Bat Analysis: Dissecting ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Trailer
By Hunter Camp
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 at 7:00 pm
In the past, I’ve combed over any and every Batman-related thing that’s come across my path to try and figure out what the secrets are that lie behind what we see at face value. It’s a little something that I like to call a “Bat-Analysis” and most of those items have had something to do with The Dark Knight Rises. So, it’s without question that I would approach the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises with the same mentality. I read a lot of Batman comics and have immersed myself within the content regarding the character, so how could I not? The only problem is, it’s nearly impossible to do that with this trailer. But nonetheless, I present to you my Bat Analysis of The Dark Knight Rises trailer.
There are three major portions to the trailer that seem to suggest what kind of themes and stories that we’ll be seeing. These three parts are Commissioner Gordon, Bane, and Selina Kyle. There’s hardly any Batman in the trailer at all, and Christian Bale only has one line, but that pretty much makes sense in that we already know who Batman is in this movie. We’ve seen the approach to the character, and we know his motivations. I’m sure in the months to come we’ll see more of The Dark Knight, but for now we don’t need to. I will say, however, that when Alfred is telling Bruce that he promised to take care of him, but he’s not, it has a sense of finality and sadness that only Michael Caine could could deliver. But I’m getting distracted. I’m not going to address these parts of the trailers as they come, but will deliver them in what feels like the most important parts of the trailer. So, let’s start with the biggest threat, Bane.
For months now I’ve been thinking and saying, (and writing), “The Dark Knight Rises is basically Knightfall,” and while I still think a lot of those elements from the comic will be present within the film, this seems like so very much more. In fact, to me it’s what I wanted Knightfall to actually be. The trailer shows us that an all-out war is being declared on Gotham City and Batman, in particular. I have yet to see the prologue, so believe me that I’ve no inside information or anything like that, but I think I’ve got a feeling on how this film will play out. Bane is clearly coming to Gotham to tear it apart, and from what it seems based on the trilogy aspect that Nolan has preached about is that this will be affiliated with Ra’s Al Ghul’s attack on Gotham City from Batman Begins, and since we’ve all doubted Marion Cotillard’s announced role, I’m going to assume that she is in fact Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s. Plenty of people have presented this idea, so it’s not new, but it is definitely believable, especially since we see the magnitude of Bane’s assault. In this trailer, Bane destroys an entire football stadium, killing everyone with the exception of Hines Ward (he must be a fan of the guy). While this is very much in line with what one character could do in a superhero movie, it’s not what we’ve come to expect from Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan’s approach to the Batman movies has been to make them so very much NOT over the top. It’s been grounded into a believability based on the parameters of the films. So one man doing this much damage is a little unbelievable, but if he was an associated assassin with the League of Shadows, it fits perfectly in line with the approach of the first movie in the trilogy, Batman Begins. In the trailer Bane point blank says, “When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.” I know it may be hard to hear, but it’s what the man says. None of this has anything to do with Knightfall, however. Where Knightfall comes in is in the fact that the comic was about Bane breaking open Arkham Asylum and unleashing the worst of the worst onto Gotham City to destroy it and wear The Batman down to a point where he was easily broken. And based on this scene…
…I think it’s safe to say that will certainly be a part of Bane’s plan to destroy Gotham. But that’s not the only thing. I mean, the take away from the first part of Knightfall was that Bane comes to Gotham to take out Batman and make the city his own. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises is on a completely different level of magnitude than that of Knightfall, but it still shares many of the same themes.
But that’s not all there is to this trailer, so let’s talk for a moment about what Ms. Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway, who says, and I quote, “You think this can last. There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, ’cause when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” This line sells the movie for me on a thematic level. While Bane’s portion seems to deal with taking down an empire on physical level, Selina’s approach seems to be more from a financial class-warfare approach. And while that could very well play into both sides of the story, it falls in line with the Year One/Long Halloween approach to Catwoman that Christopher Nolan and company seems to love so much. Selina Kyle appears to be written as someone from lower down the societal ladder who infiltrates the upper echelon to take from the rich and keep for herself. Granted, it may be reaching considering the fact that this is only one line, but that approach is in line with her characterization from the stories of those comics which Nolan has borrowed from in the past. So, while it’s not a surprise that this seems to be the characterization, it’s certainly welcomed on my part. And for the record, if I had any reservations of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, those fears are shattered. She’s an amazing actress and even in this one line provides a hint at the anger, class, and sexiness that should be a part of any on screen Catwoman.
Now, this part has gotten me really interested. It’s not ripe with information that I can pick apart and peal back layers to find the truth, but it’s got possibly the most interesting elements of the entire trailer. In the trailer, we see the mayor bring Gordon on stage at what appears to be the funeral procession for Harvey Dent. Aaron Eckhardt’s face is clearly visible on two posters on each side of a stage that is adorned with flowers. If this truly is the funeral for Harvey Dent, then we know that at some point, the movie tells us what happens directly after the events of The Dark Knight, and while that might not seem like a big deal, it is. It’s a big deal because in Empire Magazine it was revealed that the movie would be taking place 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, so does this mean that Bane’s reign will last that long? Does it mean that Batman isn’t necessary to Gotham until Bane attacks and Catwoman strikes 8 years later? Honestly, we don’t know. But what we can be led to believe is that things go fine for quite some time until disaster strikes. So, no I don’t believe that Bane and company are controlling Gotham for any extended period of time. And the reason that I don’t believe this is what is said in the voiceover when we see Gordon talk. What is said is, “The mayor’s gonna dump him in the spring,” and when another man says, “Really? But he’s a hero?” The first man says, “A war hero. This is peace time.” So, while it may be peaceful in Gotham City, as Ms. Selina Kyle states, “A storm is coming.” So, will the Commissioner be thrown out? Will it all fall apart before there’s even time for that? The anticipation is killing me!
There are other things in the trailer, like what appears to be some flashbacks to the Batman Begins time period as we see Bruce Wayne in the reflection of a dish while he’s using a cane, and then a couple of other details, these are easily the take away moments that we can get from the trailer. The trailer does everything that is should do, in my opinion. It’s beautifully crafted, gives hints at what we can expect to see, and provides us with so many questions than I thought I’d ever have. It pulls some excellently acted scenes, and does even show us all of the big budget parts of the film that will inevitably be there. This is all opinion-based, so if you don’t share my opinion, that’s fine. I’m not saying that each one of these things are definitely what will take place because like I said, it’s hard to truly analyze this trailer because all we can do is hypothesize and assume, but we can all take one fact away from this trailer: Bruce Wayne is not amused.
The Dark Knight Rises is going to be an incredible movie, and I can’t wait until next summer.