‘The Dark Knight Rises’ — the role of military technology in storytelling


Bane versus Bat

(No worries — no spoilers!)

I saw The Dark Knight Rises last night in a nearly packed theater.

I could not help but wonder at what point in those early minutes of the film did that sick, evil man start shooting at innocent moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado. I could not help but feel a little scared that a copycat terrorist would try again.

But I also wanted to engage what director and co-screenwriter Christopher Nolan set out to accomplish through his art form — long before the horrific, despicable shooting in the Colorado cinema.

Now that I’ve seen the (outstanding) film, I want to begin a series of posts about the movie with something that might be of use to writers.

Of course — without spoiling anything for those who have seen the first two movies — Wayne Enterprises (Bruce Wayne’s corporation) has a department devoted to research and development of military technology. That department is the source of Batman’s cool gear.

In our time, much of that military techology is plausible. Body armor and sleek armored vehicles aren’t so far-fetched.

I realized today that the military technology of the current Batman trilogy operates as a kind of pivot point between fantasy and reality.

Obviously, some of the stunts and scenarios and bad guys in this Batman series are pure fantasy.

The corruption, ethos, and moral and ethical quandries within Gotham City, as well as many scenes of city architecture and daily life, seem all-too-familiar.

And between the fantastic and the realistic is the connective tissue of military technology. It’s realistic-enough yet futuristic-enough to make a clean handoff between the reality we recognize in the film and the super-human and fantasy elements of comic book stories.

Intentionally or not, there’s a technique at work here: fantastical elements become more believable when they emerge from a recognizable and relatable fictional world.

Director and co-screenwriter Christopher Nolan consciously could have positioned military technology in such a way, or maybe its use was intuitive to the comic-book and sci-fi genre.

I’ve mixed my metaphors. I’ve called the military technology in this film a pivot point, connective tissue, or suggested it’s a baton.

Either way, it’s effective — and successful.

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