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Commentary: Don’t bet on Joker-less Batman sequel ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Though I am not one to admit it in public, I have a deep, dark love for movies and video games that bring my favorite comic book superheroes to life. I am an avid consumer of all things X-Men, Batman, Spiderman and just about any other tights-wearing vigilante.

Predictably, my satisfaction with “The Dark Knight” could only be measured in the decibel level of my girlish squeals as I left the theater. “The Dark Knight” is arguably the apex of the comic book movie era — the trump card for all previous attempts at bringing these characters from the pages to the masses.

It goes without saying that I immediately thirsted for director Christopher Nolan’s sequel to the most epic comic book-related event of my life, but in the more than three years that have passed since his superhero masterpiece, I’m more worried that lightning won’t strike twice.

Granted, there is no one better than Nolan to guide this franchise to its conclusion. He has proven himself worthy of resurrecting Gotham and all of its monsters against which a hard-edged Batman must struggle, but Nolan might have played his best hand a movie too soon.

“The Dark Knight Rises,” Nolan’s concluding entry in the trilogy, features Bane as the primary antagonist. Though this incarnation of Bane appears significantly more well-served than his disastrous feature in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin,” I know no villain from the darkest corners of the DC Universe could come near matching the realism and utter insanity with which Heath Ledger delivered his role as Joker. And unfortunately, his is the bar against which anyone will measure Tom Hardy’s Bane.

Since Batman seems to be only as good as the evil he is fighting to stop — and with little help expected from Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman ­— I have already talked myself down from any hope of a greater or even comparable effort from “Rises.”

I have no doubt it will be a fantastic movie, but I can’t shake the feeling that asking for a higher-quality follow-up to “The Dark Knight” is a bit like wishing for a miracle.

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