How The Dark Knight Series Could Go On Without Bruce Wayne

By Jesse Carp 2012-07-27 08:17:22discussion comments
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After a week of chatter, the only consensus when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises is that no one wants to stop talking about Christopher Nolanís final film from Gotham. From unanswered questions to Easter Eggs, itís like Nolanís run with The Dark Knight wonít actually be over as long as we keep talking about it. The more hot air we blow, the more likely the franchise will come back to life?

All we can do right now is hope, speculating about a Catwoman spin-off or myriad other possible stories set in Nolanís Gotham. The most popular cry seems to be for Joseph Gordon-Levittís John Blake to continue the franchise and put on the cowl, but is that just wishful thinking or a possible future film set up by The Dark Knight Rises? Probably a bit of both, so letís take a shot at what the latter might look like.


First of all, the title. The Dark Knight Rises, or the whole ďDark Knight TrilogyĒ rather, is very much like The Godfather Saga in that the title doesnít necessarily have to refer to one person per se as much as one position. Who is the Godfather? Vito or Michael? Who is the Dark Knight? Itís been Bruce Wayne but Nolan has told us right from Begins that it is about being more than just a man. The Batman is immortal. An idea. A mantle waiting to be taken up. And just because Rises refers to the many times that Bruce has risen from the depths, especially his final ascent out of the hellish prison, doesnít mean itís not also describing another characterís journey. Nolanís (and cinematographer Wally Pfisterís) camera during the final sequence, after John Blake spleunks into the Batcave, arenít coy about making this connection as the filmís final frames, in typical Ďletting the top spiní fashion, moves in on Blake literally rising. The movement during the final scene cements that weíve been watching a trilogy about more than just Bruce Wayne, itís about the creation of a myth or legend, and one that we all want to continue.

Iím not suggesting that Nolan plans to continue the series with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but his film certainly leaves the door open for others to do just that. The Dark Knight Rises is not just the conclusion to the Bruce Wayne saga but also Robin John Blakeís origin story. His narrative leads directly into the cave and putting on a mask. Could he be the next Batman? Sure. And donít give me the different sizes nonsense (Gordon-Levitt isnít as big as Bale, but a suit redesign can help suspend disbelief) or the untrained argument (you donít know the characterís full history and/or havenít seen the sweet training montage he will undergo in his solo film). The real reason he wonít be the Batman is because Warners will want to save that name for their reboot (or Justice League movie) and wonít have two different caped crusaders titles running concurrently, even though they do it in the comics.

Just because he canít or wonít be the Bat, doesnít mean there arenít other (perhaps better) alternatives, since he is Robin after all. Of course, he canít be ĎRobiní because, well, thatís his real name but he could definitely be an amazing Nightwing--the identity taken on by Dick Grayson, formerly known as Robin, in a comics run between 1996 and 2009. Purists may argue he canít be the superhero because heís not Dick Grayson, but Iím willing to allow the name change since John Blake is a clever amalgamation of almost all of the former sidekicks in the comics, including Dick, Jason Todd and Tim Drake. Dick was a cop in BlŁdhaven, Jason spent some of his orphan years in a boys home, and Tim was able to deduce Batmanís real identity and approached him in a time of need. Hell, if they wanted they can "kill off" John Blake and have him return as Grayson, ensuring that his identity is even more protected. But that seems like an unnecessary step since Nolanís universe has created its own mythology and fans would probably shut their mouths at the first look of JGL in a Nightwing costume. And if they donít? Screw Ďem.

As I said before, the likelihood of the Nightwing project moving forward is probably zero, and even less so with Christopher Nolan at the helm, but Warners and DC would be stupid not to capitalize on the buzz. What a great first project for Wally Pfister to direct (I know heís got his directorial debut slated but imagine if this was what heíd been working on) or even Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the last two in the ďDark Knight TrilogyĒ with his big brother Chris. Ben Affleck ainít a bad choice either.

Yes, this is all wishful thinking and speculation, but not completely unfounded thanks to both the narrative and aesthetic trajectory of John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan and company lit the match, Iím just hoping the fire rises.

Do you want to see a Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Blake Nightwing (or Batman, or Robin) film? Sound off in the comments.
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