Christopher Nolan is one of my favourite film directors of all time, alongside James Cameron and Steven Spielberg of course; his resume speaks for itself. It’s been almost 15 years since the release of a certain Batman film and I can vividly remember how enthralling and unique that movie was when I saw it. It was essentially a breath of fresh air considering how disappointing the Joel Schumacher films in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were; the latter more than the former.
Then came the sequels; saying they are masterpiece films would be an understatement. There are a bunch of memorable moments from the franchise that have always stuck with me over the years, a number of them might not been in line with yours nonetheless, they are still noteworthy. Here they are.
5. Death of Harvey Dent. (The Dark Knight)
In the 3rd Act of the film, a spiteful Harvey Dent goes all out to eliminate anyone and everyone who might have had a hand in his and Rachel Dawes’ abduction (his girlfriend) as well as her tragic death. His revenge mission culminates at the building where Rachel died and he threatens to kill Commissioner Gordon’s family in the presence of Batman and the police boss. Just as Dent is about to kill Gordon’s son, Batman tackles him and the former attorney plummets to his death.
What I am drawn to in this scene is specifically what happens after. Batman decides to take the fall for Dent’s death as well as the other deaths that the deceased had caused. The hero does this because Dent had been responsible for the drastic drop in Gotham’s crime rate and he doesn’t want his legacy and hard work to be tarnished. Batman’s act of selflessness and his willingness to do it without giving it a second thought is something I admire a lot as an audience member.
4. Batman saves Rachel Dawes. (Batman Begins)
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it’s the best car-chase action sequence I have ever seen in a movie but one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely up there. After admitting that he’d released a fear-inducing hallucinogen drug into the Gotham City water supply, Jonathan Crane a.k.a Scarecrow drugs Rachel Dawes but later on gets subdued by Batman who evades the police to get Rachel to safety. The caped crusader eventually administers her with an antidote at the Bat-cave.
That car chase sequence, or should I say tumbler chase sequence, is just extra-ordinary. Whether it’s the one liners e.g Gordon saying “I gotta get me one of those” when Batman reveals his huge bat-mobile or the hero’s demeanour inside the tumbler as he irregularly manoeuvres through Gotham, there’s a lot to geek out on. What I like most about the scene is that it pulls you away from the tension of Rachel possibly succumbing to the toxin by providing some appropriate comedic dialogue and breath-taking action sequences. It’s a good balance if you ask me.
3. The Harvey Dent & Rachel Dawes rescue mission. (The Dark Knight)
Upon Joker’s revelation that Dawes and Dent had been abducted by corrupt police detectives and are in two separate locations rigged to explode, Batman races to save Rachel, while Commissioner Gordon attempts to rescue Dent. Batman arrives at the building, but realizes that the Joker has sent him to Dent’s location instead. Both buildings explode, killing Rachel and leaving Dent seriously disfigured.
Despite the fact that Rachel had moved on in her love life and had been with Dent, Bruce Wayne hadn’t and thus it was always going to be a natural decision choosing to save Rachel rather than Dent when both their lives were on the line. The devastation of Rachel’s death was just as impactful to me as a viewer as it was to the character of Bruce especially when you consider the anxiety of the attempted rescue as well as the effect it had on both Dent and Wayne.
2. The Return of Batman ( The Dark Knight Rises)
After Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange by using Wayne’s fingerprints in a series of transactions that leaves Wayne bankrupt; he and his henchmen manage to escape the building and get chased by the Gotham Police all over the city. It is during this chase that Batman resurfaces for the first time in eight years to intercept the criminals. Later on, the Dark Knight becomes G.C.P.D fodder and he manages to stage an escape of his own via a new aerial vehicle called The Bat.
This is such a cool moment in the third installment of the trilogy, and it is perfectly complemented by the reactions of the G.C.P.D officers in the tunnel where Batman makes his return. If there’s one gadget in Batman’s rifle that I like most, it’s definitely the EMP rifle and understandably so. It is the most practical gadget in my view considering how Batman goes about his vigilante activities. I loved the way it’s used to take out the tunnel lights as Batman speeds past the police vehicle aboard his Batpod towards Bane’s henchmen. The scene’s icing on the cake would be the “You are in for a show tonight” comment by the older officer which is a nice reference to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns story.
1. Bruce’s escape from The Pit. (The Dark Knight Rises)
Having seen the havoc and catastrophe that Bane is causing back in Gotham, a now imprisoned Batman trains hard in a bid to escape the seemingly inescapable prison. However his attempts at trying to successfully make the climb prove futile. Eventually, with some invaluable advice and guidance, Bruce Wayne manages to make the climb at last but this time he does it without anything to prevent him from falling to his death.
I see this as the best moment in the trilogy because of the emotional reaction I had and have to it; its cathartic nature. In my opinion, the greatest feeling you can get as an audience member is being put in a situation where you are in line with the struggles of the main character and are rooting for the character’s eventual success. Bruce Wayne says it himself, he does fear death; he fears dying in the prison while his city burns with no one to defend/save it.
Ultimately, Bruce realizes that the only way he’d escape is by using his fear of death as fuel in making the climb without the rope to guarantee his survival; an ‘all or nothing’ situation. Aside from the catharsis, that moment is so empowering and is perfectly accompanied by the ‘Rise’ chant as well as Hans Zimmer’s superb score.
(Imagery and Video content courtesy of Warner Bros.)