Dennis O’Neil: Thinking Christopher Nolan
Warning: Spoilers below.
So when the lights came on, I turned in my seat and said to the man behind me “Not bad, Chris. Not the worst flick I’ve seen this month. Except for – and this’ll come as no surprise to you – the ending. Sucks pizzle through a potato. Real stink city. Alfred runs into Bruce in Paris? Come on! The flick ends when the helicopter goes blooey and we gotta think Bats dies. Sacrifices himself to save others. Real redemption stuff. That’s your ending and that last scene…Chris, you gotta know that it ruins everything else. What, did some suit twist your arm? Listen, maybe it’s not to late. Movie doesn’t open till…when? Friday? Might be time enough to get some scissions and cut the last couple minutes off the prints. Yeah, I know that there are maybe a thousand copies of the flick and it won’t be easy, what I’m suggesting, but we’re talking art, Chrissy, and sacrifices must be made. Dig?”
Okay, okay, that really didn’t happen. It’s true that a some of us comic book guys got invited to a premier screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a Manhattan theater (and yes, indeedy, it was one big honkin’ deal.) And, as it happened, Marifran and I were seated in front of the movie’s director, Christopher Nolan, but I didn’t know that until much later, after we were home and Mari told me.
If I had known? Probably, not much would have changed. I’m not a fellow to approach strangers, especially not celebrities because I think they must get bellies full of uninvited attention and are properly sick of it.
But that ending.
I did think it was a mistake, though not a drastic one, and if that’s so, how did it happen? Then, a few weeks ago, I saw an online news item that reported a comment by someone connected to the film. This person observed that the brief scene I’m objecting to is foreshadowed earlier in the narrative when Alfred tells of a dream he had in which he meets his boss, Bruce Wayne, in Paris – exactly what happens after Bruce apparently dies in an explosion. So was that last scene another dream? A way for Alfred’s subconscious to cope with the loss of his friend? If not, what’s the dream Alfred describes doing in the script? It doesn’t seem to add anything to plot or character unless… it allows the writers to have an upbeat ending and still tell the story they want to tell. You want to think Bruce is in a cafe munching croissants? Be my guest. Or do you want to join me in believing that the screenplay is better than I was giving it credit for?
Me? I’ll just mutter bravo, but I’ll mutter it here where it can’t possibly bother Mr. Nolan.