How will you mark the occasion? For starters, check out one of many “Dark Knight” trilogy marathons in the area, which start tonight at 6:30 p.m. (If you’re still in the planning stages, here are showtimes for most Regal theaters and here are more for AMC theaters.) Or, go see the film in IMAX starting at midnight at several area theaters, including the Natural History and Air and Space museums on the National Mall.
How does this film measure up to its predecessors? To help put “The Dark Knight Rises” into context, here are excerpts of previous “Batman” reviews, beginning with the 1989 Tim Burton “Batman” and ending with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Which was your favorite, and who do you think is the best Batman? Whether it’s Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, or even Val Kilmer (anyone?) let us know below in the comments.
“ Batman ” (1989) “Dark, haunting and poetic, Tim Burton's ‘Batman’ is a magnificent living comic book. From its opening shots, as the camera descends into the grim, teeming streets of Gotham City, the movie fixes you in its gravitational pull. It's an enveloping, walk-in vision. You enter into it as you would a magical forest in a fairy tale, and the deeper you're drawn into it, the more frighteningly vivid it becomes.” — Hal Hinson
“ Batman Returns ” (1992) “If you were longing for the intensity of the mano a mano tussle between ‘Joker’ Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton in ‘Batman,’ you're not going to get it here. However, you will get [Tim] Burton's dirgelike appreciation for all the players, especially the Penguin. In ways similar to Burton's ‘Edward Scissorhands,’ this film is a pop-cultural paen to overgrown children in their gothic hideaways.” — Desson Howe
“ Batman Forever ” (1995) “It's generic Batfare but the faces are new: As Batman, Kilmer replaces Michael Keaton, who may have vanquished the Joker, the Penguin and Catwoman in previous installments, but came up short against Warner Bros. when he asked for more money. O'Donnell plays Batman's sidekick with appealing, testosteronal pluck. As abnormal-psychology shrink Dr. Chase Meridian, Kidman is covering the same love-interest territory as predecessors Kim Basinger and Michelle Pfeiffer. But at least she looks different. It's the nose, mainly.” — Desson Howe
“ Batman & Robin ” (1997) “We have a surfeit of Bats and the guano lies thick on the cave floor. The current Bat cycle was already tired when [Joel] Schumacher replaced Tim Burton behind the camera on ‘Batman Forever.’ This chapter — so action-packed, yet so insufferably dull — makes it clear that there's nowhere else to go.” — Rita Kempley
“ Batman Begins ” (2005) “Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan's story, which pays obvious respect to the original characters created by Bob Kane, is darkly entrancing, rather than, you know, Stand Back for the Shock and Awe ... You have to sit down and experience this saga, piece by fascinating piece.” — Desson Thomson
“ The Dark Knight ” (2008) “Handsome is as handsome doesn't in ‘The Dark Knight.’ Of the three male lookers who dominate it, who would have guessed that the one with his face hidden behind twisted clown makeup, whose perfect features and fair brow are not glimpsed even once, would prove the most memorable? This is not because Heath Ledger died in January, though that event does perhaps add some otherwise unearned melancholy to the film. It's because Ledger's performance is so intense and so lasting; it's because despite the insane mask, it's a subtle, nuanced piece of acting so powerful it banishes all memories of the handsome Aussie behind it.” — Stephen Hunter
“ The Dark Knight Rises ” (2012) “Does ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ achieve the impossible, which is to bring a cherished cinematic chapter to a close, yet manage to leave fans feeling not desolate but cheered? To that all-important question, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Nolan, together with the team he has been working with so profitably since 2005’s ‘Batman Begins,’ has made a completely satisfying movie with ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ one steeped enough in self-contained mythology to reward hard-core fans while giving less invested viewers a rousing, adroitly executed piece of popcorn entertainment.” — Ann Hornaday