#352. Wealthy Superheroes

In the realm of superheroes, there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief when it comes to how a hero obtained their powers. From alien lifeforms who found themselves on Earth (a la Superman) to regular people who encounter deadly energies that mutate them into super-human beings, most superheroes have unbelievable origin stories. Then there are the “wealthy” superheroes. They don’t really have any superpowers other than their intellect and a massive fortune bequeathed to them via their deceased parents who succeeded in capitalism and industry. While heroes like Spider-man are a little more relatable to the common man due to their financial plight being in the lower middle-class, wealthy superheroes fight crime through an endless barrage of gadgets that could only be afforded by a continuous stream of money. This week’s two films highlight some notable, wealthy superheroes.

Year: 1989
Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes / 2.10 hours

Surprisingly enough, DC Comics has not one, but two wealthy superheroes in its lineup. Until recently, most people weren’t aware of Green Arrow, but the TV show Arrow has helped to bring this hero into the mainstream. Of course, this superhero pales in the name recognition that comes with Batman. Not only did Bruce Wayne grow up in the lap of luxury provided by his father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, but since both his parents were killed when he was young, he became the sole heir to the Wayne fortune. Because of the way his parents were murdered, his vengeance-filled vigilante attitude toward wrongdoing spurned him into crime fighting. While Bruce Wayne trained his body to be the superhero he is today, the money he has spent on gadgets, vehicles, and hideouts far surpass the amount available to someone just working at a newspaper.

As Gotham City prepares for its bicentennial, many events are taking place to ensure it goes off without a hitch. The mayor has put district attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle) on notice that they need to clean up crime in the city before the big day. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) is using his influence as a billionaire businessman to host a fundraiser gala at Wayne Manor. When he notices Commissioner Gordon excusing himself from the party, he goes out to investigate as Batman. Through Batman’s meddling, mobster Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) accidentally falls into a vat of chemicals and emerges as “The Joker,” bringing terror to the city in the form of the “Smilex” chemical. As people start dying with smiles on their faces, it’s up to Batman to stop The Joker before he can unleash the chemical on the bicentennial parade.

Iron ManIron Man
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes / 2.10 hours

In the superhero battleground that is DC vs. Marvel, if DC Comics has a wealthy superhero in the form of Batman, Marvel must have a corollary superhero to balance the playing field. While Tony Stark doesn’t have the tragic backstory that Bruce Wayne does, he is still the heir to a vast fortune accrued by his industrialist father. There are other differences as well, including Tony Stark’s focus on engineering to create his gadgets himself, as well as the technological advances that come via this emphasis that allow Stark to gain superpowers through his “Iron Man” armor. And while Bruce Wayne is hesitant to reveal his secret identity, Tony Stark is so much of a narcissist that he welcomes the attention he gains by being connected to the superhero known as Iron Man. In any case, Stark’s “superpower” would not be possible if he didn’t have the money to make it happen.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is so confident in the weapons technology of Stark Industries that he makes a visit to Afghanistan to show off their latest creation: the “Jericho” missile. Unfortunately, through some underhanded dealings, he soon finds his own weapons used against him as he’s captured by terrorists and held hostage. In the scuffle, a piece of shrapnel is caught in his heart and the only thing keeping it from killing him is a magnet in his chest. While his wealth and influence mean nothing in the cave where he’s trapped, he still has his intellect and uses it to fashion a suit of armor that allows him to escape. Once back in civilization, Tony investigates how these terrorists managed to obtain weapons from his company while also developing an improved version of his “Iron Man” suit to take down terrorists. Upon finding the mole, Tony must fight to maintain the integrity of his company’s name.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 very rich vigilantes

#351. The Joker

Perhaps the most recognizable villain in the realm of superheroes and comic books, The Joker stands as a stark antipode to the brooding darkness of Batman. The contrast of insane levity to serious vengeance has made The Joker the best example of an archenemy, a feat that has rarely (if ever) been topped. For decades, The Joker has gone through several iterations and style changes, some of which have been notorious for their extreme take on the character. Similarly, there have been many different actors who have portrayed The Joker over the years, with a few of them being somewhat questionable in their interpretation of the character as well. While most people associate the quintessence of The Joker via Mark Hamill’s voice acting for Batman: The Animated Series, this week’s two films will examine some different performances of the character in live action films.

The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Length: 152 minutes / 2.53 hours

Following the superhero movie format, after Christopher Nolan’s Batman origin story, Batman Begins (2005), Nolan proceeded to use the Batman franchise’s most recognizable villain for the sequelThe Dark Knight (2008). Many fans of the Batman franchise were upset with the casting choice of Heath Ledger, not only due to his somewhat recent role in Brokeback Mountain (2005) but because there were plenty of comedians who were considered for the role at one point or other. Considering he posthumously won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, these concerns were assuaged by the time the film was released. A similar controversy surrounded the casting of Jared Leto in the role for Suicide Squad (2016), but that controversy was linked more to how The Joker looked, rather than who was playing him.

During a bank robbery that seemed to go wrong, a gang of clown-themed thieves is whittled down until a lone clown remains: The Joker (Heath Ledger). The local mafias of Gotham find themselves in a bind with Batman (Christian Bale) constantly thwarting their criminal efforts. The Joker steps in and offers to get rid of Batman for the mobs in exchange for half of their finances. He doesn’t even want the money . . . he just wants to watch the world burn. To “level the playing field,” The Joker starts interfering with the trial of mob financier Lau (Chin Han), killing people until Batman reveals his identity. District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) says he’s Batman, but The Joker sees through the ruse, thus providing the real Batman with a choice: save Dent or save his girlfriend, Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal). With The Joker in control of Gotham, only Batman can stop him.

Year: 1989
Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes / 2.10 hours

Before 1989, the only version of The Joker to hit the big screen was Caesar Romero’s in Batman (1966). Using the same cast as the 1960s television series, this Batman film was far campier than the dark and gritty versions we know today. While Tim Burton is known for his dark imagery, there was still a modicum of camp to his Batman (1989). Comparatively, though, the Tim Burton version did succeed in transforming the caped crusader into a much darker motif and helped evolve the franchise into what we know today. If anything, Tim Burton helped people to understand that comic books aren’t necessarily for children. At any rate, for many years, Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker was considered the definitive representation on the big screen, especially as it was faithful to The Joker’s origin story from the comics.

Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is in the crosshairs of his mob boss, Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) for taking his mistress. Jack is saved by Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle), who wants him as a witness against Grissom. Unfortunately, in the ensuing chaos, Batman (Michael Keaton) arrives and knocks Jack into a vat of chemicals. While most assume Jack is dead, he finds the chemicals have altered his appearance, giving him a clown-like face with a permanent smile. This disfigurement drives him mad, and he takes on the identity of “The Joker.” Through the chemical known as “Smilex,” The Joker terrorizes Gotham, leaving many people dead with a hideous grin on their faces. Realizing the truth about The Joker’s past and origins, Batman sets out to save Gotham and avenge his dead parents.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 takes on a classic villain

#288. Orphans

While orphans are often considered to be some of the most disenfranchised people-groups in the world, there certainly seem to be a large number of them as main characters in several films. Granted, this is an artifact of a few different genres, most of which want to give the protagonists enough flexibility to go on adventures without being tied down to a home life. Even the ones who do have guardians either don’t have the best ones (as in the “step-mother” archetype) or experience tragedy again when these guardians are also killed. Despite the number of orphans decreasing in the real-world due to better survival rates for parents, somehow the stories of orphans always seem to find interested audiences. Some may fault the writers of these stories for this common ploy, but if it keeps working over centuries of writing, there must be some merit to it. This week’s two films feature orphans as their main characters.

                Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate EventsYear: 2004
Rating: PG
Length: 108 minutes / 1.8 hours

In part because there are fewer orphans in the world than there used to be, fewer authors are using them in their stories. That being said, there are still several notable literary orphans, the most famous of which is Harry Potter. With the rise in the popularity of superhero movies, we also find many of their main characters are orphans as well. In fact, some have given Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) the facetious title of “Orphan Fight.” Even Marvel superheroes have this trait as well, including Spider-man and Captain America. This trait isn’t even constrained to American comic books, as the long-running Japanese manga, Naruto, had its eponymous character orphaned during a disaster that affected his home village. While many of these orphans have no siblings, one notable group of orphans is the Baudelaire children of Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004).

After the mysterious death of their wealthy parents, the Baudelaire children find themselves in the care of their unscrupulous uncle, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). When the children narrowly avoid an accident with a train, they are taken to live with their other uncle, Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly). Through unfortunate circumstances involving his beloved reptiles, Dr. Montgomery is killed, and the children are then moved to live with their Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep). Olaf appears again and lets some ravenous leeches kill Josephine. With the children now under his control again, he puts on a play about a wedding with the eldest child, Violet (Emily Browning). Unfortunately, the play is not an act, and Olaf now stands to inherit the children’s bequeathed fortune. Fortunately, the two younger Baudelaires save their sister from her marriage while also learning of the source of the fire that killed their parents.

Year: 1968
Rating: G
Length: 153 minutes / 2.55 hours

To many, it may seem strange that orphans are as musical as they appear in cinema. We can certainly blame Disney for this oddity. I know I wouldn’t want to sing in the tragic circumstances of an orphan, but time-and-again we find Disney princesses (as well as other main characters animated by them) cheerily singing despite their lack of parents. This is probably because many of the Disney stories are pulled from fairy tales, where parents often died from a variety of factors. Even Disney’s most recent success, Frozen (2013), features two women orphaned by a shipwreck that killed their parents. Outside of Disney, there are still examples of musical orphans, including that of Lil’ Orphan Annie, who has had many musical adaptations. But, above all these is the most famous orphan of all: Oliver Twist. The musical adaptation in 1968 won Best Picture, as well as five other Oscars.

Oliver Twist (Mark Lester) has a difficult life as an orphan. After asking for more food at the orphanage, the owners sell him into the service of an undertaker. When he gets in trouble, he’s locked in the basement only to escape and head to London. Once in the big city, he becomes involved with a gang of pickpockets and thieves. Wrongfully accused of a crime, Oliver is almost sent to prison were it not for a bookseller who witnessed the crime and could exonerate the orphan. The victim decided to bring Oliver home in the process. Unfortunately, even though Oliver now lives in a life of relative luxury, his past comes back to haunt him. Some of the thieves find Oliver and force him back into stealing. Meanwhile, his benefactor goes about trying to prove that Oliver is the child of a niece of his. Tragedy ensues as a friendly barmaid tries to help Oliver escape the clutches of the thieves, but justice eventually prevails.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 outstanding orphans

#149. Jack Nicholson

It’s easy to name off the most-nominated actress, as Meryl Streep has the most Oscar nominations in film history, even more than the actors. However, one would be challenged to know who the most nominated actor is. This is probably due to Streep continuing to be nominated regularly, receiving an acting nomination every two to three years since 1978. Of course, if you haven’t figured it out by now (via the title of this post), the most-nominated actor in film history is Jack Nicholson. Similar to Meryl Streep, Nicholson has won three times for acting, making him part of a handful of people who have completed this feat (only 6 people have won three or more Oscars). This week, we’ll look at two of Nicholson’s films, one of which even earned him one of his 12 Oscar nominations for acting.

The ShiningThe Shining
Year: 1980
Rating: R
Length: 146 minutes / 2.43 hours

Even though he wasn’t nominated for his performance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Jack Nicholson truly helped make this film into the iconic piece of popular culture we know today. I mean, who hasn’t seen his grinning face peeking through the axe-chopped hole of the bathroom door as he delivers the line, “Here’s Johnny!” This role is just one of a few that Nicholson seemed to excel in: the role of a crazy person. Just consider his performance as the Joker in the 1989 film, Batman, and you can start to see the parallels. What’s almost ironic is that he actually won one of his Best Actor Oscars for his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), where he portrays a criminal in a mental institution who is probably the sanest person there. At any rate, even if the Academy overlooked his performance in The Shining, the American Film Institute named Jack Torrance the 25th best villain in film history.

As an author myself, I know how useful it is to become isolated in order to write. In The Shining, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) does just that by taking on a job as a winter caretaker in the Overlook Hotel. While he and his family watch over the empty building, he finally has the chance to get writing. Unfortunately, being an isolated writer only works if you’re productive. After a long time of being stuck with writer’s block, Jack is soon affected by the madness of the Hotel brought about by its placement on top of an Indian burial ground. Both Jack and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), have connections with the building, known as “shining,” which show them the gruesome past that has occurred due to the induced madness of the place. Jack fully succumbs to the madness, eventually chasing after his family into the icy winter outside.

Year: 1974
Rating: PG-13
Length: 130 minutes / 2.17 hours

While about one-third of Nicholson’s Oscar nominations were for Best Supporting Actor, the other two-thirds were for the award of Best Actor. Chinatown (1974) was just such a nomination for him, in between his 1973 nomination for The Last Detail and his aforementioned win for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. What’s nice to see about the nominations he’s received is that at least a few of them were for comedies, partly due to his partnership with director James L. Brooks. With his trademark smile and laugh, these nominations just make sense. However, even though Nicholson played a clever character in Chinatown, this film is by no means a comedy. In fact, it was probably this role that helped him to continue to be nominated for acting awards for the next three decades, stringing his streak of nominations across 50 years.

In Chinatown, Jack Nicholson portrays J.J. “Jake” Gittes, a private investigator who specializes in exposing cheating wives and husbands. Unfortunately, when he’s tasked to keep an eye on the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, not only does he eventually find out that he was set up, he soon enters into a huge conspiracy involving Los Angeles’ water rights. Working with the real wife of the engineer, Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), Jack soon finds himself up to his nose in gangsters and government officials trying to make a profit off the limited water supply to the city. As the obituaries pile up, Jake finds himself falling for Evelyn, which causes him to delve deeper into her past in an attempt to figure out what her relationship is with her “sister.” When all the pieces fall into place, Jake is powerless to stop it, simply being told, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 notable Nicholson performances

Bacon #: 1 (A Few Good Men / Kevin Bacon)

#075. Franchise Reboots

There are no original ideas in Hollywood. We’ve covered this before. And yet, what is the difference between a remake and a reboot? Both have similar elements to their original source material, but a remake is a bit more true to the original than a reboot would be. A reboot usually takes a franchise in a bit of a different direction, either in style, plot, or both. When it comes down to it, if you’ve seen the original, you’ve probably seen the remake. However, if you’ve seen the original, the reboot may be a bit different than how you would remember it. Now, while not all remakes are bad, not all reboots are bad either. Although, I do question rebooting franchises within the same decade as their originals (I’m looking at you, The Incredible Hulk (2008) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)). Nevertheless, sometimes a reboot can be a good thing for a franchise, especially if the computer graphics have gotten to the point where some of the stories may be easier to convey than before. This week’s two films are the new beginnings of famous franchise series.

                                                  Rise of the Planet of the ApesRise of the Planet of the Apes
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours

Planet of the Apes is one of the unique franchises that has both a remake (done in 2001 by Tim Burton) and a reboot. Everyone knows the original Planet of the Apes was told from the perspective of humans. However, what if the story was told from the perspective of the Apes? Sure, the original had a lot of human persecution and mistreatment, but how did the world come to that point? What if the persecution was merely revenge for an old grudge held against mankind by primates everywhere? Sometimes all it takes to shift from a remake into a reboot is a simple perspective change. Of course, part of the reason behind a reboot is to create sequels, of which Rise of the Planet of the Apes already has planned. Expect the second film in this reboot series to come out in 2014.

We often take many things for granted. One is the advancements made in medicine. Certain drugs need to go through testing first before being approved for humans. Unfortunately, many animals are mistreated in this process, not the least of which are apes. When a chimpanzee known by the name of Caesar (Andy Serkis) shows a lot of promise for a brain-altering drug that could cure Alzheimer’s, the drug is quickly pushed forward without understanding all the side effects. Unfortunately, certain events occur that bring Caesar into some deplorable living conditions. While there, he uses his advanced brain power to start an uprising with the other captive apes. Of course, the escape of the apes is only the beginning as it soon becomes apparent that the drug that gave them intelligence has quite the opposite effect on humans.

Star TrekStar Trek
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes / 2.1 hours

Films from the Star Trek universe are an interesting set of films. While there have been many series based off of the adventures of the USS Enterprise, the films only really covered the exploits of two crews: one under the command of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and one under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The series of “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager,” and “Enterprise” never saw the silver screen. Since it would be silly to go back and make films of these other series, the decision was made to reboot the original Star Trek with Captain Kirk’s crew. Of course, for it to be a true reboot, the timeline was altered somewhat from the canon of the TV series, which seemed to frustrate true Star Trek fans (or Trekkies), while giving everyone else an exciting introduction to a well-known science fiction franchise.

Star Trek (2009) follows the rise of James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) to the position of Captain of the USS Enterprise. By all indications, Kirk is selfish and headstrong but reacts well under pressure. Of course, he has a stellar crew to back him up, including Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), and Communications Officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana), among others. After all, when you’re up against a time-traveling Romulan who plans to eradicate the Vulcans and who also killed your father, a Captain needs all the help he can get. Filled with great space battles, hand-to-hand combat, iconic one-liners, and doomed red-shirt crewmates, Star Trek is a great action film. I, for one, welcomed the sequel of this reboot, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) which came out a few weeks ago.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2nd startups

#047. DC vs. Marvel

Similar to the rivalry I wrote about earlier between DreamWorks and Disney, the two comic book powerhouses, DC and Marvel are also competing for your box office money. Around the turn of the 21st century, the comic book movie really started to take off. Granted, there had been films in the ’70s and ’80s about comic book heroes (most notably, Superman (1978) and Batman (1989)), but the entire genre of the comic book action film really didn’t hit its stride until the new millennium. Films like Spider-Man (2002) and The Punisher (2004) pushed Marvel into a field that had only been successfully covered by DC heroes. And yet, with more and more heroes being covered with their own individual films, a shift began to occur. This week’s two films highlight the jewels in their respective comic book competitors’ crowns.

The Dark Knight Rises
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 165 minutes / 2.75 hours

When someone asks you to name a superhero, the majority of people will say one of two names: Superman or Batman. These two icons of the comic book world are serious powerhouses for DC, as shown by the plethora of sequels and reboots these franchises have been given. Not only have we had Christopher Reeve as Superman, but next year we’ll see yet another attempt at rebooting the Man of Steel franchise (ironically enough, with Christopher Nolan playing a key role in its production). And while the Batman franchise started out well with Tim Burton’s vision of a dark, but less silly Batman (far removed from the Adam West version), eventually the franchise lost control and arrived back at its silly roots.

Christopher Nolan changed all that with perhaps the best reboot the series has ever seen. Taking the caped crusader into a darker, grittier, and a more realistic direction, Nolan pulled Batman away from the ridicule that it had been given by the time George Clooney played the role. To cement his rulership of the Batman franchise, Nolan created not one, not two, but a whole trilogy masterfully tied together with depth and psychological intrigue. I can only hope that many decades will pass before they try to reboot the Batman franchise because the Dark Knight saga stands as the ultimate testament of a masterfully crafted adaptation.

The Avengers
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes / 2.38 hours

While Marvel may not have the silver bullets of incredibly famous superheroes, they do have a multitude of good stories to draw from. This is where I think Marvel has taken the lead in the last decade. Especially with the botched handling of lesser-known DC heroes like the Green Lantern, Marvel has shown that they can take any of their characters and hold it to continuity, not only within its specific franchise but also against other franchises as well. The sum of the parts ends up being greater than the whole. As DC tries to re-invigorate their Superman franchise to match that of their Batman dynasty, Marvel is pulling out all the stops with an entire arsenal of comic book characters.

Part of the appeal to me of Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) is that it was a movie built on the backs of previous films. Granted, this film marked the appearance of the third actor to play the Hulk in a single decade, but the unique stories of these superheroes having already been covered in their own individual films opened up The Avengers to be an action-packed adventure. Of course, you really have to hand it not only to the casting department over at Marvel but to the movie’s director, Joss Whedon, who could have ended up with a fractured and cobbled-together story involving some very different superheroes. Instead, the unique characteristics of the entire team add a rich depth to the natural comedy that’s created in an earth-ending crisis.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great comic book blockbusters.

#046. Christopher Nolan

While the list of some of my favorite directors includes such geniuses as Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Chaplin, perhaps the greatest modern director in my mind is Christopher Nolan. With a consistent output of one movie every two years, Nolan not only entertains audiences but causes them to think. The psychological aspects of his films are really what draws my praise as a film critic. Anyone can blow something up (Michael Bay has shown us that), but it takes an exceptional director to get us to think about a film; to truly pay attention to what is going on. The first Christopher Nolan film I saw was Memento (2000), and while it is still my favorite, he has nevertheless continued to impress me with his directing prowess. This week’s two movies highlight some high points in his career.

Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 148  minutes / 2.47 hours

Even though the films after Nolan’s sophomore work (Memento) were well done in their own right, none really captured the public’s attention quite like Inception (2010). Sure, Insomnia (2002) was a good remake, Batman Begins (2005) was the founding for something bigger, and The Prestige (2006) was a good period piece, but nothing impacted audiences like Inception. In fact, this film was Nolan’s first nomination for Best Picture. While it didn’t win that award, it took away four Oscars for Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. When you consider the strange world of your dreams, these achievements come as no surprise.

The beauty of Inception lies with its intricacy. Of course, this is a trademark of a Christopher Nolan film. In Memento, two intertwining storylines with different temporal properties are fused together to slowly provide insight into the life of a mental patient. Similarly, little hints in The Prestige lead up to a big plot twist. Inception‘s intricacy comes in its layers. For Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) to successfully plant an idea in someone’s head, he and his team of dream thieves need to delve into multiple layers of dreams to get deep enough so the idea will stick. And yet, if you go too far, you’ll end up in Limbo, a place between reality and death. How does Cobb know about Limbo? He’s been there before and is trying to recover his life because of it.

The Dark Knight Rises
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 165 minutes / 2.75 hours

If there’s one thing that frustrates me with franchises, it’s the trilogy. Many times, a single film is so successful that Hollywood demands a sequel. Then, since a sequel’s been made, why not finish it off with a third film to make a complete trilogy? The unfortunate truth is that many times, the sequels cannot live up to the first film, and actually diminish from the original’s impact. Nolan’s “Dark Knight” saga is the exception to this rule. Started back in 2005 with Batman Begins, Nolan laid the framework for a gritty and dark adaptation of the Batman franchise. In 2008, he stepped up his game in The Dark Knight by casting Heath Ledger as the most iconic Batman villain: The Joker. With The Dark Knight surpassing its predecessor, the 2012 trilogy conclusion, The Dark Knight Rises, had a lot to live up to.

Picking up eight years after the end of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises sees a Gotham that no longer needs its hero. While crime has been down overall since the posthumous enaction of the Dent Act, it’s starting to climb again. From the shadows appears a man, Bane (Tom Hardy), who terrorizes Gotham into a corner. Do they adopt his message of anarchy, or do they look to the hero that they have shunned as a murderer and vigilante? After all, both sides of this fight are merely men. Hero versus villain. No special powers, no unique attributes. In the thrilling conclusion, can Batman (Christian Bale) save the day, or will Bane succeed in establishing his rule over a ruleless society?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 examples of cinematic perfection

Bacon #: 3 (These Amazing Shadows / Debbie Reynolds -> Rugrats in Paris: the Movie / John Lithgow -> Footloose / Kevin Bacon)