The Dark Spirit

What spirit do you choose to use when you have multiple bodies?

Bazin has been throughout this class, the one thinker that really stood out to me in terms of practical thinking on what an adaptations possible responsibilities are. In his discussion of the fidelity of spirit he asks how faithful is the adaptation to the source material. In the case of The Dark Knight, we have both a brand new Batman but also one that pays homage to so many versions of the character it is impossible not to see, hear, and feel the spirit of the old comics resonating on screen. In Arya Ponto’s article “20 Batman Stories Most Influential to ‘The Dark Knight’ Trilogy,” he discusses the most crucial narrative inspirations for Nolans films. In the article Ponto points out at least 10 different, what would be considered “classic” parts to the Batman lore that the films reference or downright directly translate onto screen. I think the reason the Dark Knight did so well is that since comics are malleable by nature, anything based on them can be even more so. Since Nolan wasn’t slave to anyone story or character he was able to craft a film that utilized and recognized multiple bodies of original (the prime texts) in one movie. By using several elements of these bodies of work, Nolan was able to create a Harvey Dent that lost his sanity and face to the criminals he wanted to stop but was spurred on by the Joker who also remains a homicidal unpredictable maniac but this time is far more menacing and cruel. Nolan also gives us the Tumbler, homage to Frank Millers tank like batmobile as well as Batman’s year one bat summoning device. All of these things batman fans can nod and say “OH YEA, you remember when he (insert reference just seen on screen here)” while still being fresh and new. At no point did I feel like the spirit of the Batman comics was not being responded to or properly utilized. Instead I was able to see points of reference to an entire canon of literature and spiritual bodies. I guess the lesson here is when in doubt, use everything…well maybe not everything.

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2 Responses to The Dark Spirit

  1. Raj says:

    I agree that the malleability of comics is part of what’s made Nolan’s Batman trilogy so successful. The serial nature of most comics demands that new approaches to essential characters be taken from time to time, to keep the story fresh. Archetypes are created and myths are formed around them. If comics such as Batman used a more linear form, Batman who was created in I think the ’30s would be long dead by now…or at least we’d have serious concerns about him never aging. So the audience expects ‘reboots’ from time to time, where the underlying archetypes are maintained but the stories/myths change. I think this is a reason why people are more prone to accept a film adaptation of a comic book as opposed to one of a novel- the stories are meant to be malleable and diverse, and to a degree demand borrowing, chains of signification, and intertextuality.

    • And what about the villains? In one of his first appearances, the Joker is killed….. until the final panel when it’s revealed he’s still alive.
      In Tim Burton’s Batman, the Joker is killed at the end. But in Nolan’s version, he’s still hanging out (even through the action of TDKR).

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