Where the Batman movies are concerned, I tend toward the contrarian. I’m one of the few people who prefer Tim Burton’s garish Art Deco caricatures to Christopher Nolan’s broody, self-serious approach. And now I’m also one of the few people — or so I suspect, based on the initial run of reviews — who think that Nolan’s final installment, The Dark Knight Rises, outclasses the two films that preceded it.
The finale’s strengths will be overshadowed, inevitably and appropriately, by the massacre at the film’s midnight premiere in Aurora, Colo. (Between Heath Ledger’s untimely death and now this larger horror, Nolan’s movies have been as death-haunted as their hero.) But they were probably destined to be overshadowed in any case by the absurdly inflated cult that grew up around 2008’s The Dark Knight, which simultaneously overrated that film and raised expectations for The Dark Knight Rises far beyond anything that a superhero movie could meet.