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Why is every superhero movie an origin story?

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The title of the movie might be Man of Steel, but the star of the latest clip from Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot isn’t actually Superman. It’s Clark Kent, the alien boy who grows up to be a (hipster-bearded!) man, learning along the way some tough lessons about power, responsibility, and the cost-benefit bottom line of using his super strength to save all his schoolmates from a submerged bus. Which makes it official: Man of Steel isn’t just going to be another superhero movie. It’s going to be everyone’s — yours, mine, Hollywood’s — favorite kind of superhero movie: an origin story.

Why exactly do we love watching our favorite heroes begin again (and again)? Do we get some kind of parental joy from seeing their tall-building-spanning baby steps? Were scientists right about the Twitterfication of our attention spans? Maybe, but there’s also a deeper-seated reason: creation stories show the exact moment when a normal guy goes from being Just Like Us to being somehow better, faster, stronger. It’s the bridge between the relatable and aspirational parts of the hero myth. It’s also a handy way for filmmakers to pay their dues to a brand’s fan base (“See? I know my stuff!”) before sending its character off on a splashy villain-fighting quest that might diverge wildly from anything in the sacred comic book canon.

And so, having found that origin stories are a handy narrative tool for kicking off a franchise, Hollywood decided that every superhero movie should be an origin story, dropping our spandex icons into a Groundhog Day loop of childhood traumas, first kisses, and clumsy jumps off high roofs. The intro portion that used to take 10 minutes at the beginning of a movie is now filling entire movies — franchises, even. READ FULL STORY

Critics' Choice Movie Awards -- What's your favorite film franchise? VOTE

Are you a fan of Batman? Or is Harry Potter more your taste? Do you prefer James Bond or Indiana Jones? Star Trek or Star Wars? Vote in the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards poll for your favorite film franchise, below! READ FULL STORY

'The Dark Knight Rises': The Blu-ray/iPad app is a deep dive into the film for action movie fans

The day The Dark Knight Rises gets its DVD and Blu-ray release — that’s today — is also a day worthy of a trip to iTunes’ app store.

Warner Bros. Home Video is bringing the behind-the-scenes exploration most of us are used to experiencing solely on our TVs further into the 21st century with its iPad/iPhone app that syncs to Dark Knight Rises’ Blu-ray disc. The app’s dual screen features spotlight aspects of the film like the characters, the sets, vehicles and gadgets and the making of ambitious action scenes including the football stadium disaster and Bane’s brutal fight with Batman.

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'The Dark Knight Rises': Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway talk 'End of a Legend' in Blu-ray featurette -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

The finale to Christopher Nolan’s caped crusader triptych, The Dark Knight Rises, may be about redemption, but it’s also about endings. Finalizing Nolan’s trilogy, Christian Bale’s broken down Batman rises up from the depths, physically and emotionally, to defeat his own resignation and kick Tom Hardy’s evil Bane behind.

Check out this exclusive clip from the featurette The End of a Legend, one of the many extras included in the movie’s upcoming Blu-ray combo pack. The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download touch down on Dec. 4. Hardy, Anne Hathaway (Catwoman/Selina Kyle), Morgan Freeman (Fox), Michael Caine (Alfred), and Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) sound off on working with Nolan. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Will 'The Dark Knight Rises' set a new weekend record?

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Box office fanboys, the time has finally come.

Warner Bros.’ $250 million sequel The Dark Knight Rises arrives in theaters at midnight tonight, and it’s destined for one of the strongest opening weekends of all time.

The final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy could very well set a new opening weekend record if it outdoes The Avengers‘ $207.4 million May debut, but that will be a difficult figure to reach — not impossible, but very tough.

When The Dark Knight hit theaters in 2008, it was riding a wave of excitement. Not only had 2005’s Batman Begins (which made a rather humble — by comparison — $205.3 million) found a massive audience on home video, but Heath Ledger’s death and much-talked-about performance as the Joker made the film a must-see. These factors, when combined with deafening buzz for the well-reviewed sequel, helped The Dark Knight set an opening weekend record with $158.4 million. Until the $169.2 million bow of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2  in 2011, that record still stood. (Less than a year later, The Avengers stole the record from Potter.)  READ FULL STORY

'The Dark Knight Rises' preview: Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale discuss the key scene at the heart of the Batman trilogy

With the release of The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan completes a trilogy of grave and gritty Batman films that began with Batman Begins in 2005 and continued with The Dark Knight in 2008. The third installment brings unity and closure to the saga  – but that’s not to say Nolan and his collaborators had a master plan from the start. The filmmaker says he always knew he would never make more than three Bat-flicks, but he approached each project as if it might be the last. His strategy: Pour every Batty idea into the work at hand; remain consistent with the themes and plot of the previous chapter; keep a fuzzy option or two open for what might come next… except for Rises, which Nolan swears is his Batman swan song. “The truth is I always wanted to tell more of Bruce Wayne’s story, but in a superstitious sense, you can’t plan on that,” says the helmer, whose other credits include Memento and Inception. “You have to tell one great story, one great film. And if people demand another one, you have permission to make it.”

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The Dark Knight Rises...but not for Broadway musicals: Why Christian Bale won't be seeing 'Newsies'

Once upon a time, Newsies was a movie musical starring Christian Bale that flopped at the box office and with critics when it was released by The Walt Disney Company in 1992. Today, Newsies is a lauded Broadway musical smash starring Jeremy Jordan in the role played by Bale in the film, which despite failure inspired a passionate cult of fans who call themselves “Fansies.” No one is more surprised by this turn of events than Bale himself. “These things never make any sense,” the Oscar-winning actor and Hollywood’s current Batman told EW in a recent interview. “I’m incredibly happy for them. They’re having the success our movie never had.”  READ FULL STORY

Comic-Con: Up close and personal with every single Batmobile ever -- VIDEO

There are very few things in life better than getting to strap into the impossibly cool Batmobile from the Michael Keaton-era Batman movies and enjoy a quick spin in the sun-dappled dusk of San Diego Comic-Con.

To commemorate the end of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy next Friday with The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. trotted out six iterations of the Caped Crusader’s sweet wheels: The cartoony car from Adam West-era TV series; the sleek Keaton-era car from both Batman and Batman Returns; the outlandish cars from the Joel Schumacher-era Batman Forever and Batman & Robin; and the Nolan-era tank-like “Tumbler” vehicles from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

We got an up-close look at all of them, including that aforementioned ride in the Keaton-era Batmobile — and you’re likely not going to believe who was driving it. Check out my full video report below:  READ FULL STORY

'Dark Knight Rises' new IMAX poster

With just a little over a week until the July 20th release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, fan excitement for the epic conclusion is gearing up.

For the lucky few that already have tickets to a midnight IMAX screening, even more great news: IMAX announced yesterday that ticketholders attending 12:01 a.m. screenings of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 will receive an exclusive print featuring the movie’s villain, Bane (Tom Hardy). For those that don’t yet have midnight tickets, good luck.

The black-and-white image premiered on Fandango Tuesday.

Read more:
You can now stream the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ soundtrack online
‘The Dark Knight Rises': Christopher Nolan cements his place in Hollywood at hand and footprint ceremony 
Five things we learned from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ production notes

'The Dark Knight Rises' star Tom Hardy talks about playing Bane and inventing the villain's controversial voice: 'It's a risk.'

When Christopher Nolan asked Tom Hardy to play the villain in his third and final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, due July 20, the director doted on one job requirement in particular: the budding star would have to wear a mask that looked like a leathery baboon mouth with metal casings for fangs – a sort of steampunk respirator as fashioned by Francis Bacon. “I think he worried it would be something I might not consider because wearing a mask might damage my career or something. He thought I’d be worried that the audience couldn’t see my beautiful face,” says Hardy, who also worked for Nolan in the filmmaker’s 2010 Oscar-nominated smash Inception. “Like I care. It’s Chris Nolan! I would wear a paper bag over my head for that man.”

To play Bane, a willfully evil and possibly unstoppable force of mind and might, the British actor wanted to develop a distinctive voice, one that evoked (albeit elliptically) the comic book character’s erudition and ethnic heritage (Bane hails from a fictional Caribbean country). Hardy sought a sound befitting a man steeped in malevolence and old soul wisdom and who could trace his roots to ancient Latin culture. “There were two doors we could walk through,” says Hardy. “We could play a very straightforward villain or we could go through this very quirky door, which is totally justified by the text but may seem very, very stupid.” Not surprisingly, Hardy decided to go for the second option. “It’s a risk, because we could be laughed at—or it could be very fresh and exciting,” he says. While some found his dialogue incomprehensible in the IMAX-exclusive sneak peek attached to Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol last December, the actor asks for patience. “The audience mustn’t be too concerned about the mumbly voice,” says Hardy. “As the film progresses, I think you’ll be able to tune to its setting.”

Bane’s motivation as a villain remains one of Rises’ best-kept secrets—although the trailers suggest his master plan requires the razing of Gotham and the death of Bruce Wayne. Does Bane represent a specific political or philosophical complaint? The answer is… maybe. “I think the politics of the film are going to be hotly debated one way or another, as they were in the last film,” says Nolan. Listening to Hardy compare Bane to the scarred, clown-faced villain who terrorized Gotham City in The Dark Knight, you almost get the feeling of a revolutionary usurper with tremendous resources. “The Joker didn’t care—he just wanted to see the world burn, and he was a master of chaos and destruction, unscrupulous and crazy. Bane is not that guy,” says Hardy. “There is a very meticulous and calculated way about Bane. There is a huge orchestration of organization to his ambition. He is also a physical threat to Batman. There is nothing vague about Bane. No jokes. He’s a very clean, clear villain.”

For more about The Dark Knight Rises, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, which features our annual Summer Movie Preview. Get the scoop on all of the season’s most anticipated films, including The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Prometheus, Men In Black 3, Snow White and The Huntsman, and more.

Entertainment Weekly is now available on most tablets, including the iPad, Nook Color, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. Think of it like the EW you already love, but on steroids: With our digital magazine, you can buy the recommended movies, albums, books, and DVDs while you’re reading about them. Plus, you can watch music videos and film trailers, and find movie showtimes in your neighborhood. Current subscribers can access the digital version of EW for free by downloading the EW app (also free) and logging in using your name and address or the information on your subscription label. Single copies of the magazine are also for sale through the app if you prefer to read EW that way. If you’re not a subscriber, but would like to become one, you can do so by going to ew.com/allaccess.

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