The Dark Knight Rises_Christian Bale with suit_Image credit Warner Bros. Pictures © 2012 Lord Christopher Laverty. All rights reserved.

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway

MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

Typical of director Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises has the initial hit of satisfaction followed by the faintest of doubts that something was missing. Exciting, audacious, thematically rich, and yet somehow lacking that extra layer of greatness. Of course with further consideration, even a re-watch (Nolan is a studio’s dream), such concerns prove unfounded. Nolan is a master magician; look closer, it is all there. The Dark Knight may rise but for his alter-ego redemption must come at the ultimate price. His faithful butler and surrogate parent Alfred knew it, his lost love Rachel Dawes knew it, even The Joker saw it in his eyes; Bruce Wayne has been on a suicide mission since day one.

The Dark Knight Rises refuses to play safe; incorporating a cat burglar wearing a skin-tight cat-suit with pop up goggles to resemble cat’s ears, into a story arc that aims to take the character and world of Batman as seriously as possible, is dicey. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) may never be referred to as Catwoman yet even those with a passing knowledge of comics and pop culture know exactly who she is. Bane (Tom Hardy) is a similar risk. A freedom fighter with almost superhuman strength and an absurd upper-crust accent, kept alive by a mask pumping anaesthetic into his pain addled body. Nolan makes us believe, however, because these characters do more than just power narrative, they power Bruce Wayne. Their inclusion in the trilogy is essential to complete his tale.

Tom Hardy as Bane. Like Batman, Bane is defined by his mask. Paradoxically it both protects his identity and defines it.

Costume designer Lindy Hemming helped ensure the Dark Knight series remained grounded by building each persona from the inside out. Bane of the comics is a wrestler but here he is a solider. His costume, comprised mainly of Swedish army styled shearling coat, military vest, combat pants and boots reflects a life lived in numerous coups throughout the world. His mask is function over form, though intrinsically menacing with tiny pipes forming the teeth of a Rottweiler. Batman’s suit remains unchanged because there is no reason why it would be. Bruce Wayne has hung up his cape, the very same cape he took off eight years ago. Selina Kyle might wear heels and a cat-suit but this nod to the comics is not without justification; serrated heels are not practical for running, but can act as a foothold for climbing and as lethal weapons when fighting.

While the film may edge close to three hours it does not outstay its welcome. If anything the running time could be longer to further expand the backstory of new characters, not least Miranda Tate (Marion Cottillard) whose motives are hastily explained during the final minutes. Physical action is everything expected; set pieces feel outlandish enough to push boundaries of believability without breaking them, even if the Bat plane is perhaps a space age indulgence too far. Despite frequent use of Hans Zimmer’s emotive score, The Dark Knight Rises is most effective during quieter moments of character reflection. Michael Caine’s dignified performance as Alfred brings out the very best in Christian Bale. It is sometimes easy to overlook just how well acted this trilogy is.

As Selina Kyle, Anne Hathaway wears dark colours and chic attire, allowing her character to easily swap identities. Her Catwoman night vision goggles with pop up ‘ears’ were Christopher Nolan’s idea, realised by Lindy Hemming and her team.

The deliberately uncertain ending is quite beautiful and reminiscent of Nolan’s Inception, again because costume reveals a poignant truth. Selina Kyle always wears black (prison jumpsuit not withstanding), it helps to flit between identities as a master of disguise, but in her last scene with Bruce Wayne at the Florence cafe she is in a blue linen dress. This could be how Alfred sees her; she might only be a figment of his imagination. If this scene is a daydream, Christopher Nolan has taken the ultimate step; he has killed Bruce Wayne. Perhaps in his universe it was the only conclusion that made sense; it was the only way the character could find peace*. Batman though is a symbol, even if he is gone what he stands for could never be eradicated. Gotham city will always need a hero…

The Dark Knight Rises was released on 20th July.

* Please see author’s comment dated 22nd July for qualification of this statement. Further discussion of the film’s ending with costume designer Lindy Hemming HERE.

You can watch Christian Bale in Batman Begins at LOVEFiLM.com.

© 2012 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.

  • Sid

    They very best interpretation of the ending. Don’t think other critics have grasped it.

    Critics are becoming very cynical about movies. There is no narrative mess. They are stories. They need to be told,nbecause we are inside a world for the third time and we need to know what is happening in Gotham.
    If there was no exposition of characters, then the story would be not as fitting and would constantly be compared to the dark knight that had fewer characters.

  • http://facebook.com/jonsteenphoto Jon Steen

    What I gathered from the movie’s ending was that it all was real and not Alfred’s daydream. Selina and Bruce made off together. He turned over the keys to Blake(Robin). I believe this simply because of the auto-pilot being fixed over a year ago by Bruce himself.

  • Tom

    Although a well-written, thoughtful review, your analysis of the ending is, in my mind, absolutely incorrect. Lucius Fox is told very clearly at the end that one Bruce Wayne *fixed* the auto-pilot on the Bat Wing six months before his apparent death. In fact, Bruce Wayne did save Gotham, and in fixing his aeroplane, saved himself and gave himself the retirement he deserved. The ending is real, and your take on it smacks of ageism to the extent of labelling Alfred senile and incomprehensible. The whole point is that Alfred’s dreams before Batman came back to Gotham came true, and Bruce Wayne was saved from himself and from the evil that relentlessly surrounds Gotham.

    • http://www.beasleyonfilm.com/ Tom Beasley

      Woah. Interpret the ending how you like, but don’t accuse people of ageism. We’re only suggesting that Alfred had a dream (just as Bruce does with Ra’s al Ghul earlier in the film): not that he’s senile.

    • martin

      In understanding the ambiguity of the ending, I really think we have to understand how densely plotted the entire trilogy is, and in particular I point to two obvious speeches, that actually now make complete sense –

      1) a speech made by Alfred in Begins – He tells the returning Bruce that his parents nearly bankrupted the Wayne dynasty helping people in the depression, in order to give hope to Gotham – when Bruce asks if it worked, Alfred gives a bittersweet answer – “In a way. Their death shocked the powerful and the wealthy into action” – from that moment Bruce knows that the full price that may have to be paid to bring hope back to gotham.
      2) the Harvey Dent speech in TDK – “you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain” – Batman is not just just a champion for gotham, he’s also a magnet for trouble, as Alfred explained many times in TDK. so long as Wayne lived and was active, trouble was likely to come to gotham looking for him- it is not an accident that the longest period of sustained peace is in Batman’s exile. Nolan makes it clear in TDKR that we need heroes – but he makes it equally clear that it is almost impossible for the city to live with them. It can end two ways – the hero becomes a villian, or the hero dies a martyr. Perhaps Wayne realises, at the last, that it needs to end, or at least be SEEN to end – the statute of him, as symbol of a martyr, is more comfortable for gotham than the reality of a dangerous vigilante.
      Which makes the fact that he has clearly annointed Blake as his successor as gotham’s protector (though of course, not necessarily as the Batman) all the more poignant – for he has handed on more to Blake than the Cave, and the Cowl – he’s handed on the Curse too, because Blake’s integrity hints he can bear it. But we know how it might well end – the Cape isn’t a prize. It’s a price….

  • Natalie

    Great review, although while it may seem that death was the only way out in Nolan’s Batman universe, it really wasn’t the case. Nolan really isn’t that cruel, as he pointed out with his ending in Inception, he believes that Dom managed to get out of the dream world. And in TDKR, it’s even more explicitly stated that Bruce managed to kill off his identity and make off with Selina. There’s a few clues that are dropped, all the way from the start of the film. There is a sense of foreboding from the start that he may not make it out alive, but hope was a prominent theme in the film. Also, at the end of the film he turned the keys over to Blake, and while Blake was leaving the people at the bank (?) mentioned something about a stolen pearl necklace, which I believe Bruce or Selina stole. The necklace means a great deal, it was meant for Bruce’s mother, so it wouldn’t just end up with anyone. And of course, the most telling point is the fact that they show Fox at the end finding out that Bruce got autopilot installed in The Bat.

    Pointing out that she was wearing blue made a lot of sense: Selina does always wear black. But I think the choice to put her in blue at the end was a way to show that she had left behind her past to start fresh, the way she always wanted— and the way Bruce too always wanted.

  • Keith

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve enjoyed your review more than most reviews I’ve read about the movie, but maybe that’s because we can agree on many things. And while I feel that the third was not the best (and it was perhaps the most predictable of the trilogy), it was still great, entertaining, and most importantly, thought provoking.

    I enjoy your interpretation of the end, and at this very moment I am not necessarily sure what I think. But for the most part, while I think Nolan is willing to send messages through subtle imagery, I have a hard time believing his intent was for Bruce Wayne to die in the literal sense.

    His restraint is respectable in these kinds of moments; where plot points need to be explained, they are (sometimes with long-wind), but he allows us to take away what we will from his work. Many critics find him heavy handed in what are supposed callbacks to 9/11 and Occupy: Wall Street, and it’s hard not to make these comparisons. But if these conclusions are indeed valid, I feel that those focusing on them are missing the more original and more effective themes that could possibly be drawn. I feel those that enjoyed the movie didn’t spend time dwelling too much on the ideals hanging in our faces the whole movie (have vs. have-nots, power struggles, etc). I, for one, found myself thinking back on the emotional, character-driven moments of the film.

    The most moving moments, to me, were seeing Alfred and Gordon question their choices, if only because Gotham starts in a good place in the film. However, we know those two men are still not satisfied with the current state of things. In a way, they both played roles in shaping Bruce’s morality and giving him examples of what good men are, or should be, perhaps without knowing their impact. But they both regret how they have influenced the legend of Batman with the choices they were aware they made. Alfred feels this way because he knows the fragile Bruce will not last trying to perpetuate the unbreakable ideal of the Batman. And Gordon does because his original willingness to vilify the Batman in return for a better world does not end up weighing equal on his conscience.

    I know what I’m saying is obvious to most or all who have watched the movies. My analysis is probably like many others. However, I do prefer to see the trilogy as having a spectrum of moving main themes. While this is obviously arguable, I feel Batman Begins has a main theme of “fear,” while The Dark Knight could be considered “chaos” and now Rises overwhelmingly shouted “control” to me. These are very general, and can work across many films, but I think it really makes a lot of sense.

    Especially since, generally, control is about having the ability to make choices. Fear may stifle our ability to make choices, and chaos makes us feel we are without order or options. In the case of this trilogy, we can see how, over time, characters regret their decisions, or lack of decision making. We can even see this with newly introduced characters, mostly in Selina Kyle. In this case, I must admit that the “Second Chance” program she wanted so badly was indeed a bit too heavy handed and seemed unlike Nolan.

    But still, Alfred feels he has lost control over the situation, and that he will eventually lose Bruce. What he perceives to be his lack of decision making lead to a lack of control, a betrayal to Thomas Wayne, and ultimately, to Bruce. Gordon, taking a different path, was unsatisfied with his decisions and actions following Harvey Dent’s death. However, he (nearly selfishly, to a degree) considers righting his own conscience despite the chaos and questioning that would occur in the entirety of Gotham if he told the truth.

    To the world, Batman is a symbol. To Gotham, he may be a villain, or he may be a protector. But in their minds he has still superseded mortality and stands for something greater. However, Alfred and Gordon are the men that Bruce admired, and they are starting to understand their influences on Batman (even if Gordon still doesn’t know his identity). While Gotham sees Batman often as a vigilante or outlaw (someone outside structure and order, introducing chaos), Alfred and Gordon understand the control Batman has given back to the city. These characters are the most intriguing to watch outside of Bruce (in my opinion), because we have seen their morals evolve or even dilute at times throughout the three films. We have seen their unflinching loyalty wear them down over the years until they become tired enough to consider selfish reprieves. Yet, these are the men that Bruce can trust. These are the men that inspire the ideal of Batman.

    It’s not until the end that we see the pay-off. I have to admit, I didn’t expect such a feel-good experience from Nolan at the end of this trilogy. Or maybe it’s that I’m denying the more depressing truth. But, while I consider your interpretation of the ending, I have also thought much about the intent. So the answer to the question “Does Batman die?” is incredibly easy to answer, and that answer is undoubtedly NO (spoilers omitted!). But Batman is an ideal. So the much trickier question is “Does Bruce Wayne die?” And I don’t know.

    It’s arguable, for sure. But after all this strife and throughout this entire series, I’m too optimistic to think that Nolan could be cold-hearted enough to have the series end with Alfred feeling the deepest of regrets and that he betrayed the family he so dearly loved. So, while Selina Kyle is not seen wearing blue anywhere else in the film, she had been searching for that second chance the entire movie, wasn’t she? Selina was ambiguous in morality for nearly the entire movie, and I loved the character for that, as well. But this ambiguity could have been easily represented by the black. Perhaps the much more colorful blue, if it is even a symbol at all, is symbol of that fresh start she had been wanting, finally achieved.

    So I just have to think, could Nolan take Alfred…a beloved character in his series (and just Batman lore, in general), written and acted with such wit and compassion, and have the movie end with that character feeling he failed and lost what he loved most? And not only that, but he’s resorted to the need to imaginine the very thing that would ease his conscience?

    Bruce may have faked his death, but in the end, I think Nolan wanted us to feel the reward that the characters deserved. I mean, it’s not a depressing take on some nihilist Cohen brothers’ movie or something (at least I don’t think so!). So, I suppose I actually have made my decision. I think Nolan wanted that ending to feel good. Selina got that second chance. Bruce was actually able to perpetuate Batman (we can assume…), and yet leave Gotham behind, finally learning trust! And somehow the largest victory is for Alfred here, whom I believe does truly sit at that table and set eyes on Bruce, and, with a nod, receives the closure and reward he deserves for his loyalty to the Wayne family.

    That, or Nolan is way more dark and fucked up than I would ever have anticipated.

    • Irfy

      Excellent commentary Keith. When I was watching the film, right at the end it felt like Nolan was going to pull off an “Inception style” ending, whereby we see Alfred at the cafe look up and smile, but we never see who he’s smiling at. The debate would have then go on forever about whether Bruce Wayne was alive or dead, however the ending clearly removed any doubt in my opinion – he did not die. I think the whole argument about it being a dream is a bit far fetched, and attempt to create a debate where one doesn’t exist. And Alfred never met Selina, so why would he dream of her sitting with Bruce anyway?
      I think the ending was amazingly done – Alfred’s scene at the funeral had me almost in tears, but then Nolan masterfully rewarded us all with the ending we “deserved and needed”.

  • Alex

    Watching it, I can’t say it ever even occurred to me or the friend I watched it with that Bruce was indeed dead and Alfred hallucinated. After all, Batman is, well, Batman. We’ve seen him potentially killed by Darkseid’s Omega Beams in the comics. And even THAT did not kill him for good. A /GOD/ couldn’t take Bruce Wayne out for good. A being with power equal to, or even slightly greater then Superman could not take Bruce Wayne out for good. And we’re supposed to believe some piddly nuke did? Really?

    Mostly, I was just pleased that Selina got Bruce. My friend was equally displeased at that ending, but that’s because she doesn’t like Selina.

    Still, it’s clear Nolan must’ve read the ‘Hush’ and ‘Heart of Hush’ comics, in which Bruce points out Selina’s the only woman he ever really loved. So Nolan did what the comics could not, and let him run off with her.

    Of course, in the comics,running off would be impossible. Even for Batman, hiding from the entire rest of the Justice League is fairly impossible. If he wanted to retire, he’d have to tell the League he was retiring.

    • Mychael Darklighter

      well, he fakes his death + hides out at the end of dark knight returns, which i’m pretty sure nolan takes more inspiration from (he has two cops directly quoting the book; ‘you’re in for a show, son!’).
      superman did know bruce was alive, but it wasn’t a cinch he would.

  • http://clothesonfilm.com Chris Laverty

    I should just clarify that the reason I feel Alfred would hallucinate his happy ending for Bruce Wayne with Selina Kyle as apposed to Rachel Dawes or Miranda Tate is because a) Rachel is dead, and ultimately she chose Harvey dent anyway, so was not Bruce’s true love; b) Miranda has been exposed as Talia al Ghul by this point and, of course, is also dead. I believe that Alfred knows deep down that Bruce is dead but on a conscious level wants to believe he is still alive. This is powered by the tremendous guilt he harbours and has nothing to do with his senility as an old man.

  • alxs

    As some others have pointed out here, Selina wearing blue is not a definite indication that Alfred dreamt that scene up in the Florence cafe.

    If you remember, Bruce Wayne offered her not only his trust, but also the ‘clean-slate’ she had so desired, after returning to Gotham and seeking her help. It is possible she used that device to clear her name and history in the database and start afresh as a new person.

    Hence, without the need to constantly wear black to protect herself by switching identities quickly, she can now don any colour she desires, which in that scene was, I believe, ‘baby blue’.
    Starting her life over again like a newborn baby…

    • Mychael Darklighter

      also she’s wearing the pearls that the waynecorp exec mentions as missing.
      plus why else mention the auto-pilot being fixed? in fact, why set up the plot where alfred’s trying to give bruce motivation to move on (by telling bruce the truth about rachel), if he isn’t going to move on? that’d be bad story-telling.
      batman dies, bruce doesn’t. it’s quite elegant, actually, the way bruce/nolan have set it all up.

  • Martybo

    Yeah,

    Key example of ‘I’m smarter than you’ analysis. It was a happy ending and nothing to do with a hallucination. Selena wears blue because she doesn’t have to wear black and hey – she’s in a warm climate.

    Enough with the second guessing. It was a happy ending. Get over it.

    • jennifer

      Florence, Italy is a warm climate? LOL! Obviously you have never been there during Fall, Spring or Winter. Florence’s climate is similar to NYC. I lived there for 4 years, so if that is your basis to debunk Chris’s fantastic POV then you ran afoul.

  • Albert Turner

    Very very thoughtful review – and well written.

    But I think Nolan left too many pointers to Bruce’s survival. The ending montage is the most important climax of the film. These ending moments are the closure moments for the last film in the trilogy; the most important moments in the whole series.

    And what do we learn? Bruce left a hopeful sign for to all the most important people in the film:

    He left the GPS address for the Bat Cave to Blake so he could fill his hero’s shoes.

    He left the truth about the fixed auto pilot for Fox (who’s men found out by looking at a VERY lightly damaged Bat, by the way).

    For Gordon, he left a fixed Bat signal letting him know that Batman would still be available (probably through Blake.) Gordon smiles in joyful disbelief and looks to the skies.

    And for Alfred, his dearest, most trusted friend and only real family, he left the knowledge of a missing necklace. Missing only AFTER Bruce had already taken it back from Selina at the charity ball. A necklace they both knew had a tracking device Bruce put in it. The tracking of the necklace leads Alfred to the cafe in Florence that Bruce heard Alfred speak of. As soon as Alfred sees Bruce he nods with a shocked look – he then immediately gets up to leave as quickly as possible- avoiding a scene that could draw too much attention and interrupt his dream come true – Bruce moving on with his life. There is no reminiscing or indulging any “vision”.

    For Selina – who saved his life as Bane put a shot gun to his head – he leaves her with himself. Saying “yes’ to her invitation earlier to run away with him.

    If this vision is not real though – he leaves her with nothing in this most important montage. (Remember, she’s as important as Blake in this movie – a redeemed heroine who does more to save Batman than anyone – so she deserves something in the montage portion.)

    Maybe most importantly – If Alfred’s vision is not real – then it means Bruce literally killed himself. He would have had the autopilot option, but decided to COMMIT SUICIDE. Whatever else you might say – I don’t think Bruce is desperately suicidal. Its not a strong theme in the trilogy. And it would be a very strange and sad last will and testament to Alfred – who’s only desire all movie long was threat Brice have a life.

    The final clincher is the music. The montage has a sweeping romantic score – beautiful grand sweeping strings – that is until Alfred sees Bruce. Then immediately the marshall beat of Batman bangs in big time. HUGE drums. This is not the soundtrack of a melancholy sad wishful dream – its the soundtrack of victory. Strange, bad music choice for a fantasy.

    How does he survive the bomb? Well – I don’t know. Its not nuclear, it has no radiation. And whatever it did to the Bat – it was in good enough shape for Fox’s men to evaluate the fixed autopilot.

    p.s. – if you look closely at the first instant we see of Bruce and Selina – (today – anyway – you can find this whole montage on youtube via “TDKR ending”) it looks like she is taking something off of her neck and handing to Bruce. He then looks down at it and smiles. Maybe saying “put the necklace away for now, because the mission is complete”.

    Anyhow – that’s my take. ….We’ll all be debating for ages!

    • Albert Turner

      sorry – “who’s only desire all movie long was threat Brice have a life” should read: “who’s only desire all movie long was that Bruce have a life”

  • Eric Lebowitz

    Not even close to correct. So many different ways he made it obvious he survived. The entire point of that last scene was that they had both started new lives, not that it was a dream. The whole point of the movie was that he “rose” from the depths, literally and figuratively, and put his pain behind him. The pearls missing at the end is the ultimate clue. He took them back from Selina earlier but then gave them to her at the end as a symbolic gesture of leaving his parents’ death behind. They belonged to his mother, now they belong to another woman who helped him leave Gotham and his past behind. It’s actually kind of pathetic that people need to feel like this was an ambiguous ending.

  • darkbill

    I think everyone is overlooking another key scene which is the repairing of the bat signal. Bruce Wayne might have done that knowing he wasn’t coming back and that Blake would take his place but that raises more questions.

    Firstly, why fix the light if Batman won’t be there to respond? (Ok, Bruce might fulfill Alfred’s wish and never return) Is Alfred supposed to train and look after Blake (Bruce was trained by the League of Shadows). Robin is a sidekick not Batman, but is he left to figure it out himself or is Bruce planning to return and train his replacement.

    It seems more likely that Bruce is signalling that he is still alive (how he survived doesn’t seem to matter. After all, how did he get back to Gotham when he got out the pit and was broke?) in a way that has personal significance to his friends. Only Lucius would understand the autopilot thing, Gordon the bat signal and of course Alfred, seeing him in the cafe.

    The hard-hearted ending would have been to thing he saw Bruce and then again find it was someone else.

    But hey, a little ambiguity is a good thing.

  • nathan

    just watched tdkr… It was great. And yes with the ending, a lot of interpretations. The moment I walked out of the theater, I know I have lots of thinking to do with regards to the ending, And what I believe is that yes Bruce may have fake his death and alfred saw them at florence. Blake can never be robin without bruce’s guidance but to think that Bruce was at florence and wanted to start a new life only means that Blake will likely be the next batman.

  • http://clothesonfilm.com Chris Laverty

    * Thanks again for all the comments. I have been mulling this ending over for several days now and while I am sure that uncertainty was Chris Nolan’s intention, I am no longer 100% sure he has definitely killed Bruce Wayne. I like ‘Alxs’ interpretation that blue does indeed signify Selina Kyle has moved on and she no longer needs to swap identities. Black was her past, blue is her future. Nonetheless I think Nolan wants us to do exactly what we are doing, simply by the way the final sequence is edited and the somewhat ‘dreamlike quality of the cafe scene. As such I have amended my review slightly to reflect this. I still think that Selina’s costume choice is essential, but exactly what it means in context is open to debate.

  • Joel

    Perhaps there is no real answer – and it is a last gift of Nolan to allow this question to linger so that we fanboys have something to talk about!

    • niki

      there are fanGIRLS too you know

  • Dallas King

    Great review Chris. My own personal take on the ending is that Bruce is alive. The reason I think so is the inclusion of Selina Kyle in the shot with Bruce at the cafe. Every other person close to Bruce got a moment during the montage except her and if she wasn’t with Bruce cause he died in the blast then I expect she would have. Why didn’t she attend the funeral for example? I know she was in trouble with the police but I’m sure Gordon would have cut her some slack for helping save the city.
    I also wonder if the ending had changed from Nolan’s original vision. I wondered if he had planned to end on the shot of Alfred nodding straight into the camera, allowing an Inception style tease to the conclusion but Warner Brothers wanted the shot of Bruce and end on Blake entering the batcave to further the chance of a spin-off/reboot/etc. just a theory.

  • Bryan

    I think Selina was in a different dress to signify the beginning of her “clean slate.” The old Selina would always wear black. The new Selina was with a man that lived a life that she despised in her former life. It is kind of like; on Seinfeld when George started doing the opposite of what he is used to so that he could make changes for the better.

  • Fractus

    One reason for believing that Bruce Wayne survived has not been mentioned. Bruce escapes from the prison, which I think is the film’s equivalent of the Ras al ghul Lazarus pit, which in the comics enables him to live forever. Bruce escapes from the prison when the doctor in the prison explains to him that his mistake is to think that not being afraid of death is is his strength, when in fact it is his weakness. So he escapes by allowing himself to fear death. This is why he would not commit suicide, if he could help it. The whole point of the film is for Bruce to start living by wanting to live. Since Nolan wanted a naturalistic universe for Batman, there is no immortality pit for Ras al ghul, and he is not immortal. In the comics, the immortality pit is called the Lazarus pit. Isn’t the prison a naturalist version of the Lazarus pIt.

  • Kyle

    I think another hint that this sequence is not a dream would be that in Alfreds fantasy earlier in the movie the man that Alfred hopes is Bruce is always facing away from Alfred. At the end he is on the opposite side of the table and facing directly at Alfred.

  • Miles

    A fantastic review. By the way, am I the only one who thought of Gordon Gekko of that stock broker who was kidnapped by Bane in escape? With his gelled hair, blue shirt and suspenders, I cannot stop thinking of Gekko while Batman was chasing.

    • http://clothesonfilm.com Chris Laverty

      Definitely. And Patrick Bateman (Nolan in joke?)

  • Aaron

    I’m sure my comment will be lost among the many but I want to say my peace regardless. I didn’t notice that Selina Kyle was wearing black nearly the whole time but now that you mention it I see it however her clothes in the end could be explained in another way. She was looking for a way out, a clean slate, perhaps the reason she is no longer wearing black is because she no longer needs to run.

    Also, remember that in Alfred’s fantasies Bruce never acknowledged him but in the ending Bruce very clearly signalled him. Why would Alfred’s fantasy suddenly change?

  • http://thezeka.tumblr.com/ Ana

    Before I saw the movie I bemoaned the (up to that point) costume designers inability to come up with a decent Catwoman costume.

    And then… the movie.

    The best bit were her goggles-ears.
    I love that they didn’t go the literal route for those, loved it.

  • Mark

    Let’s break this down to dollars and cents…Does anyone really think that the studios and DC would deliberately walk away from a possible “Dark Knight Returns” written by Frank Miller?

    It would be a guaranteed cinematic success. Most of Miller’s film adaptations of his graphics novels (i.e., Sin City, 300 <-there are already sequels in the works for these two) are money makers along with the merchandising boons. And it would fit perfectly in to the over story arc, despite the fact that Nolan did pull some ideas from Miller’s DK Returns. Why do you think the powers that be re-branded the whole Batman cinematic franchise to The Dark Knight (besides trying to get away from Clooney's handiwork)?

    That decision was made before this DK & DK Rises movies ever came out. Nolan will most likely NOT make DK Returns because DK Returns is mostly mapped out leaving little room for his brooding and plotting. He got HIS ending, left everyone guessing, and all the while giving the studios and DC some time to figure out how to modify the DK Returns story without damaging the Superman brand. But that is my prediction.

    The Robin (Blake) angle gives the franchise more time for various story arcs (and money makers) while allowing Bale to age like a fine wine (that guy will do anything to his body for the right movie – see The Machinist). In DK Returns, Bruce Wayne was in his golden years. That leaves plenty of time to squeeze this until they jump to Paul Pope’s Batman Year 100.

    The Dark Knight will “Return”…and you can bet on that.

  • http://www.fooartmedia.blogspot.com foo

    people talking about the scene of Batman in the cockpit just 5 second before explosions…and how he could not survived the radiation / explosions…BUT THEY FORGOT… that the sequence of that scene is a frame of Batman in a cockpit….and then the longshot of the Bat from far away…. BEFORE they show the 5 seconds timer…that is the most important timeline people overlooked…who knew it probably a minute or 2 before the 5 seconds frame where he find a way out (he escaped a legendary pit but he cannot escaped the Bat in the nick of time…come on…he’s BATMAN!!! )

  • Markus Tan

    Ok, we have enough hints to know that Bruce Wayne survived and Batman sacrificed himself to save Gotham City.

    My interpretations here:

    1) Lucius Fox being told by the technicians that the autopilot software on the Bat has been fixed. Well, there could have been several models of the Bat, but if Bruce has some decent software programming skills and more importantly, some common sense, he would have applied the software patches to all the models of the Bat (if this patch works fine.)

    2) Gordon finding the Bat-Signal repaired.
    Well, this was done to reassure Commissioner Gordon that “Hey, man, you will never walk alone in your fight against crime, there will always be a Batman to help you, even if it may not be me, Bruce Wayne.”

    3) Missing Necklace
    Ok, we know about the necklace. Selina wearing it will have indicated Bruce’s willingness to move on from the past of his parents’ death/, Rachel’s death and carry on life with a new partner. It was hinted that Selina liked the necklace (during the theft and the dance) so why not make it a gift to her?

    4) Alfred seeing the Bruce and Selina at the Florence cafe
    A simple powerful message of closure. What better then to comfort his long-time butler and friend that he was alive, than to surprise him with a real vision of him enjoying life with a girlfriend. “Look, Alfred, no more Batman. I have made it in life!”

    As to how Bruce could have found out that cafe’s location…hmm, if assuming from the movies, he is really an expert sleuth at finding information, that wouldn’t have been too difficult.

    5) Blake inherits the BatCave
    Well, he knows that Blake is an individual who wants to see justice done but without the constraints of the legal system. Giving him the coordinates to the Bat-Cave and its technology is perhaps the only way to help this young detective pick up the mantle of Gotham’s next crime-fighter.

    And next my two observations after watching the movie three times.

    6) The Bat – with rocket boosters engaged
    In the scene where the Batman flies out the Bat over the bridge, if you notice carefully, you can see two tail rockets turn on (two small round orange lights at the back of the Bat). I am not a rocket scientist but I suppose these two rocket boosters will have given the Bat an additional acceleration, so that if he really ejected from the cockpit, he will be far away from the blast zone when the bomb really blew.

    7) Smoke (or cloud in the Bat cockpit)
    If you watch the scene where the timer on the bomb was counting from 5 seconds down to zero, you will see that there was some kind of greenish-white smoke, or mist around. Now why will there be smoke of cloud within the Bat cockpit? He escaped, of course!

    i) It could have been the smoke generated by a forceful ejection from the Bat cockpit. The seat is thrust out from the craft by some mechanical action, similar to how fighter jet pilots eject from their aircraft.

    ii) The bat was quite high in the sky, and this was some cloud that drifted into the cockpit.

    Just my two cents’ worth.

  • Matty

    Hi guys
    Do you not think that “the bat” might have been slightly more damaged after a nuke had gone off with a 6 mile radius as at the end of the film with fox the bat is only lightly damaged
    AND
    after the nuke has been dragged around Gotham does it not come across anybody’s mind that the bomb may have disarmed itself even though Miranda stated it could not be disarmed, unless Gordon used the box type thing to disarm the bomb, another way to back up this evidence is that we didn’t see the timer as batman flew over the sea.
    Batman could have also jumped out of the bat after the shot of his head in the bat as we didn’t see him until the explosion
    TDKR was Nolan’s and apparently Bales last batman and because Nolan is the producer will draw a close to the dark knight series meaning that there will properly be a reboot with a different director
    and Bruce Wayne’s soul didn’t die however his body did like Alfred states “Gotham don’t need your body they need your soul” so bale could be in a new batman as bruce wayne not batman and blake could be the new batman also good point by Markus Tan about the rockets lighting up, they may have blown the bomb up meaning that batman with the bat could have flown away unharmed with boosters if they were facing behind the bat letting batman fly away into the distance

  • Moviemuncher13

    But if you really think about it didn’t bruce give her a new life? Maybe with no record she’s able to fresh start now and live how she wants to so i feel like dress could still go either way. But still, as much as i wish for Bruce to be still alive i feel that the more logical thing would be that he died in the explosion.

  • Petr Dyachikhin

    The ending for me is absolutely clear, Bruce survived. Selina is in blue dress as she does not need a disguise any more – she had her Clean Slate or whatever this thing was called. Alfred in his mourning scene on the Bruce’s grave made absolutely clear, that he fully copes with death of Bruce. So he would not see the dream about Bruce being alive. Also, there is no single reason why Batman would not use autopilot, if he could. He is amazingly smart and does all things for a reason. Sacrificing himself for no single reason, while he could stay alife, is not a smart move. Then, someone installed a new Bat-signal lamp on the roof of police building. Oddly it was done before the bomb explosion, and after that it could not be done by Blake yet – he took his time to find the cave. These are my thoughts, and if u guys read Dark Knight Returns comics, from which Nolan took some moments and plot twists, you will see that in the end Batman survives. Same happens here, and I think Nolan made it very clear with the ending.