The theater is a magical place.
The excitement when you enter; how you can experience a world that is not your own or establish a connection with characters you would otherwise never come across.
So it’s no surprise that, especially with a movie in the superhero genre, I would be fascinated.
I have always been a fan of Christopher Nolan. From his first bigger movie, Memento, until his latest and final installment of his “Batman” trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” Nolan brings wondrous excitement of storytelling and character development that really makes his work something unique.
I’ll be the first to admit, I did not see “Batman Begins” during its run in theaters (I know, you’re probably thinking “but Andy, you see all movies!”) due to the recent, well, burp that was the Joel Schumacher films, but I rekindled my love of the DC superhero and was at the midnight showing of both films.
As I discussed Nolan’s trilogy with a close friend following the conclusion of the last movie, we both noticed something peculiar. Though not directly related, we both saw similarities between the plot progression and storytelling of the three “Batman” films and a monologue from Nolan’s 2006 film, “The Prestige” (which is, in my opinion, his best and most underrated film).
At both the beginning and end of the film, Christian Bale’s and Hugh Jackman’s confidant Cutter (played by the wonderful Michael Caine) has a voiced-over monologue explaining the art of a magic trick. You can view the video/monologue here, but I will break it down for you in the coming paragraph, as well as how it fits in with the trilogy.
The first part of a magic trick is called “The Pledge,” where the magician shows you something ordinary so you can see its validity or normalcy. Nolan re-introduced the world to Batman with the superhero’s origin and a semi-known Batman villain, The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). We were able to see how Batman was just a normal kid (normal in the sense of having a family, friends and hobbies (not mentioning how ridiculously rich his parents were)) and how his life turned tragic by the death of his parents. We saw as he conquered his fears, became The Batman and took back Wayne Industries. Though Batman did not defeat Scarecrow, he became the hero of Gotham (and Nolan plugged his next film with the discovery of joker cards).
The second part of a magic trick, “The Turn,” involves the ordinary turning into the extraordinary and leaves you wanting to find the secret. Anyone can admit that “The Dark Knight” was beyond wonderful. The imagery, the scenery, the performance by the late Heath Ledger. It broke box office records and gave new life to the superhero genre. In the first minutes, we see Scarecrow captured, but Batman is tortured by the maniacal Joker (a wonderful, wonderful performance by Ledger), who has a plan to destroy Gotham one piece at a time. It’s one of those movies I can watch over and over and over again and never tire. It’s fantastic.
The final part of a magic trick, “The Prestige,” is how the magician sells the trick. It’s the final act, the solution, the secret. It leaves audiences amazed. Though, in my opinion, “The Dark Knight Rises” was weaker than “The Dark Knight,” I was still wowed by the final act, the fight in the streets of Gotham. Nolan sold this film and he sold it well. Bane was hard to understand at points, but we saw the conclusion of Batman. How before he left Gotham to fend for itself, he saved it one last time. It was the perfect ending to a perfect trilogy.
To look into it further, I think Nolan had an idea for how he wanted his trilogy to go back when he filmed “The Prestige.” A lot of producers and directors seem to tweak their films to how the audience responds, but that’s where Nolan is different. He wants to make movies his way, whether the audience likes it or not (turns out, we do).
But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours, dear readers?