 20.
What do you think about the final chapter of The Dark Knight Trilogy? Let us know in the comments!