Two predictions for The Dark Knight Rises

(Originally posted as a comment at Doug’s place, but I thought worth keeping for posterity!)

One of the rules of thumb for comics writers taking on one of the main established characters – eg Grant Morrison’s recent stuff – is that ‘do what you like but leave it how you found it’, in other words, you can have all sorts of fun taking the characters different places, and thereby exploring the character itself, but you have to leave it in a fit state for the next writer or user.

I have two suspicions about what Nolan is going to do with his final Batfilm:

1. the ‘rises’ bit is going to be a ‘resurrection’, ie Bane will do the Bane thing and defeat Batman. This will have the effect of bringing Gotham to its senses and realising that it does actually _want_ Batman – remember the ending of Dark Knight has Batman as a fugitive. So Batman will come back in the last third of the film, beat Bane, and the new status quo will be the ‘normal’ Batman universe.

2. Building on that, Nolan is going to put in place several ‘seeds’ which other people can take forward. So Hathaway is Selina Kyle, Gordon-Levitt is a proto-Robin, but I would guess we see neither in costume in the next film, there will just be lots of geek intimations for you and me to enjoy ;o) Could be completely wrong of course.

Two predictions for The Dark Knight Rises

(Originally posted as a comment at Doug’s place, but I thought worth keeping for posterity!)

One of the rules of thumb for comics writers taking on one of the main established characters – eg Grant Morrison’s recent stuff – is that ‘do what you like but leave it how you found it’, in other words, you can have all sorts of fun taking the characters different places, and thereby exploring the character itself, but you have to leave it in a fit state for the next writer or user.

I have two suspicions about what Nolan is going to do with his final Batfilm:

1. the ‘rises’ bit is going to be a ‘resurrection’, ie Bane will do the Bane thing and defeat Batman. This will have the effect of bringing Gotham to its senses and realising that it does actually _want_ Batman – remember the ending of Dark Knight has Batman as a fugitive. So Batman will come back in the last third of the film, beat Bane, and the new status quo will be the ‘normal’ Batman universe.

2. Building on that, Nolan is going to put in place several ‘seeds’ which other people can take forward. So Hathaway is Selina Kyle, Gordon-Levitt is a proto-Robin, but I would guess we see neither in costume in the next film, there will just be lots of geek intimations for you and me to enjoy ;o) Could be completely wrong of course.

On good endings

Over the last few days, I’ve watched the endings of Ashes to Ashes, Lost, and also (by a quirk of fate) the ‘Journey’s End’ episode of Doctor Who (end of series 4), which is where my eldest son and I have got to. I think that all three TV episodes ended well. (In fact, I am now open to seeing the whole of Lost again at some point (in a few years time), when I was quite sceptical of it.) So the question of endings is on my mind; most especially, the question of good endings. What is the essence of a good ending?

I would say there are two elements that apply to any story, and then something that I look for personally to gain the most satisfaction from an ending.

The first and possibly most essential element of a story ending is that it is consistent with the characters. The actions taken – and the consequences of those actions – must flow from authentic behaviour and not be mere contrivances to advance the plot. Characters must be given their own integrity, otherwise the authorial voice is overwhelming and we are no longer in story territory, but in sermon territory.

The second element is that the plot should be coherent and intellectually satisfying on its own terms, that is, the ‘universe’ being explored should be consistent and have its own stable framework. (Where the framework is the same as our lived existence, you have realist fiction. Where the framework is altered is a specific way, you have what is called fantasy or science fiction.) Essential questions need to be answered!

Those two elements I think are essential for anything to qualify as ‘good’, ie to have a certain degree of quality. For me, personally, there is a third element that I look for which ‘knocks the ball out of the park’ when it is achieved successfully, and this is when the creation succeeds in showing that death is not terminal for meaning. What I mean by this is that there is a framework of value which is articulated through the story which is shown to be vindicated beyond the death of the lead character(s). Of course, this is a Christian perspective. It is perfectly possible to have a high quality story that is not ‘orthodox’ in this sense (Un Couer en Hiver is the best example I can think of).

Where the third element is in place, then an element of grace enters in to the story, and it makes letting go much easier – for the characters themselves, and also for those watching or reading. There IS such a thing as a good death.

Things I particularly enjoyed from those three TV episodes:
from Ashes
- the destroyed Quattro, and then Gene looking at a Mercedes brochure;
- the Railway Arms, and all that was symbolised by that (and by the parallel symbolism elsewhere);
- the realistically sad note about Molly.
from Dr Who
- the final resolution of the Rose character arc;
- everything about Donna (sort of tragic).
from Lost
- Juliet coming back in the way I predicted, and the ‘Go Dutch’ resolution for them;
- Locke forgiving Ben, and Ben staying outside;
- Jack’s redemption.

For me, the most effective treatment of these themes – and the best ending – isn’t found in television, or in novels, but in comics, specifically the Sandman sequence, which is all about the nature of a good story (and therefore, by definition, all about a good ending). My three criteria are all fulfilled in abundance here, but most of all, there is a richness of allusion and metaphor and incidental characterisation that makes the re-reading of the stories an immense pleasure.

In keeping with the nature of the medium – herewith one of the many endings in the Sandman sequence (you’ll have to read it to really understand it!)

On good endings

Over the last few days, I’ve watched the endings of Ashes to Ashes, Lost, and also (by a quirk of fate) the ‘Journey’s End’ episode of Doctor Who (end of series 4), which is where my eldest son and I have got to. I think that all three TV episodes ended well. (In fact, I am now open to seeing the whole of Lost again at some point (in a few years time), when I was quite sceptical of it.) So the question of endings is on my mind; most especially, the question of good endings. What is the essence of a good ending?

I would say there are two elements that apply to any story, and then something that I look for personally to gain the most satisfaction from an ending.

The first and possibly most essential element of a story ending is that it is consistent with the characters. The actions taken – and the consequences of those actions – must flow from authentic behaviour and not be mere contrivances to advance the plot. Characters must be given their own integrity, otherwise the authorial voice is overwhelming and we are no longer in story territory, but in sermon territory.

The second element is that the plot should be coherent and intellectually satisfying on its own terms, that is, the ‘universe’ being explored should be consistent and have its own stable framework. (Where the framework is the same as our lived existence, you have realist fiction. Where the framework is altered is a specific way, you have what is called fantasy or science fiction.) Essential questions need to be answered!

Those two elements I think are essential for anything to qualify as ‘good’, ie to have a certain degree of quality. For me, personally, there is a third element that I look for which ‘knocks the ball out of the park’ when it is achieved successfully, and this is when the creation succeeds in showing that death is not terminal for meaning. What I mean by this is that there is a framework of value which is articulated through the story which is shown to be vindicated beyond the death of the lead character(s). Of course, this is a Christian perspective. It is perfectly possible to have a high quality story that is not ‘orthodox’ in this sense (Un Couer en Hiver is the best example I can think of).

Where the third element is in place, then an element of grace enters in to the story, and it makes letting go much easier – for the characters themselves, and also for those watching or reading. There IS such a thing as a good death.

Things I particularly enjoyed from those three TV episodes:
from Ashes
- the destroyed Quattro, and then Gene looking at a Mercedes brochure;
- the Railway Arms, and all that was symbolised by that (and by the parallel symbolism elsewhere);
- the realistically sad note about Molly.
from Dr Who
- the final resolution of the Rose character arc;
- everything about Donna (sort of tragic).
from Lost
- Juliet coming back in the way I predicted, and the ‘Go Dutch’ resolution for them;
- Locke forgiving Ben, and Ben staying outside;
- Jack’s redemption.

For me, the most effective treatment of these themes – and the best ending – isn’t found in television, or in novels, but in comics, specifically the Sandman sequence, which is all about the nature of a good story (and therefore, by definition, all about a good ending). My three criteria are all fulfilled in abundance here, but most of all, there is a richness of allusion and metaphor and incidental characterisation that makes the re-reading of the stories an immense pleasure.

In keeping with the nature of the medium – herewith one of the many endings in the Sandman sequence (you’ll have to read it to really understand it!)

On good endings

Over the last few days, I’ve watched the endings of Ashes to Ashes, Lost, and also (by a quirk of fate) the ‘Journey’s End’ episode of Doctor Who (end of series 4), which is where my eldest son and I have got to. I think that all three TV episodes ended well. (In fact, I am now open to seeing the whole of Lost again at some point (in a few years time), when I was quite sceptical of it.) So the question of endings is on my mind; most especially, the question of good endings. What is the essence of a good ending?

I would say there are two elements that apply to any story, and then something that I look for personally to gain the most satisfaction from an ending.

The first and possibly most essential element of a story ending is that it is consistent with the characters. The actions taken – and the consequences of those actions – must flow from authentic behaviour and not be mere contrivances to advance the plot. Characters must be given their own integrity, otherwise the authorial voice is overwhelming and we are no longer in story territory, but in sermon territory.

The second element is that the plot should be coherent and intellectually satisfying on its own terms, that is, the ‘universe’ being explored should be consistent and have its own stable framework. (Where the framework is the same as our lived existence, you have realist fiction. Where the framework is altered is a specific way, you have what is called fantasy or science fiction.) Essential questions need to be answered!

Those two elements I think are essential for anything to qualify as ‘good’, ie to have a certain degree of quality. For me, personally, there is a third element that I look for which ‘knocks the ball out of the park’ when it is achieved successfully, and this is when the creation succeeds in showing that death is not terminal for meaning. What I mean by this is that there is a framework of value which is articulated through the story which is shown to be vindicated beyond the death of the lead character(s). Of course, this is a Christian perspective. It is perfectly possible to have a high quality story that is not ‘orthodox’ in this sense (Un Couer en Hiver is the best example I can think of).

Where the third element is in place, then an element of grace enters in to the story, and it makes letting go much easier – for the characters themselves, and also for those watching or reading. There IS such a thing as a good death.

Things I particularly enjoyed from those three TV episodes:
from Ashes
- the destroyed Quattro, and then Gene looking at a Mercedes brochure;
- the Railway Arms, and all that was symbolised by that (and by the parallel symbolism elsewhere);
- the realistically sad note about Molly.
from Dr Who
- the final resolution of the Rose character arc;
- everything about Donna (sort of tragic).
from Lost
- Juliet coming back in the way I predicted, and the ‘Go Dutch’ resolution for them;
- Locke forgiving Ben, and Ben staying outside;
- Jack’s redemption.

For me, the most effective treatment of these themes – and the best ending – isn’t found in television, or in novels, but in comics, specifically the Sandman sequence, which is all about the nature of a good story (and therefore, by definition, all about a good ending). My three criteria are all fulfilled in abundance here, but most of all, there is a richness of allusion and metaphor and incidental characterisation that makes the re-reading of the stories an immense pleasure.

In keeping with the nature of the medium – herewith one of the many endings in the Sandman sequence (you’ll have to read it to really understand it!)

SUMO

Talking to a friend yesterday who explained SUMO to me – it stands for ‘Shut Up, Move On’ – in other words, don’t get stuck in a place of pain. (In Christian terms, I think it could be phrased as ‘come down off your cross’.)

One of the best things about the Sandman sequence was the presentation of hell as somewhere that people chose their forms of punishment. One of many deep truths that Gaiman managed to capture.

SUMO

Talking to a friend yesterday who explained SUMO to me – it stands for ‘Shut Up, Move On’ – in other words, don’t get stuck in a place of pain. (In Christian terms, I think it could be phrased as ‘come down off your cross’.)

One of the best things about the Sandman sequence was the presentation of hell as somewhere that people chose their forms of punishment. One of many deep truths that Gaiman managed to capture.

SUMO

Talking to a friend yesterday who explained SUMO to me – it stands for ‘Shut Up, Move On’ – in other words, don’t get stuck in a place of pain. (In Christian terms, I think it could be phrased as ‘come down off your cross’.)

One of the best things about the Sandman sequence was the presentation of hell as somewhere that people chose their forms of punishment. One of many deep truths that Gaiman managed to capture.

Captain America had a point


John Hobbins links to two interesting articles here and here.

One of the things I enjoy reading in my spare time is comics – occasionally called ‘graphic novels’ at the higher reaches of the form, but, basically, comics, involving people who have large muscles and poor taste in clothing. One of the most interesting ones I’ve read recently has been the ‘Civil War’ sequence put out by Marvel. I won’t bore you with explaining why it is that Captain America and Iron Man are slugging it out (though it IS extremely interesting social commentary) I just want to point out that there comes a point when Captain America surrenders – not because he has changed his mind about the justice of his cause, but because too many innocent bystanders are suffering because of the struggle.

The man has a point.

Captain America had a point


John Hobbins links to two interesting articles here and here.

One of the things I enjoy reading in my spare time is comics – occasionally called ‘graphic novels’ at the higher reaches of the form, but, basically, comics, involving people who have large muscles and poor taste in clothing. One of the most interesting ones I’ve read recently has been the ‘Civil War’ sequence put out by Marvel. I won’t bore you with explaining why it is that Captain America and Iron Man are slugging it out (though it IS extremely interesting social commentary) I just want to point out that there comes a point when Captain America surrenders – not because he has changed his mind about the justice of his cause, but because too many innocent bystanders are suffering because of the struggle.

The man has a point.