25 Jul, 2012
How to Avoid ‘The Dark Knight Rises’; A Practical Guide
Firstly, before people start shooting batarangs in my general direction, I need to set some context. I’ve been a big fan of Christopher Nolan since his 2000 release, Memento. When he took hold of the Batman franchise in 2005, I did a minor mental backflip, the tremors of which still resounds to this day. I heralded The Dark Knight as one of the greatest movies of all time, and the only great superhero movie ever made. Nolan has brought comic book superheroes from the realm of campy and surreal to grounded and believable. He has set a new standard for superhero movies that superhero movies for decades to come will be judged by…. and inevitably fail.
So it’s no news that I am a big Christopher Nolan fan. Add to that my interest in Batman and my crippling addiction to movies. So why, oh, why, am I trying to avoid the current installment – The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), which is reportedly smashing theater records across the globe right now?
Well, that line of thinking clearly lacks context. The context is that I am now living in the UAE, which is now a partly handicapped zone for movies on account of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. This is the month when all Muslims go on a religious fast, and movies playing at this time lose out on popcorn revenue like nobody’s business. All the big blockbusters are on a delayed launch plan in UAE, with their theater releases pushed beyond August 16th. Result? It’s the season of le film de crappy; a virtual infestation of crappy movies at the theater.
Movie theaters are presumably diving into dumpsters head first to pick up alternate movies that they are willing to risk in this season. An example is the 2010 movie “The Dancing Ninja”, starring David Hasselhoff. It’s so niche that I don’t even see a Wiki entry on it as of now. Based on the movie poster, I have no choice but to assume that the movie is about a rookie ballet dancer whose last hope of getting
ten thousand one million dollars for his ailing fiancee’s complicated heart surgery is to compete in the underground sport of synchronized ninja skating. Hapless, but determined, he goes to David Hasselhoff, a retired dancing master with an enigmatic past who has retired into seclusion, but is so charmed by the boy’s prancing antics that he decides to help him be the best dancing ninja in the country over the course of a single montage training session. Inevitably, the evil villainous Dancing Ninjas in Menacing Red Outfits group is defeated by the unlikely underdog, who shows them that a strong heart and courage trumps brawn in any fictional universe. It ends with David Hasselhoff giving an enigmatic smile as the curtains fall.
With movies like this playing in an actual theater, as opposed to more appropriate venues like ‘nowhere’, the plight of the Middle East resident is woefully clear. But adding to the misery is the fact that around the world, people have already seen the movie. TDKR was the most anticipated movie of the year, and is almost certain to deliver lots of twists and turns to the plot which will be fiercely discussed around the web for months to come. And there would be numerous bat-fans out there who would rather watch a pirated copy than wait a whole month for the movie’s official release.
I already know that the villain is Bane, that Catwoman plays a role, and that the movie is about how the Batman legend ends. But that’s all the info I want to take in before watching the movie. I need to avoid discussions on the plot at all costs. For fellow bat-fans stuck with Dancing Ninjas in the UAE, I’m making note of the various steps we can take to avoid the Batman discussions…
Stay out of the social networks
Facebook, Twitter, and even Google Plus would be smack full of smug, lucky TDKR viewers who would be discussing vital plot points like their online reputations depended on it. You can, of course, screen the comments first and avoid posts that talk about keywords like “The Dark Knight”, “Batman”, “Bane”, or “Awesome”, but can you really risk it? I say avoid them all. In an age where you have social networks everywhere, from your laptop to your smartphone, this is not an easy task. Temporarily unfriend/ unfollow your friends who also happen to be bat-fans. It may be seem like a drastic step that may offend people and may result in half your friends refusing to talk to you ever again. But isn’t TDKR worth it? You would have no idea, on account of not getting any news through the social grapevine.
Avoid the Spoiler Guy
It is inevitable that you come across some random fan who is bursting at the seams trying to give out vital plot points. We all know someone like this. He’s the guy who came fresh out of the theater saying “Hey, I don’t know why this movie took people by surprise. I knew from the beginning that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time”. He’s the guy who comes at you with innocent discussions that go “Well, nice weather today, right? It reminds me of the final scene in SPOILER ALERT”, except he’s not screaming the words “SPOILER ALERT”, but is in fact breaking out critical spoilers in a casual manner. He usually starts out like “Wow. What a movie. I don’t want to spoil anything for you guys, you know… But I just HAVE to say this ONE thing. This ONE THING and I’ll shut up about it and leave you to enjoy it… Seriously. The butler did it. And you just won’t see it coming. Enjoy the show”.
How do you deal with this guy? There are simple, efficient, and practical solutions, but hey, where are you going to get duct tape, a gun, a shovel and clear open spaces at short notice? So the only thing to do right now would be to avoid the guy. If you run into him at the water cooler, adopt evasive maneuvers… like maybe toppling the water cooler or squirting orange juice on his pants.
Insert controversy into the discussion
Even with the spoiler guy safely away from public view, say, wiping off weird juice stains from his pants, you still face the risk of getting into a Batman discussion from the regular, everyday folks. You may be discussing random topic, such as the weather (which turns out to be a surprisingly common conversation piece in my fictional settings) when suddenly, somebody may innocently start talking about TDKR. You need a quick diversion to avoid this. Quick! To the batmobile! Err… I mean <insert another phrase that implies ‘you need to act quickly’>. You may not find a water cooler nearby every time. Even if you do, you don’t want to be known as the guy who keeps toppling water coolers in the middle of a group conversation.
So what do you do? Simple enough. You can sabotage any conversation using some topic of controversy. Anytime you hear Batman, Nolan, Bane, Catwoman, or – to be on the safer side – words that sound close to these, like Fat man, colon, Bain, Vein, Spain, chain, main, etc, then you immediately throw in one of these topics that can stir up your audience… Choose your topic according to the audience at hand
- Women – “Nice view you were about to say about Batman. But I’m sure it is a simplistic viewpoint. I read somewhere that scientists have found that women are genetically programmed to develop poor math skills and reasoning abilities due to their inferior brain structure. True story.”
- Environmentalists – “Speaking of Batman… Oh, I know you were about to… Did you know that they had to destroy like 500 square blocks of trees for the movie? And burn out 5000 gallons of gasoline just to shoot that five minute action sequence? Good thing that the whole global warming thing is just a hoax, right, fellas?”
- Deeply religious people – “Batman, you say? I thought the books were better. Speaking of books, archeologists have just uncovered the truth behind <insert holy book>. It turns out that it was the origin story of an ancient superhero fable.”
- Fat people – “Batman? Well, I say that… Hey, look over there! Pizza”
- Die hard Nolan/ Batman fans who seriously won’t shut up about Batman – “You know, this Nolan guy is not doing bad. Maybe, with some help, he may come close to the superior Joel Schumacher Batman movies.”
When all else fails, confuse
If you follow the steps described up above, and manage not to get killed by vengeful co-workers, you may still find yourself in situations where TDKR discussions simply won’t go away. In such situations, pretend that you’ve seen the movie too. When they start to talk about some plot element, then add your own spurious imagination into the mix and confuse them right the hell out. Some examples are as below
- “I heard they originally planned to have Bane team up with the Joker after busting him out of the prison. But apparently, Jack Nicholson declined to reprise the role”
- “Did you see the cameo appearance by Brandon Routh towards the middle of the movie?? Wow. I only noticed it in my second viewing. It means a Superman/ Batman crossover… maybe a Justice League movie directed by Nolan. How cool is that?”
- ”Did anyone notice Guy Pearce’s cameo in the movie? The weird part were the tattoos. He had tattoos like ‘Psst… Wayne is Batman’, ‘Why am I reprising my role from Memento?’ and ‘What’s up with all these tattoos?’. It’s meant as an inside joke, apparently.”
- “Did anybody understand that bit about Catwoman’s breakfast… Did she say she ate with her kittens… or that she ate her kittens? I mean, the movie is dark, but whoa!”
- “Man, the ending took me completely by surprise. I would never have thought Bane would reform and become a TV evangelist… you know… like they show in the post credits”
Of course, these are just a few of the steps I was able to think up right now. And none of these methods are fool-proof. The only real way to avoid spoilers would be to isolate yourself completely in a dark room with no electricity until the movie releases in the UAE next month. And even then, you may be taken down by some stupid jerk at the counter who gives out the ending right after you buy the ticket. In that case, I’m sure it’s a case of justifiable homicide if you go bat-crazy on him.