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Decoding 'The Dark Knight Rises' Teaser Trailer

by Edward Davis
July 19, 2011 8:18 AM
33 Comments
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Neeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrd! Ok, we'll admit, we don't normally do this type of thing, but there's been so much bitching about the apparent lack of goods delivered in "The Dark Knight Rises" teaser trailer (at least on our blog) that this writer figured he'd deliver his take on the trailer. And because our two dads said it was ok.

Ok, folks have felt somewhat underwhelmed. Even our man Kevin Jagernauth seemed slightly unimpressed, noting a lot of the footage was old, from "Batman Begins" and said, "it seems the rush to cobble something together has taken the inspiration out of it." It's true to some extent, Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" just started shooting a few weeks ago, so that secretive and measured team is not really ready to reveal all their goods just yet. However, with Comic-Con 2011 starting on Thursday and to some extent Wednesday, the nerd herd demands that something is shown.

While many have complained that that something is chintzy, this writer thinks Nolan moves to the beat of his own drum and is only going to reveal what he wants. Still, some have said zero plot has been revealed -- again, at least on our blog -- and that seems flagrantly wrong.

"If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely," Henri Ducard/Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neeson) says at the top of the trailer, "A legend. Mr. Wayne. A legend!" These are quotes taken directly from "Batman Begins" the first film in Nolan's trilogy. It seems this is very obviously the third or fourth sign now indicating that "The Dark Knight Rises" will come full circle with the story that began with 'Begins.'

There's been some pretty obvious signs too. Josh Pence has already signed on to play a young Ra’s Al-Ghul in flashback scenes, and Ghul's return in some shape or form has already been let out of the bag. "The Dark Knight" ends with Batman purposely taking the blame for Harvey Dent's death; choosing to preserve the necessary lie that he was a beacon of hope and righteousness in Gotham and turning him into a martyr for good, rather than reveal that Dent lost his marbles, became Two-Face and tried to murder Police Commissioner Jim Gordon's family. So Batman is hunted, and instead of being Gotham's savior is turned into a pariah. The bat signal is torn down and a new era begins in Batman's story.

"The Dark Knight Rises" seems to pick up where this story left off, but maybe a few years later. In one of the rare few pieces of new footage we see a dying Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) in a hospital bed, pleading for the Batman to return. "We were in this together and then you were gone," he says "And now this evil rises. The Batman has to come back." These comments seem to suggest that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hung up the cowl for several months, or possibly -- to make this story even more poignant -- several years.

"What if he doesn't exist anymore?" is the reply and interestingly enough it's hard to tell if that reply comes from Batman or Bruce Wayne. If it's the latter, he's revealed his identity beyond Alfred (Michael Caine), Lucius (Morgan Freeman) and the late Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Either way, Batman/Bruce Wayne must feel responsible for Rachel's death in the previous film, so it's easy to see why the Batman would want to call it quits after the defeated ending of "The Dark Knight," coupled with the fact that he is now wanted by the law and not on the side of public opinion.

So there are lots and lots of (some might say rather obvious) clues where "The Dark Knight Rises" story is going. What is this great evil that has risen? Well, Ra's al Ghul's original plan was to essentially burn Gotham to the ground like his shadowy League of Shadows cabal had done previously to many other great civilizations that had become bloated and fat.

"Gotham's time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice," he said in "Batman Begins." "It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we've performed for centuries. Gotham...must be destroyed."

With a young Ghul entering into the picture and rumors of Neeson returning, it again seems pretty clear that Nolan is trying to steer the film full circle to its origins. Is Bane (played by Tom Hardy) a new superhuman pawn-thug in the League Of Shadows' greater scheme perhaps now run by Matthew Modine who is said to play one of the key villains in the picture? (there is a brief shot of Bane in the trailer as well).

Gotham is virtually crumbling at the end of this trailer. And two more key questions. What is that creeping, Nazi-like chanting at the end of the trailer and who is that guy standing behind Batman holding what appears to be a rifle? There's still lots to discern from this trailer and surely there's many more surprises, but this writer thinks it's evident that the plot is definitely starting to take shape.

One last thing. "The Dark Knight" seemed to be a story about Harvey Dent and The Joker and Batman and Bruce Wayne received some short thrift. We're hoping Jonah and Christopher Nolan's screenplay rectifies this for the final go-round. The epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend arrives July 20, 2012.

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33 Comments

  • Connor Macgregor | July 22, 2011 11:31 AMReply

    Why does the blogger say that Jim Gordan is dying ? he doesn't know at all if he is dying, so why say it ?

  • Galibier | July 21, 2011 8:26 AMReply

    1- Final shot Batman...no Bale.

    2-Gary Oldman talks hospital its flashback.

    3- Run time...170 mins.

    4- TDKR must be crepuscular.

    5- The Gotham city finally will be a character.

    6-Please don't look too much Bane. There will be one surprise.

  • Bakunin | July 20, 2011 7:35 AMReply

    No theories on Talia al Ghul? She's basically listed already as Marion Cotillard's character in TDKR's IMDB page.

  • Abner | July 20, 2011 5:47 AMReply

    let's talk about how much we're talking about this trailer here, Badass Digest, Hollywood Elsewhere. Mission accomplished for Warner Bros. Done.

  • Joker's Lady | July 20, 2011 5:10 AMReply

    why do people want everything showed to them in a teaser trailer? so they can just criticize how bad it is? I had a heart attack of excitement watching this for the first time and every scene has opened theories that make the brain work like crazy. I loved every shot (old and new) and want to see it now!

  • rrruhland | July 20, 2011 4:51 AMReply

    I put together this trailer without the beginning footage, and without the ending tagline "Epic Conclusion" or whatever it was.

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAmoTZ7tr1E[/url]

    Yah, it was very simple to do, but necessary to me because I thought the beginning detracted from it and made it less epic.

  • Abner | July 20, 2011 4:11 AMReply

    There's been "signal phrase" dialogue throughout the series so far. You can't hate one scene in a ninety second trailer for offering more. You really can't.

  • Brian G | July 20, 2011 3:35 AMReply

    Nolin has been well-suited for weaving in big pieces of the Batman mythology, and the conversation between Gordan and Wayne is reminescient of an early scene in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns". There was a strong indication at the end of "The Dark Knight" that there would be at least thematical similarities with Miller's series (a Batman who is no longer wanted by various authorities in Gotham and who is being tracked down). To throw in that he's been gone for a while makes sense.(Also, the ambiguity of whether or not Batman as a vigilante is a helpful figure was played with a bit in "Dark Knight" so there is definitely some Miller influence there.)

    I think a lot of the analysis is lined up well. Full circle with the first film seems to be right on based on the teaser and from what we know about who has been cast. I don't think Gordan is dying (maybe he's been poisoned which would connect the oxygen mask he's wearing to the filtered mask Bane is wearing), and I think Wayne has told him he was Batman. If Batman isn't around anymore, it would have to be Wayne talking to him.

    I think the main issue of why the teaser so underwhelmed was that there were already a multitude of fan teasers that had a similar structure with footage from the first two films. I'm okay with it, though. The movie doesn't come out until a year from tomorrow and I was just pleasantly surprised to see something more than an animated logo display.

  • drdang | July 20, 2011 3:29 AMReply

    OK, I was one of the people who kinda hated this trailer. And I don't know about the others but my reason wasn't the lack of footage at all. It's how this trailer is cut and captioned. Its cheap. Look at the teaser for Inception, that had about 10 sec of footage. The teaser for TDK had none. Those trailers, especially Inception's looked like they were cut by Nolan himself. Which Nolan trailer before this has used ridiculous captions like 'epic', 'hero', 'journey'? Plus the Gordon scene even looks like a rough cut which probably won't be in the final film. Seriously, 'now this evil rises'? Imagine that spoken in Jon Stewart's 'old jewish man' voice. Who wrote that?! They had to put the word 'Rises' in there didn't they? So yeah the teaser could have the exact same images and I would've loved it. The aforementioned two teasers wee works of art that I wanted watch a 1000 times. This one could be one of those flash ads that run in the corner of websites, it must be aborted.

  • Edward Davis | July 20, 2011 2:07 AMReply

    For the record, i said "obvious" three times in this piece. It's pretty clear to some hardcore fans, but this piece wasn't for them.

  • Thislalife | July 19, 2011 10:23 AMReply

    Probably the craziest rumor I've heard about this film is that JGL is going to take up the bat mantle after Batman is shattered. Would be mind blowing!

  • Paul B. | July 19, 2011 9:57 AMReply

    What about the guy crawling out of the well at 0:52? Any ideas on that?

  • Abner | July 19, 2011 9:29 AMReply

    @Edward Davis Agree 100% with *that* interpretation.

  • rodie | July 19, 2011 9:25 AMReply

    My guess is that Bruce has rebuilt Wayne Manor with the "modifications" mentioned in BB, as in a sweet Batcave set-up, but because of the events at the end of TDK, Batman is basically out of action, trying to figure out where he fits now in Gotham and how best to help Gotham.

    The Miranda character will inspire him to be more like his father and improve the city through charity work. Catwoman will inspire him to fight crime on the streets again. Bane will force him to confront evil and his own fear.

  • rodie | July 19, 2011 9:16 AMReply

    I didn't see Modine either...Where???

  • Tan | July 19, 2011 9:04 AMReply

    You can notice Bruce's hand holding the rail of Gordon's bed. So he does reveal himself.

  • Edward Davis | July 19, 2011 9:00 AMReply

    @josh yeah, he seems winded. I hope they don't follow that Batman's back gets broken nonsense, from the Bane stories ,but i'm sure Batman is going to have his ass handed to him at least once.

    @chaz, from the looks of lots of set photos, it appears that Wayne Manor has been rebuilt and you will get your wish.

  • mike | July 19, 2011 8:59 AMReply

    am i missing something? where is the quick shot of matthew modine in the trailer?

  • chaz bono | July 19, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    Honestly, though, not to nit pick on Nolan, his holiness, but I'd like to see Batman fully set up and operating from Wayne Manor, the Batcave, etc, (you know, actually being batman) for at least a movie before more people learn his identity and everything...I'd like to see Batman at least have a chance to somewhat establish himself as a crime fighter in Gotham.

    Seems like the Manor and the Batcave are actually in this movie, but then again, it also seems like Bane is in the Batcave...which is speculation, but obviosuly Ra's Al Ghul knew his identity...

  • josh | July 19, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    One thing, the bit at the end, where we see Bane approaching Batman, it's very interesting to me. Bane walks steadily, fearlessly. Batman steps backwards, arms ready to fight, but loosely and in a state of fear. He doesn't stand his ground. This film will most definitely come full circle for Batman/Bruce Wayne. He has to face fear again.

  • Edward Davis | July 19, 2011 8:49 AMReply

    I dunno if he's "dying" per se, but if you wanted to elevated the stakes of this final film, fucking up Gotham's last hero (Gordon) is pretty good motivation to bring Batman back, no?

  • chaz bono | July 19, 2011 8:49 AMReply

    Marrk, if only Matthew Vaughn was on this film, that way Batman could be "MUTANT AND PROUD"

  • Abner | July 19, 2011 8:47 AMReply

    Is Gordon dying? I just thought he got roughed up in all the madness or more specifically, by Bane in particular.

  • Edward Davis | July 19, 2011 8:45 AMReply

    @chaz, but no really. This is all just motivated by reading yesterday's comments and being puzzled that some people were confused.

  • Marrrk | July 19, 2011 8:42 AMReply

    Thanks, Eddie. although, full disclosure, i got the gist of it, i just thought it was poorly written. i did wonder if there was maaaaaaybe something i missed, but hopefully it's just taken out of context and will play better in the film.

  • Edward Davis | July 19, 2011 8:40 AMReply

    2 clicks.

  • chaz bono | July 19, 2011 8:39 AMReply

    it's OK. You got my page view.

    Pretty slick of you to figure out that Nolan is trying to "steer the film full circle to its origins."

    What gave that away? that half the trailer is made up of dialogue and seen from the franchise's origins?

  • Edward Davis | July 19, 2011 8:38 AMReply

    God, i thought I was dorky.

    "We were in this together -- fighting crime -- and then you vanished. And now a new greater evil has descended upon us, so great that you need to return, dude, like stat."

    the end.

  • Marrrk | July 19, 2011 8:35 AMReply

    "We were in THIS together and then we you were gone,” he says “And now THIS evil rises..."

    can someone more knowledgable than myself explain all THIS to me? or is THIS just another example of Nolan's lazy dialogue?

  • Cory Everett | July 19, 2011 8:35 AMReply

    Thank you for this.

    It looked to me like the person in the background was hanging from a rope but it's impossible to make out what's going on there.

    I love this teaser and this is right on: "Nolan moves to the beat of his own drum and is only going to reveal what he wants."

  • jimmiescoffee | July 19, 2011 8:34 AMReply

    i remember when i saw little old Chris's 'memento' at my local art house. dude was a mystery. i was 13. i've loved watching his rise to a mythic figure. maybe the most methodical and calculated genius in film.

  • Edward Davis | July 19, 2011 8:32 AMReply

    Pretty much. Read our comments on the last story.

  • chaz bono | July 19, 2011 8:30 AMReply

    "decoding" aka you just saying what happens in the trailer.

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