The Dark Knight Rises Novelization
Author Gregory Cox had the daunting task of securing the trust of Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. to novelize the final film of The Dark Knight trilogy. According to Cox in the ACKNOWLEMENTS section of The Dark Knight Rises: The Official Novelization, Warner Bros. employees ranging from Special Projects & Sales to Physical Production were instrumental in bringing 2012’s most anticipated film to paperback binding and ebook digital format. Mr. Cox is no stranger to inverse adapting science fiction and comic book works, for the author has penned several Star Trek and DC Comics titles.
The novelization of The Dark Knight Rises is a breezy read that will entertain Batman fans and casual readers from the education levels of junior high to undergrad. The prose is intelligent and descriptive without going into the land of pretentiousness.
The characterizations and elucidation made me reminisce of Max Allan Collins’ novelization of the 1990 film Dick Tracy. I read the aforementioned book in 6th grade and after a few pages I noticed that the tone was darker than Warren Beatty’s PG rated film and Dick Tracy was more of an anti-hero than hero. Now back on subject: Greg Cox’s novel is gloomier than the film version only because the reader is given greater insight into the minds of the following characters:
- A man who has not donned the cape and cowl for over 8 years, and still is searching for a cure to eradicate the torment of his parents’ slayings nearly three decades prior. The reader winces as Bruce Wayne steps with his cane in the cold and deafeningly silent manor early in the story. The reader is just as frantic in searching for a physical and mental offense/defense as the main protagonist (for the first time) faces a foe that is faster, stronger, and more agile.
- A woman that has lived in the decay of society her whole life and has survived it by being a common yet cunning thief. Her intentions are not to harm anyone, but she will do anything to prevent her own demise. Her unlikely alliance with The Dark Knight is initially for her own benefit, until she realizes why a man of privilege is willing to be whatever Gotham needs.
- The father figure and occasional medic and advisor whom can no longer bear to see his loved one take on the weight of the world. The reader is given insight (even more than the brilliant dialogue in the Nolan brothers’ screenplay) into Alfred’s distain of the stale and dark Batcave, and his hope for Bruce’s exodus from Gotham with a love interest.
- The brilliant engineer and CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Lucius Fox serves more as the character that the reader can relate to in the novel, as in the film version that character is Alfred. For in the novel Fox watched the near demise of Gotham in horror in the same manner as any other ordinary Gotham citizen. Fox wants Bruce to find closure in his life and desperately want him to find true love, and often reminds Bruce of the lovely Miranda Tate. Despite this, he knows that Gotham needs Batman and supplies Bruce with what was once known as “unusual requests”. The reader experiences Fox’s joy as he struggles to keep pace (while trying to prevent nuclear fallout) with Bruce’s new Olympic body that is the result of 4 months of training in a prison that is known as hell -on –Earth.
For those that were disappointed by Nolan’s decision not to mention or even reference the Joker, there are several passages that discuss the white-skinned and green-haired maniac. The author is clever in his explanation in the differences between the villainy of the Joker and Bane. Whereas the Joker utilizes insane former Arkham Asylum inmates to carry out his chaos, Bane utilizes mercenaries and skilled assassins of The League Of Shadows. This of course is obvious in the films, yet in the novelization the reasons why these mercenaries are loyal are further explored. Many of are former soldiers that have been drifters after leaving their native country’s military and their particular skill set is not needed in an already struggling economy. This gives them a way to relate to and inspire the prisoners of Blackgate prison in Gotham.
Readers will appreciate the detail of the action scenes and social breakdown that rivals the prose of Tom Clancy, without being pretentious like post 9/11 Tom Clancy novels can be. It is disclosed that John Blake feels great regret for killing anyone despite his or her violent nature. Also Blake hates using guns, all of this being relevant to his evolution to being Gotham’s next silent protector.
Perhaps Cox’s greatest departure from the screenplay is telling the imploding football field entirely from the punt returner’s perspective (1st person) rather than third person. In this manner the scene is more chaotic; for the Gotham Rogues football player is running for his life rather than being oblivious to the mayhem.
TDKR novelization is not a must buy, but is still worth its $9.99 barcode.
A Tale Of Two Cities.
Of course Detective Comics stories KnightFall and No Man’s Land served as the outline of The Dark Knight Rises, however much of the heart and imagery of the latest Batman film was derived from a 19th century classic.
The famous opening lines to Charles Dickens’ story of the experiences of London and Paris during the French Revolution are analogous to the theme of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only”.
Gotham city was in a seemingly positive state after the events of The Dark Knight. On the surface Gotham represented London during the French Revolution. Under the surface Gotham represented Paris during the French Revolution. Charles Dickens wrote many of his novels, novellas, and short stories to educate the aristocrats on the dire situations of the impoverished. In TDKR Nolan carefully crafted the Selina Kyle character to be the voice of the impoverished. This is clearly seen in the heavily dialogued scenes between Ms. Kyle and Mr. Wayne. In regards to heavy dialogue, Charles Dickens was paid in contrast to the number of words that he typed, and let it be known that 3 page descriptions of a person’s hat or handkerchief run rampant throughout A Tale of Two Cities.
The battles on the garbage and fecal laden streets of Paris are justifiably over-detailed. This presumably inspired Nolan to place hundreds to thousands of extras on the streets of New York and Pittsburgh to bring back the epic scale of silent films that have not been seen since Intolerance and Metropolis.
Nolan’s referencing of a 163-year-old book is ironically a testament to originality. Old works (that have been out of sight and out of mind for decades to centuries) can spark ingenuity.
The Art And The Making Of The Dark Knight Trilogy
“I didn’t want to know everything that Bruce couldn’t; I wanted o live it with him, I told David and Jonah to put everything they knew into each film as we made it. The entire cast and crew put all they had into the first film. Nothing held back.” ~ Christopher Nolan.
There is little justice that I can give to Jody Duncan Jesser and Janie Porrouy’s massive The Art And Making Of The Dark Knight Trilogy. These ladies have masterfully written an all-encompassing art book on the three Nolan Batman films. Due to having a standard commercial scanner (and not wanting to violate copyrights), I cannot supply the dozens upon dozens of high-resolution photos that depict scenes and behind the scenes of one the greatest American film trilogies. The in-depth interviews with Christopher Nolan, Jonah Nolan, David S. Goyer, Wally Pfister, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine are equally as informative as watching the features on the Blu Ray discs for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and the eventual home media release of The Dark Knight Rises.
This book is worthy of not only being purchased and read, but being used as an accent on a beautiful coffee table in a fine hotel. Yes it would be somewhat peculiar to see a comic book hero book vice a fine art gallery book in a place like The Hilton, but in the paraphrased words of Christopher Nolan “it is great to shake things up a bit sometimes”.