If you need a reminder of why “The Dark Knight Rises” is the most anticipated film in years, just watch “The Dark Knight” — one more time. Christopher Nolan’s sequel never disappoints.
Second films in superhero movie franchises have been especially good this side of the 21st Century, and it’s no secret that a lack of obligation to the origin story is the key. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne has already decided to wear the cowl and stand as a symbol for what is right — now he can have some fun.
That’s where the Joker comes in, bringing all that makes “The Dark Knight” great along with him. Heath Ledger’s wildly creative and unpredictable Oscar-winning performance is just the surface of some incredibly thorough and complex thinking.
When you break down Nolan and David S. Goyer’s approach to the use of villains in their Batman universe, you notice that each is a symbol. Batman, too, is a symbol, and his journey in this series has been one of discovering exactly what symbol Gotham City needs him to be.
The villains so far have symbolized powerful influences over humankind, namely whether we choose to be good or evil. So it’s not just good guy vs. bad guy clashing in these movies, it’s symbol for good vs. symbol for evil and that’s what makes the films so powerful.