Sunday, August 19, 2012

Batman Returns to the Trilogy Meter

Remember this?

I wrote about film trilogies awhile back, focusing on Transformers, and the third and final movie in the series by Michael Bay.  According to me, the Transformers trilogy meter would have a bar much like the first Superman, Jurrassic Park, or X-men, the second bar would look like Jaws 2, and the third bar would look like Rocky 3, or the Lord of the Rings.

I saw the last Christopher Nolan Batman movie the other day.  Definitely not represented on the graphic above, the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy would mirror the Star Wars meter almost exactly.  
The trilogy follows the rules of a three act play perfectly.

The first act introduces characters, sets the stage for the other acts, and has an event that sets the rest of the story into motion.  In a New Hope, the event is the Death Star rescue, which culminates in the Death Star explosion.  In Batman Begins, the event is the attempted destruction of Gotham by the League of Shadows, which is foiled by the Batman.

The second act of a three act play, the middle of the story, sometimes called the rising action, and often the darkest of the three acts, finds the hero in distress.  The hero will come up against an obstacle and will end with the hero at his lowest point.  In Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo is frozen in carbonite, and Luke loses a hand after confronting his father and losing.  In The Dark Knight, Batman is challenged by his greatest nemesis, loses the girl he most cares about, and becomes a symbolic villain as opposed to the symbolic hero that he set out to be.

In the third act, the play reaches climax, resolutions are found, and the action falls to a close.  In Star Wars, the rebellion prevails, and Darth Vader turns back from the dark side.  In Rises, Batman once again becomes the symbol of heroism, hope, and justice, the League of Shadows is defeated again, and Gotham is pulled back from the darkness.

Up until now, Star Wars had been the poster franchise for the perfect film in three acts.  Unlike The Lord of the Rings which is based on books already written as a trilogy, and Back to the Future, which are essentially the same movie three times, Star Wars, is a unique story written as a three act screen play.  I believe that now it can share that distinction with Nolan's Batman.  Like Star Wars, it is a perfect example of what a film trilogy ought to be.

Megan Fox has nothing to do with this post

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