Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of ‘Batman’ films is a seminal work of superhero cinema, but the third installment has always been somewhat troublesome. Despite being a solid film in its own right, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was never quite embraced to the same extent as either of its predecessors, ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’. Whether this is because of its own shortcomings or the nigh-insurmountable expectations that came in the wake of the record setting success of ‘The Dark Knight’ is a question fans will be debating for years to come. But fan reaction isn’t the only baggage that film’s legacy carries with it.
At a midnight screening on the film’s release date in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman entered the theater and opened fire. After some fifteen minutes of chaos, police were able to subdue the gunman. When all was said and done, the incident had surpassed the 1999 Columbine massacre as the deadliest mass shooting in Colorado’s history, leaving twelve people were dead and a further seventy injured. For a time, it was also recognized as the deadliest mass shooting on US soil, a record that needs updating far too often.
To say that the Aurora shooting cast a pall over the release would be a gross understatement. And indeed, for some, it’s a pall that continues to this day. Obviously, that’s the case for the victims and their families, but it’s an impact that is also felt by those involved with the film’s production, including star Christian Bale. During a recent appearance on the podcast ‘Happy Sad Confused’, Bale explained the extent to which the tragedy affected his relationship to the film:
“Very sadly, I have not been able to watch that film since because of the whole tragedy of Aurora. I have not been able to sit down and see it without thinking of that. I’d love to be able to, one day.”
Bale went on to explain that the legacy of the shooting is yet another factor in his often ambivalent feelings toward the trilogy:
“Mixed feelings about it. I’m always eternally grateful to Chris (Nolan). For instance, ‘Rescue Dawn’. Werner (Herzog) and I had been trying to put that together for a few years. ‘American Psycho’, Mary Harron and I had been trying to put that together for a few years. No one was interested. Why? Me. Suddenly everyone said “Yeah, alright. We’ll go with him.” It did change everything. It was the first time I had done a film of that magnitude. That was a real learning curve for me. I wrestled with that for a long time. I still do on occasions. But I’m just learning, hey, accept the good things.”
Bale’s latest film, ‘Hostiles’, is in theaters now.