Continuity with the first two films (Innocence and children)

The 2012 superhero epic about Batman's struggle to overcome the terrorist leader Bane, as well as his own inner demons.
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We all know obviously how the plot is literally connected to the first two films, the first film in spirit and function, the second film in constant referencing of what happened in it, but seeing the movie in IMAX one last time it dawned on me how thorough the film connected to the first two thematically, and in subtle ways, one I noticed today was the role of kids.

The thing that dawned on me, that I hadn't really understood before and seemed kind of awkward at first, is the emphasis on innocence when the dr. is telling what turns out to be Talia's story. It dawned on me today how big a part of the entire trilogy the concept of a child's innocence, and by extension a whole society's innocence or naivety/belief, is. In specific, Bruce's world, his innocence is shattered when he sees his parents killed. It was this that angered him so, so he decided to become someone who would protect that innocence for his city so no child would ever have to go through that again, by defeating those who use fear/intimidation, criminals.

Bane is similar, he grew up in the pit where he never for one second had a world to believe in, his innocence was born shattered, so when an innocent child came into the pit, he wanted to protect it, as the doctor said, because that innocence is to be treasured. So like Bruce, Bane has dedicated himself to protecting that child like innocence. Of course, unlike Bruce he has deep anger towards those who outcast-ed him and does want them to feel that pain, but at the core he and the league believe in protecting that innocence just like Bruce, they just believe in combating those who take it away by balancing the world with massive destruction of empires that have become rotten with criminals.

The active development of the child-innocense theme goes back to Begins, with Jack Gleason's role. Batman restores his faith in something when he's outside listening to his parents argue, then later Rachel protects him from the decaying city, and Batman saves both of them, and he says "I told you he'd save us". That's Batman being a success in the first film, protecting a child, same age as he was, from losing his innocence, giving him something to believe in.

This same innocence is a core concept of the dark knight and Rises ongoing story-lines from TDK. The Joker wanted to destroy the facade of control and safety that people felt and show them they're lives are fragile and their decor even more so, people turning on each other quick. That innocence, naivety, was a facade to him, he wanted to liberate from the lie and promote chaos. He succeeds, by corrupting the white knight, and Bruce and Gordon know it, so they hide it so that the city can continue to believe, have faith, to protect that innocence. Oh, and the climactic moment where the Joker's plan is coming to a fruition, with a gun to a KID's head, and batman saves him, protecting his innocence and life, Children again.

In the third film that flows through still. The lie obviously eats at Bruce and Gordon, but also the concept of Bruce's failure is repeated by both Al Ghul's and Bane. They're saying that his attempt to protect it failed, he could only lie to do it, so Gotham must burn still and he and Dent must be outed, so again Gotham is exposed and then destroyed as a sacrifice. What's interesting is in both begins and this they, like the joker, set out to shatter gotham's innocence, it's false safety, and expose gotham to be full of bad people, before they destroy it. In begins it's using the toxin, so Gotham will "tear itself apart", in this one it's the false revolution, exposing how many will be violent and anarchic if allowed. But both meaning to destroy the faith in Gotham, the innocent image, of it functioning, then making it pay.
The difference of course between the League and The Joker is the League is shattering one city's image to save the rest of the world, trying to launch the world towards justice with fear of the destruction Gotham would have suffered for it's since. The Joker, by contrast, just wants and believes in that shattered image, he wants to revel in it, he's pure evil, no ultimate plan or beliefs or even endgame (dog chasing a car), just an agent to start some fires and enjoy it all burning down.

The kid Robin focuses on too plays wonderfully into this, his brother is murdered and he speaks of the appeal of the dark side essentially because there's answers down there, work and housing he says, but he doesn't want to, he wants to believe, he yearns for Batman, he draws the symbol and asks about him later, he needs batman to protect his innocence, his belief things like that won't happen again. He's in transition like Bruce and Talia were at there origin moments, and t's with the orphan bus that batman's mission to protect that innocence he lost pays off directly, those kids believe they're doomed and then watch a hero save them, directly protecting what Bruce set out to protect. For that one kid specifically, in a time of transition and growth after losing his brother, Batman restores his sense of faith, At the end they're also given the new orphanage by Bruce's will, so kids won't have to turn to crime when they're released or "checked out" I believe they said. So I never noticed how key those kids were to completing Bruce's story, the entire innocence and importance of children just dawned on me, and it flows throughout.

Another moment that fully dawned on me with this innocence thing, is when Batman and Gordon have their final moment, and Bruce says Batman can be anyone, even someone who puts a coat over a kid to show him the world hadn't ended. I always thought that line was just a subtle thank you, but he really was saying that that moment was the spirit of Batman, Gordon comforting and protecting Bruce in that moment to show him there's still good out there. That's what batman is meant to do, balance the evil and show people, especially kids, there's something to believe in, so they don't fall prey to the evils and commit to that life. So that moment is more layered then I thought, it can be said that Gordon saved bruce's soul in a way at that moment, showing him good, if he hadn't would Bruce have left that night simply angry and without faith, and thus been more like his adversaries in the end? That moment sticks with Bruce so much he immediately recruits Gordon 10 years later, so it's effect was obviously profound. He speaks of it like Gordon putting that coat on him did for him what Batman does for the main orphan in this film.

Really just incredible writing, there's more depth and continuity in the third film each time you see it. But this really made the whole series come together in a profound way. It shows how strong their vision and ideas were, and how much they built each film carefully out of them. That kind of thematic continuity is not in any other action trilogy, ever, I would put my house on it.

Any other subtle thematic concepts anyone noticed flows through all three films?

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"Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!"

Bane had been born in "darkness", and therefore Raz could take advantage of him. Bane had succumbed to this darkness, this belief in fear, that it had consumed him. He had allowed Raz's psychotic philosophy get the better of him. Bane did not climb out of the pit himself, but rather Raz brought him out. By the time Bane saw the light, it was blinding to him.

Bruce on the other hand was born into the light (a loving family, particularly his father), and he had that light taken from him by the darkness. Raz once again attempts to take advantage of this, to seduce Bruce. Bruce of course takes inspiration from his father, and this develops over the course of the series. Any time Bruce does something morally questionable, I see it as Raz as the devil on his shoulder. His conflict in the prison was when he finally overcame that fear, and that darkness. He conquers it, and rises above it.

Raz is essentially like a father figure to both Bruce and Bane. Both of them have their own childhood, and their own biological fathers, but Raz attempted to replace those figures with himself.

I was just building on the theme you brought up.

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ancap27 wrote:"Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!"

Bane had been born in "darkness", and therefore Raz could take advantage of him. Bane had succumbed to this darkness, this belief in fear, that it had consumed him. He had allowed Raz's psychotic philosophy get the better of him. Bane did not climb out of the pit himself, but rather Raz brought him out. By the time Bane saw the light, it was blinding to him.

Bruce on the other hand was born into the light (a loving family, particularly his father), and he had that light taken from him by the darkness. Raz once again attempts to take advantage of this, to seduce Bruce. Bruce of course takes inspiration from his father, and this develops over the course of the series. Any time Bruce does something morally questionable, I see it as Raz as the devil on his shoulder. His conflict in the prison was when he finally overcame that fear, and that darkness. He conquers it, and rises above it.

Raz is essentially like a father figure to both Bruce and Bane. Both of them have their own childhood, and their own biological fathers, but Raz attempted to replace those figures with himself.

I was just building on the theme you brought up.
Yup, all connects, good call.

Awesome thing I just noticed, so Bane was born in darkness and never knew anything else, to the point that by the time he saw the light, it was nothing but blinding.

While Bruce was born in the light and always had one foot in it, he fell apart post TDK, and he became a recluse, shutting himself off in the darkness, unable to bring himself to deal with the world, what's outside, the light, he became addicted to the darkness. So Bruce starts the film like Bane was describing himself, making his home in the dark, the outside light blinding. Think of a hermit and the classic image is them shielding their eyes when assaulted of sunlight, the similarities between the two are awesome.

Bane recognizes that Bruce "adopted the dark", that he doesn't want to live, to be one with the world. Thus, just killing Bruce isn't painful enough, he has to make him want, need to get back to the light in order for dying in the dark to be painful. Bane knew that Bruce didn't fear being cutoff from the light himself, so he made him wish to be in the light for Gotham. Bane's understanding of Bruce and everything he's become is so thorough, Bane really understands Bruce better then any character maybe. That said, Bane being doomed to the dark and never knowing anything else in a way is his fatal flaw. Because Bane never recovered from being broken, using the mask instead to mask it, he thinks Bruce is the same, but he underestimates Bruce's ability to move on and grow.

Their relationship psychologically is so interesting if given thought, If Batman's fascinating relationship was with the joker, then Bruce's was no doubt with Bane.

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dustbust5 wrote:
ancap27 wrote:"Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!"

Bane had been born in "darkness", and therefore Raz could take advantage of him. Bane had succumbed to this darkness, this belief in fear, that it had consumed him. He had allowed Raz's psychotic philosophy get the better of him. Bane did not climb out of the pit himself, but rather Raz brought him out. By the time Bane saw the light, it was blinding to him.

Bruce on the other hand was born into the light (a loving family, particularly his father), and he had that light taken from him by the darkness. Raz once again attempts to take advantage of this, to seduce Bruce. Bruce of course takes inspiration from his father, and this develops over the course of the series. Any time Bruce does something morally questionable, I see it as Raz as the devil on his shoulder. His conflict in the prison was when he finally overcame that fear, and that darkness. He conquers it, and rises above it.

Raz is essentially like a father figure to both Bruce and Bane. Both of them have their own childhood, and their own biological fathers, but Raz attempted to replace those figures with himself.

I was just building on the theme you brought up.
Yup, all connects, good call.

Awesome thing I just noticed, so Bane was born in darkness and never knew anything else, to the point that by the time he saw the light, it was nothing but blinding.

While Bruce was born in the light and always had one foot in it, he fell apart post TDK, and he became a recluse, shutting himself off in the darkness, unable to bring himself to deal with the world, what's outside, the light, he became addicted to the darkness. So Bruce starts the film like Bane was describing himself, making his home in the dark, the outside light blinding. Think of a hermit and the classic image is them shielding their eyes when assaulted of sunlight, the similarities between the two are awesome.

Bane recognizes that Bruce "adopted the dark", that he doesn't want to live, to be one with the world. Thus, just killing Bruce isn't painful enough, he has to make him want, need to get back to the light in order for dying in the dark to be painful.
Bane clearly makes that point when he says "There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope."

The suffering and despair becomes much more painful and daunting when one realizes there is a light (hope).
dustbust5 wrote:Their relationship psychologically is so interesting if given thought, If Batman's fascinating relationship was with the joker, then Bruce's was no doubt with Bane.
I wish more people realized this. People seem to underestimate Bane's importance. The Joker was more of a socio-political symbol, the anti-thesis of Batman. Bane is the anti-thesis of Bruce - that is why Bane never really recognizes "Batman" throughout the film, but rather the man behind the mask. When they showdown in the sewer, Batman says "Bane", and Bane responds by saying "Let us not stand on ceremony, Mr. Wayne."

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ancap27 wrote:
dustbust5 wrote:
Yup, all connects, good call.

Awesome thing I just noticed, so Bane was born in darkness and never knew anything else, to the point that by the time he saw the light, it was nothing but blinding.

While Bruce was born in the light and always had one foot in it, he fell apart post TDK, and he became a recluse, shutting himself off in the darkness, unable to bring himself to deal with the world, what's outside, the light, he became addicted to the darkness. So Bruce starts the film like Bane was describing himself, making his home in the dark, the outside light blinding. Think of a hermit and the classic image is them shielding their eyes when assaulted of sunlight, the similarities between the two are awesome.

Bane recognizes that Bruce "adopted the dark", that he doesn't want to live, to be one with the world. Thus, just killing Bruce isn't painful enough, he has to make him want, need to get back to the light in order for dying in the dark to be painful.
Bane clearly makes that point when he says "There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope."

The suffering and despair becomes much more painful and daunting when one realizes there is a light (hope).
dustbust5 wrote:Their relationship psychologically is so interesting if given thought, If Batman's fascinating relationship was with the joker, then Bruce's was no doubt with Bane.
I wish more people realized this. People seem to underestimate Bane's importance. The Joker was more of a socio-political symbol, the anti-thesis of Batman. Bane is the anti-thesis of Bruce - that is why Bane never really recognizes "Batman" throughout the film, but rather the man behind the mask. When they showdown in the sewer, Batman says "Bane", and Bane responds by saying "Let us not stand on ceremony, Mr. Wayne."
Yes sir, I've written in my past reviews about how neither Bane nor Selina ever refer to him as Batman, they see him as human, they relate to him, and they use it and or appeal to it.

TDK was not Bruce's movie, it was Harvey's, that was the awesome experimental aspect of that movie, it was a batman movie where the narrative was about Harvey and Gotham, while bruce and the joker are absolutes, freaks, fighting for the city. Bruce's only role in the film is to yearn for humanity with rachel, then have it crushed with rachel, all to prove batman is incorruptible and an absolute. past that, bruce is extraordinarily small a part of that greater story.
The Joker is fascinated by batman, not who he is. At first he wants Batman to be exposed but as Batman proves himself the only worthy foe of the joker, and his only challenge and source of equal commitment and devotion to an idea, he switches and instead makes it a sin to expose batman, makes the whole city murder to protect batman. The joker liked having his rival, his sparring partner he could push and prod and screw with knowing he'd hit back, he loved him as an absolute because he related to that, they were freaks together, The Joker's only relationship was with batman.

It's with that in mind that the direction gone this time was so interesting, to surround Bruce with characters that saw right through to the human, Robin being another one. I prefer The Dark Knight with the Joker and Batman's mythological roles, but that couldn't be redone, to completely strip it and go back to Bruce as a broken weak human who needed growth was perfect, and bane and salina were perfect for that.

The trilogy really works out to be two movies about Bruce Wayne that hold a lot in common, and one outlier in the middle that instead dealt with batman as a set idol and worked on that level to explore that battle of wills. The Dark Knight is so different, and it's why this series was able to hold quality the whole through, the middle chapter is just so hugely different, a greek myth almost that rides the idea of escalation to tell a modern day story about semi-gods, and the bookends are Bruce's like they should be, it makes for such a dynamic story that explores every element of the superhero myth, the personal level and the place in the world level, and the villains always are picked perfect for that movie's goal.

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ancap27 wrote: Bane clearly makes that point when he says "There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom.
It's actually "Every man who's rotted here over the centuries." I correct this merely to make a point: Bane views the pit as a place of rot and decay, physically as well as emotionally. Another reason why he brings Bruce there, to subject him to what he survived, showing Bruce that he lacks the strength and endurance of Bane (because, of course, Bane thinks Bruce will die there).

Very interesting discussion. The thread you have both pointed out that runs throughout the trilogy--youthful innocence, its loss and its preservation--is one of the most compelling aspects of the three movies. Two musical choices that help illustrate this theme is the usage of a boy's vocal in the music that plays when Bruce's parents are killed and when Batman is flying the bomb out over the bay. Both forlorn and hauntingly beautiful. The other interesting choice is Hans Zimmer's input to convince Nolan to use a young boy to sing the National Anthem during the stadium scene in TDKR instead of a well-known pop singer. An added twist to this choice is that Bane stands there, cloaked in darkness, appreciating the boy's innocent, lovely voice. Bane waits until the boy is done singing and has left the field before he unleashes hell. That illustration of Bane's appreciation of a quality singing voice gives us a further glimpse into who Bane really is (an intelligent, sensitive human, not merely a violent monster).

I, too, appreciated TDKR more than TDK because of how the third movie ties so well back to the first. I loved Ra's showing up in Bruce's delirium because it really showed how huge Ra's influence (for good and bad) was still on him so many years later. Then later we see a different (yet connected) image: his father descending into the well (an image mirrored by the 500-foot pit that Bruce now must conquer). Both men harken back to Bruce's youth--as a boy and as an angry young men who viewed Ra's as a father figure.

The orphan boys in TDKR offered us more symbolism. In the scene where Blake tells the orphan, Mark, about his brother's death, Mark tells him about the "good" things that life in the sewers (life with Bane) offers. No doubt his brother Jimmy succumbed to Bane's world of darkness, for he felt he had no other options. But for Batman and the hope he offered as a symbol Mark would have eventually gone the way of his brother. His belief in Batman survives through Bane's occupation of Gotham, and it's Mark who, when Blake thinks the worst (the bomb has been detonated), triumphantly exclaims, "No...it's Batman!" as if he had been expecting him to save the day; indeed he had believed he would. That youthful innocence compared to Blake's jaded, defeatist expectation. The child is proven correct in his undying belief that good would emerge victorious over evil.

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Wonderful read ya'll.

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I just wanted to comment on how much I loved reading everybody's responses in this thread. Definitely a lot of thought went into all of these and everybody brought up so many interesting connections and ideas. There are a lot of themes throughout the entire trilogy. It makes me want to watch all three of them in order:-) Good and Evil are huge themes throughout this movie..but then again so is Hope. Children hoping for a hero to save a day, children being pulled out of despair. And children being presented with choices... to choose a path of Darkness or to choose a path of Light. Bane and Bruce were almost cracked mirrored images of each other. Both chose different paths, both were orphaned.. both were children..one grew up privileged and one grew up in Hell. I don't think that Bruce and Bane could be considered opposites though. I hear a lot of people say they are opposite of each other. Like for instance when people say Dark is the opposite of Light. To me it's not the opposite but the absence of it. All someone has to do to bring a dark room into the light is light a candle:-) Truly Bane's life was dark as he says he was molded by by it, he embraced it, until Talia brought a light to his life. And that was the only thing he felt he probably could care about.

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Queen of Hearts wrote:I just wanted to comment on how much I loved reading everybody's responses in this thread. Definitely a lot of thought went into all of these and everybody brought up so many interesting connections and ideas. There are a lot of themes throughout the entire trilogy. It makes me want to watch all three of them in order:-) Good and Evil are huge themes throughout this movie..but then again so is Hope. Children hoping for a hero to save a day, children being pulled out of despair. And children being presented with choices... to choose a path of Darkness or to choose a path of Light. Bane and Bruce were almost cracked mirrored images of each other. Both chose different paths, both were orphaned.. both were children..one grew up privileged and one grew up in Hell. I don't think that Bruce and Bane could be considered opposites though. I hear a lot of people say they are opposite of each other. Like for instance when people say Dark is the opposite of Light. To me it's not the opposite but the absence of it. All someone has to do to bring a dark room into the light is light a candle:-) Truly Bane's life was dark as he says he was molded by by it, he embraced it, until Talia brought a light to his life. And that was the only thing he felt he probably could care about.
Ah, yes...Talia. We haven't mentioned her as a child of lost innocence yet in this thread. She lost both of her parents, too, like Bruce and Bane. Such bitterness in her. Was it because of the pit or because of how her protector (the protector of a child) was treated by her father? For a child to bring down "terrible vengeance" through her father's hand upon those who injured her protector...that is some serious shit for a child. The way Talia says those words when she's telling Bruce the story...very chilling to imagine a child wishing such things upon others and feeling such deep hurt and hatred because of what had happened to someone she loved and who loved her.

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Baniac wrote:
Queen of Hearts wrote:I just wanted to comment on how much I loved reading everybody's responses in this thread. Definitely a lot of thought went into all of these and everybody brought up so many interesting connections and ideas. There are a lot of themes throughout the entire trilogy. It makes me want to watch all three of them in order:-) Good and Evil are huge themes throughout this movie..but then again so is Hope. Children hoping for a hero to save a day, children being pulled out of despair. And children being presented with choices... to choose a path of Darkness or to choose a path of Light. Bane and Bruce were almost cracked mirrored images of each other. Both chose different paths, both were orphaned.. both were children..one grew up privileged and one grew up in Hell. I don't think that Bruce and Bane could be considered opposites though. I hear a lot of people say they are opposite of each other. Like for instance when people say Dark is the opposite of Light. To me it's not the opposite but the absence of it. All someone has to do to bring a dark room into the light is light a candle:-) Truly Bane's life was dark as he says he was molded by by it, he embraced it, until Talia brought a light to his life. And that was the only thing he felt he probably could care about.
Ah, yes...Talia. We haven't mentioned her as a child of lost innocence yet in this thread. She lost both of her parents, too, like Bruce and Bane. Such bitterness in her. Was it because of the pit or because of how her protector (the protector of a child) was treated by her father? For a child to bring down "terrible vengeance" through her father's hand upon those who injured her protector...that is some serious shit for a child. The way Talia says those words when she's telling Bruce the story...very chilling to imagine a child wishing such things upon others and feeling such deep hurt and hatred because of what had happened to someone she loved and who loved her.
Very true! Her inner turmoil is just as interesting and complex as Bane's and Bruce's.

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