star-wars

The Force Awakens, and the End of the Star Wars Cannon

On October 30, 2012, George Lucas announced he was selling Lucasfilm to Disney for over $4 billion.  Many fans, unhappy with Lucas’s recent management of the franchise, met the news with relief and excitement.  The prequels were always going to hang over his head.

Shortly after the acquisition, Disney announced they were continuing the core film series (no surprise).  They also declared the Expanded Universe was no longer considered cannon (meaning part of the official Star Wars story) in any way.  For those not in the know, the Expanded Universe encompassed all the licensed books, comic books, and games set in the Star Wars Universe.  This was met with outrage by fans of said books, comic books, and games, but, frankly, the Expanded Universe stories were never cannon.  Lucas had made that clear many times.  Fans of the EU derided Disney keeping things like Jar Jar Binks, but disregarding the cool stuff they’d invested in.  The thing is, determining cannon has nothing to do with quality.  Trust me, I would rather read Heir to the Empire five times in a row than sit through The Phantom Menace again, but only The Phantom Menace counts.

Disney shortly announced a new series of books, comic books, games, spin-off movies, and TV show (Rebels) that would be part of the Star Wars cannon.  If they produced a book about what happened between Episodes V and VI, it was something that officially happened.

This has been more or less accepted by fans of the series, including those who felt their love of the Expanded Universe had been dismissed.  The thing is, none of it is cannon since Lucas parted with the property, including the main films.

Now, Lucas was never the sole author of Star Wars.  Film is a collaborative medium, after all, and even the films he wrote and directed himself (Episodes I-IV) had input from others.  That said, he was the final decision maker on the six original films (and the Clone Wars TV series), and nothing went into those movies without his thumbs-up.  He may not have been the sole author, but he was the final decision maker on what was and wasn’t going to be the characters’ stories.

Fast-forward to pre-production on Episode VII (The Force Awakens).  Lucas had given the new creative team his outline for the film, but they decided to go with another approach and tossed it aside.  Now they were well within their rights to do this.  Lucas sold the property to Disney without any requirement to use his outline.  Also, Abrams and company were probably correct in determining that Lucas’s story wasn’t the best direction for the series.  The ramification of this decision, though, was that the new films will now be in the same category as the Expanded Universe.

Imagine thirty years from now, Disney has a crisis and has to sell Lucasfilm to another company.  That company announces they have Lucas’s outline for Episodes VII-IX, which they’ll use to make new films.  Also, all the Disney supplementary works will be set aside, like the EU, and they’ll be putting out their own spin-off films, comics, TV shows, etc.  Since they’re working from Lucas’s notes, they’ll declare their Episodes VII-IX will be the real entries in the core film series, unlike Disney’s.

But that won’t be ironclad either.  Lucas’s original outline for The Empire Strikes Back involved Luke finding his father and sister in exile.  During the pre-production process, the whole thing was simplified into making Darth Vader Luke’s father and writing the sister out (before making her Leia for the third film).  Those changes were made while he worked on the script with others.  The filmmakers of the hypothetical films would still have to hammer their own scripts out, probably making similar changes without Lucas’s sign off (I’m assuming he’ll be gone).  That would be enough to claim that they’re not totally in-cannon either.

At the end of the day, the rock-solid, cannon story of Star Wars will be Episodes I-VI and the Clone Wars TV show.  Everything else will be elements future owners of the property can use or ignore based on their own plans.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad Disney’s material is.  We may all have a great time watching it, but it’s all fan fiction from this point forward.

 

Don’t forget:  My book, Gina Beale: Into the Fire, is on Kindle now and can be purchased HERE.  It’s a great read, but only if you like great reads.

 

 

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Gina Beale Unleashed

Miss me?  It’s been a while, but my blog will be up and running again in the weeks ahead.  So what have I been doing instead of writing posts for this?  I’ve been writing a book, and that book is now available on Kindle, with a print version to shortly follow.

 

I’d like to introduce you to Gina Beale.  Once upon a time, she was a Human Resources Representative at a Chicago medical tech firm.  That was before a run-in with an ill-tempered ifrit (think like a genie, but scary) revealed her to be descended from ancient gods.  That’s when Gina took on her new career with the Collegium, an organization of said ancient gods who keep mankind safe from old threats (monsters, rogue gods, etc.).  It sounds much more fulfilling to Gina than corporate work, but she finds out she doesn’t exactly fit in with her alpha-male colleagues or boss, Athena (Greek Goddess of Wisdom).  She’s going to have to get past that, though, as Marduk (Patron God of Ancient Babylon) has set out to make the world pay for forgetting him.

 

That’s okay, though.  Armed with her trusty table leg, Louie, Gina’s ready to beat the snot out of anything he can throw at her.

 

So, look out for new postings here and in the meantime, order yourself a copy of Gina Beale: Into the Fire HERE on Amazon.

 

Review: Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman (#1-2)

SOME SPOILERS BELOW

I was pretty happy when DC announced a digital-first Wonder Woman series featuring rotating characters doing out-of-continuity stories.  As we saw with The Adventures of Superman, giving creators free reign on these characters can, at their best, inject them with energy often lacking in their monthly titles.  I’ve loved Azzarello’s run on the character, but I was excited to see some other takes on the Amazon Princess.

 

The first storyline, stretching over the first two issues, comes to us courtesy of Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver.  For Simone, it’s a bit of a homecoming to the character.  Many of current book’s detractors pine for the days when she was calling the shots.

 

The story, “Gothamazon,” sounds good on paper.  Batman is out for the count and Oracle (good to see her again) brings Diana in to take care of an unraveling Gotham City.  Batman’s rogues gallery has teamed up to take over the city and Wonder Woman goes right after them.

 

It’s a great set up, but a mixed bag in execution.  Simone seems to be working against the page count on this one, as it starts big before getting tied up (literally) too easily.  A couple of big dramatic moments both don’t pay off (the Amazon army) and aren’t sold well (the Harley/Catwoman team up).  The real stand-out moment of the book comes when the villains find themselves bound by the lasso of truth and made to confront the fears that really drive them.  It shows that Simone understands these characters at their core.  This includes WW herself, who is not just a fighter, but a healer like Batman could never be.

 

Van Sciver’s art is interesting, as I might not have guessed it was his work if his name wasn’t attached.  Gone are his distinctive, heavy shadows and detailed line work.  Instead, we get something closer to what might be considered DC’s house style.  I’m on the fence as to whether that’s a good thing for this story or not.

 

So Sensation Comics is off to a decent start, but I was hoping for a more unique reading experience.  The good news is I’ve seen the upcoming creator list and I’m sure the series will deliver some interesting WW takes in the near future.

 

snowpiercer-mv-1

Snowpiercer – About That Ending

I checked out Snowpiercer on VOD last week.  It’s great when something turns out to be just as entertaining as you hoped it would be.  It reminded me how exciting watching Terry Gilliam movies used to be.

 

My only hesitation about seeing the movie had to do with its concept, as I’m tired of heavy-handed science fiction allegories about a dystopian world where a privileged oligarchy makes the masses live in squalor.  Joon-ho Bong (along with co-writer Kelly Masterson) has crafted a movie, though, that works beyond the clichés that bog down lesser efforts (I’m looking at you, Elysium).

 

The difference is in the film’s characters.  The story Curtis (Chris Evans) tells about when they first arrived on the train packs way more of a punch than the generic story arcs from characters in similar movies.  The guy’s come a long way since his days wisecracking as Johnny Storm.

 

One of the biggest topics of conversation has been the ending and what would happen immediately afterward.

 

***BIG SPOILERS AHEAD***

 

So we have two characters who have survived the horrific crash.  There may be others, but we don’t see them and can’t assume.  They see a polar bear walking around and the movie ends.

 

If you go online and check out discussions, a lot of folks point out that a) two people isn’t enough to keep the human race going and b) there’s no way a polar bear would even still be alive, as they need to eat things too.

 

It reminds me of a bit I remember from many years ago, when a comedian was talking about watching the Gilligan’s Island Harlem Globetrotters movie with a friend.  The Globetrotters are playing a charity basketball game for the island’s orphans against evil basketball robots, programmed to defeat them.  Gilligan comes into the game and his friend says, “Yeah, right.  Like they’d put Gilligan in.”  The comedian’s reply: “So you were buying everything up until that point?”

 

In Snowpiercer, the last members of the human race are living on a fast-moving train with tracks that never degrade in horrible environmental conditions, sides of beef materialize out of nowhere, enough bugs exist to become an endless supply of protein bars, and, wait a minute, why do they even have to be on a train in the first place?

 

And yet, after buying all this through the whole movie, a good number of viewers are questioning whether the hopeful ending is actually bleak.  Sorry, but it is a hopeful ending, because Snowpiercer is a metaphorical film from top to bottom.  The focus is on what it represents, not how well it would hold up in reality.

 

As I noted before about The Dark Knight Rises, how well we accept a metaphorical story depends on how emotionally invested we are in the characters and storyline.  If we’re into it, we roll with plot and logic holes.  If we don’t care, they stick out like a sore thumb.  I cared about the people in Snowpiercer, so none of the questions I asked above matter.  It’s also why most people questioning the logic of the movie are only flummoxed by the end.  Things have concluded and for the first time, you’re not caught up in what’s going to happen next.  Your brain now has room to think, logically, through what you’re seeing.  I did it for a moment before catching myself.

 

So it doesn’t matter if the bear would just kill them, or if the bear shouldn’t even be there.  Curtis has rejected the false (yet convincing) choice Willford gave him.  He’s chosen humanity over the machine.  All that’s left are the next generation, freed from their parent’s mistakes, on a planet where life is returning.

Scalpedcover

Check This Out – Scalped

Back in the distant 90s, there was a huge wave of crime films, mostly inspired by Quentin Tarantino.  I remember sitting through trailers, wondering when I’d see one that didn’t involve guns.  While it produced a good number of movies, most were quickly forgotten and the movement petered out.  Lucky for us fans of fictional ne’er do wells, TV and comics picked up the ball and carried it into a golden age. 

 

When it comes to TV, The Sopranos, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Justified, and Breaking Bad (among others) set the standard.  At the same time,  comics such as Stray Bullets, 100 Bullets, Jinx, Criminal, and procedurals like Gotham Central were breaking the same sort of ground, though they were met with much less fanfare across the pop culture landscape (they’re comics, after all).  I enjoyed all those series quite a bit, but Scalped has stayed with me like no other.

 

The book was written by Jason Aaron with art by R.M Guera.  It takes place on the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation, populated by the non-fictional Lakota tribe.  It’s the story of Dashiell Bad Horse, an angry, unpleasant local who has returned years after abandoning the place, just in time for the opening of the new Crazy Horse Casino.  The casino is run by Lincoln Red Crow, who also happens to be the Tribal Council President and Sheriff of the Tribal Police.  It’s also the community’s worst kept secret that he’s the reservation’s crime kingpin.

 

Red Crow has a soft spot for Dashiell, as he and Gina Bad Horse, Dashiell’s estranged mother, were both activists back in the day.  They went their separate ways after the murder of two federal agents, with Gina sticking by the cause while Red Crow went down a more lucrative path.  Dashiell quickly establishes a place for himself in Red Crow’s organization, which is exactly what was supposed to happen, as he’s actually an undercover FBI agent.    

 

Dashiell has been blackmailed into this, as going home is the last thing he wants to do.  He’s described by his boss, the unpleasant Agent Nitz, as a “borderline sociopath with deep-seated anger.”  Nitz is one of the most thoroughly unlikable characters in the history of fiction.  Takes one to know one, I guess.

 

One of the remarkable things about this book is how it transforms our view of Dashiell as things progress.  For a little while, I was wondering if I even wanted to continue reading a story about a lead character I had so little empathy for.  As his story was fleshed out, I found myself wanting very badly for him to turn out okay, and a little heartbroken when he steered in the wrong direction. 

 

The book pulls this off with almost every character.  I really can’t think of a one that didn’t turn my expectations for them on their head.  Aaron and Guera play the long game, though that means it takes about two collections (around twelve issues) before things really get humming.  Seriously, if you’re doubting your interest at the end of the first collection (Indian Country), just keep going.

 

Like all great long-form stories, the book expands well beyond its initial premise.  It touches on the overall plight of Native American reservations (sometimes described as a third world nation inside out borders), the challenge of being an individual while still part of a community, the ramifications to your loved ones when you join a cause, and other big questions in an organic way.  Nothing feels forced or preachy.

 

The book is a master class in dialogue, pacing, character development, and world-building.  It avoids easy answers and out-of-nowhere plot tricks all the way to the end.  It’s been picked up by WGN America as a live-action TV series (HBO really dropped the ball on not grabbing it), though I don’t know what stage of development it’s in right now.  You should pick it up right away, as I can’t imagine a TV adaption, no matter how well it’s done, living up to the original.

Spidey

Spider-man and the Curse of Adulthood

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end.  It’s an obvious statement to make, but it’s the bane of most creators working on popular characters today.  With exceptions like Harry Potter, most iconic characters in western culture, from Homer Simpson, to James Bond, and Superman, have stories that never end.  If they ended, really ended, that would mean the end of some very lucrative franchises.  As a result, those characters stay stuck on the part of their story Joseph Campbell referred to as the “Road of Trials,” where the hero faces a long series of confrontations from a variety of enemies.  When that gets old, they reboot and start over from the beginning.

This continuous publication has been particularly tough on Spider-man.  Marvel has been struggling for years to keep his story engaging, from magically erasing his marriage to having Dr. Octopus take over his body.  Movies and animated TV shows keep rebooting him to a teenager, but the comics’ story is part of the larger Marvel continuity.  You can’t take Peter Parker back to a kid without dragging the whole universe with him.

Every character goes through ruts, but Spider-man’s ruts outnumber his peaks by a large margin.  A truly great Spider-man story is rare.  Think about it: what is Spidey’s equivalent to The Dark Knight Returns or All Star Superman or even The Winter Soldier?  I’d argue the 616 Spider-man hasn’t had much in the way of truly great stories since maybe the Gerry Conway era.

Spider-man is, without a doubt, one of the great fictional characters of the last one-hundred years.  Some would argue he’s the greatest comic book character of all time.  So what is it that keeps him from knocking it out of the park?

The key to understanding any superhero is understanding what their story is about.  Superman’s story is about the ideals of Twentieth Century America.  Batman is about a man of privilege getting a cold dose of reality, and then using his privilege to help his city, no matter what the cost to himself.

Spider-man has a shorter shelf life because his story is about growing up.  In his teenage years, he gets a surprise dose of power (puberty), pays the price for wielding it recklessly (which of us didn’t hurt someone in our teen years?), and then tries to find a balance between being responsible and happy.  Once he becomes a successful adult, the story is over.  So, Spider-man’s problem isn’t that he’s stuck on the Road of Trials.  His story ended and the books just kept going.

So when does he become a successful adult?  When he gets the girl.  The girl in this case being Mary Jane Watson.  Yes, he’ll continue to have problems, because becoming an adult isn’t about not having problems.  It’s about finding a balance between what he must do and what he wants to do.  Mary Jane is an independently successful, smart, and assertive woman who will be his rock when he’s at his weakest.  It’s the ultimate happiness for Peter.  The end.

This puts the character’s writers in a pickle.  In order to keep the story going, it has to become about something else.  If it becomes about something else, it’s not the classic dynamic Spidey fans are looking for.  As a result, the stories tip too heavily towards soap-opera style plots, where superficial threats drive the action.  Only a handful (maybe Kraven’s Last Hunt or The Death of Jean DeWolff) have any emotional punch.

Yes, the McFarlane/Larsen era proved a sales boom, but that had more to do with the book’s visuals and EXTREME (!!!) villains.  Superior Spider-man was also popular, but that was Otto’s story, not Peter’s.  The most highly regarded book about Peter from the last twenty years seems to be Ultimate Spider-man, because it could set the clock back.

I’d even argue that Spider-man 3’s Achilles heel wasn’t too many villains or the part where he turned “evil,” but that Spider-man 2 brought the story to its natural conclusion.  There was nothing left to say.

So what is Marvel to do?  Sure, they can undo Peter and MJ’s marriage, but that’s a temporary, and gimmicky, Band-Aid.  In order to continue Peter’s story, you have to change the theme, and that means moving the character in a direction a lot of fans aren’t comfortable with.

J. Michael Straczynski came the closest to doing this.  He was broadening the scope of what it meant to be Spider-man and challenging the character’s assumptions.  I love when he tells the story of how he learned “With great power comes great responsibility,” the response he gets is, “And then what?”  I’m frustrated to this day that his run crashed and burned before reaching its potential.  It could’ve opened the character up to new worlds of possibility.

As it is, I feel sorry for any writer taking on the book now.  Spidey fans are still asking for Marvel to do something brand new with the character, as long as they don’t change anything.  That is a heavy cross for any creator to bear.

POST NOTE:  I have ideas if anyone from Marvel is interested.  Just saying.

DARK KNIGHT RISES

FIXED IT: The Dark Knight Rises

Today, I’m putting out the first of what I hope to be a series of posts called FIXED IT.  I’ll be going through movies I think could’ve hit the mark, but didn’t quite get there.  These won’t be terrible movies, at least in their concept, but ones that somehow lost their way. 

 

When it comes to “fixing” movies, I tend to focus on blockbusters (or movies that wanted to be).  It’s more fun to tinker with something that came off an assembly line than with a smaller, more personal piece of work.  We’ll start with The Dark Knight Rises, directed by Christopher Nolan, with a screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer.  It, of course, features Batman, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.

 

I should also mention this is meant for someone with good knowledge of the film.  This post is long enough without a recap.

 

The Diagnosis

There’s a lot of hate out there for this movie, but I enjoy it, warts and all.  It’s just those warts bother me a whole lot less than other people.  Also, I hear a lot of complaining about the movie’s plot holes, but I don’t so much care about them.  Why don’t I care?  Because of a rule I call BHFB or “Because He’s F***ing Batman.” 

 

How did Bruce Wayne get from the prison to Gotham with no resources at his disposal?  BHFB

How did he get into the city?  BHFB

How is he walking on ice other people fell through?  BHFB

How did he make a gasoline trail from said ice, up the bridge, and into some sort of pyrotechnic bat-symbol?  BHFB

 

Here’s the deal, though: BHFB only works when you’re emotionally invested in the story.  That’s the main difference between The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight.  Some of the Joker’s plans make no logistical sense, but that doesn’t bug us so much because it’s a more enjoyable movie.

 

The problem isn’t the plot holes.  The problem is that the first hour or so is too dull, muddles the film’s themes, and takes us out of the story.  If you fix some fundamental problems with that section, the rest of the movie works much better.

 

So what are those problems?  Actually, there’s one really big one.  If they’d avoided that mistake they could’ve a) made things more entertaining and b) given the movie room to fine tune its other issues. 

 

Batman should NOT have quit.

 

Let’s go back to the end of The Dark Knight.  Harvey Dent has become Two Face and murdered several people.  Batman tells Gordon to say he did it, so Dent could remain a symbol of hope for the city.  Harvey was really an empty suit, who couldn’t handle the personal cost of saving Gotham.  Batman has lost the same thing Dent has, but will keep going and let himself be hated for the sake of the city. 

 

And then he goes home and gives up.

 

So we’ve started TDKR by mooting the finale of the last movie.  From there, we get to hang out with mopey Bruce as he putters around before getting back into the game.  Thank god for Catwoman livening things up, but she can only do so much.  The main character is disengaged from the movie and we disengage with him.  Plus, these scenes use valuable screen time that could’ve been used to shore up the movie’s themes.

 

Nolan’s films put a huge emphasis on world-building and theme, sometimes to the detriment of the movie itself (see Inception).  Batman Begins was about overcoming fear to do what’s right.  The Dark Knight was about finding the path between what’s right and what’s necessary, or how you fight something awful without becoming awful yourself, which resonated well in an America dealing with the War on Terror.  It’s also about, as stated before, the personal cost of doing what’s right.  The Dark Knight Rises is about not letting your responsibilities go.  Or is it about how awful Occupy Wall Street was?  Or is it about how our aristocrats need to watch their backs?

 

I’ve read a lot of interviews with Nolan and it seems what he was trying to say if you’re not taking care of the real needs of a society, it can fragment into a class struggle, which someone else can take advantage of to tear everything down.  The elites were awful, so the lower class of society was awful right back, and the result was almost the annihilation of them both.  A secondary theme is how you can’t save things based on lies.  That’s an awesome statement for a tent-pole superhero movie, but they botched the execution.

 

There are several brief references to the city not prospering as advertised, but we don’t actually see any of it, outside of the orphanage’s plight and Selina Kyle’s commentary (not exactly a trustworthy source).  We also see city officials and guys at the stock exchange acting like dicks, but that’s nothing compared to what Bane and “the people” do later on.  This is why TDKR is often interpreted as favorable toward the elite over the rabble. 

 

Also, there’s the whole fact that we want to see Batman in a Batman movie.  Batman Begins was an origin story, so it gets some latitude.  It’s fascinating to watch Bruce become Batman, but frustrating to watch him twiddle his thumbs after that’s happened. 

 

So, how would I fix all this?

 

The Fix

The movie’s first couple scenes unfold as is, because only an idiot would cut out Bane crashing the plane.    

 

We move from here to nighttime Gotham, where Batman is interceding in a crime, only to find it’s a police trap he has to fight his way out of.  As this scene ends, we go to a TV interview of Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall) who catches us up on what’s happened.  He’s become a full-on Batman supporter, though he’s treated as a conspiracy nut.  You see, he believes Harvey Dent killed the people Batman’s accused of taking out.  As the host drones on about Harvey being a hero and how turned around Gotham is, Engel corrects him that while organized crime is out of power, neighborhoods are suffering from neglect, schools are underfunded, and street-level crime is up.

 

We shift to the party at Wayne Manor, where Bruce is absent, not because he’s holed up like Howard Hughes, but because he’s out as Batman.  One thing that’s the same is that Bruce Wayne is being viewed as a recluse, but it’s because Batman has swallowed his life.    

 

In the interaction between Commissioner Gordon and officials, he complains about losing police and resources to budget cuts.  He’s blown off, much like he is in the existing movie.  The rest of this scene precedes as is.

 

Bruce comes home in rough shape to find Selina Kyle stealing the pearl necklace (and his fingerprints), and isn’t able to stop her escape.  She takes off with the Senator, just like in the real movie. 

 

We cut to John Blake leaving his apartment to start his day.  He leaves a small bag of groceries in front of one of the apartment doors.  After he’s passed, a woman holding a baby opens the door and picks it up.  We also see other signs of neglect in his building.  John is the movie’s guide to what’s happening to everyone else in Gotham. 

 

We follow him to his meeting with Gordon, with Blake expressing doubt over the Dent story.  Gordon lets slip his frustration that he finally has an uncorrupt force, but it’s being compromised by the city’s big wigs.

 

At the cave, Bruce is investigating Selina, looking far more buff than in the existing film.  The discussion in this version, though, is about Alfred’s concern that Bruce has lost himself in Batman, neglecting his personal life and the good he could be doing as Bruce Wayne. 

 

We keep the scene of Blake tracking the dead teenager back to the orphanage, where we find out that they’ve lost funding from both the city and the Wayne Foundation.  Through his conversation with the kid, we find out that to people on the street, Batman is still a hero. 

 

Selina’s showdown in the bar happens just like in the movie, except that Batman swoops in along with the police.  The police ignore everything else to go after Batman, allowing the bad guys to escape down the sewer.  Gordon follows them and the scene proceeds as is.

 

You know, I don’t know if I buy how John Blake figured out Batman’s identity, but I’m willing to roll with it.  It doesn’t hurt the movie and I like the “start paying attention to the details” line.

 

I think we can keep the next several scenes as is, though the hospital visit to Gordon would have to be about how Batman has to keep going, as opposed to how he must come back.

 

The ball scene stays the same, except now Selina’s threat has more bite.  I love that she steals his car.  Catwoman really gives this movie the dose of fun it needs.  So does Lucius Fox, so we can keep their scene pretty intact, without the mention of retiring.

 

Alfred and Bruce have their cave meeting, without the robo-brace thing.  Again, Alfred’s speech about how the city needs Bruce more than Batman should have more punch.  We’ve seen that the city is suffering from things Bruce Wayne can help with more than Batman, but then we have Bane.

 

The stock exchange sequence stays the same, with the exception of the cops not being amazed at Batman’s return.  It will be a more intense repeat of what we’ve seen earlier, though Batman is able to control the situation better than before.  The same goes for the rooftop battle and escape with Catwoman.

 

This leads to Alfred’s goodbye, which hinges on the lie about Rachel, so it can stay pretty much intact, with little dialogue tweaks. 

 

From this point forward, the movie stays the same, with a tweak here and there.  One of those would be some shots of regular Gothamites (including the mother and baby from Blake’s building) cowering as Bane’s army takes the streets.  This would make it clear that Gotham’s been taken over by scum and mercenaries, not “the people.”  The movie can’t make its case if we never see them.

 

As I said, this doesn’t clean up the little holes.  Hopefully, the changes I detailed would create an audience that would be more forgiving of them.  This version of the movie would convey its themes better, but also be more entertaining from start to finish. 

 

In Conclusion

TDK and TDKR are both movies that place theme and character over plot.  No matter how “realistic” Nolan tried to make them seem, they’re still superhero movies.  Superhero stories rise and fall on their theme, and how well all the other elements serve it.  When that happens, things like the police coming out from three months underground freshly shaved don’t bother viewers as much.   

 

I have to mention that I love the very end of the movie.  Even with the movie as it stands, Bruce Wayne’s last act before “dying” is to pass the last of his estate to the poorest of Gotham’s people and his Batman resources go to a regular cop.  It’s proof the movie’s heart isn’t with the aristocrats, despite what many people think.  Batman hasn’t just saved the city from Bane, he’s left its future in better hands.  That’s what he does, BHFB.