After a four-year buildup and heaps of fan speculation, The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be a tad disappointing. Maybe it was the lack of a villain as captivating as The Dark Knight's Joker. Maybe it was a somewhat convoluted opening act, with sociopolitical plot turns that didn't really amount to much. Maybe it's because there were no eyeballs on plates and people bleeding from the hands. That seems to be David Bowie's opinion, anyway. The music artist has released a video for his new song "The Next Day," planting TDKR stars Gary Oldman and Marion Cotillard in haunting, brow-raising roles and it's left us with a brilliant (or harebrained – take your pick) theory.
Playing a cantankerous, lecherous priest and a lady of the evening, respectively, Oldman and Cotillard are a far leap from their Nolan characters... but perhaps only at surface value. Sure, Bowie claims that this is simply a video for "The Next Day" (the title song from an album that he has referred to as "vampyric," "Balkan," and "osmosis" ... don't ask), but maybe this is the cinephile's own attempt to make the Dark Knight Rises he would have wanted to see:
The scene: Gotham, eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. In Bowie version of the film, corruption reigns supreme, and Batman keeps to the shadows. Once good men like Commissioner James Gordon have succumbed to the drink, turning to God for answers but only tumbling deeper into a well of despair and debauchery. Figures of prosperity, like Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate — who traveled to Gotham to avenge her torturous childhood — have fallen victim to their own greed, wrath, and pride, decaying to subhuman levels in the destitute metropolis' underbelly.
And as once great figures like Gordon and Tate are robbed of their blood and will, we see the newest Batman villain rise up in the form of Bowie. A charismatic, Satanic figure, Bowie represents the cunning of R'as al Ghul, the ruthlessness of Two-Face, the unpredictable strangeness of the Joker. So we wonder, which villain is the music artist portraying here? What character in the Gotham universe can envelop all of the darkness embodied by Arkham's leviathan of patients?
Simply: Batman. No one, not the Joker nor Bane, has more darkness inside of him than Bruce Wayne himself. As such, Bowie's "Next Day" represents the ultimate transformation from hero to villain. Not only is Bowie's Dark Knight falling, he's taking his entire city down with him.
Jury's still out on that lady with the crazy eye-lashes, though. Poison Ivy? Sure, we can go with that.
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