By Brian Peterson
Fifteen years ago the Batman franchise was pronounced dead on arrival thanks largely in part to Joel Schumacher’s “Batman and Robin” seppuku that banished Bruce Wayne and his alter ego to languish in pop icon purgatory. The Caped Crusader was officially deceased, needing more than the rejuvenating effects of a Ra’s al Ghul Lazarus Pit to restore the decommissioned hero back to motion picture prominence. Enter writer, producer, director and resurrector Christopher Nolan, who in 2005, brought the bat back from the brink with “Batman Begins,” an origin tale steeped in a gritty sense of realism that forever altered the way in which superhero movies were told. In 2008, Nolan would go on to legendize the franchise in “The Dark Knight,” a sequel to Batman Begins that pitted Christian Bale’s Batman against Heath Ledger’s Joker in an all out war for the heart and soul of Gotham City. Finally in 2012, Batman was cast out of the shadows in “The Dark Knight Rises,” thanks largely in part to Tom Hardy’s masked terrorist Bane whose weaponized ambitions threatened to baptize Gothamites in a radioactive snowfall of post nuclear soot and ash. If the Dark Knight saga alchemized you into a believer in Christopher Nolan, then consider making Opus Publishing’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy: The Complete Screenplays with Selected Storyboards” your Batman bible.
The Dark Knight Trilogy commences with what can only be described as an incredibly insightful conversation between Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer, and co-producer Jordan Goldberg. The embargo on Nolan’s smoke and mirrors secrecy is finally lifted as he chronicles some of the greatest challenges that accompanied helming a contemporary action film whose hero prefers theatricality and deception to gun slinging spectacle. The reader will also be privy to what Nolan calls “the most important bits” in The Dark Knight Rises. The introduction rounds out with Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and Goyer disclosing everything from their favorite villains in the Caped Crusader’s Rogue’s Gallery to Batman’s transitionary evolution from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight Rises. Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer do a masterful job comparing and contrasting the differences between Heath Leder’s Joker and Hardy’s Bane. The twelve-page Q & A session concludes with the trio not only reflecting on what The Dark Knight Trilogy has instilled in them as filmmakers and writers, but some of the greatest challenges of portraying Batman and his vast array of gadgetry with a palpable sense of realism.
Shortly after the introduction, the reader is presented with all three screenplays to the Dark Knight Legend (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises). What this book does incredibly well is pair each screenplay with visually captivating storyboards. The Batman Begins storyboard opts for the young Bruce Wayne’s decent into a tunnel of rabid bats before waking up in a Bhutanese jail, while The Dark Knight storyboard showcases what Nolan calls the “Truck Chase Sequence,” which features Batman by Batpod in hot pursuit of the Joker, who careens through the streets of Gotham with a reckless abandon that makes a Lindsay Lohan hit-and-run look like a Saturday morning cartoon. My personal favorite of the three storyboards had to be “The Commuter Plane Sequence” from The Dark Knight Rises. Bane’s brazen cockpit commandeer of a “CIA turboprop” as members of the League of Shadows descend from a Lockheed C130 Hercules a la Cirque du Solei with machine guns is an entirely new way to experience the Rises’ IMAX Prologue. Fans of the original comic book incarnations of Bane and the Joker will be pleased to see some semblance of the classic characters throughout the storyboards although I don’t think this was intentional on the part of the artist.
With 553 pages of script and storyboards, Opus Publisher’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy” by Christopher Nolan isn’t just the most definitive Dark Knight book to date, it’s a utility belt packed with screenwriting and storyboard savvy for aspiring writers, filmmakers, and cinematographers alike. Without a doubt, the $34.95 asking price makes, “The Dark Knight Trilogy” the movie compendium your book collection deserves, and more importantly, the book you need right now. Secure some of the most legendary words ever transcribed upon the parchment of pop culture by a modern day master of the craft wherever books are sold.