There’s no denying it, this is one of the best film trilogies ever made. Each film is more than solid and tell some really great stories. Everyone knew that Batman was one of the best superheroes ever, but these stories brought him back from being a joke and showed everyone just how serious, and how awesomely cool, he could really be. Literally any one of these could be my favourite, but I will never reveal which one!
Batman Begins (2005)
The trilogy starts off strong with the origin of Batman like we’ve never seen before: grounded in realism. Christopher Nolan really had a vision for this character. He’s dark, he’s troubled, but it’s all as real as possible. After his parents are murdered in an alleyway, disillusioned billionaire Bruce Wayne travels the world learning to fight and take down the criminals he lost his family to. He meets League of Assassins leader Ra’as al Ghul who trains him, but soon he reveals his hidden evil nature. Bruce becomes a symbol of fear to scare his enemies: Batman. Christian Bale is amazing as Batman. He’s fierce, he’s angry and works perfectly as both Wayne and the masked vigilante. Yes, his voice may be a bit growly and silly at times, but he’s a really great Batman and fits the bill perfectly.
Liam Neeson is suitably menacing as Ra’as, but the other scene stealing villain is Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow. He’s deranged but hiding it fairly well, and when he puts that mask on he is actually pretty scary. The story is great, the action is pretty good and everyone is cast so so well. Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman as Detective Gordon. All fantastic. Katie Holmes plays love interest Rachel, who has a complicated relationship with both Bruce and Batman that comes into play more than once. The Batsuit looks cool, the Tumbler (Batmobile) is incredible and Hans Zimmer’s music fits perfectly. Everything is really really good. And the series only gets better.
JACK’S SCORE: 4/5
The Dark Knight (2008)
How do you top an awesome first entry into a superhero film series? Introduce his greatest enemy of course! Heath Ledger’s Joker arrives in Gotham to create chaos and anarchy and prove to the city that everyone is a really terrible person really. Ledger does an incredible job. That doesn’t need to be said. He’s crazy, he’s smart and he’s such a scary villain because as Alfred points out, he doesn’t really have much logic or reason to him. He’s terrifying! Also joining the cast is Aaron Eckhart as DA Harvey Dent, the hero of Gotham known for putting mobsters and criminals in jail. He becomes the Joker’s main target and Eckhart really steps up and holds his own with the impressive cast.
Maggie Gyllenhaal steps in to play Rachel this time and does a fine job. She’s not better or worse than Holmes, they’re both pretty good at the role. Her story also develops a lot more with her complicated relationship with Harvey and Bruce. But the story stays focused on Batman, Joker and Dent. The big question here is whether you die a hero or live to become the villain. The Joker wants to prove everyone is a villain. Batman wants Harvey to be the hero with a face that Gotham deserves. It’s a very very strong and poignant story and it plays out so so well. This film is non stop. Not with action, but with story. Not a scene is wasted and it’s so intense throughout. There is action of course and it is still great, as is the music and the costumes. But the story just doesn’t hold back at all and is very powerful indeed. This could be the best of the trilogy, and maybe the best superhero film of all time.
JACK’S SCORE: 5/5
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Christopher Nolan has done something unprecedented here: he has given Batman an ending. And what a big ending it is! Big bad Bane has come to Gotham city to fulfill Ra’as al Ghul’s destiny in destroying the city. Batman comes out of retirement and faces being a wanted man in order to save the city with the help of Catwoman and Joseph Godron-Levitt’s police office Blake. It’s a very fitting end to the series and works perfectly. The story makes sense and plays out just as brilliantly as the previous ones. Yes, this one has a few more plotholes than the others, but that doesn’t ruin it for me. Tom Hardy puts in an impressive performance as the hulking Bane. He’s menacing, he’s formidable and he provides a new challenge that Batman hasn’t faced before: crazy strength. Anne Hathaway works perfectly as Catwoman, a burglar who gets in deep with the wrong people. She more than holds her own fighting alongside Batman and seeing the two of them together just feels very right. They have great chemistry.
So much credit has to go to Nolan for cracking another great story yet again, not just for this film but the whole trilogy. This one carries on with what the second one set up whilst perfectly linking back to the first and finishing it up in the most satisfying way possible. This film works, as does the whole trilogy. All the story beats just feel so right, and the story of Bruce Wayne and Batman moves forwards in logical ways. Here he is challenged not only to become stronger physically, but also mentally. It’s the final test for Batman and one of his biggest. It’s the culmination of the trilogy. It’s epic! It may not be the best of the trilogy, but could it be my favourite? Who knows! But it’s certainly a great finish to the series.
JACK’S SCORE: 4/5