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'The Dark Knight Rises' Won't Reference The Joker At All, Plus More Revelations From Empire's Extensive Feature

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 5, 2012 11:25 AM
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That flying batmobile from the trailer? It's known simply as 'The Bat.'
For all the artistry of the films, it does have to sell some toys as well, and each series entry has seen Batman get to play with a new bit of kit. "Batman Begins" saw the 'tumbler' Batmobile (which is seemingly replicated by Bane in the new film), and "The Dark Knight" saw that split off into the motorcycle-like Batpod. This time around, trailers have shown glimpses of a new flying craft piloted by Bruce Wayne, which Nolan says is known by a simple name. "It is called The Bat. I spent a long time trying to figure out clever names for 'bat-something-that-would fly,' then you go: 'Oh, it's a bat.' It's very much based on a double-bladed helicopter idea, once again a realistic approach to military hardware. We had [visual effects supervisor Chris] Corbould and his guys build it full-scale and come up with this great driving rig for it so we could photograph it in real streets, and there's a big computer-graphics component to it as well. It's fun to take Batman to the next level in terms of his transportation and weaponry -- in terms of his ability to fight people." Production designer Nathan Crowley adds "There is a story reason why Batman needed an Osprey-Jump-Jet-Harrier-Apache beast! It doesn't really fly, but we felt the technology had finally caught up to the point where we could pull it off between FX and practical."

The Joker won't even be referenced in the film.
Sadly, the death of Heath Ledger means that we'll never know if The Joker would have figured into Nolan's plans for a third film. But despite some speculating that the director would nod to the character, he says there won't be a single reference to the clownish criminal. "We're not addressing The Joker at all. That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight. I didn't want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. that seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne's story. Not involving The Joker." Probably the right call to make, all in all.  

Everyone involved insists it's the end, but Christian Bale doesn't rule out further installments.
Much of the marketing and pre-release hype have focused on the film being the end to Nolan's trilogy. Indeed, Goyer says that the film started with a germ of an idea for the ending, one that remains intact in the finished film, and which the writer, when he saw it, "got a complete lump in my throat." Most involved are adamant that this is the big finale, drawing a line on the story with a definitive finale: "It's the right way to end it -- to blow the whole thing up" says Jonah Nolan. "I think with almost every other franchise it's a mistake to try and keep those plates spinning. You want stakes. You want tectonic plates to shift. And as a writer you wanna feel like you've worked on a complete story, with a beginning, a middle and an end." And the director certainly seems to be cutting his ties with the series, saying "It's an incredibly fun arena to work in and incredibly rewarding, so I will look back on it very fondly. But I'm done with it." That being said, all involved are realistic about Warner's future plans for the character: David Goyer says "It would be ridiculous to expect that Warner Bros. wouldn't attempt to do something." And Christian Bale says that, while his experience on "Terminator: Salvation" makes him cautious, he'd be game for a fourth if Nolan was: "My understanding is that this is the last one... I've had that experience with another thing of thinking a fourth one could work and it didn't really happen -- and that's a thorn in my side. So if Chris came to me with a script and said, 'You know what? There is another story,' then I would love the challenge of making a fourth one work."

"The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters on July 20th. Tickets go on sale Monday, we believe.

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  • Christopherr Nolann | July 13, 2012 7:11 AMReply

    I think you just need to calm down. I couldn't even be bothered reading the rhubarb you wrote. He's just excited about his film. Everyone who creates something that they feel very proud of will almost always speak so fondly and highly of it. Just shut up, mate.

  • Adam | July 23, 2012 3:37 PM

    "Just shut up, mate."

    That's a pathetic excuse for intelligent debate; it shows you are emotionally underdeveloped.

  • Adam | June 7, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    Why report Nolan's attempt to elevate himself to the level of Lang without comment? We are comparing Nolan, a director of comic book films, to Lang, a serious artist interested in illuminating the problems of society. One thing stands out: Lang's art was informed by his experience with the contradictions of Weimer Germany and the rising power of fascism. The original name of his truly epic police procedural, M, was Murderers Among Us, but the Nazis forced him to change it because of the thinly veiled critique of fascism. Where, in all of Nolan's work, do we see a coming to terms with the pressing issues of his day?

  • Gabe | June 16, 2012 7:49 AM


  • Adam | June 7, 2012 3:09 PM

    I'd also like to add that when a critic like the one above takes the comparison with Lang at face value he or she greatly depreciates the bravery and vision of the latter's work. It is slanderous, reductive, and sadly, points to a growing trend hell bent on supplanting yesterday's film heroes with today's milquetoast.

    There is no d0ubt that Nolan and Co. are technical masters, but where do they stand on the issues of today? What does their "art" really amount to? Some may say art doesn't have to answer, or at least grapple with, contemporary problems. But then it's just an escape, one after another, without end.

    For sure, there are conflicts, problems, issues in his movies. But they are all infinitesimal in comparison to the forces driving social inequality. At best, the conflicts in his movies are the product of an imagination chasing its own tail, not artistic representations of real world problems which are destroying people's lives, right now, all over the world.

    Nolan's films are not important; they are mindless, overlong chunks of entertainment that extract us from our shared history, not only by ignoring how we got here but by supplanting today's problems with arbitrary ones. This approach, taken by virtually all of today's successful filmmakers, sucks all importance out of the art form thereby suspending us in a kind of cognitive formaldehyde and destroying any hope of progress toward a more equitable society.

    If we got one Nolan for every 100 Langs I'd hardly be as indignant, but the opposite is true, so I am.

    I apologize for what may amount to an incredibly disjointed argument, yet no one is discussing these issues in the film arts. We may disagree, but let's dig deeper and ask more of ourselves in our appraisal of popular art and entertainment.

  • alex | June 6, 2012 8:59 AMReply

    this, would be the movie event of the century

  • Milan | June 5, 2012 11:06 PMReply

    It would be interesting if it emulated the end of 'A Tale of Two Cities' in some capacity.

  • cirkusfolk | June 5, 2012 3:55 PMReply

    I love that Nolan himself is calling the film "an epic" an making some pretty bold statements regarding its scope. Like you mentioned, he's usually not one to toot his own horn despite having very good reason to do so considering his previous films. He never called The Dark Knight or Inception epic even though they were. By him saying this is his biggest picture yet gives me so much hope for the film. Although, I do recall an article after The Dark Knight came out that had him saying he couldn't possibly make a bigger film than it. He said a balloon can only be blown up so much and eventually the air has to come back out. This led me to believe he planned for the third batman to be smaller film but apparently he changed his mind. Again, a lot of filmmakers say pretty big things about the movies they jut made and are promoting, but I honestly think Nolan doesn't have to sell his movie and is just being genuine. Like when he said he believes they truly made te best conclusion they possibly could at the MTV awards. Can't wait!

  • ska-triumph | June 5, 2012 2:27 PMReply

    Because of this, I may actually buy an EMPIRE issue for once. Also wondering when will I get Zimmer & Co's soundtrack/score release by this very site...?

  • Colon | June 5, 2012 2:26 PMReply

    Biggest thing since silent cinema? Mhm. Quite a statement. Maybe film history is his weak spot?


  • Adam | June 7, 2012 12:11 PM


    Aren't you being sycophantic? Colon is rightly scrutinizing a ridiculously broad and general statement. Also, he says it just weeks before the release, making it seem like a cynical PR attempt to generate controversy? Does Nolan really believe what he says? I think not.

  • razgul | June 5, 2012 3:50 PM

    He doesn't have a weak spot. And it's definitely not film history.

  • MatchesMalone | June 5, 2012 1:09 PMReply

    I guess this could be taken as confirmation that Bruce Wayne will NOT be dying in this film:
    "So if Chris came to me with a script and said, 'You know what? There is another story,' then I would love the challenge of making a fourth one work.'"

  • Yod | June 5, 2012 11:46 PM

    Either that or Bale's fooled some dumb people.

  • Addison | June 5, 2012 3:28 PM

    Hahaa so true, though i personally never bought into the various rumors people put out. Its christopher nolan, you think he is doing something with his movies and is the complete opposie & then some....

  • Chip | June 5, 2012 12:48 PMReply

    "Al Jonson"? Jeez.

  • rodie | June 5, 2012 12:47 PMReply

    I love that Nolan wants these films to stand on their own! I love that each one features a different look to Gotham and very different inspirations in terms of aesthetics and story.

    That said, Batman Begins ends with a big reference to the Joker that was not technically necessary to the story of Begins, but is a great scene that adds to so much to the movie and points to the theme of escalation.

    Also, The Dark Knight did include several subtle references to R'as and the events of Batman Begins:

    1. Bruce quotes R'as to Alfred: "Criminals aren't complicated," or something to that effect...
    2. Alfred mentions Wayne Manor needing to be rebuilt, which recalls R'as burning it down.
    3. There is a new Wayne Tower, which recalls the train crashing into the old one and R'as' death.
    4. And of course, Dr. Crane's appearance and arrest.

  • Chris138 | June 5, 2012 12:30 PMReply

    In all fairness, The Dark Knight didn't mention Ra's al Ghul at all in The Dark Knight and nobody seemed to be bothered by that. The only connection that movie had to the first one was the Scarecrow's brief cameo in the beginning. Nolan seems to want these movies to work as stand alone features and have Bruce Wayne try and move on with each story, so it makes sense that he wouldn't be addressing the Joker here.

  • Chris138 | June 5, 2012 12:31 PM

    God, I wasn't looking at what I was writing there. Definitely meant to say: The Dark Knight didn't mention Ra's al Ghul at all and nobody seemed to be bothered by that.

  • rodie | June 5, 2012 12:15 PMReply

    Look, I'm all for being reverent to Heath, and I'm not some Joker fanboy who is devastated that the Joker won't be seen or talked about in TDKR, but I really don't like Nolan's logic and reasoning behind outright not considering a reference or some form of appearance by the Joker in this film. It seems so un-Nolan-like. Of course its tragic on a personal level, but a storyteller of his order needs to be able to detach the actor from the character and at least creatively consider how a Joker reference or appearance in TDKR could have benefited the story he's trying to tell. Not even exploring that avenue (even if it leads to the same conclusion) is a mistake.

  • Kiriakos | June 7, 2012 1:29 AM

    I agree with RODIE-it is illogical not to at least reference the Joker in TDKR. The Joker was a very significant character in Nolan's story(he killed Wayne's childhood friend, convinced Harvey Dent to accept chaos and creating Two-Face, killed a bunch of people, and put a knife to Gotham's neck). Ledger gave us an amazing performance(one that Hardy or Hathaway could only dream of), so to not even acknowledge the Joker is really a failure on Nolan's part. It is very sad that we lost Heath Ledger, but you can't erase a key figure in a story without providing an explanation. Eight years wouldn't erase the memory of a psychotic, criminal clown blowing up a hospital in my mind if I lived in Gotham during Joker's reign of terror. I mean, really. Gordon got a job promotion because he helped catch the Joker(who escaped soon after, but anyway, lol), so Nolan-what are you thinking? It's not feasible to forget the one man who destroyed Batman's image.

  • ska-triumph | June 5, 2012 2:30 PM

    Being that the time between TDK and TDKR is around 8 years (a generation in city-movie life), it's feasible. Bane isn't about plain old anarchy; Batman is persona non grata/still on the lam.

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