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.