At the close of 2011, Warner Bros. hit us with a tease of 2012's biggest blockbuster event, the trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises." What's interesting about this trailer isn't what it reveals as much as what it hides and obscures. Like the six minute prologue shown on IMAX screens, it's certainly substantial as far as conveying tone, and yet it definitely does not illuminate very much about this movie at all.
We've been throwing around some ideas at the Playlist watercooler, and in trying to decipher this brief clip, here's what we've learned.
Christopher Nolan's Clever Misdirection
It appears at the start of this clip, as a child sings the Star Spangled Banner, that the trailer is cutting between two events, that being a football game for the local Gotham Rogues (played by the actual Pittsburgh Steelers) and a banquet of sorts. However, it may actually be three, as we see two separate banquets, one an event to commemorate Harvey Dent's passing held at a rebuilt Wayne Manor, the other a more conventional ballroom event. Focusing on these two gatherings, we only see Wayne at one, and he's very specifically walking with a cane, meeting both Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). Could this be later in the film, after a brief, brutal encounter with Bane? Or maybe the wear and tear of years of crime fighting?
Catwoman Is The 99%
"You think this can last," muses Selina Kyle, wearing a mask in a ballroom much like her predecessor Michelle Pfieffer in "Batman Returns." The question is, what is "this" that she's referring to? Following a shot of flower petals thrown from the balcony, it suggests Catwoman is referring to Bruce Wayne's extravagant wealth. Her speech about Wayne "living so large and leaving so little for the rest of us," dripping with the sort of venom we don't associate with Hathaway, is followed by a further scene of chaos. Shots of a mansion (maybe Wayne Manor?) being ransacked suggest someone's climbin' in yo' windows, snatchin' yo' people up, Gotham City. Could be the League Of Shadows, could just be looters. Following the Catwoman footage, the suggestion is that Kyle is behind it.
Bane And The Gang!
We see a number of jumpsuit-clad convicts emerge from a hole in the wall. Given that they seem fairly enthused to be carrying heavy artillery, their collective walk seems like a confident strut. In other words, they're not in the biggest hurry to leave prison, since it's probably been established that there's craziness spilling all over the streets at that moment. It looks bad enough that Batman's only going to do minimal damage to his enemy. Near the end of the trailer, Batman engages in a one-on-one fight with Bane on the steps of City Hall, but the duo is surrounded on all sides by bros throwing down with other bros. Clearly, Batman just figures some of these guys are going to have to take a few punches in the face. FOR JUSTICE.
When Gotham Is In Ashes, Wide Receivers Will Be The Only Ones Left
In addition to the looting, we get to see mass carnage and crowd violence spilling onto the streets of Gotham (an overhead shot from the prologue confirms a "300"-style throwdown) and, in the film's money shot, Gotham's football stadium torn asunder. As Steelers/Rogues wide receiver Hines Ward makes a run for it, the ground beneath him gives way, swallowing the defense whole. It's darkly comic, and wonderfully apocalyptic, with the suggestion that there isn't going to be any major sports in Gotham for a while. It's an attention-getter, for sure, and a sign perhaps that most of the material in this trailer is first-act stuff.
Also, congratulations, Hines Ward: you're now one of the few football players that geeks know by name. Please do not beat any of them up.
Bane's Plan Is To Hmmmrrrrmmmphh Frrrrrrghhhhghrfrffffff
Given that this is a Batman movie, it's weird that star Christian Bale's only line in this trailer is, "What does it mean?" Of course, perhaps he's responding to Bane, so loquacious in the prologue, who here gives a garbled reading of "When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die." Apparently executives are concerned about the complaints regarding Tom Hardy's muffled line readings, though Chris Nolan is sticking to his guns and is only considering minor alterations. On one level, it would be disappointing if we didn't understand most of what Bane was saying. On another level, the idea of a movie this big having such an indecipherable major character would be hilarious.
Bruce Wayne Needs A Cheeseburger
During an early, anguished chat with Alfred, and a later excursion into the heart of the League of Shadows' lair, Bruce is looking fairly skinny, gaunt even. Not only does he hear their chant, but they even provided a translator for him. Clearly, the League doesn't even care that Bruce Wayne is just hanging out over there. How big is this operation, anyway? We would say this might be a flashback to Wayne's earlier days with the League from the first film, but he looks to have the same body type in the first part of the trailer. When is this happening? What is the chronology of this thing? Keeping in mind Nolan's promise that this movie would occur eight years after the last picture, we have no idea what to think.
Everything will be answered when "The Dark Knight Rises" opens on July 20, 2012.