The Dark Hype Rises

By Andreas

The forthcoming conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, isn’t really a movie anymore. It’s an ad campaign sprawling across time and space that might just metamorphose into a movie somewhere down the line. It’s a monotonous buzz slowly rising in volume as we approach July 2012. Hell, it’s a presidential candidate in a vote-with-your-wallet election, greedily nabbing up real estate in your head in order to make you forget you ever heard the word “Avengers.” (Does this make it the Sarah Palin of superhero movies?)

First a Bane image, then a teaser poster, then another Bane image, teaser trailer, and most recently the “Catwoman” photo you see above. Each one’s an event, even though it’s a fraction of a fraction of the movie itself. It garners endless speculation and whets nerdy appetites everywhere. Why is Anne Hathaway dressed like that? Did she steal Batman’s motorcycle? We want to know! But wait: if every single chunk of publicity bric-a-brac is accorded “event” status, will there even be any “event”-ness left when The Dark Knight Rises is released to theaters?

If you, like me, follow pop culture news sites on a day-to-day basis, you’ve seen each one of these no-context photos analyzed, appraised, critiqued, and celebrated, as if they were ambiguous scriptural tablets passed down from the heavens. As if piecing them together at the right angles could give us a little window into Christopher Nolan’s brain. If you’re like me, you’re probably also suffering from pretty severe teaser fatigue right about now. Maybe studio PR folks have found a way to speed up the “adoration, backlash, anti-backlash backlash” cycle of fandom by advertising for years in advance, so that the finished product is practically an afterthought.

That way, no one will remember a time before The Dark Knight Rises. Will it be good? we’ll ask in July 2012. Bad? Won’t matter: it’ll be a fact of life. Although I must admit, the ad campaign for The Avengers might be even more diabolically clever: releasing countless feature-length preludes like Thor and Iron Man 2 across this summer, last summer, and the summer before, converting movie theaters themselves into giant, revenue-generating billboards. With both upcoming movies, a droning onslaught of scoops and insubstantial teasers has drained away my curiosity as an a priori superhero nerd.

At this point I hardly care if I get to either movie in the theaters. The Dark Apathy Rises.

5 Comments

Filed under Cinema, Media

5 responses to “The Dark Hype Rises

  1. Interesting that you brought this up. In my History of Advertising class the other day, the professor argues that product placement and cross-advertising has gone far behind just putting the product in a film.
    And it’s strange to think of it that way. That the films themselves are products now.
    In Nolan’s case, I don’t think this bit-by-bit marketing is going to hurt the film. Everybody will watch it anyway. In the case of Avengers though, I wonder if they strategy will work at all. Personally speaking, I would have watched it two years ago if it was released then, but given the quality of its predecessors, I’m not at all interested anymore. I suppose there are a lot of people like me out there, because Avengers really don’t have Batman’s pedigree.

  2. Cat F

    I have to say I am one of the many that let out a squeal of delight whenever new content is revealed about DKR, in fact I’ve even blogged about the social media viral marketing behind it. I find it interesting and complex, but I can equally see how annoying it must be! I do fear that the amount of hype, spread over the amount of time, is going to create too high expectations leading up to next summer. Tom Hardy’s reveal as Bane was enough to have me hooked to be honest, and I fear that my imagination’s perception of his representation (oo, wordy) is going to far exceed the final product. Still, hopefully, if the viral marketing calms down, we’ll all forget about it and then in a year’s time as the release date nears, we’ll have a gentle reminder of what’s to come…seems unlikely though!

  3. @Amir: That’s a good point. As much overkill as the Dark Knight Rises set photos may be, they still don’t give any impression of the final product’s quality. With The Avengers, on the other hand, you’ve got several full films to judge from… none of which have really been incredible, and all of which have been wearing us down when it comes to Marvel movies. I’ll be curious to see how that difference affects the box office in a year, if at all!

    @Cat F: I was also drawn in by the Bane picture; it gave me a tantalizing example of the film’s costuming aesthetic, what the character would be like, etc. If it’d been just that, followed by similarly substantial, official hints every few months, I might not be as annoyed. But entertainment journalists (who, with their audiences, are also partially to blame) have been making a big deal out of absolutely everything, which is really tiresome. At this point, I’d love it if the stream of photos and information stopped until next July. But you’re right… that’s very unlikely.

  4. Cat F

    Bane does look great, but I agree. It should be small reveals, and not a feature in every magazine, and on every website going. It’ll make us sick of it! I’m still really looking forward to it, but it may wear thin if it carries on.

  5. Pingback: Man, I Love Films – TEASER FATIGUE: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

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