Saturday, April 09, 2011

Does a (sort-of) returning character reveal the plot of "Dark Knight Rises?"

THR today broke the news that Josh Pence - the actor who's face was digitally-replaced with Armie Hammer's for the "twinning" shots in "The Social Network" - has a role in "The Dark Knight Rises" as the younger version (for flashbacks) of an existing character. Said character's identity is confirmed in the story, and nudges VERY headily in the direction of confirming a lot of people's assumptions about what the new film's story might entail.

It's not technically a spoiler, since everyone has run the story and the name, but in case you'd rather not read anything about it I'll do the rest after the jump...


So, Pence is playing Young Ra's Al Ghul, in flashbacks apparently set 30 years in the past.

No other information is given, but any renewed presence for Ra's Al Ghul would seem to indicate what many people have been assuming/hoping/predicting for awhile now: that the League of Shadows - the anarchist-terrorist ninjas from "Batman Begins" - are coming back in some capacity. Right off the bat (no pun intended) I'm digging that idea because it suggests a turn back into "Begins's" more comic-esque level of unreality (ninjas, doomsday weapon, fear-toxin, etc) after"Knight" took the franchise as far into realism as you can get while still making a Batman movie.

It also lends credence to the rumor that, if true, represents the worst-kept secret since the "bonus ending" of "Iron Man" - that Marion Cotillard's as-yet-unidentified "key role" is some variation of Talia Al Ghul, Ra's daughter and likely successor as leader of the League. Let me toss in some more specualtion on that end - the LoS's previously-established "thing" for masks, long-term scheming and arcane chemistry would be a really handy way to explain Bane.

Here's what I want to know: What exactly does being a younger Ra's Al Ghul actually MEAN in this context? In the comics, Ra's is a literal thousand-years-old immortal; but Liam Neeson's dialogue in "Begins" - along with Christopher Nolan's consistent veto of the more "out there" aspects of Bat-mythology - indicated that in this universe it's more of a smoke-and-mirrors creating the illusion of immortality thing in this universe. But it was never made precisely clear how the ruse was actually set up, i.e. was Neeson the "real" Ra's and Ken Watanabe was a decoy, or is the idea that there's NO "real" guy and "Ra's Al Ghul" is just a title passed from leader-to-leader "Dread Pirate Roberts"-style?

The reason I wonder this? We still don't know who Joseph Gordon Levitt is playing, and if the idea is that "Ra's Al Ghul" IS just a title, well... do the math. I'll just say this: If the big third act "boo!" of this is a fully-alive Liam Neeson stepping out from the shadows, I'll be the happiest widdle boy in the whole wide world...

9 comments:

Vault Dweller said...

you want a mortally scarred Liam Neeson? sigh... I'll grab my crossbow

John.E said...

I'm pretty sure I read that Joseph Gordon Levitt is playing Carmone Falcone's son

Jwillx70 said...

Okay, this is bringing back some unpleasant memories of the lead up to Spider-man 3. We have confirmed Catwoman and Bane, rumored Talia al Ghul and the Holiday Killer, and now vague mentions of Ra's al Ghul as well. That's a lot of villains for a 2 hour movie. I suppose it could work, ("In Nolan we trust") but really, how are they going give all of the heavy hitters in this story time to grow and breath? Just my fears on the subject.

Alexander said...

Agree with Jwillx70. It all sounds good to me now, but when you remember Nolan couldn't even handle having TWO villains well in the last film...

Clayton said...

well, this could be interesting. I don't seem Neeson coming back as the chances of surviving THAT wreck at the end of Begins are pretty slim. My guess is that Ra's Al Ghul is a title passed from one person to the next. I also wonder WHY Nolan would incorporate flashbacks. At this rate Rises is going to be three hours long just to cram all this stuff in here. Which isn't out of the realm of possibility since his last two movies have been 150 minutes

Popcorn Dave said...

I liked Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, but I would HATE for him to suddenly be alive again; it totally kills any sense of drama if the writers can just press the "undo" button any time they want. If you want to kill characters, KILL THEM, don't treat character death like it's nothing, and don't retcon every dead character just because you feel like it. This sort of crap is inevitable in comic books where different fans and writers are coming and going all the time, but a self-contained film trilogy should have the integrity to let dead characters stay dead.

I agree with Jwillx70 too, this is starting to look a bit Spider-Man 3 to me, but whatever, I guess Batman and Catwoman teaming up against the League of Shadows (with Bane as the LoS's henchman) could be pretty badass.

David said...

I believe in the fears and what this could easily turn into--it's Batman--and given that this is a re-imagined super-hero that has already had one run in movies ending in all kinds of disappointment--Nolan knows this and so does WB, BUT I believe above all of this--NOLAN KNOWS HOW TO PLAY THE GAME and don't kid yourself-THIS IS ALL A GAME.

Think, if you will, about these characters in the bigger picture. There is an entire world of villainy and sub-plots that you will not see in the narrative. All we know are that these characters are featured in the narrative(which shows only a small portion of the people and events in the diegesis/story world) so, we do not know to what extent these characters will be featured in the narrative. We have what little pieces of importance that Nolan wanted us to know but it leaves him pleeenty of room to keep people guessing(it's a dream within a dream within a spaceship within a dream within Margaret Thatcher...) I personally think it would be great to finally start establishing Gotham as the city overrun with villains as it is in the comic(remember that whole insane asylum break-out with many unaccounted for?)

Not to spout more 'Nolan can do no wrong'...but he's had a good run so far..should be fun to see unfold

Sssonic said...

C'mon guys, everyone knows "Spider-Man 3" isn't ACTUALLY a bad movie, people just disliked it 'cuz Peter Parker dances for an extended period of time. It has nothing to do with the fact that the plot relies almost entirely on idiotic coincidences and happenstance, spends an inordinate amount of time revisiting a love-triangle scenario that was rather neatly dealt with in the first film and adds precious little to the current story, and throws in more plot elements than it knows what to do with and thus leaves large chunks of time where certain elements feel completely forgotten; it's all about the dancing.

Anyway, I'm keeping my mind open regarding "Rises". I do not share Bob's eagerness to revisit the League of Shadows, simply because that feels like a step backwards in terms of the story's progress, but I also see potential in Bane being a member and I won't pretend not to be excited at the prospect of an epic Batman/Catwoman team-up against Talia and the League. I remain "wait and see" overall, but I am if nothing else intrigued to get our first real look at this movie soon.

Chris Cesarano said...

To respond to Sssonic, honestly, I wasn't bothered with the number of villains. I was bothered by how the entire movie was handled.

Unless they're going "Destroy All Monsters" with Dark Knight Rises, I'd imagine some of these characters aren't going to have major roles. You could probably done one flashback scene that Talia tells of her father and BAM! there you go. All done. As for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he may not even play a major part. He could simply be an example of the sort of villain that Nolan feels would work in the universe in case Warner Bros. decides to keep making movies.

Though honestly, I feel like limiting the film franchise to Nolan's universe would just...I dunno. I don't think a reboot is quite necessary, but a lot of people would be pissed if all of a sudden Mr. Freeze comes in with his implausibility (despite how awesome it would be for Patrick Stewart to play him...or Neil Patrick Harris to play The Riddler).