Three of the biggest movies of 2012 - The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man have already released "teasers" - short trailers whose purpose is to declare "Hey! This exists!" to whomever out there was not already aware of that fact. They also drop cryptic story hints to create free publicity by keeping devoted fans, bloggers and internet movie critics talking about vaguely plausible minutiae as though it were actual news. Let's take a look!

The Dark Knight Rises

Firstly, how about you watch it?

The obvious joke, of course, is that Dark Knight was such as massive success - and its follow up so hugely anticipated - that its ad campaign doesn't need to show anything other than Batman and a release date. Even still, it's kind of surprising to see that that's more-or-less what they've delivered. There are two very brief glimpses of the inexplicably prominent new heavy Bane, one brief look at Batman (still wearing that overdesigned-monstrosity of a costume from the last movie), a whole bunch of flashbacks to Batman Begins, some guy (Bane?) crawling out of a hole, Commissioner Gordon lying injured in a hospital bed and a visualization of the key art image of a crumbling skyline forming the bat symbol. Let's face it - if not for the association to what was already one of next year's most anticipated movies, this would be a serious snooze.

I'd have to say the closest thing to intriguing about it is how heavily it re-introduces elements from the first movie. People tend to forget that Batman Begins wasn't a huge hit for Warner Bros. at first, and outside of a cameo by The Scarecrow, the more popular Dark Knight makes little reference to its events. So it's pretty surprising to see this one leaning heavily on voiceover dialogue from Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul - leader of the anarchist ninja cult "The League of Shadows" from the first film.

The intrigue is even more so when one considers bigger (however unlikely) implications of what it could mean if what this teaser is teasing is actually the reappearance of the aforementioned "League" to the story. In Begins, they were an international army large enough to conscript supervillians and gangsters into their grand, societal collapse schemes - even with their leader (supposedly) dead, that's an awful lot of ninjas out there who still know that Bruce Wayne is Batman and should be pretty pissed at him. Also, fans of Batman comics and especially The Animated Series from the 90s will recall that Ra's Al Ghul's whole shtick is that he doesn't stay dead for long: a quick dip in a primordial chemical bath called a "Lazarus Pit" and he's right as rain - and has been so for centuries. Nolan's thus far stridently anti-magical Bat-universe sidestepped the issue by having Batman kill a different guy who claimed to be Ra's Al Ghul, only to have Neeson show up later to imply that the name is just a title they pass around to keep the "immortality" legend alive.

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