Here’s an addendum to yesterday’s Dark Knight Rises post:
There were no real surprises in the film, especially in terms of changes in previously established characters from the comics or deviations from what was expected. The elements taken from particular influences like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns – clearly in title as well as themes of Batman coming out of retirement and inspiring a new wave of crime fighters – and the ‘Man Who Broke The Bat’ storyline Bane rose in infamy because of are used rather conservatively in the movie, the more interesting (to me at least) and radical parts muted or otherwise excluded from the story.
I’m referring to one element in particular, something that would have invigorated the story, put a new spin on Nolan’s mythos and made me genuinely much more interested in the trilogy’s conclusion, as well as giving the series a much-needed feminist kick up the arse.
I am, of course, talking about making Robin a girl.
Miller’s Returns pulls it off so well that it seems like Nolan purposely ignored it, eschewing an exemplar of superhero storytelling just so he could tell his ‘definitive’ version of the legend: an old, formerly retired Bruce Wayne reluctantly teams up with a wild and scrappy teenage girl who offsets his brooding darkness with a joyously irreverent sense of humour – one that Rises is sorely lacking in.
There was a huge opportunity for this to work that was foolishly wasted: instead of having the frankly dull do-gooder cop Blake be ham-fistedly succeed Bats as another caped crusader, have Juno Temple’s immature street rat Holly take up the mantle instead of merely being Selina Kyle’s underdeveloped motivation for not being wholly immoral.
Nolan’s character clearly has parallels with Miller’s; both are part of the criminal underclass, have an inherent moral compass (however hidden under ill deeds) and superficially care more about having a good time than saving Gotham – most of that isn’t clear with Temple due to her lack of screen time and development, but I read between the lines – and because of that both have heaps more depth than an honest cop whose parents were also killed when he was young. Yawn.
I’m not knocking Robin as a character in general, I’m just saying; a female Robin would have added levity and charisma that Rises so dearly needs. Someone who has a troubled background but doesn’t let it define who they are (like every other main character in the series) would offer a fascinating contrast with those that do and offer a somewhat plausible reason for Wayne’s resurrection at the end: ‘you don’t have to hang on to everything, dude’.
Instead, the film wallows in misery, Robin stays a stoic bore and Holly remains a wasted character who could have made TDKR a whole lot more exciting.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But can you honestly tell me the idea of that movie doesn’t excite you more?