Batman: The Dark Knight Rises part 13

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As Act V of The Dark Knight Rises begins, we find Dr. Crane, the Scarecrow, presiding over a kangaroo court, passing judgment on Daggett’s lapdog Stryver, the man who stood by while Bane murdered his boss.  Crane sentences him to exile, which, in this case, means death, since exile involves walking across the ice that surrounds Gotham (a city taking its “frozen” status literally).  Politically, the scene indicates that Bane’s rule has reached its “terror” phase, where, after all the aristocrats have been purged from the society, the mob turns on itself.  “I’m one of you!” splutters Stryver as he’s dragged in.  What he means is “I betrayed my master just like you!” but Crane, deep in his insanity, sees Stryver as a leech (the opposite, in fact, of a “striver”).  Stryver, and others exiles, teeter out onto the ice, fall through, and drown, again, a literal reminder of the “thin ice” all the moneyed of society walk on.

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“The bomb goes off tomorrow,” says Gordon, setting the alarm on the ticking clock that will power the final act.  He meets with a handful of not-buried cops, except Foley isn’t among them.  Foley, instead, is hiding out in his home, “keeping his head down,” the anti-Gordon, a man putting his own safety (or willful ignorance) ahead of the public good.  If Bruce is the child of privilege who ultimately sacrfices himelf for the sake of society, Foley is the dark face of civil service, a spineless bureaucrat who waits for others to act.  When people need a leader, he hides — rather like Act I Bruce, come to think of it, except Bruce hid in a time of peace, not in a time of crisis.  (The peace was built on a lie, but that’s another story.)

Foley refuses to join Gordon, but Miranda Tate offers herself, easily as big a target as Foley in terms of people Bane’s army are looking to kill (as far as we know, which also raises the question of how much Bane’s army knows).  At this point, Miranda has been presented as (1) a wealthy investor interested in “saving the world,” (2) a truly selfless philanthropist, (3) a savior to Wayne Enterprises, and (4) Bruce’s personal savior, helpmeet and comforter.  Now she is presented as an urban warrior, a mirror of Bruce, to further cement her in our minds as an unalloyed good guy.  (Heh heh heh.)

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Selina, meanwhile, has become her own Daytime Batman, protecting the weak in “her neighborhood” (it’s unclear whether she’s carved out her own territory or if Bane has granted it to her) by beating up some goons after a kid who has stolen an apple.  Absent civic law, the law of the jungle asserts itself, and Catwoman, while a thief herself (and so is the kid, for what it’s worth — he did, after all, steal the apple) stands up for the little guy (and takes a bite from his apple — not a Robin Hood, she collects a tax for her protection).  And here, out of nowhere, is Bruce, back (somehow) in Gotham City, whole again, and with Selina’s precioius “clean slate” program.  In spite of their past, Bruce teams with Selina to find Lucius, who holds the key to disarming the bomb.  So the thieves’ thief, the protector of the little thief, teams up with the city’s prodigal son (odd that Bane doesn’t have anyone in the pit who will call him to tell him Bruce has escaped) to restore the status quo.  Note is made that Selina might not want to restore the status quo, but we know that all she really wants is to get on with her life.

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Gordon and a handful of other cops are caught by Bane’s men and sentenced to walk out on the ice, while Selina (now in Catwoman mode) takes Bruce to Bane’s HQ and frees Lucius.  Lucius and Bruce head to Bruce’s downtown Batcave and Bruce suits up.  As Gordon and the others are sent out onto the ice that night, Batman strikes, freeing Gordon and handing him a flare, to use to light up an improvised Bat-signal he has (somehow) rigged on a nearby bridge.  “Impossible,” Bane splutters, caught short for the first time, as he realizes the broken Batman has risen from the pit.  Does his disbelief stem from his underestimation of Bruce’s physical abilities, or is it that his social theories have proven untrue?  The child of the pit, after all, didn’t have wealth to fall back on if the climb upward failed.

On a busy night (rigging the Bat-signal, finding Selina, getting Lucius, suiting up, retrieving a device from The Bat, rescuing Gordon, issuing orders) Batman finds time to save Blake from being executed by some of Bane’s thugs.  “If you’re working alone, wear a mask,” he advises the younger man, “To protect the people you care about,” and we are reminded that Bane, although certainly masked, does not work alone, and has allowed (promoted?) his mask to become his identity.  Is the same true for Bruce?  Is he, now, Batman, or Bruce?  Him saying this at this moment seems to indicate that Bruce firmly understands now that a mask is a tool, not a soul — you have to maintain your identity beneath the mask or else the mask devours you.  Batman frees the cops from the sewers and orders Blake to organize an exodus from the island.  It seems odd that Batman assigns his best Bat-buddy Blake to a protective role instead of an assaultive one, but perhaps the answer lies in the “people you care about” line — he knows Blake is an orphan, and he knows that orphans need a father.  That’s the thing Bruce lost, he’s not going to let Blake be another casualty.

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Finally, Bruce goes back to Selina (whew!  What a night of errands!  He’s a Knight Errant!) and gives her his Bat-Pod to blast a hole in the debris blocking a tunnel out of town.  He had given a tiny bomb to Blake, like a friendship bracelet, but he gives Selina the Bat-Pod.  It must be true love, because Selina, under her flinty, practical facade, is smitten — Bruce has trusted her, despite all her shenanigans (stealing his mother’s pearls, selling his fingerprints, giving him up to Bane, getting his back broken), and has granted her the chance to start over.  “You don’t owe these people anything,” she snarls, but she’s projecting — she doesn’t owe these people anything, but Bruce feel he does, both by his own lights and according to his nemesis.



32 Responses to “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises part 13”
  1. Curt Holman says:

    Crane’s sentence of “Death… by exile!” reminded me of the old “Death or chee-chee?” joke.

    Given that Bruce spent part of his youth wandering the Earth, including part of Asia, and that, as a (former) rich international vigilante, he probably has resources hidden away that no one knows about, it doesn’t surprise me that he could get back to Gotham a day after escaping the pit.

    Your observation that Bane should have had someone in the pit to notify him of the escape might be the film’s biggest plot hole of all.

    A commenter earlier complained that he knew Miranda was ultimately up to no good, because he knew Selina would ultimately be the romantic interest. I was taken completely by surprise, though, because Miranda has so much to do in the movie. It’s kind of a shame she’s a villain, because up until the reveal, she’s a well-rounded, active, “good” female character in a genre that usually restricts women to roles as either villains, victims or girlfriends on the sidelines.

    • “…it doesn’t surprise me that he could get back to Gotham a day after escaping the pit…”

      I think there’s a bigger time gap here than people are giving the film credit for. Lucius tells the special forces captain that the bomb will go off “in 23 days”; what *looks* like the next morning, Bruce escapes the pit; and when we return to Gotham, it’s approximately 18 hours until detonation. I’m willing to believe that Bruce could get back to Gotham in a month’s time.

    • BenjaminJB says:

      As Tyler note, the time frame might not be “a day after escaping the pit,” but even so, people who can’t believe that Bruce Wayne can get around the globe might be forgetting the fact that he’s Batman–getting around the globe might be the first thing in his job description (in this version).

    • Colin Smith says:

      I gotta disagree re: Miranda being well-rounded and well-utilized. Aspects of her may have gone over my head (I need to re-watch now that it’s on video), but her incorporation into the plot repeatedly struck me as seeming like an afterthought thrown in to remind us that she was still around and that Wayne still trusted her a lot. She seemed more one-note than Foley until her reveal.

  2. Sasha says:

    Bane fell prey to the ultimate supervillain kryptonite … overconfidence. It literally never occurred to him that a child of privilege could accomplish a task he himself never could.

    (Also, how would such an informant pass along that information? An informant would not normally be able to escape to deliver a message. No transmission would be able to escape the pit and any transmitter that could would have been used a long time ago to radio for help. So unless Bane had left a standing order to head to the nearest town and somehow pass along a message in the nigh-impossible event that Bruce and the informant escaped, that oversight is not unreasonable. )

    • BenjaminJB says:

      This is pure conjecture, but since Bane has access to the Pit–and can even get TV reception down there–I imagine that Bane and the League may very well have overthrown the original warlord. In which case, why not give someone above-ground the job of watching the Pit for escape attempts by Westerners?

      That said, I don’t so much mind this plot-hole for the reason you noted: Bane sure seems confident that things are going to go his way.

      And besides, the whole mysterious “(Near? Far?) Eastern warlord and Pit” story is so ridiculous logically that I feel it has to be approached as fairy tale or myth. Otherwise we have to imagine Bane getting cable (

  3. You must remember here that everyone in the pit is a prisoner – I doubt a single one of them is down there by choice. I don’t even recall any guards down there to keep order (because Bane expects absolutely no one to make their way out, why would he need anyone to stand watch?). (Also, supposing there were guards or spies, wouldn’t they be sending status reports to Bane on a regular basis regarding Bruce’s health?)

    When Bruce escapes, he tosses down the rope for the others, presumably, to use – I doubt, then, that the first thing one of the newly-escaped prisoners would do is phone their captor and say, “Guess what? Bruce Wayne made it out of the pit and so did we! Yippee! Catch us now, monosyllabic bald man!” I suppose Bane could have planted his own men outside the pit, in the middle of nowhere, but what kind of job would that be? Hanging around, month after month, year after year, just waiting for the off-chance that someone, somehow, will make it out of there alive (even though, if history serves, only one little girl has). I wonder… do they work in shifts? Do they carpool? Does that sort of employment come with dental insurance, or maybe even a 401K? But then… maybe I’m over-thinking it.

    Remember, too, that Bane is utterly and totally flabbergasted when he sees the Bat-symbol light up on the bridge. Like pre-pit Bruce, he is so confident that his plans are foolproof that it absolutely blindsides him when things don’t go to plan. (You could say that he spends the rest of the movie throwing a tantrum, like a child told he can’t have a cookie before dinner.)

    As for Bruce “somehow” making it back to Gotham, I enjoyed how the screenplay is particularly cagey about the time frame from arming the bomb to explosion: Bane says it will take five months for the bomb to go off… later, Blake and Gordon, during their meet-and-greet with the armed forces guys, explain that the trapped cops “haven’t seen daylight in three months”… followed by the scene (per Tyler above) in which Lucius reports that detonation will happen in “twenty-three days” (might Bane’s calculations have been a bit off?)… and finally, Bruce escapes, and makes his way back into Gotham on the very day the bomb is set to explode. So, yes, it is plausible for Bruce to make his way from Unknown Country to Gotham in about a month. Lesser movies would offer helpful subtitles like “Four months to detonation” or “Fifty-seven days, six hours, seventeen minutes since Broken Bat” – but the script for DKR does not, either to keep things deliberately vague or to keep our brains working. (At the end, Lucius’s lab tech does give us one final time stamp, saying that Bruce Wayne patched up the autopilot on the Bat “six months ago.” Meaning, from Batman’s return to the selling off of the Wayne Estate, approximately half a year has gone by.)

    A final point: That thin, cracking ice surrounding Gotham is a nice throwback to the training montage from BATMAN BEGINS, in which Ra’s Al Ghul/Ducard teaches Wayne to “mind his surroundings” – by engaging in a swordfight on thin, cracking ice. Notice how, during Gordon and Company’s “death by exile,” that the good guys are especially cautious finding their footing, whereas Batman coolly and confidently wanders up to them without a worry in the world. I’m not saying this is exactly how Bruce was able to find his way back into Gotham (he’s the g–damned Batman, after all, surely he must have his ways), but supposing it was? Somewhere along the line, might Bruce have learned how to maneuver on thin ice (both literally and figuratively)?

    Again, this is all an impressive amount of talkback for a simple Comic Book Movie.

    • Emmar says:

      True D.W., I like those call backs to Batman Begins as well. That’s one of my favorite elements here.

      After watching this movie, I didn’t find myself emotionally connecting very well. But, I feel like revisiting it in a couple years, after politics change and I’ve got more distance from the me of July 2012. There are so many ideas in it, I can’t dismiss it as unworthy of discussion. I felt like The Dark Knight gave me everything I wanted in a Batman movie, and my dislike (not dissappointment) in Rises didn’t take away from that. I was satisfied already.

      I especially like that all the storylines I’ve heard any Batfans hungering for have been satisfied. I don’t think there’s a single one that hasn’t been accomplished well (I think this is a better Bane movie than Knightfall deserved).

    • Todd says:

      Good catch on the callback to the ice in Begins!

    • Glenn Peters says:

      (At the end, Lucius’s lab tech does give us one final time stamp, saying that Bruce Wayne patched up the autopilot on the Bat “six months ago.” Meaning, from Batman’s return to the selling off of the Wayne Estate, approximately half a year has gone by.)

      All I thought we could deduce from this was that it had been at least six months since Bruce received The Bat.

      • Yes, which happens right before he re-emerges as the Batman. The lab tech says, “Six months ago,” meaning the time from receiving the Bat to the end of the movie takes approximately half a year.

  4. BenjaminJB says:

    What do you think Joker would’ve been doing in Bane-controlled Gotham if Heath Ledger hadn’t passed away? A friend argued that Joker would be running the kangaroo court, but I think Scarecrow fits in better as a part of the system that has gone mad. I imagine Joker would be classed as “an enemy of the people” by Bane’s army, since even anarchy would be too much a system for him.

    As for Selina, I’d add that she’s gotten a version of her “clean slate”: no one is after her for her criminal past any more and she can do whatever she wants (within the limitation of a madman-run city). Only this version isn’t what she wanted. In which case, the apple she takes is an offshoot of Eve’s: an eye-opening bite about good and evil. In Catholic theology (which, as a Jew, I’m an expert in), Adam and Eve’s fall was happy–“a felix culpa”–because it opened up a space for Jesus to enter. So, in Batman, most falls tend to be happy, opening up a space of character-building experience.

    I’m available for this sort of pedantry 24/7.

    • Emmar says:

      I had this conversation in the summer. I can’t remember who I’m quoting, but I remember the comment: “…a kangaroo court judged by a literal straw man.” I like that. It also reconnects to Batman Begins, in that we meet Crane in a court room. I can’t see Joker sitting still long enough to be the judge, anyhow. Scarcrow is perfect.

      Joker probably would attack Bane’s system. I kept seeing layers of Akira in the movie (David Goyer worked on Dark City, in which he acknowledged nods to Akira), and I thought maybe Joker would create a cult worshipping the bomb (like that cult in Akira).

  5. Merry Fishmas says:

    I don’t understand why Bane was so surprised by seeing the Bat-art on that bridge. Bruce Wayne shows up with Catwoman to meet up with Lucius and Miranda. Then he becomes Batman again, goes to his Batwing, etc. etc., all while Miranda is now with Bane. Should she have not mentioned that to him; ‘by the way, Bruce Wayne showed up in Gotham today, went with Lucius to get his extra Batsuit.’ I don’t get that.

    • That’s a good point. I’ve been sitting here, following Todd’s posts on the movie, defending every point I felt people had missed (or, at the very least, paid too much attention to), but this is the one thing that’s always bothered me on a screenplay level. Why not simply leave the line “Bring her to me” out of the movie, or get Bane to capture her sooner, so that she never witnesses Wayne’s return? Did Bane get called away on some urgent matter before he had the time to meet with her?

      All I can think is, maybe Miranda was playing Bane at the same time, had some ulterior motive for keeping that information from him, waited to see what Bruce would do? The screenplay tries so hard (or maybe not hard enough) to keep her identity a secret that it simply overplays its hand.

      • Looking back on the “Bring her to me” thing… Miranda hasn’t seen Bruce by the time Bane says this line. She is captured along with Gordon and the rest of the cops, and sent to Crane’s court… Bane says this to keep her from being sent out onto the ice, and sticks her back with the rich folk to keep her from being killed. She is next seen with Lucius when Bruce is brought in with the bag over his head. While, logistically, she could have asked to see Bane again (and very well should have, to give him the update), there is nothing to suggest she actually met with her “friend” before Bane is flabbergasted by the Bat-symbol on the bridge. It’s not much, but it is something of an explanation…

    • Darren J Seeley says:

      “Impossible” could mean other things other than Bane’s surprise that Wayne is back (or in addition to)

      1- Surprise that Wayne has (some) access to his Batman gear.
      2- Surprise that Wayne has been back for X amount of time and has set a plan in motion *without* being seen or noticed.(the Bat-signal of fire that announces his ‘Return’)
      3- Surprise that he saved Gordon and others.

  6. Daniel Ibanez says:

    One of the many criticisms hurled at The Dark Knight Rises is that it’s structurally repetitive, having Batman make a comeback twice, but I always saw it as a nod to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which basically does the same exact thing. What do you make of it?

    • Emmar says:

      The Dark Knight Returns has many similarities, and there are nods to it all the way through the series, but I have a theory that Wayne becoming Batman is more of a negative thing in Rises than Returns. Or at least, for me, it wasn’t as inspiring a return as Batman returning in Returns. At the end of Returns, Wayne is Batman all the time, in Rises he’s given the job to another guy. I wonder how many more times I can say ‘returns.’ In April: The Tax Knight Returns.

      I really wish we could have gotten an end to the Joker in the Returns vein. Bane was a bigger version of the Mutant Leader, would have been cool to see Batman beat him in a mud pit. Rachel became a form of Robin, emotionally.

      Bane is kind of mixed with some Mr. Freeze and Azrael elements, come to think of it.

      The Nolan series really ended up with a pretty cool Rogue’s Gallery.

      • Daniel Ibanez says:

        Even though I really like Nolan’s Bane, I feel like he’s a weaker villain than Joker in many ways: He has an origin (of sorts), he has an ideology, he cares about someone and he probably won’t go into a laughing fit if you punch him really hard. You can hurt Bane.

        After Joker, I’m afraid, the only way to up the ante came in the form of production value.

        • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… OF COURSE Bane pales in comparison to Ledger’s Joker. Anyone would. They could even resurrect Ledger from the grave, have him play the Joker a second time, and still everyone would say, “Well, he was better the first time out.” It’s why Nolan went with a purely physical threat for Batman, because we hadn’t seen that from the trilogy yet.

          I love that they went bigger and bolder with DKR, because most threequels would be satisfied just to play it safe and repeat the same stuff all over again.

          • Todd says:

            It’s true that Heath Ledger’s Joker was an unrepeatable phenomenon. The depth and grain he brought to one of the most well-established characters in history was revelatory. However, I’m willing to say that what made The Dark Knight special was its script, which was simply denser, more compelling, more thrilling and more firmly grounded than the scripts for either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight Rises. People turned out to see Ledger, but what made them come back again and again was the utterly exhaustive thrill-machine of the screenplay.

    • Todd says:

      I haven’t read DKR in many years, but I’m sure the Nolans have.

  7. Randy Owens says:

    Another Part 12?? I almost skipped this one because I thought I’d already read it, but that was the first Part 12. Could you still change this one to 13?

  8. Dave says:

    I love Batman’s response to Selina when he gives her the Bat-pod. He knows that stopping Bane and preventing the bomb from going off is a tall task. He should have been killed by Bane before. He could easily get killed in the next confrontation. But he’s putting himself on the line, perhaps even foreshadowing his death by saying, “Not everything. Not yet”.

    I wonder how much that line and he response to Selina when we first see him back in Gotham (she says she thought he was dead and he says “Not yet”) are meant to plant the fact that he could die in the audience’s mind. I’m not sure the average person was thinking it was possible Bruce could die coming into the movie. But they seem to suggest it could happen in the trailers. Given that and the references Miranda makes to Ra’s I’m inclined to think it is foreshadowing of his death. It worked for me because I really thought they killed him. I was almost balling my eyes out.

    • Todd says:

      I think the audience is absolutely meant to think that Bruce is in this to die. What happens to him in the pit is that he loses the will to die.

  9. Hannele says:

    I know this is another flying snowman moment (or perhaps, a Canadian moment), but seriously, did no one teach these people that you’re supposed to lie down and *roll* on thin ice to distribute your weight as much as possible?