When I learned I was going to the 3:20 AM screening of The Dark Knight Rises, my first thought was: “Wait, theaters are open that early.” I originally planned on falling asleep in the late afternoon and waking up a little after midnight. I failed to follow through with this plan, however, largely due to my caffeine intake that day. Nonetheless, I went to bed early, and proceeded to contemplate the past, present, and future of superhero movies.
Batman Begins mark the resurgence of superhero movies. Sure, Spiderman, and X-Men, Fantastic Four, and The Silver Surfer had all be released prior, but they didn’t generate the same amount of hype felt in superhero movies today. Batman begins was the first superhero movie that managed to bridge the gap between being overly dramatic and down right goofy. It was in a sense, realistic. It was shot unlike any movie prior. Dark and ominous even in the most cheerful scenes, it set the stage for superhero portrayals in the future. The gadgets were sleek yet used in moderation, as it focussed more on the character development of Batman. The action was ahead of its time and not at all cheesy. It was a neat perfect.
Then Iron Man came out in 2008, and really gave a jumpstart to superheros in film. Due to the advancement of CGI, coupled with the lovable Tony Stark, Marvel was now on the same level as DC. Unfortunately for Marvel, The Dark Knights release in the summer would largely overshadow the success of Iron Man, and for good reason. The Dark Knight raised the bar once again for what could be done with superhero movie by making a villain that was pure evil yet was loved by audiences. Like Casino Royale, it was embraced not just by a niche audience, but by moviegoers in general.
2009 and 2010 were quite the years for superhero movies, but 2011 saw the success of X-Men: First Class, Thor, and Captain America. While these were all great movies, they all felt the same and largely predictable. It was in Captain America where I first saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, and they hype slowly began to build. It had been three years since The Dark Knight came out, and people were still waiting for something of its caliber. As 2012 came, new trailers were released, and people began wondering if Christopher Nolan would do the unthinkable: kill Batman. I’m not going to write a review of the movie, rather, I’m going to recount the experience of seeing it.
Being at the theatre at 3 AM could best be described as surreal. Here were hundreds of people, awake and excited for a movie. I thought “this easily has to be the most hyped movie ever.” I was tried to imagine the amount of pressure that was on Christopher Nolan to make a movie a good as The Dark Knight. Walking into the theatre, I saw that the people from the midnight showing were leaving, which prompted me to cover my ears so nothing would be spoiled. Waiting for the movie to start, I realized that over the years, we have be so lucky in quality of superhero movies that the bar has been raised to new heights. A visually stunning movie with a mediocre plot won’t cut it and vise versa. We have become more important than movie critics. It’s quite amazing to take in the audiences reaction during the trailers. The ohhs and ahhs when a new superhero is introduced is something that didn’t exist ten years ago. Listening the audience fill the theatre, one could tell that they genuinely cared about what would happen to Batman.
Leaving the theatre, with the film exceeding my already high expectations, I realized a couple of things. The trilogy has developed the character of Batman so proficiently, that after the movie was done, it felt like I had just finished watching a perfectly done season of a TV show than three separate movies. I also came to the sad conclusion that this marked the end of the superhero era. There is no way that somebody will be able to make a set of movies that creates this much hype, truly excites the audience, and on top of all this, lives up to the expectations. Sure, Iron Man 3, and The Avengers 2 will come out, but they won’t be the same. They’ll just be Iron Man 3 and The Avengers 3 and nothing more. As I watched the final scenes unfold, with the audience captivated by the blue light of the screen, concluded that Batman should never, under no circumstances be rebooted again. It’d be like repainting the Mona Lisa. I believe that The Dark Knight Rises was so epic and so well made that it should be a signal for Hollywood that the time for superhero movies has passed, and it’s time to move on to something new.