Batman: The Dark Knight Rises part 1
The “titles” of Batman Begins showed the symbol of a bat formed in a swarm of bats, the titles of The Dark Knight showed it in fire, now The Dark Knight Rises shows it in ice. The bats in Begins were a symbol of fear, the titles a metaphor for an identity forming out of shadows. The fire of The Dark Knight was like a wall of fire for that bat, that symbol, pushing through the chaos inflicted by the Joker. Now, the bat is, literally, the cracks in the ice formed by the isolation of Gotham City at the hands of Bane. “I knew Harvey Dent,” Jim Gordon lies, as the title image gives way to a scene of Gordon addressing a memorial service for the late District Attorney, “I believed in Harvey Dent.” Gordon is not speaking of Dent at all but of Batman, the man who (the reader will recall) took responsibility for Dent’s bizarre chance-induced crimes, became Gotham’s Dark Knight so that Dent could remain its White Knight, its Daytime Batman as it were. Thus caught up, the viewer is plunged into a new story.
A CIA ops team in somewhere in eastern Europe (led by a character named “CIA Man”) is picking up one Dr. Pavel. The men delivering Dr. Pavel to CIA Man have included, with Dr. Pavel, three hooded men who, they say, work for a notorious masked mercenary named Bane. I’m guessing that the men delivering Dr. Pavel do as well, since one of the hooded men on Team Hooded Men is Bane himself. CIA Man is very excited to have Bane on his plane, so excited that he pretty much forgets about Dr. Pavel once the flight starts. CIA Man wants only to know about Bane, and therefore so do we.
What does Bane want? For the moment, Bane wants to kidnap Dr. Pavel. Bane, of course, already had Dr. Pavel in his custody, but his plan to kidnap Dr. Pavel involves faking Dr. Pavel’s death at the hands of the CIA and vanishing without a trace. The only way to accomplish this, in Bane’s view, is to stage a staggeringly complicated plane-to-plane passenger transfer, complete with a blood transfusion performed while dangling inside the verticle cabin of a crippled aircraft, while trained assassins shoot at him. Bane, obviously, is, if nothing else, a daring man, who, like the Joker and Ra’s Al Ghul, has fanatical henchmen gladly willing to die for him. “The fire rises,” he says to one of his henchmen, and, to Dr. Pavel, “Now’s not the time for fear, that comes later,” tying together the themes of the Begins and Knight. He mentions nothing about ice, but that comes later.
Meanwhile, in Gotham City, here is Police Commissioner Jim Gordon again, at another Harvey-Dent-related speaking engagement, this time at Wayne Manor. Gotham City, we are told, is now free from organized crime, thanks to Dent’s work (which was, of course, partly Batman’s work). Every hardened criminal is now in Blackgate Prison as a result of something called The Dent Act, a law apparently passed in the wake of Dent’s death at the hands of the masked vigilante known as Batman. It’s been eight years, we learn, since Gotham was terrorized by a costumed freak of any sort. What does Gordon want? Gordon, it seems, has something to say about Harvey Dent, but he decides not to say it, not tonight. Dent, he knows, ended his days as a costumed freak himself, cutting a swath through the underworld as a murderous psychopath.
Now we meet Selina Kyle, a thief in disguise as a maid working the Dent-related affair at Wayne Manor. She snags the job of delivering Master Bruce’s dinner to his private quarters, getting the key from loyal butler Alfred. Selina cares nothing about the politics of The Dent Act, she’s come to Wayne Manor to, apparently, steal a necklace from Bruce Wayne’s private safe. Ah, but not just any necklace, but the pearl necklace worn by Bruce’s mother the night she was gunned down by thug Joe Chill, in the back alley behind the opera house, lo those many years ago. That night, the eight-year-old Bruce had his identity forged, by a fear of bats, a man with a gun, and a police detective with a warm heart.
We also meet Miranda Tate, a business associate of Wayne’s, who has come to see him on business, and Daggett, a businessman with his own beef with Wayne. Wayne, we’re told, has destroyed his business with a huge investment in some sort of “save the world” project (just like Bruce Wayne to set for himself an unachievable goal). Wayne, we’re told, in the wake of his misadventures, is now a recluse, a far cry from the billionaire-playboy he posed as in previous incarnations.
From the creator of Inception, a theme of deception. Bane deceives the CIA Man, Gordon deceives the people of Gotham, Selina deceives Alfred, Bruce deceives everyone, including himself. “Things are not as they seem” is a cliche in crime drama, but it fits here and is deeply ingrained in the smallest of exchanges in Rises. Gotham is at peace, but the peace is built on a lie. That is Bruce’s real wound that won’t heal. Someone once said, “Drama begins with a deception, and when the deception is revealed the drama is over.” The Dark Knight Rises will test that theory with deception upon deception.