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Gotham's Reckoning: Deconstructing The New Trailer For 'The Dark Knight Rises'

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 1, 2012 11:39 AM
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Dark Knight Rises Poster 2

Nothing is guaranteed to make the internet light up quite the same way as a new trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises," the third and final Batman film from Christopher Nolan, following "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight." No one, bar perhaps J.J. Abrams, has proved quite as expert at teasing audiences with promos without giving the game away, and the latest, curiously elegaic trailer for the film has followed the same path, making people ever more excited about the movie while still leaving them with plenty of questions about what's to come.

We've delved deep into the latest clip to analyze the hints, teases and theories displayed in the two-and-a-half-minute trailer. Are we right? Are we barking up the wrong tree entirely? Do you have your own suppositions about what we're seeing? Let us know in the comments section. "The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters on July 20th, and be warned: there may be spoilers ahead.

Dark Knight Rises Broken Bruce
"Hope Is Lost"
As a character, Bane is best known for breaking Batman's back in the "Knightfall" storyline, and ever since it was announced that's who Tom Hardy would be playing, speculation has mounted that Nolan would be mining that storyline for material. We're not sure if that's what'll end up happening exactly, but it's clear that Batman ends up at Bane's mercy, prostrate and wounded, and told he wasn't killed because "Your punishment must be more severe." We're a little doubtful of the back-breaking, only because he seems to be climbing up that impossible well-like prison, presumably out of captivity (or is that a "Batman Begins"-style flashback?). What's more interesting is how long he's gone: we know that eight years have passed since "The Dark Knight," but when that child asks John Blake "Do you think he's coming back?," it could indicate a longer absence at the hands of Bane too. Bale certainly looks significantly older in that earlier, bearded shot than he does elsewhere. And clearly, a bigger sacrifice might be in the cards (unless it's a feint from Nolan), with our hero ominously saying, "Not everything. Not yet."

Dark Knight Rises John Blake
"Faith Is Broken"
Nolan's "Inception" star Joseph Gordon-Levitt got only a single shot in the previous trailer, but he's front and center here, and looks to be giving a strong performance. Any thought of him being a secret villain (or sidekick) seems to have been severely misplaced. If anything, he seems to be Harvey Dent's successor, a purely good cop fighting for the city just as much as Batman. He's clearly getting in on the action (at the 1:17 mark, that's him getting pushed down a rubble slope by a special forces type played by "Stargate SG-1" star Christopher Judge, who's presumably one of Bane's acolytes), and seems to be serving as Catwoman's conscience to some degree. Whether he turns out to don the costume of Robin, or Azazel, or Nightwing, or Batman himself, is kept shrouded at this point (we'd wager no to all of the above), but he's clearly on the side of the angels throughout.

Dark Knight Rises Bridge Explosion
"A Fire Will Rise"
Perhaps the biggest new effects shot is of that bridge being blown, and we think it could be key. Gotham's island status makes it vulnerable, and being sealed in by panic has run through all the films to date: the Bridge to the Narrows being sealed in "Batman Begins," and The Joker's bridge/tunnel/ferry trickery in "The Dark Knight." Has Nolan taken it one step further here? The bridge explosion, along with other imagery, is reminiscent of the 1999 "No Man's Land" arc in the comics, which saw an earthquake isolating and sealing off Gotham from the mainland. Could Nolan be borrowing aspects from that storyline? Whatever weapon he uses for the stadium attack certainly hints that it could come into play, as does the general "Escape From New York" vibe that we see throughout.

Dark Knight Rises Catwoman
"I'm Adaptable"
Reduced to only a few brief appearances in the last trailer, Anne Hathaway is pretty central here as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and we have to say, any doubts we had about her in the part are long gone; her snippets are very impressive indeed. It's obviously a different interpretation to previous incarnations, but it's clear the essential ambiguity of the character has been preserved. She seems to be in on Bane's plot to some degree, as she has personal knowledge of him with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character asking her "Why did you run? Bane?" to which she replies "You should be as afraid of him as I am." From her teary face in that scene, she may even be the one who betrays Batman in some way. Either way, she's presumably redeemed at some point, because by trailer's end, she's kicking ass and taking names alongside Batman.

Dark Knight Rises Prison Somersault
"You Sound Like You're Looking Forward To It"
One of the more intriguing snippets of the trailer sees an orange-suited prisoner pulling a somersault, aided by a cellmate. A closer examination reveals it to be a woman, and our natural assumption is that this is Selina Kyle. Is this our introduction to the character? Is she a con, breaking out of prison? Or, given that the earlier trailer showed Bane's thugs breaking a prison wide open, is she aiding that attempt somehow? We suspect the latter, suggesting a major setpiece relatively early on in the film.

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  • palmer | May 6, 2012 8:26 PMReply

    catwoman sides with batman as she feels she has betrayed him. the love interest marian tate warns bruce of bane and she manages to get the secrets to wayne enterprise batman is the strength that gotham relies on hence the 'backbone' which gets broken. everyone knows if your back gets broken you end up crippled bruce wheel chair and walking stick, courtesy of bane. He makes a recovery and comes back to defeat Bane with catwoman beside and gotham behind him. he retires but has possible side kick called Robin (levitts character) should he ever need to come back to help gotham. why do they have to just make three films whats with the public and this three films and thats it? why cant films run and run? if its a success then carry on. brilliant trailer and music and soundbites. love the bit "You Don't Owe These People Any More. You've Given Them Everything" and batmans reply its so defiant and epiphany of truth and justice makes me wanna stand up, chest out, fist clenched chin up head turned slightly sideways kind of look!

  • michele | May 3, 2012 5:22 PMReply

    From his black and white universe, Mr. Gray has been sent to probe our technicolor world: (

  • Jdog | May 2, 2012 5:32 PMReply

    I think batman will find a way to fake his own death at the end, similar to the end of "The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel. This way, he can sort of retire and hang up the cape and still have the ability to come back if Gotham needs him. Just a thought.

  • Warren C | May 2, 2012 1:26 PMReply

    The answers are out there. We have to piece it all together. Bane, in a still, is shown holding a picture of Harvey Dent. This is how he draws batman back out. He doesn't care that Bruce is Batman. He probably even knows. But he not only wants to burn Gotham, he wants to break its back. Revealing Dent as the fallen from the events 8 years ago brings back the hope that Batman is still there for them and going to protect them. We can expect, early in the film, for Bruce/Batman and Bane to square off. Bane will defeat Batman. Not killing him though. He wants to make bruce watch Gotham burn. The prison we see Bruce in is somehow linked with the league where Bruce is sent where he cannot save Gotham. Meanwhile, in Gotham, Kyle/Catwoman, turns vs Bane. Knowing the insides of the wayne/batman enterprise, she takes JGL into the bat suit to hold up the symbol for the city of gotham. Bane, thus kills JGL for the city of gotham to see that he has killed Batman, thus destroying the symbol. (kyle/catwoman could be pulling one on jgl to have him get in the suit so bane can kill him, thus keeping bruce alive to watch gotham burn). Bruce has to escape from the prison, and rise up to take on bane. The catwoman turning on JGL scenario comes into question here bc she is seen with batman. Shes always been a tricky character. Al Guhl's daughter is definitly in the mix. She is softening up Bruce to get inside of wayne enterprises to gain access to the technology it possesses. Possibly the plans to the cave. This could be the insight to have kyle gain jgls trust, lead him to the cave, have him dress as the bat, and bane kill him. Batman/Bruce is going to have to kill Bane. Bane is smart. He is physical. Batman/bruce, to stop him, is simply going to have to eliminate him. I think the day scene of the two fighting is the end. The city is going to see Batman/bruce kill bane. Batman will have given up his innocence, his one rule, to save gotham. He will have to hang up the suit. No longer can he go on because he broke his own code. However, his character as Bruce lives on, keeping the League away from gotham knowing he can provide for the city to defend itself. There are certainly holes in my theory. Especially with the kyle/bane/al ghul/jgl scenario. Would love some feed back/thoughts

  • Brad | May 1, 2012 4:45 PMReply

    I was just curious but did anyone else feel in Bale's earliest bearded scene that perhaps he appeared to be rolling on something or in something. Perhaps a wheelchair.

  • Richard | May 1, 2012 4:35 PMReply

    It's always nice to see a quick mention of William Fichtner.

  • Glass | May 1, 2012 4:25 PMReply

    Batman NEEDS to die at the end of this. Seriously. Why not go all the way if this is Nolan's solid conclusion?

  • JORDY | May 2, 2012 10:16 PM

    Batman can't die, which has been stressed throughout Nolan's tenure. Batman is a symbol; Bruce Wayne can die, but the Bat can't...

  • ANON | May 2, 2012 2:18 PM

    Batman doesn't die...

  • berk | May 1, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    The scenes with the bearded Bale all seem to be flashbacks to his time in the foreign prison in Batman Begins, especially the chanting "Rise" one from the previous trailer. He could have come into contact with Bane back then, maybe even being the reason Bane now wears the breathing apparatus.

  • jamaicanbat | July 15, 2012 6:51 PM

    this is just retarded really a brain fart...........did you not see alfred in the was alfred globe trotting with bruce..think before you type mon!!!!!!!!!

  • cirkusfolk | May 1, 2012 1:04 PMReply

    Also, I find it neat that Ben Mendelsohn is in this film with Gary Oldman considering he reminded me of Gary Oldman the whole time I watched Animal Kingdom.

  • Alan | May 2, 2012 4:47 AM

    That's funny, cos - of all the performances in that film - Guy Pearce's role as the honest, tired cop reminded me of Gary Oldman's Gordon.

  • cirkusfolk | May 1, 2012 1:01 PMReply

    The one thing I can't figure out about Catwoman is that she seems to be against Bruce Wayne but for Batman. Examples of this is during her dance with Wayne she talks about a storm coming (against the rich) and how they will all fall etc. But then when she speaks to Batman, she seems very sympathetic toward him by stating that he doesn't owe the city anything else because he's given all he can. To which Batman says the most forboding line in the new trailer, "Not everything, not yet." Does this mean he is going to sacrifice his life for the city?

  • Huffy | May 1, 2012 1:24 PM

    Characters develop during films. Trailers cut and paste footage from various points in said development. Seems pretty obvious what Catwoman's ark is going to be: against Wayne/Batman initially until having a change of heart after understanding him and/or witnessing Bane's brutality.

  • Lawrence | May 1, 2012 12:53 PMReply

    Epic! I really liked Anne Hathaway.

  • oogle monster | May 1, 2012 12:50 PMReply

    camoflage-tinged Tumblers... wasn't Cotillard spotted filming a scene coming out of something like that?

  • DG | May 1, 2012 12:45 PMReply

    JGL is going to be a cop aligned with BATMAN/Gordon but will be out doing recon work during the whole Bane siege. When communicating information back he'll use the code name Azrael. Just a guess anyways.

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