Christopher Nolan (Behind the Camera)
When is a superhero movie not quite a superhero movie? When it’s The Dark Knight Rises, the climactic chapter in director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films starring Christian Bale as the tragedy-forged Caped Crusader. The threequel (rated PG-13, out July 20) not only aspires to be the high king of the summer blockbusters but also seeks to say something meaningful about ”the things that worry us these days,” in the words of its director. What worries Nolan on this late-June day — just one week before The Amazing Spider-Man’s $137 million six-day opening — is the prospect of his hotly anticipated film getting lost amid the glut of masked marvels clogging the culture. ”I don’t want to be just a superhero movie. I want to be our movie,” says Nolan, 41, sitting in a home office cluttered with books, DVDs, and mementos from previous filmmaking adventures, including artwork from The Prestige, three rubbery Joker masks, and various Batman comic books. ”But I don’t want to seem arrogant, either. I just want people to come into the theater with only the two previous [Batman] movies in their heads.”
Rises takes place eight years after The Dark Knight left off and finds Bruce Wayne living as a recluse in a Gotham City where peace and prosperity flourish anew — all thanks to a lie. At the end of the previous film, Batman had taken the rap for crimes committed by ”white knight” Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) so Gothamites would be inspired by Dent’s example of hope and heroism. (In truth, Dent was driven mad and bad by the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, who won an Oscar for the role.) Now new threats force Bruce back into the Batgame: high-society cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and a malevolent terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) who lays siege to Gotham and targets the city’s corrupt and elite. Batman must liberate his hometown with help from old friends like Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and new allies like earnest cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), while his life is complicated by a new love interest, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), and conflict with his father figure, Alfred (Michael Caine).