Off Topic -- The Dark Knight Rises (including a poll)

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: A runner dressed as Batman checks her mobile phone during the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Jed Leicester/Getty Images)

This is one of my posts that has nothing to do with baseball, but which involves something I felt about writing a little about.

I finally saw "The Dark Knight Rises" last week (a week ago today, in fact), and had some thoughts on the movie, and in particular the ending, that I wanted to throw out there.

The discussion is after the jump, and obviously contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie but don't want to know how it ends, don't follow the jump.

Ben asked me to call him when I got out of the movie, because he said he was curious as to my take on the saga, and in particular, the way it ended.

When Batman announced that he was going to take the bomb out over the bay so it could detonate there, which would allow him to save the city but at the cost (presumably) of his own life, I immediately started wondering...is Christopher Nolan really going to let Batman die? Or is there going to be some miraculous escape, where the bomb goes off, but Batman/Wayne escapes somehow and is able to ride off into the sunset with Selina Kyle, the two of them taking advantage of the "clean slate" to start life anew?

My gut feeling was that Nolan couldn't let Batman die in such a fashion. Yes, there's an emotional resonance to such a death, yes, it fits a sort of Messiah arc, with Bruce Wayne/Batman being both a man and yet more than a man who dies to save Gotham. Yes, it is the sort of tragedy that on an artistic level feels "right."

At the same time, though...the audience has spent three movies becoming emotionally invested in the character. He lost his parents as a child. He gave up on the opportunity for love in order to help the citizens of Gotham. He became entangled in a love triangle, then lost the only woman he ever truly loved at the hands of the Joker after she had chosen Harvey Dent instead of him. He perpetuated a fiction that cast him as a villain and a killer in order to preserve the reputation of Dent, feeling that was the best thing for Gotham. He became a loner, locked himself away, dumping his fortune into a utopic dream to provide virtually free energy to the world, only to hide that success away out of fear that the world wasn't ready to handle it. And even when he finally opens himself up, in the final movie of the trilogy, to another woman after Rachel, a woman who seems to share his vision and his goals, she betrays him, turns out to have been working against him all along.

After all that, I just couldn't see Nolan dooming Wayne to a martyr's death. Ben told me it felt like a cop-out of an ending, both because it hit the audience with the emotional impact of him dying, only to then be told it didn't really happen, and because it simply wasn't realistic. As for the former, yeah, I guess it is sort of a cop-out. And I even would agree that the ending isn't realistic.

But then, is it any more unrealistic than the idea that a super-rich orphan with a multinational company spends his nights dressing up as a bat and fighting crime with an array of high-tech weaponry, and no one knows who he is? Its a superhero movie. Its inherently unrealistic.

At the end, I felt it was appropriate to give the audience the payoff of letting Bruce Wayne have his cake while eating it, too. As Batman, he gives his life to the city, saves millions of innocent lives, and goes down as a hero. At the same time, Wayne gets to escape the burden of being Batman, gets to escape the shadow hanging over him his entire life, and is finally free to experience love and happiness. I felt like Bruce Wayne deserved to ride off into the sunset with the beautiful woman, happy and free, and I feel like the audience deserves the happy ending that was delivered.

In any case, I'm curious about what other folks think about this, and so I've put up a poll -- should Bruce Wayne have died when the bomb went off? Or was the ending right, and is it right to let Wayne marry Selina Kyle and live happily ever after?

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