Foreword: We believe ourselves to be friends and colleagues of the good folks over at /Film, the popular film news site that posted an article listing off 15 things that bothered them about The Dark Knight Rises. As Co-founder and Sr. Editor editor here at NolanFans, I thought it should be noted that this rebuttal article was not written out of malice, haste, or fanboy-ism. Instead, we believe we have valid and objective counter arguments to the ones made by /Film. We love that people are debating this film, and we hope to encourage further debate and fun amongst fans and detractors alike. — Teddy Blass
Warning: The following features MASSIVE SPOILERS, so read no more if you (for some reason) have yet to see the film. If you need to, refresh yourselves with /Film‘s original 15 complaints about the film before reading our rebuttal. So, without further ado, let’s jump into it. Again, MASSIVE SPOILERS follow.
When and how did Bane find out about Batman’s identity and Applied Sciences?
Despite /Film’s effective answer to its own criticism, it’s worth noting the implication of Talia and Ra’s al Ghul’s tight relationship. Some viewers seem mistaken in the belief that Talia houses negative sentiments towards her father for excommunicating Bane. However, she possesses a thick hatred towards Bruce. Hatred enough to devise an elaborate plan to destroy Bruce Wayne on every level — a hatred ignited by the murder of her father. Additionally, as leader of one of the world’s most dangerous secret societies, who is about to launch a mission to destroy the world’s largest city by targeting and defeating what you felt was your greatest student, it may be worthwhile to impart this knowledge to the rest of the League, not to mention your successor and daughter. Furthermore (and without assuming this communication) Ra’s clearly states in Batman Begins that he is able to identify Bruce as Batman based on the use of League tactics. So, as both Talia and Bane were trained by the League, they should equally be able to distinguish Batman’s tactics and attach them to the one (presumably) rogue member: Bruce Wayne.
Now that Bruce Wayne has been established as Batman, it doesn’t take a genius or specially training to deduce that his weapons and vehicles are likely produced/housed in his company. Given Talia’s chair on the Wayne Enterprises board, she likely has a decent understanding of the building’s layout and, given her League affiliations, she knows what to look for in determining the likely location of Batman’s secret arsenal. Also, other people have been in this wing of Wayne Enterprises in The Dark Knight, so it’s secrecy isn’t absolute. Remember in Batman Begins when Ra’s accuses Bruce of “defending a city so corrupt” that they have “infiltrated every level” of its infrastructure? It’s plausible that someone from the League could have helped construct or locate it from within Wayne Enterprises. However, even if this isn’t the case, it’s easy to assume the arsenal is the bottom level of the building so it’s A.) Easiest to hide and B.) Easy to transport vehicles into and out of the building. Provided this, Bane would just have to dig up to find Applied Sciences.
Blake Intuits That Bruce Wayne is Batman
The film goes to great lengths to portray John Blake as a skilled and intuitive detective — beginning with his monologue to Bruce Wayne saying the orphans made up pretend stories about him. This insinuates the stories involved the “poster boy orphan” being their hero Batman. Their love of Batman is reinforced by the young orphan boy seemingly habitually sketching bat symbols as he and Blake hope for Batman’s return. It’s further reinforced by Blake labeling these stories as “legends” about Bruce, but because of Blake’s detective skills and similar emotional path, he made a more literal connection. Throughout the remainder of the film, Blake shows similar intuitive skills; From his investigation of the sewer system (which — among other things — impressed Gordon enough to instantly promote him to detective), to investigating the intricate layout of explosive laced concrete poured all over the city (Gordon mentions Blake knows patterns), to instantly deducing the mercenaries’ attempt to murder Gordon. However, the /Film guys miss the deeper meaning of the initial scene, acting as if all was designed merely as an early-film twist with surface level (arbitrary) plot problems. John Blake and Bruce Wayne are essentially the same person with mirrored experiences, principles (Blake’s disgust at his realization he killed two men), and this parallel pushes Bruce to return to the cape and cowl.
Bruce Wayne Is Down, Then Back Up, Then Down, Then Back Up…
The purpose of the limp shows the distance Bruce has fallen from the empowered physical prowess of being Batman. And as it is never focused on as a major plot or narrative point, a quick resolution with one of Bruce’s many expensive gadgets is a minor point in the more significant focus of the first act of the film: Bruce’s mental and emotional state — something that is manifested physically in his limp. If anything, it shows Bruce’s initial reluctance to heal, mentally or physically.
Additionally, the /Film writers criticize Bruce starting out low, then rising, and repeat, but this analysis ignores a major focal point of the film. Alfred worriedly remarks to Bruce that putting on the cape and cowl doesn’t automatically enable him to be Batman again. He’s afraid Bruce lacks the belief (in contrast to Bane’s abundance of belief — something else pointed out by Alfred) and conviction to become the Batman we know, love, and aspire to be. And he didn’t. So as he is thrown into the pit defeated and broken mentally, physically, and emotionally, the successful climb out of the pit is the first time Batman truly emerges in the film.
It’s a major convention in film for characters to heal significantly faster than they might otherwise in reality. It seems silly to have this suddenly be a big criticism after a century of film.
Alfred Says Goodbye to Bruce
While I cannot argue against a visceral reaction, I found the goodbye poignant and emotional, and so have the majority of people I’ve spoken to about the film. Many strongly feel Caine deserves a nomination (or win) for his performance in the film, and scenes like this one show why.
As for the stage of the conversation, the hallway serves as a link between the Batcave and Wayne manor — a thematic crossroads signifying the struggle between choosing the normal life Alfred wishes and the Batman persona Bruce compulsively feels he needs.
Why Wouldn’t the SEC Just Overturn Bane’s Fraudulent Trades
Lucius Fox tells Bruce that it will take months for lawyers to overturn the fraudulent trades, likely because Bruce’s own fingerprints were used for the transaction and proving the trades were made without his knowledge is likely a tricky path. Bruce is left penniless and is forced to approach Miranda Tate for help.
Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard Have Sex
While the underdevelopment of their relationship is amongst the most obvious and notable flaws of the film, they did at least know each other prior (it’s even implied there’s an off-screen romantic involvement when Bruce says he hopes she liked him for more than his money), but that hardly means much — especially in contrast to the sizzling chemistry between Hathaway and Bale. Still, suggesting the twist is a superficial one for the sake of a twist ignores the obvious intentions behind it. While the relationship doesn’t mean much to the viewer, it certainly does to Bruce. The power of her betrayal isn’t just that they had sex, it’s what she represents. As Bane points out repeatedly, there cannot be great suffering without hope. Tate was Bruce’s hope — hope for Wayne Enterprises, hope to stop the bomb, hope for a future beyond Batman. In revealing the weight and patience of her vengeance, Batman’s persona crumbles and Bruce speaks in his natural voice, in pain and deeply hurt. Just as he fought for Selina Kyle’s redemption, she returns to save him, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of Batman’s powerful influence on the citizens of Gotham.
So Batman is a street artist now?
Bruce Wayne escaped the prison pit about three weeks prior to his return to Gotham (Gordon says it’s 23 days until the bomb goes off right around when the men get hung from the bridge, which is immediately before Bruce climbs out). In that time, as would be true to the nature of the character, Bruce’s elaborate planning probably mapped out the steps necessary to rectify and save his city. Yes, he took the time to set a bridge aflame with his characteristic signal — a signal that let 12 million people know The Batman has returned and is here to save them. A symbol that inspired hope and courage in the hearts of Gotham’s citizens. The act inspired Foley — a representative middle class character — to reclaim his position in the resistance. Additionally, purposefully getting caught is hardly a risk given Selina’s “pull” with Bane and his men, and the fact that he’s, you know, Batman and stuff.
Bruce Wayne Forgets to Do Proper Background Checks
/Film answered their own question. She’s Gotham’s most notorious and apparently gifted burglar (of all the possible people for Bane to hire for one of the most important elements of his plan, they elect to hire her), adopting a fake identity is probably a cinch for someone of her caliber. Still, having a thick record is obviously a risky burden to have on the off-chance of ever being caught. Why wouldn’t she want to have it erased, especially if she truly just wanted to ‘restart’ her life?
Why Does Bane Take a Break from His Master Plan to Ship Bruce Wayne Off to the Desert?
Bane’s plan is multifaceted and deeply ingrained in psychological erosion. An implied, but crucial, element of this plan is to hold Gotham as a cautionary tale for the rest of the world — to illustrate what the world’s greatest city looks like when it’s in the hands of its citizens, when the corrupt and evil have been stripped of power. This point is reinforced when Bane hands the detonator to a regular citizen. Thus, when the city is destroyed, it appears as though a citizen chose to annihilate Gotham.
Beyond this, Bane wants to break Bruce — physically (check) but also mentally and psychologically. Bruce devoted his life to saving Gotham from destruction, and by destroying everything that Batman fought for, Bane knows that he can kill Bruce’s spirit.
How Does Bruce Wayne Get Back to Gotham?
It’s important to note that the /Film time-frame criticisms seem inconsistent. Sometimes Bruce is gone for weeks, sometimes it’s months, but now it’s only days from escaping the pit to returning to Gotham? Bruce had around three weeks to return after leaving, and because Wayne Manor isn’t in the actual city of Gotham, he probably returned there, aka to the batcave. Thus, he’d have had access to the Batsuit, and seemingly endless gadgets to relatively easily sneak into the city. Given the resourcefulness he’s proven to have had over three films, finding a way back into the States is probably relatively straightforward. Hell, he could’ve called Alfred to hook him up.
Considering he has an intimate knowledge of the bomb and it’s workings and he followed what happened to Gotham on the television Bane setup, if Bruce has any ability to read a calendar he’d have a pretty good idea how much time is left on the bomb. He’s Batman and a master detective. Why is using that skill unnatural for the character?
Why Does a Prison Exist Where People Can Possibly Climb To Freedom, And By Doing So, Free All The Other Prisoners?
The prison pit is an ancient prison in which only one inmate ever escaped. Actually, I’d say that’s a pretty phenomenal design. Bane runs it, told to us from a few lines of dialogue from the people commissioned to watch over Bruce. What does /Film mean when they ask if the prison accepts anyone that’s thrown in? It’s implied people are specifically placed there as it’s “hell on earth.” It’s surprising how many of these critiques/questions are answered with direct lines of dialogue.
The Post-Bane Gotham Feels Totally Fake
In a recent interview, Nolan talked about utilizing some of the visual tools David Lean masterfully executed in his classic Doctor Zhivago. In the film, Lean shows a city busting with life, only later to show a city with empty streets and crowded interiors — a stark visual contrast demonstrating the nature of a terrifying occupation. Why wouldn’t the streets be pristine? Nobody walks on them. Historically, this is consistent with a real-life occupation, making this criticism a particularly insubstantial problem with the film.
Are the Gotham City Police Department and CIA Really THAT Dumb?
GCPD has been established as consistently lackluster in the first two films, as well as specifically under the leadership of Foley. Mindful of the eight year gap, the police force is unprepared and unaccustomed to handling real threats. Foley consistently underestimates the significance of Bane’s attacks (note the dismissal of the Stock Exchange assault and the discussion to retract his men from chasing Bane to instead follow Batman). Confronted for the first time with by a notoriously menacing and dangerous man, Foley reacts impulsively. To corner Bane within the sprawling network of sewer lines, a large number of officers must approach from every possible entrance. Bane’s intelligent, and more than this, he can predict different people’s psychological reactions, and he used this to his benefit. Under Foley, a leader for peacetime, the police really were that inept. As evinced in The Dark Knight, Gordon would never sacrifice his entire force with such haste.
As for the CIA, the plane they used was neither large nor particularly sophisticated or militarized. It’s not entirely off base that they didn’t notice the second plane until it came closer in its approach (note the turbulence and the pilots’ rattled expressions). Yes, the agent broke protocol by ushering the hooded figures onto the plane without identification, but he wasn’t one to play by the rules anyway, i.e., his quickness to torture and threaten death to get information. The logic here isn’t perfect though, I admit.
Most of the Hand-To-Hand Combat Is Terrible
While this is ultimately a matter of opinion, the hand to hand fighting has been a constant point of criticism in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy (notably the Hong Kong fight scenes), but here the technical fighting and fluidity of motion Batman uses against criminals is of a much higher caliber than the previous installments. The criminals are frequently stunned and terrified of Batman, so having enough time to react and aim remotely accurately enough to fire is unlikely. More importantly though, because he commonly jumps into the center of groups, firing upon him risks hitting someone immediately opposite of them, giving Batman a significant advantage over his opponents in multiple regards.
Multiple Ending Syndrome
It should be immediately noticed that the /Film staff seems to be in the minority regarding the ending, which is nearly unanimously praised regardless of the general score awarded by critics. With that in mind, Nolan does, indeed, throw a lot at the viewer in the span of five minutes through carefully crafted montage sequences designed to be highly emotional and resounding moments.
Yet again, the /Film article makes a number of points while ignoring facts presented in dialogue. Alfred never wanted Bruce to return to Gotham (he gives a detailed monologue to such effect), so seeing Bruce in the Florence cafe should only please Alfred. Additionally, John Blake is an experienced and skilled detective with a massive arsenal before him in the fight against crime. It difficult to believe he wont be an effective deterrent with his skills and Bruce’s equipment (not to mention the likely aid of Fox). We don’t know who noticed the simultaneous disappearance of Bruce and Batman — but given Bruce’s prior history of seclusion, it’s likely most ordinary people (uninvolved in the affairs of the estate) would resolve his immediate absence as an absolute death.
Finally, the article inappropriately labels the ending with this popular criticism. Multiple ending syndrome refers to a film in which multiple moments, each a suitable emotional and narrative ending, are presented in quick succession. The Dark Knight Rises, however, does not suffer this affliction. Had the film ended with the bomb detonation, the viewer would be left without comprehending the lasting legacy and legend left by Batman, thus leaving the primary purpose of the entire trilogy unfulfilled. Events prompt one another, such as the will assessment leading to the delineation of its effects on the people and places Bruce cared about — from Wayne Manor as a orphan house, to Blake in the batcave. The film ends with a gentle but subtle depiction of Bruce Wayne and Batman, resting and happy, and his legacy cemented in the hallowed halls of his city, revered in the spirits of Gotham’s citizens.
Thank you for reading. We hope you enjoyed reading our defense against the common criticisms of The Dark Knight Rises. At the very least, we hope they offered a new perspective, and we hope the folks over at /Film took our criticisms of their criticisms with stride.
Written by: Brendan Hodges
Edited by: Kelly Liesse & Teddy Blass