Dark Knight. Nolan. Miller.
December 20th, 2011

For no particular reason I’ve been re-reading Frank Miller’s Batman stuff–Year One, his Christmas one-shot, and Dark Knight Returns. A couple thoughts occur to me:

1) What none of the Nancy’s reading Frank Miller out of the comics A-list last month bothered to do was grapple with this: His writing in Year One and Dark Knight Returns is probably the the signal achievement in comics since Schuster and Siegel decided to come up with an all-powerful super man. Miller’s writing is breathtakingly confident, beautifully lean, honed to within an inch of its life. Go back and look at some of those pages and you’ll be blown away by how wonderfully they hold up. But they weren’t just the best pair of books in the history of the medium–they were the most influential, too. It is impossible to conceive of what the world of comics would look like today without them.

2) One of the interesting aspects of Nolan’s Batman movies is how he takes bits and pieces of comics and uses them in the construction of his own ideas. His Joker was taken from Brian Azzarello, for instance. He takes the final moment of Batman Begins from the last page of Miller’s Year One. There’s a shot in the new Dark Knight Rises trailer from Knightfall. He’s really mined the source material, but in the very best sense. Because he’s not recycling them–he’s using them to explore his own Big Ideas.

3) So what’s the Big Idea in DKR? That’s what I’m most interested in and I’m guessing we can find out once we know the answer to the following question: What does Bane want?

But in the meantime, I’ll hazard a guess. TDK was a movie about the liberal order, and what happens when it encounters an illiberal threat from the outside. I wonder if the Occupy Wall Street theme shown in the new trailer, and Bane’s talk about “the fire” rising, means that Dark Knight Rises will be about the liberal order confronting an illiberal threat from within.

  1. Fake Herzog December 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    “When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.”


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  3. Nedward December 21, 2011 at 12:52 am

    I’m going to 2nd that first point from a layman’s view: the 1986 Dark Knight is really the only comic I admire from my days of reading comics (and I bought all of Alan Moore’s stuff too). The “mythopoetic” thing they talk about was just coursing through every page. For the most part I stayed in the Marvel mainline, along with the crass spin-off labels like Image, so maybe my opinion doesn’t count, but have long felt that no one–including Miller–has equaled it (actually another I still enjoy is the geeky “1963” mini-series by Moore & co., however that’s not in the same ballpark artistically speaking). I never read BY1 but can infer, from the total saturation of putting “Year One” in the title of everything now, that it was probably a good book too…

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  5. Nedward December 21, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Whoops, I meant “mythopoeic”–the other is probably the *last* term anybody would associate w/ Miller, heheh

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  7. Bane and the Mutant Leader — Jonathan Last Online December 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    […] regards to my post about Miller and Nolan, Santino and I were chatting and he picked up on something which I had noticed, but didn’t […]