Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Iconic Batman: Art of the New 52 #4

In this ongoing series of examining the art of the Iconic Batman we return to the work of Greg Capullo as it appeared in Batman number 4 of the "New 52" written by Scott Snyder.  To provide a little context, Batman goes beneath the streets of Gotham City in search of more clues to the Court of the Owls.  As Bruce Wayne, Batman's great, great grandfather, Alan Wayne had built most of the great towers to Gotham City.  Alan Wayne's lifeless body was found in the sewers that Batman now searches for answers.

The above panel reminds me of another man that was always searching for answers by the light of a lamp and he was the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes.  Diogenes often walked the streets of Athens in broad daylight with a lamp.  When asked what he was doing Diogenes would reply, "looking for an honest man".  The implication of which was there was never one to be found.  Batman seems to share the same obsession as Diogenes.  Batman's relentless pursuit of truth and justice mirrors that of Diogenes search for honesty in men. 

Both men share a cynical nature.  Diogenes was in fact a leading proponent of Cynicism and is widely regarded as one of its founders.  The philosophy of Cynicism dictates that men should pursue a life of virtue in harmony with Nature.  Batman's quest for justice fits nicely into this conception.  Ironically, the Cynics of ancient Greece rejected "wealth, power and fame" while as Bruce Wayne, Batman embraces these tenets as a vehicle to enable his search for justice.  I'd like to think Diogenes would excuse Batman's extravagant lifestyle as long as honesty, truth and justice were the end result.

There are some salient attributes we can derive from Capullo's illustration.  Batman is shown walking through a large sewage tunnel made of granite stones.  His light stick providing the only brightness far below the surface of the city.  With his cape hanging limply about his shoulders, Batman takes on the look of a monk on his way to cloisters.  The life of a monk is a solitary and often lonely pursuit.  Something Batman is quite accustomed to.

The water at Batman's feet flows past him symbolic of Batman constantly working against the stream and the difficult nature of his work.  The large shadow of Batman's cowl looms behind him.  It seems to signify Batman's larger than life stature and the impact he has on the forces of evil despite his solitary approach.  It also interesting to see Batman move at such a measured pace.  Most often we see the Caped Crusader at a full run, cape whipping about him as he thunders towards the scene of a crime brandishing his own version of shock and awe.  In this quiet purposeful approach by Batman we get to share in his intellectual reticence as he works his way through the crime scene.  A pleasant break from the overwrought clamor he is often involved in. 

Capullo's art and Snyder's writing afford us a look at Batman at his most isolated and reserved.   He is remote and reclusive and we get a glimpse of the lonely nature of his endeavor.  An endeavor that often demands a moment of quietude to divine the nature of evil and the pursuit of justice, truth and honesty.

I think Diogenes would approve.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Bat Pod in Action

Some new high resolution images have been released from "The Dark Knight Rises" and I thought it might be worthy to take a closer examination of the Bat-pod to see if any changes have been made since the last movie.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any.

I thought I'd be clever and pick up on some thing new.  Maybe even some subtle differences in the Bat-pod bike that Batman is riding above and the version that Anne Hathaway's Catwoman is taking for a ride below.

Still nothing.

I suppose the most intriguing thing about these images is that Catwoman is on the Bat-pod in the first place.  It makes you wonder if she has stolen the Bat-pod or perhaps she is riding to the rescue of Batman as he is being assailed by the Bane and his army of goons.

In the image below we see Catwoman riding down the steps of some Gotham City edifice.  Note the snowflakes as they swirl about her.

I'm assuming (I know, never assume anything) this takes place at the same time Batman is having it out with Bane as the snowflakes are swirling about them also.

The thing is we don't see Batman in the same images as Catwoman but for all intents and purposes they seem to be in the scene.  Even the columns of this mighty Gotham edifice (City Hall?) are the same.

So I guess what I really should be asking is, not if there were any changes to the Bat-pod but if the Bat-pod is being used to rescue Batman or Catwoman is just flat out stealing it!

I say she is flat out stealing it.  She is a world class thief and what better way to "liberate" the Bat-pod than when Batman is tangled up with Bane and his band of hardy thugs.

So there you have it I go from examining the Bat-pod to the "bold" prediction that we will see Catwoman steal it in "The Dark Knight Rises".  I for one wouldn't want to be in Catwoman's shoes once Batman disengages himself from the melee with Bane.  I think we all know Batman has a few anger issues and stealing the Bat-pod may just push him over the edge  You certainly don't want an angry Batman on your "tail".

Then again, when Batman and Catwoman get together it usually ends up the same old way.

C'mon dude she stole your ride!  Hello, hello!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I spotted this over at the Batman Wiki posted by the Wolf master and I thought it would help brighten this already glorious Bat-mas day!

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season to all!

Dark Knight Dave

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas comes early for fans of the Dark Knight: Updated!

Nothing chases the pre-holiday blues away like a new trailer from "The Dark Knight Rises".  Thank you Santa Nolan for this early Christmas present.

I have to confess I didn't even know this was coming out today but who cares it's much better than a lump of coal from the Joker!  I'm sure there is many a blog and Batman site out there that is going to examine and parse this video to its most minute detail.  I may not be able to compete with the all of them but I'm going to give it a shot.

And here we go...

Who is the man with the cane as we open this trailer? (Right after the National Anthem and Bane)  The Riddler? (Wouldn't that be a surprise!?) An injured Bruce Wayne or an infirmed Alfred?  There is a reflection in the cover of the serving tray.  No doubt someone has captured and analyzed it already.  We'll have to wait and see who deciphers this first.

Update - Thanks to some expert work on hi-res screen grabs Cyriaque Lamar of the Sci-F- site Io9 has determined  it is indeed Bruce Wayne in the service setting reflection.  Click on the screen grab as a link to the Io9 site.

The "Peacetime" segment.  As Commissioner Gordon takes the dais peacetime is mentioned.  So, all is well in Gotham?  There has been much talk that this movie takes place eight years in the future from the last one.  Yet they still mourn the fallen Harvey Dent?  A flashback perhaps?

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle whispers into Bruce Wayne's ear.  They seem to be in some sort of masquerade party.  Look closely at Seliana, are those Cat ears atop her head?  It seems as though Nolan and company are having Hathaway channel Audrey Hepburn for her look.  Check out the photo below of Hepburn and compare it to the masked Selina Kyle.

 Just before the football kick off return sequence, a bearded Bruce Wayne visits an underground labyrinth of stairs.  This reminds me of the old saying of "Bearding the lion in his own den".  It means to confront an enemy in his own territory.  Perhaps Wayne visits the lair of Bane to confront or learn about Bane.  Also, the intricate stairways in the background remind me of an old Escher print.  The print suggests there is no clear beginning or end and that confusion reigns.  See the illustration below. 

Marion Cotillard removes her mask at the costume ball.  A clue to a double identity?  Much has been speculated that Cotillard is not only paying the role of Miranda Tate, a Wayne Corp. executive, but that of Talia al Ghul as well.  Talia is the daughter of Ra's al Ghul the villain that appeared in the first entry of this trilogy and a love interest of Batman's.

Update - Marion Cotillard has her back to the camera but the person of interest here is Bale's Bruce Wayne.  Take a look at the way his right arm held.  He seems to be balancing on a cane.  The cost of eight years of fighting?

Bane gives to what seems to be a broken Bruce Wayne "permission to die".  Has he broken the Bat as he did in the comics?

Selina Kyle appears again walking through a train station.  This might be a quick little wink to Alfred Hitchcock and his fascination with train imagery although the "Hitchcockian" movie Charade with Hepburn was directed by Stanley Donen.  Charade is often referred to as the best Hitchcock movie he never made.  Note the hat on Hathaway's Kyle.  Definitely more Audrey Hepburn.

Joseph Gorden Levitt gets some serious face time.Yes, it is quick, but why feature him there at all?  I'd love to see Levitt portray Nightwing the former Robin that fought alongside Batman.  As it is, he is credited as "John Blake" which I think is a policeman.  There is talk that his character assumes the mantle of the Bat in Waynes absence.  A new Batman on the scene until Wayne has recovered from Bane inflicted injuries?  (Aside, "Nightwing" AKA Dick Grayson, took up as Batman in a recent series of Batman titles from last spring.)

We also see men repelling down into a large stone well.  As the video concludes a solitary figure repels into the well.  Could this be the "Lazarus Pit" as featured in DC comics that serves as a resurrection point for Ra's al Ghul and is known for its restorative powers.  Will Batman need the Pit to affect some sort of cure to any injuries inflicted by Bane?

As the video conclude we get a glimpse at some sort of "Battle Royale" between the followers of Bane and law enforcement.  We also see Bane and Batman engaged in battle mano e mano.  What follows is an awesome glimpse at what seems to be a Batman piloted Batwing.   I wonder if Batman is remote controlling those camouflaged Tumblers?  Either way, it is an amazing sequence.

No doubt there will be many more nuggets to parse from this Bat-tastic trailer.  As I figure them out or learn from those that populate the Bat Universe I will update this post.  As always, feedback is welcome!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christian Bale Steps out of the Dark Night & into a Real Life Battle

Christian Bale proved to be the bane of Chinese authorities when he tried to visit activist lawyer Chen Guang-cheng while on a promotional visit for his new movie, "The Flowers of War". Ironically, the movie would have cast the Chines government in a sympathetic light not only because it brings Hollywood to modern China but also because the movie dealt with China's suffering at the hands of World War Two Japan.

Instead, China falls under the wrong side of the shadow of the bat and reminds the world of its real life depravity. Perhaps it would've better served China if they had allowed Bale a brief photo opportunity with Guang-cheng. As it was, a CNN crew accompanied Bale and now the story has world wide play. No doubt CNN knew it would benefit following Bale no matter how the visit turned out. Also, if you are a cynic, you could say Bale orchestrated the whole thing to promote his career as well as shedding further light on Guang-cheng.

But I'm willing to give Bale the benefit of the doubt that his social conscience took precedent over any self promotion. These type of things can easily go very wrong and I think it takes a certain amount of courage just to put yourself out there. Bale could have used a press conference to make a statement about Guang-chen but he chose instead to take the extra step and risk possible harm, incarceration or deportment.

So kudos to Christian Bale for his willingness to hazard this visit. The Press hasn't always been kind to him and some of that has been merited. But on this day things were different. Bale may not be the hero we deserve but he's the hero the world needs right now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises Teaser Poster released.

 Warner Bros. has released the teaser poster for the last entry of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.  The tease must be that the Dark Knight is no where to be found in this poster!  What we do get is the shattered remains of Batman's cowl lying in the foreground as Bane walks away admidst a pouring rain.

So what do we learn from this stunning image?  First and foremost that Batman has been defeated by Bane and presumably he has been incapacitated such that he can't even protect his secret identity.  Otherwise the cowl wouldn't be left as it is.  We may be even looking from the perspective of the fallen Batman as watches Bane walk away from the field of battle and the pretense of Batman's integrity is as shattered as what remains just out of his reach.

There are a couple of things that we can derive from the environment of this setting.  We are dealing with two major elements here; it's raining and it's quite dark.  The rain symbolizes that figuratively a storm has arrived and swept up in its ferocity is Batman's career and possibly his life.  The fact that it is dark shows us that this battle took place at night and as legend goes, Batman owns the night.  Or, at least he used to.

"The Legend Ends" is stretched across the poster notably right over the back of Bane.  We could deduce from this as some sort of Easter egg to Batman's fate.  *Spoiler Alert*  As the story goes in the comics it is Bane that broke Batman's back  and the designers of this poster have found a clever way to insert this fate.

I think it is worthy to note that although the center of the poster reads, "The Legend Ends" if we truly are looking from the perspective of a fallen Batman the words, "The Dark Knight Rises" marks the starting point for a resurgent Batman as he brings himself to his feet and begins the fight anew.  I can almost imagine, if this poster ran like a movie, the gloved hand of Batman suddenly appearing.  It finds its grip and we are no longer looking from the angle of a sodden street but from aspect of a rejuvenated warrior. 

Perhaps Bane, in his arrogance, has forgotten one of the basic tenets of warfare and that is to never turn your back on your fallen opponent.  He just might get up.