Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Teddy Bear With A Halo

There's no questioning that most of the stories I have conceived throughout my life were inspired by motion pictures, novels, and of course, video games. They are elements that have stuck with me like wall putty for eons, and I have been molded into the figure I am today because I was taken to the "impossible" and back through these motion pictures, novels, and video games. There is just something about them that fills my blood with a pleasant feeling, a feeling of overwhelming nostalgia and fantasy, and because of them, I have been pushed to tell stories of my very own, stories I hope will help me in the future when I take storytelling and creating into a career. But the more I ponder on the matter, and the more I observe what I have done in the past, I come to realize, in many ways, that this is what I was put upon the Earth to do. Some of us are put on the Earth to become politicians, mechanics, plumbers, and graphic designers, but I believe that my stronghold is through the art of storytelling and letting my brain spill out into the real world, making my thoughts touchable for the whole world to decipher. And no matter where the waves take me, I can have the stories I have incepted in the past to give me an extra kick when I need it. I can have the tales I have put together throughout my early life to guide me through the right tunnel and help me realize that anything is possible. The "impossible" is possible.

Why am I jibber jabbing about all this? Well, this past week, these last two weeks I should say, have left me in a state of bitterness. As I struggled to create the tale that kickstarts what I like to call the "Zurnverse" (a series of stories and fantasies taking part in the same continuity) and make it into something that can be enjoyed by the many, I dug into my memory lane and pulled out some old stories and illustrations I have done throughout the years. It's interesting looking upon all this old material, for it allows me to see what kind of person I was then and what kind of person I am now. Of course, as a kid (a kid in the 13-16 age frame), my imagination was just starting to reach it's tippity top, and I couldn't help but conjure up stories about jedi knights, man eating boys (I'll talk about that one some other time), old crones running soda factories, time traveling brothers, and even stories about young school boys traveling to India and fighting giant stone statues. It's uncanny how many stories I had stashed away in my bedroom, I surely couldn't believe it when I pulled them out and polished them off the other day. But of all the stories I have brought into this world, one of them sticks out like a monkey in a banana pudding factory. One of them has been the cream of the crop in my mind ever since I first came up with it one night before I went to bed in the early 2000s. It's been an intriguing tale that continues to intrigue me to this very day. And believe it or no, it's all about a teddy bear with a halo.

I guess I better explain a little bit more before I bite further into the pie. You see, way back in the early 2000s, way back before the first Harry Potter film and the first Lord of the Rings film, my uncle gave us a disc for Christmas, a disc featuring roms of famous arcade games and platformers (I also should note that the video game in my memories, Wonder Boy, was upon this disc). For hours and hours without stop, my brother and I would sit there at the computer and cramp our fingers playing the games upon the disc. We played titles like Konami's X-Men, Konami's Simpsons arcade game, Wonder Boy, the Three Stooges arcade game (the one with the creepy voices) and even classics like Dig Dug and Donkey Kong. But there was one game on the disc that was forever burned into my retinas, and it's a rather silly, but funny title with a lot of heart. Looking back on the game a decade later, it really sends me back to the computer desk at my old house, playing the game like it was the best thing since cinnamon pretzels. The game was called Yam! Yam? and even after a decade, it's still an interesting little overhead view game with challenging puzzle solving and brain teasing strategy. Some may say the game is tripe compared to today's mass shooters and sci-fi army fighting games, but it was the inspiration for me to create a tale of a teddy bear with a halo, and it was something that got me hooked on drawing cartoons and interesting little bear critters with beautiful castles and magical swords. All I can say is that my little creature, interestingly named Yam Yam Ambers, was about to reach the line paper sketchbooks (yeh, that's what I made a lot of my stories in back in the day).

I doodled the curious little fellow one evening before I hit the hay, turning him from a bland, generic bear into a bear with a halo and wings. You could just simply call him "Angel Bear". But Yam Yam's tales were just beginning, and along with the curious fellow, I drew up some friends of his. He had a brother who was a rabbit, a rabbit named Dil (obviously named after the little brother from Rugrats). He had a school teacher and mentor, a school teacher and mentor named Homer Funny who taught potions and chemistry (he's almost like a nice, pleasant version of Severus Snape). Last but not least, there was a dragon, a female dragon named Harriet, who just so happened to be Yam Yam's pet. I'm not quite sure where she came from, but I think she was inspired by the female dragon in Shrek. Over the next few months, Yam Yam's tale grew rapidly, and I slowly found myself deeply immersed in his wondrous sci-fi fantasy universe. After the release of the first Harry Potter film, I was motivated to give Yam Yam a magical wand or magical apparatus to fight with and more characters entered the universe I was diligently creating throughout the weeks and weekends. There was the king and queen, who ruled over the world Yam Yam lived in, which was oddly named the Kingdom of Death. As I recall, I created a backstory and explained why the kingdom was called the Kingdom of Death. It was named after a young wizard named Johno Death, who sacrificed his life to safe the kingdom from a deadly threat. In his honor, the kingdom was renamed the Kingdom of Death, although it's a rather odd name for a kingdom if you ask me. It almost sounds like the kingdom is full of dead people or something. Lord knows where I came up with the name for that one.

Getting back to the characters, there was a half man half cyborg dude called Darktongue Bings, who had spikes growing out of his head. If memory serves me right, he was Homer Funny's cousin and was a few years older than Yam Yam. There was the cute little brother to Yam Yam ingeniously named Yinky, who had a square halo instead of the round one Yam Yam had. There was also Yam Yam's arch rival from school, Clinton Bare. He's kind of like Draco Malfoy, only less sinister and lacking the combed down blonde hair. But you can't have a protagonist without an antagonist, and boy, did Yam Yam have a bunch of them. He had a villainous tyrant come after him by the name of Cornelius Evilus, who gathered up an army of mutants to help him in his hunt for Yam Yam. Later on in the story, he is revealed to be Yam Yam's biological father. There was an adversary entitled Melt Man. Can you guess what his ability was? HE COULD MELT. Bet you weren't expecting that! Then there was an intergalactic alien dude, an underwater fish head, a man with the ability to shoot spikes from his body, and Yam Yam's biggest foe of them all,  Uno. I'm going to come right out now and say that he was named after the card game of the same name. As a kid who was trying to come up with a name for his hero's villain, I curiously stumbled upon a Uno card one day and decided that's exactly what the villain should be aptly named. Little did I know at the time that Uno meant "one" in Spanish.

Uno, who's real name was James Richo, was the evil sorcerer trying to take over Yam Yam's school, Kingdom of Death Elementary. Yam Yam encounters Uno many times throughout his travels and at one point, even takes a shard of glass from a broken mirror and slashes Uno across the face several times, horribly scarring and disfiguring him. Uno is driven to the point of great insanity and at many times, comes close to finishing Yam Yam, even putting the ones he loves in danger. But Yam Yam, through his swift acts of will, always proves victorious and Uno is defeated, that is until he finds a way to rise to power again. At one point, if memory serves me right, he assassinates the king and queen of the Kingdom of Death, and he takes over the kingdom himself as emperor. Pretty hardcore stuff for a tale a child wrote. It makes me wonder at times what kind of twisted mind I had as a kid. Obviously, most of this was inspired by Harry Potter and X-Men, two of my favorite franchises at the time, but it's interesting to see how more original the story got as it progressed. I probably made 20 or more Yam Yam stories before moving onto other projects. I would even take some of my Pokemon figurines and act out the stories I cooked up, pretending Pikachu was Yam Yam, humming my own music like it was an actual movie and doing all the voices for the characters I was fancying.

While Yam Yam has had plenty of adventures throughout the years, his story was pretty much straight forward. Every year, when Yam Yam went to school, some ghastly force would arise and try and terrorize the ground he walked upon. Luckily, he and his friends worked together to stop the evil on several occasions, going everywhere from the outer depths of space, the dark dark forest, and the cold chilling waters where the fish headed dude ruled. And instead of taking a Hogwarts Express to school, Yam Yam and his brother Dil took a flying bus, a massive double decker with wings. In each section of the bus, there was a television set, a video game console, and all the snacks you could ever eat. I distinctly remember that Yam Yam's favorite was peppermint jelly beans. One year, while Yam Yam was at KofD Elementary, he was selected by politicians to perform in an intergalactic competition, fighting space aliens, flying in hover cars, and making his way through a deadly labyrinth with a gnarly trash compactor (one that would surely put the one on the Death Star to shame). He even fell in love with a sheep named Shelley, and the two eventually got married and had a son. At some point or another, Yam Yam injures his eye (possibly in a fight with Cornelius Evilus) and is forced to wear and eyepatch, but that doesn't stop him from training his son for the upcoming fight against the newly resurrected Uno, whom he eventually comes to defeat once and for all. Yam Yam also looses his mentor, Homer Funny and his brother Dil in Evilus' reign, but eventually forms a good relationship with Homer's cousin Darktongue. Just like many heroes throughout pop media, Yam Yam has evolved from a rambunctious, wild fellow to a dignified, optimistic warrior willing to stop all the retched who terrorize what he cherishes.

And isn't it fascinating to see how far I have come throughout the years. I have gone from making stories about teddy bears with halos to stories about vampire hunters, galactic dictators, green skinned mutants from the future, a planet inhabited by toons, and a ninja vigilante of the night. It's so satisfying to me knowing that I have created such an epic story like Yam Yam's and even if I haven't discussed all the elements surrounding his biography (I HAVEN'T EVEN SCRATCHED THE SURFACE), it is certainly a sweet treat to row my boat through the memory tunnel and have a look at a magnificent fairy tale I conceived nearly a decade ago. Hopefully, I can have a look at this greatness again in the near future, but for now, I'm going to move on to many other grand and glorious things, make the stories of my dreams. In many ways, I can think to myself and say that it was Yam Yam, the teddy bear with the halo that started it all.

Maybe the little fellow can make a cameo in my first book.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Spider -Man 4: What If?

As we all know, Spider-Man was revamped on the big screen almost a month ago, and the era of Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spidey films has come to an end. But it's always fun to think of what the fourth film in Sam Raimi's saga would have been like had it been made, so here is the way I always imagined Spider-Man 4 appearing on the big screen. Who would the villains be? What kind of ghastly plans do the villains have in store? Will Spider-Man don the black alien costume once more? There is only one way to find out. Set your eyes to reading mode! 

NOTE: Many times, after Spider-Man 3's release, I have had dreams of going to see Spider-Man 4 and then waking up and being disappointed that it wasn't real. Isn't it fascinating what we can brew in our skulls when we are fast asleep? 

I always fancied the film being called Spider-Man 4: The Wrath of Carnage. It's similar to the second Star Trek film being called Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. But now that I ponder on the matter, I think Spider-Man 4: The Maximum Carnage is a more appropriate title, and a perfect homage to one of my favorite comic book series and one of my favorite video games. And yes, straight from the title, you can assume that Carnage is the main villain, but carnage can also mean extreme murder and chaos. However, it wouldn't make sense to call the film The Maximum Carnage and not have Carnage be the main baddy. After all, with Venom appearing at the very end of Spider-Man 3 and Dr. Connors having a bit of the symbiote in his office, it could be possible that the symbiote evolves into the chaotic red and black alien we all know him as and the menace could take over the psychotic Ravencroft mass murderer, Cletus Cassidy. Movies change things all the time, so I could totally see this happening if Spider-Man 4 were an actual film. And for some reason, I always imagined Jim Carrey playing Cletus Kassidy, probably because of his excellent performance in the movie The Number 23. 

Now on with the tale

It's been 2 years since the events of Spider-Man 3. Peter Parker and Mary Jane are married and Aunt May is currently at a home for older citizens. Spider-Man is still a loved hero who always saves the day from mass criminals. But one day, Peter's old lab partner, Gwen Stacy is kidnapped by a mad man named Cletus Kassidy. As Spider-Man tries to rescue her, Kassidy throws her off the side of a building. Spider-Man tries to catch her with a web, but the whiplash effect snaps her neck, killing her as several people watch from below. Kassidy escapes and Spider-Man is made out to be a murderer by the citizens of New York, including Gwen's father, Captain George Stacey. As he is hunted by the police for several days, Peter comes to the decision to give up being Spider-Man once and for all. Mary Jane agrees with his decision and they store the Spider-Man costume away in the attic of their new house. 

6 years later, Cletus Kassidy is chased and caught by the police after robbing a small grocery store in Manhattan. As Kassidy is put away in Ravencroft Institute, it is revealed that the crime level of New York has risen since Spider-Man's retirement and several crime thugs are still walking about the streets causing havoc. J. Jonah Jameson is made out to be the new hero of New York after writing several pieces on the dreaded  Spider-Man and how he is a menace. Spider-Man has lost his key to the city honor and is made out to be the most wanted man in New York. But Peter Parker's life has gotten back to normal as he is able to spend more time with his loved ones and his wife. He has quit his job as a photographer and is working as a professor at Empire State University. As they go to visit Aunt May in the senior home, she speaks of her disgust of the home and her desire to come and live with Peter and MJ. The two decide to think about it, and over dinner that same night, they decide that it is okay for her to come and live with them. That evening as he sleeps, Peter has a horrible nightmare of the night Gwen Stacy died and the night his best friend Harry Osborn died. Believing that it's a sign that danger is coming, Peter talks with MJ about becoming Spider-Man again, MJ not allowing him too because of him being a fugitive. 

The next day, Peter and MJ help Aunt May move into their home, just as Peter is called in by Dr. Connors at his lab. As Peter arrives at the lab, Dr. Connors tells him that the symbiote Peter gave him 8 years ago has matured greatly, doubling in size and turning bright red. He also tells Peter that he is currently working with lizard DNA to regenerate his lost arm. Peter wishes him luck as he leaves, and that same night, Dr. Connors works up a formula, injects himself with it, and regrows his arm to his delight. He calls in Peter the next day to show him his success, and as he shows Peter how regrowing his arm was done, he begins twitching and growing scales all over his body. Before Peter's eyes, Dr. Connors turns into a giant lizard monster, reigning havoc on the university and destroying the lab. During the rampage, the Lizard inadvertently shatters the glass containing the symbiote, setting it free. As the Lizard spreads chaos throughout the city, Peter races home, secretly snatches his Spider-Man suit (much to MJ and Aunt May's suspicion) and returns to the public as Spider-Man. After fighting and defeating the Lizard, Spidey is chased by the police, but he swiftly escapes. Back at home, Aunt May takes a nap as MJ tends to Peter's wounds, scolding him and expressing her anger with him over donning the Spider-Man suit once more. She also tells him of the possibility of Aunt May finding out that Peter is Spider-Man, but Peter states that he will never let that happen. That same night, Peter has another nightmare, this time, of a red monster similar to Venom, causing mass murder throughout New York and killing Peter's loved ones.

Meanwhile, the Lizard is imprisoned in Ravencroft Institute in a cell right next to Cletus Kassidy's padded room. Surprisingly, the alien symbiote follows the Lizard to Ravencroft and mistakes his cell for Kassidy's. As the alien approaches Kassidy, Kassidy tells it to stay away, just as the alien engulfs Cletus, turning him into a horrifying monster. As the officers hear Kassidy's screams, they enter his cell and are instantly killed by the newly formed Carnage. After going on a rampage throughout the institute, Carnage sets free all the prisoners of Ravencroft, including the Lizard, as he forms an army to take over New York with a wrath of terror. Carnage tracks down and kills all the New York representatives, stating that he is the new ruler of the city and that everything will go under his ruling. The Lizard will serve as his second in command as they warn Spider-Man to never get involved in their affairs over a TV broadcast. If he does, they will kill him as well as his loved ones. After several weeks under Carnage's reign, several innocent lives are lost as Peter tries to convince MJ that he needs to become Spider-Man in order to stop Carnage. MJ is reluctant to allow Peter to don the Spider-Man suit again, for she still fears that Aunt May may find out and that Carnage may come after them. Peter states again that he will not let that happen and states that if he can defeat Venom, Carnage shouldn't be a problem. Neither should the Lizard, for Spider-Man has defeated him before. Getting angry at Peter, MJ storms off, stating that if he wants to go after Carnage, he can go right ahead. She then warns him that if he fails, her and Aunt May will go into hiding and never come back. 

So Peter goes after Carnage, tracking him down at city hall. As he confronts Carnage, Carnage tells him that he should have never come after him and that he will have to pay for his treachery. The two then engage in a violent brawl in which Carnage gains the upper hand, brutally beating Spider-Man and  stabbing him with his sharp fingers. As he picks up Spidey by both arms, he slowly breaks them just as he does the same thing to his legs, continuously kicking him and breaking his ribs as well. He then cracks Peter's skull and drags him outside of city hall where he broadcasts the beaten Spider-Man in front of millions of people. He then climbs to the top of city hall with Spidey and drops him several stories to the hard ground below. Carnage then states that this will happen to all those who stand in his way and that he will find the ones affiliated with Spider-Man and kill them. Mary Jane and Aunt May watch the television in horror as MJ tries to figure out a way in which for them to go into hiding. They move into Aunt May's old apartment as MJ tells Aunt May that there was a water leakage in the house's basement. She also tells May that Peter is off on a trip with his college students and won't be back for a few weeks. 

Several weeks go by and Spider-Man is still held captive by Carnage, beaten and starved and kept in a dark prison cell under city hall. As he is confronted by Carnage, Carnage tells him that he knows he is Peter Parker and he demands to know the location of his loved ones. Peter then tells Carnage that he might as well kill him, for he will not get any information regarding his loved ones from him. Carnage laughs and says that he will not kill him, but instead keep him alive so he can witness Aunt May and Mary Jane's deaths right in front of him. Carnage vows to track down Peter's loved ones in one way or another, and when his aunt and wife are dead, then he will kill him. He then leaves Spidey's cell, letting the Lizard maul the frail Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Aunt May and Mary Jane are talking and Mary Jane decides to tell May the truth about Peter, however, as she does, Carnage and his soldiers storm into May's apartment, snatching May and Mary Jane and bringing them to city hall. As they bring May and Mary Jane before Spider-Man, Carnage calls him Peter right in front of May, deeply shocking May as Carnage smacks her. As Spider-Man yells for Carnage to leave her alone, Carnage torments Spidey right in front of his aunt and his wife, and Mary Jane even attempts to fight Carnage, only to be taken out in an instant.

As Carnage and Lizard prepare to murder Mary Jane and May, Spider-Man is able to build up enough strength to break free from his cuffs and engage the two in a fight, despite the horrible pain he feels from his broken bones. As he gallantly fights Carnage and Lizard, he yells for Mary Jane and May to leave, just as he is horribly beaten some more by Carnage's supreme power. Luckily, Mary Jane and May do not leave, and they are able to sweep the fallen Spider-Man away before Carnage eliminates him. Days go by, and Peter is treated for his terrible injuries under Carnage's imprisonment. As he returns home for a few weeks of recovery, May speaks of her disappointment of him not telling her that he was Spider-Man. Peter states that he couldn't endanger her life as May states that Uncle Ben would be disappointed in him. She then packs her bags and leaves the Parker home, going back to her older home where she and Ben raised Peter. That same day, Carnage broadcasts a message for Spider-Man, stating that he must come before him to reveal his secret identity to the public in 3 days, and everyday he doesn't, he will take the lives of many innocent people. If, at the end of the 3 days, that Spider-Man has not shown his secret identity to the public, he will rig explosives throughout the entire state of New York and blow it to ashes. 

As many people suffer, Peter tries to talk with Mary Jane about whether or not he should reveal himself or not. Mary Jane states that she doesn't want to get involved with this anymore and states that this is a battle he must fight on his own. She tells Peter that she wants a divorce and leaves the house, reducing Peter to tears. As Peter is heartbroken, he still tries to decide whether to reveal his identity or cost New York millions and millions of innocent deaths. 2 days go by and Peter decides not to reveal his identity, nor let Carnage blow New York to smithereens. He decides to build a resistance to stop Carnage, and after freeing himself from his casts, he gathers many people to take on Carnage and his forces, hoping to stop them once and for all. Peter sews his costume, and on the third day, he leads a revolution against Carnage's forces, fighting both Carnage and the Lizard as his men take on Carnage's men. During the fight, Spider-Man knocks the Lizard through the top of a building as he transforms back into Dr. Connors and he continues to gallantly fight Carnage, this time getting the upper hand and giving Carnage a taste of his own medicine. Still, Carnage ravages Spider-Man, ripping his costume and smashing him around. As they fight towards one of the detonating devices, Carnage ignites it and kicks Spider-Man into it, just as Spider-Man pulls Carnage in with him using his web. The device goes off, but Spider-Man and Carnage's proximity to the bomb doesn't allow it to cause that much damage, but Carnage is killed and Spider-Man is grievously injured. Mary Jane witnesses the event from a distant and runs for the mortally wounded Peter, who tells her that he is sorry for everything he has brought upon her and May. Mary Jane accepts his apology as the two share one last kiss before Peter's death. 

Spider-Man is given a state funeral as J. Jonah Jameson gives a heartfelt speech about how Spider-Man was a symbol of hope and a person who was always willing to help. It is then revealed that the crime level has gone down considerably after Spider-Man's death and that Dr. Connors is still being held at Ravencroft for his crimes. Mary Jane is revealed to be pregnant with Peter's child, and Aunt May is seen putting flowers on Peter's grave, which is right next to his Uncle Ben's. About 10 years later, Mary Jane has remarried and has given birth to a son, which she names Peter in honor of her fallen husband. As young Peter wonders into his father's study, he discovers his father's designs for mechanical web shooters (designed back when Peter was loosing his powers in Spider-Man 2) and discovers a chest with an unused Spider-Man suit within it. Just for fun, he puts the mask on. 

The Dark Knight Rises Again

We have reached the point where I must talk about Batman's resurrection to the streets of Gotham City, seen prominently in Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. As we have explored in my Joker Rises, Batman Falls essay, Batman has taken the rap for Harvey Dent/Two-Face's  crimes at the end of The Dark Knight, therefore falling from what he once was and becoming a hated vigilante. Now, as a new threat marches into the now peaceful Gotham, Batman must come forward to stop the new threat and once again become the proclaimed hero. But it's not going to be an easy coming forward, for the gas breathing, painkiller addicted Bane may be Batman's biggest, most equal enemy yet, trained in similar combat and methods to Bruce Wayne himself. Luckily, Batman finds a slew of new, helpful allies to form a truce with, including the beat cop John Blake, his commissioner pal James Gordon, and the unexpected anti-herione, Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman.

It's been 8 long years since the Joker's downfall, Harvey Dent's rampage, and Batman's last sighting in the eyes of the public. Now, Gotham is a great metropolis of peace and prominency and no fears lie in the sight of the Gotham city folks. But Bruce Wayne and even Commissioner Gordon are still haunted by the haunting events of that terrible night 8 years ago, when Harvey Dent threatened to kill Gordon's family and Batman took up his atrocities. Gordon even considers coming forward with the truth, but it's all put on the pedestal with the arrival of the mighty Bane, a villain with more straight and sorted out ambitions than the Joker. Bane is the knife to Gotham's throat, the one that takes a man with good health and impales him with a long sword. He's the guy with big things in store, and like most of Batman's rogues gallery, he thinks of himself as some sort of savior, a visionary, a revolutionist. Unlike the Joker, Bane doesn't play games with anyone. If you toy with him only once, he could break your spinal column or even crack your skull in front of a large crowd of people. He's the perfect adversary for Batman, because he's a villain that could easily outmatch Batman, something he swiftly does in the beloved Knightfall series of comics, but we will get into that a bit more later. Villains like the Joker, the Scarecrow and even Ra's Al Ghul are villains Batman can put up quite a fight with, but Bane's the guy that could give him a run for his bat ears. As I stated before, he doesn't like to play games.

So Bruce Wayne must come out of exile after 8 years of shrouding himself from the public, and as he is ambitious to return to the black cape and batarangs, his trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth is against the idea, stating that he can not survive as Batman (he barely did before). It is then when we learn of a stunning revelation, something that plays in mind later in Bruce Wayne's final chapter. While Bruce was exploring the world throughout the first act of Batman Begins, so was Alfred as he went looking for Bruce. As Alfred entered many restaurants during his travels, he always saw a man in the restaurants that looked exactly like Bruce from the behind. As he went to approach the man, he would always turn around, and it turns out that it wasn't Bruce. This clearly harkens back to the man and the myth concept Ra's Al Ghul taught young Bruce in Batman Begins, that some men are mysterious yet very eminent in many ways. If Bruce makes himself more than just a man, he can do stupendous things no ordinary man can do. He becomes Batman to make himself more than just a man, and eventually becomes a great Gotham myth. And this ties in perfectly with the man in the restaurant. Alfred wonders  if the man in the restaurant is really Bruce, just like many Gotham citizens wonder on the whereabouts of Bruce's alter ego.

If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely. Are you ready to begin ?

Bruce Wayne can be both the man and the myth. He can be an average ordinary man with average ordinary problems and yet still face the perils of the caped crusader. It all ties in with the concept that even the mythical can be crushed by even the slightest of occurrences. Even Batman can be periled by the problems of Bruce Wayne, although he doesn't show his feelings while he's within the Bat suit.

So Bruce returns to the skies as Batman, despite Alfred's resentment, and the butler is so upset that he leaves Wayne Manor after several years of service. But what appears to be Batman's ultimate reinssance is really a grotesque awakening. Batman gains the trust of Catwoman, a cat burglar who had recently stolen a necklace that belonged to Bruce's mother. As the two fight alongside one another, the two seem to get along fine, and Batman even takes Catwoman on a spin with his bat plane, aptly named "The Bat" (the Batwing of the Nolanverse). Batman even teams up alongside Officer John Blake while Commissioner Gordon recovers from an injury in the hospital. And John Blake helps Batman in a similar way to Robin in the comics and the previous movies, something that will be vital in the future after Bruce's story concludes. But Catwoman betrays Batman, leaving him to fight the mighty Bane, who will undeniable BREAK HIM.  Batman fights gallantly against Bane in his underground watery lair, but the macho wrestler like figure swiftly turns Batman in Bat chow. The Bane of the Nolanverse differs profoundly from the Bane of the comics, for the Bane of the Nolanverse doesn't sport the luchador mask or wield Venom filled tubes throughout his abdomen. But something similar the two Banes have is that they both BREAK Batman, and when I say break, I mean break his back like a toothpick. Just like in the comic Knightfall, Bane lifts Batman over his head and snaps his spine like a twig of a tree. Also, this almost happened in the Batman: TAS episode "Bane", in which Bane prepares to break Batman's back, just as Batman disarms Bane, overexposing him to the Venom drug throughout his tubes.

Batman is defeated terribly by Bane, and as punishment, Bane takes him to a far away prison, described  as an unescapable "hell on Earth" pit. He intends to make Batman stay there and suffer until he dies, as he returns to Gotham to overrun it as a great dictator. Although Batman has been torn to pieces by the all powerful Bane, he still has skyrocketing hopes and learns a few more things about life while dwelling in the underground prison. For example, he learns a little more about Ra's Al Ghul's backstory and his child, who escaped the awful prison with luck and will. Going back into the man and myth concept, Batman assumes the child was Bane, and that he is the lost son of Ra's Al Ghul, who taught Bruce Wayne everything he needed to know under the alias Henry Ducard (Bruce is also visited by the spirit of Ra's Al Ghul in the prison). It's a really interesting concept that has you wondering tremendously, just like it had you wondering tremendously about the asian grey haired Ra's Al Ghul decoy in the beginning of Batman Begins. We assume throughout the beginning that it's the real Ra's Al Ghul, but the tables turn later and it turns out it's really not. A similar thing would occur later in The Dark Knight Rises involving the true child of Ra's Al Ghul and the true plans of the enemy.

As Batman lies compromised, Bane cuts off Gotham from the rest of the world, destroying football fields and bridges so no one is able to escape. He also uses a failed Wayne Enterprises device as a threat, that if anyone tries to escape the city, he will set off the device and Gotham will be desecrated entirely. He also reveals the Harvey Dent coverup, putting Gordon's job at risk. Never before has Gotham City seen a mad man of this magnitude, and they realize that they need Batman now more than ever. It's a common story telling device, that in which the hero is temporarily defeated and the villain takes over as the new ruler. Comparing Batman again with Star Wars, it's very much how the jedi are defeated and the Emperor and his evil Empire sweeps over the galaxy. But there is a resistance, a fight back, a rebellion. Batman is the rebellion, and after several months at the horrible prison where he watched Gotham burn on a television screen, he retrains himself to go back and stop Bane. It's very much how Luke trains to become a jedi and defeat the Emperor as well as redeem his father. Many other heroes throughout film and literature also go through this complex. Remember in Superman 2 when Superman couldn't defeat Zod and his forces? He got his butt handed to him on a plate, but he eventually came back and tossed Zod and his men down the hatch. Or in the first Spider-Man film when Spider-Man got PWNED by the Green Goblin. He got beaten up and beaten up some more, but he finally worked up the strength to own the Goblin and crush him like a roach.

So like many heroes, Batman is taken down by the antagonist, but as we all come to suspect, he fights the battle and comes back to the antagonist for some more brawling. By this point, Gotham is a graveyard where several have died and several more will die. Bane is in charge and is not standing for any resistance, even a resistance from the Gotham Police Department. Gordon and Blake plan on taking things out on their own, not suspecting that Batman will return or even make a single comeback. The citizens of Gotham desperately need Batman and wonder if he will return to stop the evil within. But little do they know that Batman is on his way, and he will help lead the charge to finally take out Bane's forces. The good people never suspect the hero to come back after he is defeated by the villain, but as a grand surprise, and in an event that surely gets a lot of applause from the audience, Batman returns to the screen for the final confrontation. It's the moment where the hero finally gets off the crutches to stop the evil ones, and no matter what kind of shape he is in, he is ready to fight back with his biggest kick to the groan yet. Batman forms an alliance with Gordon, Blake, Catwoman, and the other members of the GPD to lead a battle against Bane's onsomble and Bruce's technological friend Lucius Fox helps out with his computer and tracking skills. An all out war occurs and Batman takes on Bane once again, this time, HE gets the upper hand. After damaging Bane's mask which causes him to feel extreme pain, Batman demands to know the location of the destructive device which he plans to use to annihilate the city. In a twist of events, Batman questions Bane of his relations to Ra's Al Ghul and it turns out that he is not the child of the mystical warrior and leader of the League of Shadows.

Just then, Bruce Wayne's associate Miranda Tate, who he has had a brief relationship with earlier in the film, reveals herself to be Talia Al Ghul, the true child of Ra's Al Ghul and the true child who escaped the prison years ago. It turns out that she was the true mastermind of Gotham's downfall all along, and that Bane was only following orders. It's a really clever twist and a perfect way to expand upon the origins and background of Ra's Al Ghul, making him much more like his comic book counterpart. It also plays into the "dramatic twist" element that is found perfectly in films like The Sixth Sense and Avatar, where something happens or someone realizes something or someone who was close to the protagonist turns out to be an all out enemy. That's what happens here, as Batman learns that a close friend, a person he trusted, a person he had feelings for, was the one true enemy. It's just like in Batman Begins, where we find out who the true Ra's Al Ghul is and what he wants to achieve. Eventually, as we all know, the hero works his rump off to stop the true enemy and the true enemy always falls in the end. Of course there is another confrontation with the true villain's servant, but in Batman's case, he's not the one to take out Bane as Catwoman gives him a good blast with the Batpod. Pretty interesting to think that the main hero doesn't defeat the prominent villain of the film, isn't it. But Batman and his crew and able to stop Talia, and it's then when he realizes he must do something drastic, something courageous. He's going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice he never had to make before.

The only way to stop the device from destroying Gotham is to take it out to the sea so it can detonate there. But how would it be done? Batman slowly realizes that he must use the Bat to drive the device out to sea. After kissing Catwoman and revealing his true identity to Gordon (and then seeing a heart wrenching flashback of him and young Bruce from Batman Begins), he takes the device miles and miles away to the ocean and the device goes off, making all of us think that Batman is dead and that we won't see Christian Bale's character for the rest of the film. But it's some powerful stuff when you "kill" off the main hero of a superhero flick, the hero we have got to know a bit throughout an entire trilogy spanning 7 years. Never before has Batman actually "died' in a Batman motion picture, and we are left wondering. HOW WILL THE FILM CONCLUDE? WHAT WILL GOTHAM CITY BE LIKE WITHOUT THE CAPED CRUSADER RUNNING ABOUT? WHO WILL TAKE ON THE BATSUIT?

Well Gotham, as it did before, gets back on it's feet and prospers as the city worships Batman as a great hero and dark avenger once more. Everyone is saddened by his sacrifice, but they know what he "died" for and they know that he "perished" doing what he felt was the best for his people. In Batsy's honor, the bat-signal is reconstructed, a huge Batman statue is crafted, and everyone is pleased as to how Gotham is regrowing due to Batman's contribution. It is assumed that Lucius Fox takes control of Wayne Enterprises and that Gordon is able to keep his job as commissioner of the GPD. Alfred is traveling the world again, and as he sits at a restaurant in Italy, he spots a man that looks exactly like Bruce, a man that could very well be Bruce, sitting across from a woman that looks just like Selina Kyle. This once again ties in with the man and the myth concept, for it could very well be the real Bruce Wayne and we are left wondering how he survived the destruction of the Bat and the "doomsday" device. In many ways, Batman has risen higher than he has ever risen before, leaving a legacy greater than the one he anticipated. Gotham is a better place because of him, and although he was immediately defeated by Bane when he returned to the public, he was able to dodge the hailstorm and come back in an extraordinarily epic way, kicking lots of baddy butts along the way. He rose at the end of Batman Begins, fell at the end of The Dark Knight, and rose again at the conclusion of The Dark Knight Rises, elevating higher and higher even if he was thought to be dead.

I could easily talk about how The Dark Knight Rises alone follows the rise and fall and rise again concept I have incepted, but that would be a bit slim in my eyes. I really wanted to talk about the Batman trilogy as a whole, for like the Star Wars saga, it's one solid story that brings up rising and falling and rising again. It has heroes and villains that we can relate to and understand, and we can learn from the protagonist what it takes to make an ultimate difference. Batman has had many ups and downs, but in the end, he's still the dark and silent guardian we love him as, always bringing on new interpretations and reimaginings down the rocky road. All I can wonder is what Bob Kane and Bill Finger would think of how far their brainchild has come over the past 73 years. It's certainly interesting comparing their Batman with the Batman of today's generation. Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is unique in a way that all the films compliment one another, and that they all correspond with each other, making the story more wholesome and understandable to the audience. The Dark Knight trilogy is not just about Batman, it's about Batman and the people who are related to him, how he relates to them and how he wishes to be excepted in the world. Like Gordon says, he is the hero that Gotham deserves, the one that really saves the day from powerful danger and makes things exciting and compelling at the same time. No other hero is like Batman. He's a crime fighter, a detective, A DARK KNIGHT.

By the way, at the end of TDKR, John Blake's real name is revealed to be Robin and he stumbles across Bruce Wayne's abandoned Batcave. Could this mean that he becomes the Boy Wonder after all? Or maybe he wonders into Bludhaven to beat down criminals as Nightwing. Who knows, maybe he teams up with Cyborg and Beast to form the Teen Titans.

Wouldn't that be a scrumptious cake! Not only has Batman risen spiritually, he has risen in the form of a new crusader of the night!