Retrospective Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Retrospective Review: The Dark Knight Rises


Score: 10/10

“It doesn’t matter who we are. What matters is our plan. No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.” – Bane

The Dark Knight Rises (“TDKR”) is the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. While The Dark Knight (“TDK”) is the best movie of the trilogy, TDKR is my favorite movie in the trilogy. After I saw TDK, I knew it would be impossible for a sequel to be a better movie since the Joker is Batman’s greatest nemesis and Heath Ledger gave a perfect performance. As such, any villain Nolan picked could not live up to the standard of the Joker. For this reason, I love the direction Nolan took by choosing Bane (Tom Hardy) as the villain. As he was not going to top the Joker anyway, it made perfect sense to pick a villain that was as different from the Joker as possible. While the Joker is an eccentric and entertaining character, Bane is all business. He is ruthless and relentless. I also agreed with the movie’s theme of loss. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), as Batman, took on the entire mob and also faced the greatest Batman villain in Joker. A casualty from his war on crime is the death of the woman he loved, Rachel Dawes. The events of the first two movies take a physical and emotional toll on Bruce. As such, I thought it would have been silly for Bruce to jump around rooftops as Batman as if nothing happened in TDK. As a result, I completely disagree with the criticism that TDKR did not include enough Batman and was not fun. In my opinion, Nolan did it on purpose. Bruce is the man behind the suit. As such, Bruce is Batman and Batman is Bruce. In order to be Batman, Bruce has to be selfless and make personal sacrifices while getting no credit for his good deeds. In fact, at the end of TDK, Batman takes the fall for Harvey Dent’s appalling crimes because the city needed Dent to be the hero it could believe in and inspire it to be better. Being completely moral does not mean getting credit for it or personally gain from it. The only reward should be the satisfaction that you made the right choices and that they made the lives of others better. Consequently, I liked how Bruce was a broken man because of the emotional burden of being moral as well as the physical damage from being Batman. The severity of the injuries to Bruce is described when he visits a doctor and gets the assessment that “there is no cartilage in your knee, and not much of any use in your elbows or your shoulders. Between that and the scar tissue on your kidneys, the residual concussive damage to your brain tissue, and the general scarred-over quality of your body, I cannot recommend that you go heli skiing, Mr. Wayne”. In the dark and realistic world created by Nolan, it only makes sense that there are consequences for being a hero, especially when he had to face the ultimate villain in the Joker.

I also thought Nolan had a brilliant idea by basing his movie on The Dark Knight Returns and A Tale of Two Cities. The Dark Knight Returns is a graphic novel where Batman is retired and broken down. However, he comes out of retirement because he has difficulty living without being Batman. Moreover, Bruce loses all his fortune in that story arc. After an epic battle with Superman, Batman fakes his own death. On the other hand, there is was popular belief that Nolan based Bane’s revolution and persecution of the wealthy and powerful on the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, he actually based it on A Tale of Two Cities which is set during the French Revolution. As a Tale of Two Cities is one of the greatest stories and books of all time with a great plot and plot twists, I loved that TDKR has a lot of influences from it. In the book, the storming of the Bastille by the French Revolutionaries is a great moment. Similarly, Bane storming Blackgate Prison to free all its prisoners is a great scene in the movie. He assimilates the prisoners into his army. Like the French revolutionaries using the guillotine to execute the wealthy and powerful in the book, Bane’s army and mob hold kangaroo courts to find the social elite guilty of oppressing the masses and sentence them to death by exile, trying to walk to freedom on thin ice. In another well placed cameo, Cillian Murphy reprises his role as Dr. Jonathan Crane/ Scarecrow as the court’s judge. Another aspect of the movie I truly enjoyed is that it was completely unpredictable for me when I first viewed it. Unlike TDK, I was able to stay away from spoilers. As I also had no idea Talia Al Guhl existed before this movie, I was able to get the full experience of every plot twist during TDKR.

The movie begins at the end of the TDK when Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is giving the eulogy for Harvey Dent before fast forwarding eight years ahead. Batman is a wanted man as he took the blame for murdering Harvey as well as the crimes Harvey committed. As such, he has disappeared and has not been seen since the end of TDK. Similarly, his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, has become a recluse and never leaves his house as he has become a broken man without the will to live in a world without Rachel. Nevertheless, the sacrifices made by Bruce as Batman was not for nothing. Inspired by the lie of Harvey Dent’s heroic death, the city passed tough laws that granted Commissioner Gordon and law enforcement unprecedented power to prosecute, convict, and imprison all individuals involved with organized crime. As such, the mob no longer exists. On Harvey Dent Day, a large event is held at Wayne Manor to commemorate the anniversary of Harvey’s death. At the same time, cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) masquerades as a server at the event in order to gain access to the locked up part of the mansion where Bruce is hiding. She is hired by associates of Bruce’s business rival John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) to steal Bruce’s finger prints. Daggett also brings Bane and his men to Gotham in order to help him take control of Wayne Enterprises.  As such, Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange and uploads trades on behalf of Wayne Enterprises that are authorized by Bruce’s fingerprints. As such, it bankrupts Bruce. Nevertheless, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Bruce are able to maneuver enough so that Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a board member loyal to Bruce and his cause, takes control of the company instead of Daggett.

However, Bane’s true goal is not hostile, corporate takeovers. He is in Gotham for a revolution to take it over. First, he defeats Batman, breaks his back, and leaves him in a prison within a deep pit. As such, Bane neutralizes Gotham’s watchful guardian and greatest defender. Next, Bane finds Wayne Enterprises’ fusion reactor that Bruce was hiding underneath the city. Bane forces a Russian nuclear physicist, Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Abutbul), to weaponize the reactor into a nuclear bomb. Finally, Bane blows most of the bridges into Gotham, traps most of the Gotham police force in the underground tunnels, and uses the nuclear bomb as a deterrent against any outside interference.  As noted above, he also frees all the prisoners from Blackgate prison to enlist in his forces in order to take complete control of the city. With Bane as the warlord, the masses and less fortunate are empowered to rise up and persecute the rich and powerful, who Bane as identified as the oppressors. Gotham is left helpless against Bane’s reign of terror as the world and Batman are left powerless to help and can only watch.

I really like that Bruce started the movie as a recluse and it takes a strong push from multiple characters before he is willing to strap back on the boots to fight crime. In real time, we did not see a Batman movie in four years. During the movie, it is eight years since Gotham last saw Batman. As a result, I get the chills when Bruce finally appeared as Batman on the screen again when he tries to stop Bane’s attack on the Stock Exchange. I also think Nolan’s use of a nuclear deterrent in the movie is brilliant in making Bane’s takeover of Gotham seem realistic. Without it, I have a difficult time believing that the military would not just invade the city and take it back. This point is emphasized in the scene when the military meets with Bane’s right hand man, Barsad (Josh Stewart), at the last bridge into Gotham to discuss terms. The Army Captain has a smirk as he tells Barsad that Bane does not have enough men to keep the people of Gotham from exiting. However, the Captain’s smirk gets wiped off his face when Barsad notes that the captain does have enough men to keep the people of Gotham within the city and that “If one person crosses this bridge… Gotham gets blown to hell.” Not only is the military not able to rescue Gotham, it has to help the villains keep its people imprisoned. Nevertheless, I have spoken to my friend in the defense industry about this scenario. He assured me that we are safe as the military would be able to jam the signal to the bomb and all signals in the city if necessary to prevent detonation. Afterwards, I am confident the Navy Seals would be able to handle the situation. However, it would have been a very boring movie. Regardless, I believe Nolan gives a legitimate explanation for how Bane is able to hold the city without interference from the outside world.

Nevertheless, the best part of Nolan’s trilogy is the characters. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, and Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth all return to play their supporting characters flawlessly. Freeman is great again as the wise cracking, brilliant CEO of Wayne Enterprises although he does step down to President after Miranda takes over as CEO. Fox also gives Bruce a nudge to be Batman again at the beginning of the movie. In response to Bruce stating he is retired, Fox says “Well let me show you some stuff anyway. Just for old time’s sake.” As such, Fox shows Bruce some new toys which include the Bat, Nolan’s version of the Batplane. Throughout the trilogy, Fox is critical to Bruce as he oversees Batman’s armory. Commissioner Gordon is also a key ally in each movie. Oldman is again great as Commissioner Gordon. He successfully utilized the lie surrounding Harvey’s death to end organize crime. Despite winning the war against the mob, Gordon’s heightened alertness is mistaken for paranoia and he is written off as being a “war hero” in “peace times”.  On the other hand, he struggles with the burden of his guilt for lying about the events at the end of TDK and allowing Batman to take the blame. It also has detrimental personal consequences as his wife took his children and left him. In a speech he intended to give at Wayne Manor during Harvey Dent day, Gordon notes “The Batman didn’t murder Harvey Dent. He saved my boy and took the blame for Harvey’s appalling crime, so that I could to my shame build a lie around this fallen idol. I praised the mad man who tried to murder my own child. While I can no longer live with my lie, it is time to trust the people of Gotham with the truth, and it is time for me to resign”. Although Gordon did not have the will to give the speech himself, it falls into the hands of Bane who reads it when he frees the prisoners at Blackgate Prison. As it discredits Gotham’s symbol of justice in Harvey Dent as well as its police commissioner, it causes its people to question its faith in the morality and authority of its leaders and city. As such, it helps destabilize structure and results in anarchy. Nevertheless, it does not deter Gordon’s will to fight Bane’s revolution as he is at the head of the resistance. Throughout the trilogy, Nolan does an excellent job portraying Gordon as an equal and a partner to Batman instead of a helpless police commissioner that simply flashes the Bat signal and waits for Batman to save the day.

In my opinion, Alfred is the most powerful supporting character in this movie. Again, Michael Caine is brilliant as Bruce’s loyal butler. Bruce is like a son to Alfred. As such, you can truly feel the pain in Alfred’s eyes and voice in his conversations with Bruce as he tries to persuade Bruce to strive for a better life. At the beginning of the movie, Alfred tells Bruce about the fantasy he had during Bruce’s seven year disappearance during Batman Begins: “Every year, I took a holiday. I went to Florence. There’s this cafe on the banks of the Arno. Every fine evening, I’d sit there and order a Fernet Branca. I had this fantasy, that I would look across the tables and I’d see you there, with a wife and maybe a couple of kids. You wouldn’t say anything to me, nor me to you. But we’d both know that you’d made it, that you were happy. I never wanted you to come back to Gotham. I always knew there was nothing here for you, except pain and tragedy. And I wanted something more for you than that. I still do.” I thought that scene was perfect in demonstrating how much Alfred truly cares for Bruce and how much pain Gotham represents for Bruce from the death of his parents to the death of Rachel. While a few characters like Fox and Gordon want Batman to return, Alfred tries to convince Bruce he can no longer physically handle being Batman after the years and injuries. Instead, he tells Bruce he must find another way by giving his resources and knowledge to the authorities so they can handle the situation. Of course, Bruce disagrees and scoffs at the idea that he is not the same physically similar to how a star professional athlete has trouble coming to the realization that his skills have diminished. Alfred also reveals to Bruce that Bane is a member of the League of Shadows and excommunicated by Ra’s Al Guhl for being too extreme. However, Bruce places his confidence in the fact that he defeated Ra’S Al Guhl and Bane is just a mercenary. Nevertheless, the biggest concern for Alfred is not that Bruce will fail but that he wants to fail. As Bruce may no longer believe he has something to live for after Rachel’s death, he may be reckless with his life as he might welcome death to end his misery.

Alfred also realizes that Bane will be too physical and powerful for Batman to handle in a fight. As Bruce continues to be Batman and comes closer to confronting Bane, Alfred makes a last ditch effort to save Bruce by leaving. He finally reveals to Bruce that he burned the letter in which Rachel tells Bruce that she chose Harvey Dent over Bruce. While Alfred originally thinks that burning the letter is the appropriate course of action to save the pain it would have caused Bruce, it actually makes matters worse as Bruce is never able to let go of Rachel believing that Rachel was never able to let go of him. As such, Alfred hopes that the truth will allow Bruce to finally let go of Rachel’s memory and find something or someone else to live for in the world. Nevertheless, Alfred knows that the revelation will destroy his relationship with Bruce and is in anguish as he admits that “It means your hatred… and it also means losing someone that I have cared for since I first heard his cries echo through this house. But it might also mean saving your life and that is more important.” While it is a very powerful scene as Alfred leaves in an attempt to convince Bruce to not give his life in an attempt to stop Bane, there is also a lot of relief that Alfred would not be present for the coming chaos.

While those three characters are also great in the first two movies, I truly enjoy the new characters Nolan introduced in TDKR. First, I thought Anne Hathaway’s version of Selina Kyle, better known in the comic book world as Catwoman, is perfect. She is a cat burglar and her night vision goggles flip up to look like cat ears. Consequently, those aspects link her to the Catwomen of the past but she is never actually called Catwoman in the movie which helps TDKR’s version stand alone. Of course, Anne Hathaway is a stunningly beautiful woman and a great actress. I find myself completely captivated by her version of Selina Kyle. I enjoy how she would be graceful, innocent, and classy then quickly switch to being an uncaring, unapologetic, and resourceful thief that can outmatch most combatants in a fist fight. A great example of this contrast is at the beginning of the movie when she is caught by Bruce within the secluded part of his mansion. At first, she feigns being a sweet, innocent maid that curiously wandered into the wrong area. When Bruce points out that his uncrackable safe is open and she is wearing his mother’s pearls, she drops the façade immediately. Her tone changes to cocky and devious as she notes “Oops. No one told me it was uncrackable” before she knocks Bruce over by kicking out his cane and escapes by jumping out the window. Another scene I like that shows the contrast is when she is double crossed by Daggett’s associate Philip Stryver (Burn Gorman) as he attempts to kill her instead of giving her the Clean Slate program, which allows someone to erase himself from every database in the world. However, she is cunning and always has a backup plan. As a backup plan, she kidnaps a Congressman, takes him into the bar she meets Stryver in, and tricks him into using the Congressman’s cell phone which the police trace. Before the police arrive, she easily beats up Stryver and kills a few of his associates. As soon as the SWAT team breaches the bar, she starts screaming and pretending to be an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. The facade allows her to walk out of the bar without attracting suspicion from the police. The many faces of Selina Kyle are performed perfectly by Anne Hathaway.

Moreover, I enjoy the relationship between her and Bruce. Anne Hathaway and Christian Bale have perfect chemistry on the screen as Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne or Selina and Batman. In terms of Selina and Bruce, the scene that explains their relationship in the beginning of the movie is when Bruce is trying to recover his mother’s pearls and tracks Selina to a charity ball. As they dance, they talk condescendingly to each other but they also develop a mutual respect and understanding of each other. Moreover, there is also a lot of sexual tension between the two as they are clearly attracted to each other and flirting with each other as Selina remarks to Bruce “Perhaps you’re being unrealistic as to what exactly you have in yours pants, other than your wallet.” In that same conversation, Selina also reveals a lot about her life: “I started out doing what I had to. Once you’ve done what you had to, they’ll never let you do what you want to.” In another sense, I feel Selina been pretending to be countless fake identities, believing in her lies, and needing to be cold hearted and ruthless to survive for so long that she has forgotten who she actually is at her core. She is a great female compliment to Bruce as they both put up superficial facades while they are both good people at heart. Another reason I love this character is that she is a match for Batman. While she disagrees with Batman on not using guns and not killing, she is a physical force to be reckoned with as she is able to fight Bane’s men side by side with Batman. Moreover, she is also able to vanish on Batman when he turns during their conversation. In response, Batman notes “So that’s what that feels like”. However, she also betrays Batman in order to save herself as she lures him into a trap. When she realizes Batman is Bruce and she was beginning to warm up to him, she is stunned and saddened as Batman is completely outmatched against Bane. One of the reasons I enjoy TDKR is watching Selina reluctantly letting go of her uncaring and unsympathetic demeanor over the course of the movie.

Bruce’s other love interest in the movie is Miranda Tate. I think Marion Cotillard did an excellent job portraying Miranda as a true idealist in the movie. I feel she is Katie Holmes’s Rachel Dawes with a personality. During Bruce’s seclusion, Miranda constantly asks to speak with him. Moreover, Alfred and Fox try to convince Bruce that she is “quite lovely” to no avail. Of course, Bruce also talks to Miranda at the charity ball. He proceeds to insult the person who is holding the ball since he believes that the “Proceeds go to the big fat spread. It’s not about charity, it’s about feeding the ego of whichever society hag laid this on.” However, Miranda forces Bruce to eat his words as she notes that it is her party and that she paid for the spread herself so that all the proceeds will go to charity. She also states to Bruce that she continues to support the idea of the clean energy project, which secretly produced the fusion reactor. Despite the money it has lost her, she believes in investing in and trying to better the world no matter the cost. I also like the notion that Miranda sees right through Bruce’s playboy disguise as she tells him “You have a practiced apathy, Mr. Wayne. But a man who doesn’t care about the world doesn’t spend half his fortune on a plan to save it and isn’t so wounded when it fails that he goes into hiding.” I really bought Miranda as an idealist when I first saw the movie. While I originally felt disappointed that Bruce would not end up with Selina as they had great chemistry on screen, I came to accept that Miranda is just as moral as Bruce and an acceptable match. Of course, Miranda also gains Bruce’s trust as he entrusts her to take over as CEO and take possession of the fusion reactor after Daggett’s hostile corporate takeover attempt.

Another new character I like is John Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt). Blake is a patrol officer that is also an idealist. He is bold and has no problem upsetting the established order and hierarchy to state his opinions and fight for his beliefs. While it puts him at odds with some of his superiors, he catches the eye of Commissioner Gordon as he sees a lot of himself in Blake. As such, Gordon promotes Blake to detective and takes Blake under his wing. One of the most important lessons Gordon teaches Blake is that “There’s a point, far out there when the structures fail you and the rules aren’t weapons anymore. They’re shackles letting the bad guy get ahead.” In other words, there are times when the rules are not good enough and prevent one from doing the right thing. As such, it is sometimes necessary to operate outside of established structures.  In addition, when Blake was a child, he realized that Bruce is Batman. Blake is also an orphan that lost his parents. As a result, Blake saw right through Bruce’s façade of being an uncaring playboy as Bruce has the same anger that Blake has from losing his parents. Nevertheless, Blake has always been a believer in the Batman and his ideals. He never believed that Batman was responsible for the crimes actually committed by Harvey Dent. Blake is also important in convincing Bruce that Batman is needed again. Of course, Blake’s full name is R. John Blake which is a reference to a very famous Batman character.  However, I like that his full name is not revealed until the end of the movie and that Blake is able to blend into the movie. During my second viewing of the film, I really enjoyed seeing that Bruce is inadvertently grooming Blake to potentially take over for Batman. In different conversations, Bruce teaches Blake that the reason for a mask is to protect the people he loves. Moreover, the purpose of Batman is to be a symbol representing the idea that anyone can be a hero.

On the other hand, you have the main villain, Bane. I think Tom Hardy did an excellent job as Bane. I accept the complaints about his voice as it made it difficult to hear some of his great dialogue. However, he is wearing a mask so it does need to be a little muzzled. While some critics think the voice is silly, I think it is menacing as intended. Nolan also picked Hardy as he wanted an actor that could perform with his eyes and his facial expressions. In the opening action sequence, Bane leads a mid air assault on a CIA plane. During the scene, he notes that the reason he allowed for his capture is to find out what Dr. Pavel has told the CIA. At the same time, he gives Pavel a brutal stare. Just with the look in his eyes, he is able to send Pavel into a frenzied panic out of fear. In another scene, two of his men bring Commissioner Gordon into the tunnels thus revealing the existence of an underground army. Bane kills one of the men. As for the other man, Bane commands “Search him. Then, I will kill you.” After the man hands Bane Gordon’s gun and the letter admitting the truth about Harvey Dent, Gordon rolls and escapes in to the sewer system. True to his word, Bane kills the other man and puts a GPS device in his pocket so his dead body can flow in the same direction as Gordon. It truly shows how intimidating Bane is as someone would do as Bane says out of fear even though he already knows Bane will kill him. Another one of the scenes I like with Bane is when he kills Daggett. Believing that his money buys him control of people, Daggett acts like a spoiled brat and thinks he can talk down to Bane. Of course, Bane only allows Daggett to act in that manner as he needed Daggett’s “money and infrastructure”. One can tell that Bane is just itching to kill Daggett. When those resources are no longer needed and Daggett has a temper tantrum about how he is in control, Bane simply puts his hands on Daggett’s shoulder and asks “Do you feel in charge?” while making it clear that Daggett’s money never gave him power over Bane. Moreover, Bane gives Daggett a death stare during the entire conversation as Daggett quickly goes from an arrogant demeanor to being completely petrified. Before Bane kills Daggett, he proclaims “I’m Gotham’s reckoning. Here to end the borrowed time you’ve all been living on.” All those moments are great examples of how Hardy effectively uses his eyes and facial expression to play Bane. In general, I also enjoy how Bane would walk around with both hands holding his collars to project his image of being powerful, menacing, and intimidating. There is no elegant way of stating it: Hardy’s Bane is just badass.

Of course, Bane is also the only villain that has been able to physically outmatch Batman. The best action scene in the movie is when Bane fights Batman in the tunnels beneath Gotham. Proving Alfred’s fear and warning, Bane taunts Batman during the fight: “Peace has cost you your strength! Victory has defeated you.” As a member of the League of Shadows, Bane knows all of Batman’s tricks and none of them work on Bane: “Theatricality and deception are powerful agents to the uninitiated… but we are initiated, aren’t we Bruce? Members of the League of Shadows.” When Bruce tries to use an EMP to shut off the lights, Bane is not phased and notes “But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it.”  Consequently, Batman is outmatched in every possible aspect by Bane. Adding insult to injury, they are beneath the tunnels of Wayne Enterprises and Bane detonates the floor to show Batman that his army will be taking his weapons, such as the Tumblers. In the end, Bane easily defeats Batman and breaks his back just like the comics. I also think his dialogue is brilliant during the movie even though it is difficult to hear at times. In the comics, Bane is also brilliant and figures out that Batman is Bruce Wayne. As Bane is a mastermind of a revolution and his actions are planned out in detail, TDKR does a great job acknowledging the intelligence of Bane.

While Bane shows no mercy and is no nonsense, he does not kill Batman. However, I think Nolan does an excellent job explaining why Bruce is allowed to live so that it is still in line with Bane’s character. As Bruce betrayed the League of Shadows, Bane brings Bruce to the prison within a pit where Bane once languished. In order for Bruce to feel ultimate despair, Bane gives Bruce a television to watch Bane take over and terrorize Gotham in order to torture Bruce “but not of your body… of your soul” as he will be helpless to save his city at the bottom of the pit. In addition, the pit has an opening at the top where the prisoners can see the light of day. In Bane’s words “There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth: Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy. So simple. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope.” Moreover, Bane believes he has already broken and neutralized Bruce. As such, Batman will no longer be a threat. Allowing Bruce to live would just prolong and magnify his suffering before he dies. I also like how the pit represents what Bane does to Gotham. His goal is to feed its people with hpe while terrorizing them to “poison their souls.” However, Bane will kill them all anyway with the detonation of the fusion reactor. This scene truly shows how ruthless and sadistical Bane is in the movie. He is completely calm and honest about torturing millions of people before murdering them. Of course, even evil people believe they are doing good as human beings tend to be motivated more by good than evil. As Bane notes earlier in the film, he believes he is “necessary evil”.

While some critics had an issue with Bruce being in a pit for so long, I loved every aspect of it. First, it allows the viewer to learn more about the prison and Bane’s origins. As we find out, a mercenary married a warlord’s daughter. As such, the warlord had the mercenary imprisoned. However, his wife went into the pit in exchange for the mercenary’s freedom. Moreover, she was pregnant and gave birth to a child. When Bruce realizes that the mercenary is Ra’s Al Guhl, Liam Neeson makes an excellent cameo as a hallucination of the character. I liked how the scene links back to Batman Begins when Ra’s talks about having a wife that was taken from him. That loss motivates Ra’s to show no compassion for evil and to route it out at all costs. In addition, I like how it continues to give a realistic interpretation of the immortality of Ra’s. In the comics, he goes into a Lazarus pit to rejuvenate his youth. However, it is not a realistic concept in Nolan’s universe. Instead, having his legacy continued by his child is a solid interpretation of immortality. Of course, Bruce believes that Bane is that child. Moreover, that child is the only person who has ever escaped the pit. Eventually, the prison doctor helps to fix Bruce’s back when they see the horror Bane is bringing to Gotham. I like the idea that Bruce has to build his body back up. Moreover, I also like that he has to rebuild his mind in order to truly become Batman again. Bruce tries to climb the wall of the pit multiple times only to fail when he attempts to jump for a ledge. Although Bruce originally thinks it will be easy to escape as a child had done it, doubt begins to creep into his mind. However, the prisoner that is taking care of Bruce and the prison doctor explain why he fails. “You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak. How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulses of the spirit: the fear of death.” While Batman Begins is about conquering fear, that emotion is still very important as one still needs to channel it to drive him to greater heights. Bruce lost the care to live and the fear of death after the loss of Rachel. As such, he needs to find it again before he can be the hero he once was and he does it by making the climb without the safety of a rope.

When Bruce gets back to Gotham, the first person he tracks down is Selina Kyle as he needs her help to free Fox. When she sees Bruce is alive, I like that she hints at a smile as she is clearly happy Bruce survived but immediately hides it to maintain her coldhearted exterior. I really enjoy the conversation between the two as they like to talk in code to each other. During the conversation, Selina asks “If you’re expecting an apology” thus hinting that he will not be getting one. Knowing that is how Selina apologizes, Bruce simply smiles and accepts it by saying “It wouldn’t suit you”. Despite her betrayal, Bruce believes she is a moral person and trusts her with the Clean Slate program. The program will allow her to start fresh and be the good person he believes her to be as she will no longer have to keep up with her multiple identities to avoid the authorities. Later on, they have another great exchange right before the final battle. Batman gives Selina the Batcycle to help blow the blockade at the tunnel so people can flee to escape from a potential nuclear blast. However, Selina remains stubborn and refuses to help further noting she intends to flee as soon as the tunnel is opened. Disappointed that Selina is maintaining her selfish stance, Batman remarks that there is more to her than what she shows. Ultimately, Bruce and Selina are very similar people although they come from very different experiences. As such, he is trying to provide the push toward good that Rachel and Alfred provided for him during Batman Begins. Instead, Selina pleads for Bruce to “Come with me. Save yourself. You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.” Of course, Batman declines as he is truly the hero Gotham always deserved and the one that it needs to save it. I think this moment illustrates the pure morality of Batman. Bruce has the opportunity to run away with a beautiful woman but he chooses to risk his life to save millions of lives for the greater good.

The final battle is a very thrilling race against time as Batman has to find a way to stop an anonymous trigger man from remote detonating the fusion reactor. At the same time, he needs to get the reactor back to its core before it explodes as it is unstable and has been decaying since it was separated from its core. Of course, Batman cannot do it alone. With the help of John Blake, Batman is able to free the police force from the collapsed tunnels. With the help of Fox, they are able to provide Gordon with the EMP from the Bat to block the signal for remote detonation. Next, it sets up an epic battle between the Gotham police led by Batman and the League of Shadows and former prisoners of Blackgate Prison led by Bane. Eventually, Batman and Bane face off again with Batman winning the rematch with his renewed strength and the fact that damaging Bane’s mask causes him excruciating pain. However, a major plot twist is that Miranda Tate is actually the child of Ra’s Al Guhl and betrays Bruce. While she act suspicious near the end of the movie and I thought she could be working with Bane, I did not know who she really is as I did not know who Talia Al Guhl was before I saw the film. She also notes that Bane was her protector in the prison as he believed that the child was the prisoners’ salvation. When she escapes and finds her father, the League of Shadows took them in. Unfortunately, Ra’s excommunicates Bane as the mask reminds him of the pain his wife endured in the prison. As such, Miranda could not forgive her father as Bane’s only crime is loving her. She is only able to forgive her father after Batman killed him. The telling of the story by Miranda brings Bane in tears. As merciless as Bane is with his actions, they are motivated by love. As I noted before, human beings need to be inspired by something inherently good rather than simply hate and anger. The tears really showed that Bane is still very human. There is criticism that the plot twist of Miranda being Talia diminishes Bane as he is ultimately a pawn. I do not agree with this thought pattern. With this logic, Commissioner Gordon and Fox are pawns of Batman instead of his partners against his fight against crime. I see the Miranda and Bane as partners as Bane is able to lead a revolution and men without constant direction from Miranda. Clearly, Bane is much more than a simple pawn. Moreover, Miranda instructs Bane to allow Batman to live so he could feel the heat from the nuclear blast. As soon as she leaves, Bane disregards the order and moves to kill Batman immediately as he is too dangerous to allow live. Clearly, Bane is able to think for himself.

Before Bane can kill Batman, Selina returns and kills Bane with the blasters on the Batcycle while pointing out to Batman “About that whole no guns thing… I’m not sure I feel as strongly about it as you do.” As Selina proves she is a good person as Batman believed, his faith in people is finally rewarded at this moment. Next, Batman and Selina pursue the fusion reactor on the Bat and Batcycle respectively in a thrilling chase. However, Fox showed Miranda how to activate the emergency flood at the reactor core thus taking away the only opportunity to prevent detonation. Consequently, Batman has no choice but to use the Bat to haul the bomb to the ocean and away from the city. However, he will have to sacrifice his own life as the autopilot system is malfunctioned. As Miranda was never really interested in Bruce as she was only interested in gaining access to the fusion reactor for the plot to destroy Gotham, Selina and Batman are finally able to act on their flirtatious relationship and kiss. Moreover, Miranda’s betrayal makes complete sense as Selina and Bruce are perfect for each other and it is only natural that they end up together. Moreover, Gordon and Batman have a final conversation. Gordon notes he never cared who Batman is but finally asks as the city should know who saved them. However, Batman reinforces the point of Batman is that it could be anyone and must remain a symbol. Nevertheless, Batman cryptically tells Gordon the truth by saying “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.” As a result, Gordon figures out Batman is Bruce Wayne as he recalls the scene from Batman Begins, thus linking the trilogy from beginning to end.

The rest of the movie is the reason TDKR is my favorite ending for any movie. As Batman is in the Bat hauling the nuclear bomb to sea, I come to the realization that Nolan may actually do it: it is the end of his trilogy and he is going to kill off Batman to end it. As the timer on the bomb ticks to 5 seconds, I start to concede that my worst fears have been realized and I begin getting depressed as I am convinced that not even Batman can escape from the blast radius of a nuclear bomb. Next, they cut to the scene of Bruce’s funeral at Wayne Manor. As only a few people know he is Batman, only Gordon, Blake, Fox, an Alfred attend the funeral. Gordon gives the perfect eulogy: “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people, rising from this abyss. I see the lives, for which I lay down my life: peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known”. The poetic eulogy is straight from the last two pages of A Tale of Two Cities. In that book, Sydney Carton is sacrificing his life in order to save the life of his doppelganger and husband to the woman he loves. After a life wasted in depravity, these final thoughts before he is killed by guillotine symbolize Carton’s redemption and the rise of Paris from the reign of terror caused by the French Revolution. Similarly in TDKR, it represents the redemption of Batman’s legacy as the people of Gotham finally know about his good deeds and the rise of Gotham after Bane’s reign of terror. As a result, the eulogy is the perfect parallel that connects both stories.

The moment that really duped me into believing that Batman died is when Alfred is alone at the graves of the Wayne family after the funeral. He is in tears, distraught, and apologizing to the grave of Thomas and Martha Wayne for the death of Bruce: “I’m so sorry. I failed you. You trusted me, and I failed you.” If I did not have LASIK surgery, I may have actually cried. Fortunately, Bruce fakes his death similar to the Dark Knight Returns and leaves clues for his friends that he is alive and well. First, Bruce leaves Blake with a bag with a GPS. It is left under Blake’s full legal name and his first name is Robin. As such, Nolan is able to successful incorporate a major character from the Batman mythology subtly without forcing the issue during the movie. The GPS device leads Blake to the Batcave as Bruce trusts him with his tools to take over for Batman, whether it is as Robin, Nightwing, or another Batman. For Fox, Bruce leaves proof that the autopilot was fixed by him thus implying that he ejected from the Bat before the explosion. For Gordon, Bruce fixes the Bat signal. Of course, I save the best for last. Following Alfred’s advice earlier in the movie, Bruce fakes his death to leave Gotham as it only brings him pain. As Alfred did during Bruce’s seven year disappearance, he goes on vacation in Florence and goes to the café he mentioned to Bruce. As Alfred pays the bill, he notices Bruce sitting at a table with Selina. Bruce does not say a word and simply gives Alfred a nod to acknowledge he is finally happy.

The perfect ending to a great trilogy.


Retroactive Review: Dark Knight Rises

Retroactive Review: Batman Begins

Pat Wong

About Pat Wong

Patrick is a contributor for Rookerville. He is an avid sports fan. Before joining Rookerville, he was part of a defunct New York Yankees message board, NYYankeefans, where he was its top poster and was inducted in its Hall of Fame for his contributions. Patrick is also a passionate fan of movies. He has enjoyed reading movie reviews over the years and is excited about the opportunity to review movies. Patrick is also a passionate foodie. He is Yelp Elite for three years in a row and shares his great finds in New York and his travels.


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