I'd say threat level: orange? Like a deep, Aquaman-style orange? Talk of a Justice League movie — the DC Comics universe's answer to Marvel's The Avengers, only populated with superheroes you heard of before 2008 — has been around in some form or another ever since the Batman movies were resurrected under Christopher Nolan. Now, with The Avengers making the kind of money that every studio salivates over, and with the Superman reboot Man of Steel gearing up for summer, the rumor mill is getting ever closer to that white column of smoke signaling that we have a new superhero franchise tentpole.
After he wrapped up his game-changing Dark Knight trilogy in atomic fashion, you wouldn't have blamed Christopher Nolan if he'd decided to dip out anonymously to Florence — maybe enjoy an espresso and a couple of biscotti in a charming Arno-side cafe before getting back on the grind. But dude's got business to take care of! With Man of Steel, the high-profile Superman reboot he's producing, already on the docket, Nolan has signed up for his next directorial outing. And, surprise! — it was written by his brother Jonathan.
Yesterday, we pointed out that the imminent release of The Dark Knight Rises — now ahhhhh just hours away ahhhhhh from its first midnight showings — has been making some people crazy. First, there was Rush Limbaugh, claiming that Christopher Nolan was manipulating his blockbuster so as to ensure Mitt Romney's electoral defeat (the parallels between Batman bad guy Bane and Romney's old company Bain Capital were the primary sticking point). Second, there were the fanboys so angered by negative reviews of TDKR on Rotten Tomatoes that they'd threatened to beat one negative reviewer "into a coma" with a "thick rubber hose." These guys were so nuts they got commenting shut down on Rotten Tomatoes. So what the hell is going on here? Appropriately, someone has gone to the head arbiter of all things Dark Knight Rises — Chris Nolan himself — for answers.
Ahhhhh! The Dark Knight Rises is in theaters in less than 36 hours! So who's been driven the most insane by this impending supernova-esque event?
1. Rush Limbaugh
Continuing a long, proud tradition of saying crazy shit, Rush Limbaugh is now claiming that Bane, the TDKR villain played by Tom Hardy, is so named as a swipe at Mitt Romney. Limbaugh: "This movie, the audience is going to be huge, [a] lot of people are going to see the movie. And it's a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd ... And they're going to hear 'Bane' in the movie, and they are going to associate Bain [Capital, Romney's contentious former company]. And the thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie." Sure, but Bane is a character from the comics, and has been around since 1993, and so probably was not dreamed up by Christopher Nolan to take shots at Republicans. And, like, if Nolan really wanted to sway an electorate with the power of his movie magic, wouldn't he have just named his bad guy "Mitt Romney"? Then you'd have millions of "brain dead pop culture people" standing in a voting booth being all like, "Well, you know, I would vote for Mitt Romney, his fiscal policy is sound and his health care plan is much more logical than Obama's, but then again he tried to kill Batman."
The expectations couldn't be higher for Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises (which hits theaters this weekend, for those of you living in ... I don't know, some kind of cave). Seeing as the Batman franchise has gone through some extreme ups and downs in the 70-odd years since first being adapted by Hollywood, we here at Grantland thought we'd offer a bit of perspective. Here are a few handpicked highlights (and lowlights):
Batman Dances, Batman (1966)
Jonah Keri: Batman walks into a groovy '60s bar. Gets propositioned by a seductress named Molly. Molly asks the Caped Crusader to dance. Batman sneaks in a light neg:
Pittsburgh, we love you — your picturesque bridges, your charming stadia, your impenetrable language. And we know it’s been a long, confusing summer in the Steel City — what with the Pirates’ cruel and all-encompassing collapse just when they were finally beginning to flirt with the upper echelons of mediocrity. We understand the last thing yinz need right now is a whole nother thing. So please take the following with a grain of salt and a sandwich with French Fries jammed in the middle, but it needs to be said: Pittsburgh, you have got to put the cell phones down.
Look, we’d be excited too if Christopher Nolan — the broody genius behind the Batman movies — decided to film in our neck of the woods. Your city’s fabulous architecture — not to mention its delectable pierogies — makes it a bold and fascinating choice to serve as Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises. And we’re sure your kind and welcoming populace has done everything to make the newly arrived crew of left-coast freaks, weirdos, and close-talkers feel right at home. Because, honestly, any metro area that can still be nice to this maroon can deal with a little tinseltown deviance now and then. But some of your citizens have treated the arrival of the Dark Knight like otherwise sane adults treat kittens stuck in boxes or teenagers treat every single aspect of their goddamn lives: with their BlackBerries out, recording.
The hijinks continue on the Pittsburgh set of the Most Serious Movie in the World, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Last weekend saw a Batmobile wedding. Then on Saturday, Tom Hardy's steroidal villain, Bane, played the half-time show at a Steeler's game. And yesterday, a stand-in for Anne Hathaway (Catwoman) plowed into an IMAX camera on a motorcycle (injuring nobody, thankfully — see the video above, or a better one at TMZ), probably resulting in the highest-resolution America's Funniest Home Video ever. Aren't these guys supposed to be shooting 2012's bleakest, least fun superhero movie? Whatever happened to Nolanism? You certainly won't see bloopers like this on the set of Marc Webb's joyless Spider-Man reboot, or Zack Snyder's poorly lit Superman movie (though the crew members probably bump into each other a lot). Quit screwing around, Nolan!
Man of Steel, Warner Brothers’ latest attempt at rebooting their Superman franchise, exists for one reason and one reason alone, and it isn’t because fauxteur par excellence Zack Snyder needed more money to buy soldier outfits for his doll collection. The truth is Warners stood to lose a large share of the rights to the last son of Krypton come 2013, so getting Henry Cavill in spandex became a greater priority than, oh, say, having a compelling story to tell. Luckily, broody genius Christopher Nolan was brought in as executive producer to sprinkle some of his critic-proof, money-minting angst dust on the proceedings. And judging from the just-released first photo of Cavill in those iconic blue (and now scaly?) pajamas, Nolan is certainly earning his gigantic paycheck. Step one in Nolanizing a movie? Lean on the dimmer! Judging from the photo this small step alone has definitely succeeded in making things darker — just probably not in the way anyone had intended. Still, what’s the point of waiting for white-balances when you have a legal obligation to duck? We look forward to squinting — in 3D! — when Man of Steel releases the summer after next.
Is there anything stupider-looking than set photos from a superhero movie? Not really! But here are some pictures from this weekend's The Dark Knight Rises shoot in Pittsburgh anyway. The challenge for Christopher Nolan's trilogy-finisher will be finding a way to shoehorn silly villains like Bane (Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) into a Gotham City grittier and more realistic than the campy, art-directed ones that hosted Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher's Batmans. It could be all the un-Nolan-esque daylight and smiling crew members in these shots, but Hardy's Bane doesn't look nearly as terrifying as Heath Ledger's Joker did, or even much scarier than the Bane from Schumacher's Batman and Robin. Blame it on the cargo pants. Or the laser tag vest. Or maybe the wedding happening down the block in the Batmobile. Click through for more photos.
In a well-regarded new book about horror films, author Jason Zinoman posits that Brian De Palma’s career-longfascination with voyeurism isn’t, in fact, merely a Hitchcockian tick, but actually a profound psychological clue. Young De Palma, it seems, was recruited by his suspicious mother to snoop around and record evidence of his father’s adultery. (According to Zinoman, De Palma refers to this disconcerting detective work as his “first” movie.) So if recurring motifs in films can speak to deep adolescent trauma then the question must be asked: What the heck did a building ever do to Christopher Nolan?