Y’know, it just this second dawned on me how pretentious it is that the later two Christopher Nolan Batman movies don’t have the word “Batman” anywhere in their titles – as though the filmmaker is standing off-screen, nose upturned, sniffing, “Feh! No, no, no… ‘Bat-Man!?’ Bah! Sounds far too comic booky for my very, very serious, very, very realistic crime dramas about the man with the pointy ears and cape.”
Oh, calm down. I kid because I love. Nolan and company are very talented, and as eager as I am to see Hollywood put the grim and gritty superhero thing to bed the same way comics did after The Decade That Must Not Be Named, no one can seriously deny they’ve done a good job with it. In any case, there’s a new full trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, in which both Batman and his director will face their most insurmountable challenges ever. For Batman, maintaining his composure in the presence of Anne Hathaway in a latex catsuit. For Nolan, trying to make something useful out of one the lamest comic book characters ever created.
Here we go, frame by frame. (NOTE: Time stamps based on the Apple.com version of the video.)
00:08 Little kid singing at a football game. In the business, we call this a cold open – i.e., starting off in a place where the audience is unable to discern with specificity exactly what they’re watching until a familiar character/location/motif suddenly appears. Given what directly follows, this would be crazy effective, if the succession of Warner Bros./DC Comics/etc. logos preceding it didn’t totally give it away.
00:11 One of the teams is apparently The Rogues. I’d really love it if they were the visiting team, and from Star City. Because I am a nerd. (Also: The “R” in Rogues seems to be done in Robin’s typeface – make of that what you will.)
00:13 – 00:16 Given the setting, if you don’t already know that this is Tom Hardy as Bane one could be forgiven for assuming this is simply an average Raiders fan.
00:17 – 00:19 Stately Wayne Manor, one assumes. Someone is walking with a cane. We are meant to infer (though it may be a fake-out) that this is Bruce Wayne, recuperating from the events of a story arc that I promise you is not as awesome as you remember it being. Question: Why is the furniture covered and why is Bruce getting his own food? Has something happened to Alfred? (Probably a good time to remind everyone that this one is supposed to take place a full eight years after the end of the last one.)
00:20 – 00:28 Speak of the devil. Michael Caine, as Alfred, either apologizing to Bruce Wayne for something or giving him the business – it’s a little unclear.
00:29 Ooooh! A rare natural habitat glimpse of the world’s most powerful Screen Credit! Legend says its mere presence has the power to make fanboys forget how to be critical – take a picture!
00:32 – 00:38 People talking behind Commissioner Gordon’s back at some kind of dinner/memorial/event thing in honor of the late Harvey Dent (that’s his picture on either side of Gordon). One assumes the idea is that Batman and Gordon have made good on their thought-up-on-the-spot plan to cover up Dent’s transformation into Two Face and use him as a martyr to spur Gotham’s anti-crime zeal. Hence the two smug cops who think Gordon is being dumped from his post because he’s a “war (on crime?) hero” and this is “peacetime.”
Gee, it sure would be ironic if turned out that peacetime makes Gotham lower its guard and fall prey to evil, thus teaching everyone the lesson that peace can only be won by leaders who are constantly ready/eager for war, huh? Nolanverse Batman: your source for uncomfortably positive imaginings of the Cheney doctrine since 2008!
00:38 Shadowy figure alert! Batman? Bane? Catwoman? Resurrected Ras Al-Ghul? (maybe) Resurrected Two Face? (you wish) Ace Reporter Clark Kent? (I wish)
00:42 – 00:44 Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, wearing a mask and kitty-cat ears as part of what looks like some kind of fancy dress-up ball. “There’s a storm coming”?
00:45 – 00:49 “A storm” apparently means “a few dozen goons led by some guy in a goofy wool parka” where Catwoman comes from.
00:50 I’m sorry, what were we talking about?
00:51 – 00:53 Y’know, more than anything I hope Gary Oldman makes it out of this in one piece. Looking back on it, Commissioner Gordon is kind of the real hero of this series – the thankless dude who has to clean up after all the bad guys and Batman, and doesn’t get to just walk it off back at his fabulous mansion.
00:54 – 01:00 Bad guys (presumably more of Bane’s goons, whom we are toooootally not supposed to guess might be part of that other chaos-creating rent-a-thug army from the first movie) tearing up a … hotel? Mansion? The lack of amber mood-lighting suggests it’s not Wayne Manor, in any case.
01:01 – 01:03 “You’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” I am Catwoman, and I am the 99%!
Okay, there’s an interesting idea (potentially) in here – that maybe Batman’s “war on crime” has done more to enrich the upper classes than the poor. Realistically, the muggers/thieves/gang members that The Dark Knight will spend most of his time punching come overwhelmingly from the poverty class, after all. Alternatively, it’d be a functional “Take that!” to the current anti-“1%” sentiment for her to find out that the rich jerk she’s giving a hard time is actually the ultimate defender of the people.
But Selina Kyle, socio-economic activist? Please, just … please, let’s not. Egh. Adaptations always seem to end up overthinking Catwoman.
01:04 – 01:07 Wait, we’re doing the “release-prisoners, create riot” thing again? Yeah, fine, that’s what Bane did in Knightfall, but it’s also what Ras Al Ghul did in Batman Begins. Is there only one supervillian playbook in this universe?
01:08 – 01:11 Oh, Bane is at the football game. Got it. Moving on.
01:12 – 01:17 “What’s that mean?” (the chanting, I guess?) “Rise!” The beard on Bruce Wayne possibly means this is a flashback to the “Bruce Joins the League of Shadows” stuff from Batman Begins, or maybe its missing eight years stuff – but I’d wager The League is still involved.
The location may look familiar to you from other movies or TV shows: It’s an Indian Stepwell, possibly the one at Chand Baori. What is it playing here? Who knows, though I imagine a lot of people are hoping its The Lazarus Pit.
01:18 Bane pushes a button, activating some kind of infernal device which …
01:23 – 01:30 … inserts a sequence from a Michael Bay movie into the film, apparently. Add a shaft of light and a choir of cherubs and this is a pretty good illustration of what Tim Tebow is picturing every time he shuts his eyes.
All kidding aside, though – that’s pretty awesome. The bad guys have a push-button earthquake machine? I dig it.
01:31 – 01:35 Okay, its official – the real unifying touch of the Nolanverse Batman films is characters with unintentionally hilarious voice distortions.
In all seriousness, though, this is where the trust Nolan thing really has to come into play. There just has to be some kind of twist to Bane that just hasn’t been revealed yet, because he can’t possibly be as awful a character as he seems to be in these trailers. The silly-in-a-bad-way mask, the thrift store Sherpa outfit and now the barely intelligible Posh-English-Cyborg-Talking-Into-A-Desk-Fan voice? This can’t possibly be the Ultimate Batman Opponent – there’s gotta be some plot twist or hidden angle, right?
01:36 Speaking of twists, that’s Marion Cotillard (Mal from Inception) as Marion Tate, described officially as a Wayne Industries executive, but believed by a pretty big swath of internet fandom (based on flimsy-but-not-implausible circumstantial evidence) to actually be a version of Talia Al Ghul (again: total speculation and gossip, so that’s not technically a spoiler.) Make of that what you will.
01:39 EMP gun? Now, let’s speculate: Did they put this in because it was in Arkham City; or did Arkham City put it in because it was in this?
Also, minor nitpick: It’s just kinda wrong to see Batman using anything even remotely gun like.
01:40 Bane’s car is bigger than Batman’s car.
01:41 Ninjas (maybe?) getting into The Batcave? Between this and G.I. Joe 2, 2012 will be a pretty good year for ninjas.
01:42 – 01:43 Hey, it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt! He’s playing a Gotham City cop … but since the internet somehow cannot accept the idea of name actors being cast in this movie as anything other than existing DC Comics characters, the digital rumor mill has tagged him as actually being everyone from Dick Grayson to Jean-Paul Valley to Terry McGinnis to Ibn al Xu’ffasch.
01:44 – 01:48 Y’know what? I kinda like Batman fighting in the daytime. It’s not supposed to work, but it works.
01:49 Yeah, those do look an awful lot like ninjas. And since the last time this series saw ninjas they were from the League of Shadows, that would make the fanboy hopes of seeing said League (or its dead leader, or his daughter) pop back up look quite a bit more likely.
01:51 So … Batman has a plane now. Awesome. People have been calling this The Batwing, since that’s what the plane from the Burton/Schumacher movies was called, but since they don’t even call the Batmobile “The Batmobile” in these movies you know it’ll be called something else. Whatever it’s called, it’ll probably be pretty cool, though it’ll probably be facing stiff competition from The Quinjet and/or The Helicarrier in the cool superhero vehicles arms race.
02:02 “The Legend Ends.” Yeah. I’ll admit, I’m possibly being a little tough on this trailer because, well,somebody has to (good lord, internet… clean up your drool) and because I’m kind of done with the Nolanized realistic superhero thing. But I’ll give it this – if they follow that realism schtick to the logical extreme and end this series by killing off Batman, I will give Nolan and company all the credit in the world – because that would take balls.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you’ve heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.