Like most people, I adore The Dark Knight trilogy. No one can argue that Nolan’s films represent the most impressive big screen adaptation of Batman to date, and since their release The World’s Greatest Detective has enjoyed a glorious resurgence. Imagine my shock then, when I sat down to watch a brainless 1990’s Stallone film called Cliffhanger (I had specifically recorded it with the knowledge that I would be returning home drunk and therefore unable to fully appreciate a ‘good’ film) to find that the action sequences were identical to that of the aforementioned Batman saga. Nolan has gutted this movie; its intestines can now be seen strewn throughout his Dark Knight films, a grotesque act of plagiarism which this ‘ground-breaking’ director almost got away with.
Some may argue that many of the similarities are ‘tenuous’ at best, but I assure you there are no coincidences here. Below is a chronological, step by step examination of the Nolan Batman films, exposing the extent of his pilfering with screenshot evidence.
1. Bruce Wayne falls down a well and disturbs some perfectly innocent bats who proceed to swarm and flap about his face. During Cliffhanger, Stallone’s character Gabe Walker falls into a cavern and also manages to rile up the vampiric wildlife. The overhead shots of Bruce and Gabe as they shield themselves are uncanny.
2. Someone dies. The hero is powerless to save them. The hero blames themselves anyway. The hero goes through a range of emotions: from shock to guilt to despair. They cry. Fade out.
3. Protagonist gets in a fight and ends up plunging through the ice and into the freezing depths below. Cracking stuff.
4. Emerging from their dip, both characters are understandably cold. Big whoop, right? But their methods of warming up are identical: Bruce Wayne seems to have nabbed some cheeky survival tips off our man Gabe.
5. Look at that! Just look at it!
6. Batman tries (and fails) to top Gabe Walker’s mountain spanning leap of faith- the longest jump in the history of the world of all time forever.
7. The moment which first aroused my suspicions; a heist is being carried out by faceless baddies, who begin to kill one another off in order to lower the number of shares and thus increase their personal haul. Backstabbing (or back-shooting) shenanigans like this have been around since the dawn of man but these two scenes are basically the exact same- Nolan must have been watching Cliffhanger on a loop.
8. Cliffhanger’s Kynette goes around sticking knives in people’s mouths left, right and centre, and his blade wielding antics make ‘The Joker’ look like ‘The Stockbroker’. He is also a master of interrogation: ‘Now I’m gonna ask you just three times!’
9. In both films large amounts of money are set alight, much to the chagrin of antagonist mercenaries. I’m not a tender guy, but seeing this much waste just burns me right up.
10. Nonsensical tracking technology. Bloopity Bloop!
11. Helicopter destroyed using cables.
12. Plane on plane hijacking robbery, mid-flight. While the Dark Knight Rises version is inarguably a more impressive spectacle, if Cliffhanger had access to same budget and technological advancements it would have done just as well. The fact remains that Cliffhanger was robbed of a great idea. Christopher Nolan? More like Christopher Stolen!
13. FINISH HIM! FATALITYYYYY!
14. Gabe Walker and Bruce Wayne embark on a dangerous climb up a sheer rocky surface while gormless, balding men watch on.
So there you have it. Batman’s latest incarnation would be nothing without the seminal and criminally underrated 1993 action extravaganza Cliffhanger. Now spread the word; Christopher Nolan shall be exposed for the corporate sell out fraud that he is.
Don’t forget to look out for next week’s article: Comparisons of religious subtext between Cliffhanger and Inception.