Does ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Contradict ‘The Dark Knight’?

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 25th, 2012 at 6:12 am,

 Does Dark Knight Rises Contradict The Dark Knight?

While writing my review of The Dark Knight Rises, I found myself doing a lot of self-reflection in regards to why I felt less enthused by Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy finale than I did about the previous installment, The Dark Knight. The performances in The Dark Knight Rises were excellent; it was a more visually sophisticated film, and the action set pieces were bigger and more frequent than ever before. The epic conclusion to the film left a lump in many throats, and by all accounts the movie should’ve been the most rousing and exciting chapter in the trilogy (no doubt some will say that it is).

My issue with TDKR  has since come into focus as I’ve had further time to reflect: It’s the story that screenwriters Chris Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer chose to tell. While the story of The Dark Knight Rises is interesting and engaging in its own right, the issue is:  it contradicts the thematic points of The Dark Knight.

[WARNING - TDK & TDKR SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!]

I have always been a fan of the Nolan Bat-films, but what truly blew me away about TDK was the boldness of the climax (that last half-hour of the film some (mistakenly) believe to be irrelevant), which posits the theory that sometimes, a noble lie (that inspires hope) is more important than the truth in its ugly detail: “Sometimes truth isn’t good enough – sometimes, people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”

Alfred Burns Rachels Letter in The Dark Knight Does Dark Knight Rises Contradict The Dark Knight?

Batman stops the Joker’s rampage, sure, but the real battle – establishing Harvey Dent as the “proper” symbol of hope and justice in Gotham City – is ultimately won by The Joker, who pushes the maimed and scarred lawman to forsake his morals in a murderous quest of vengeance. With all the good they’ve done about to slip through their fingers, Batman and Gordon decide on a lie – that Batman committed the Two-Face murders – in order to protect the fragile hope that Gotham is holding onto. On a personal level, Alfred burns the break-up letter the deceased Rachel Dawes left for Bruce Wayne, so that Bruce has the hope he needs to continue on as Batman.

That theme is quite profound; it’s something that can be applied to real-world politics, our notion of history (the “facts” vs. the established mythology), and even notions of faith and religious belief (if you’re so inclined to open that can of worms). As a (quasi-)comic book movie, TDK is even more profound: the heroes don’t “win,” per se, so they craft victory out of a lie. Whether you agree with the theory or not, it’s undeniable that The Dark Knight serves up food for thought that can be mulled over and debated in a way that few other films in the genre can.

But along comes The Dark Knight Rises, which totally contradicts that deep and unorthodox idea that Nolan and Co. previously put forth.

 Does Dark Knight Rises Contradict The Dark Knight?

In TDKR, we find Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon eight years later, being crushed under the weight of the lie they created. That so-called “noble sacrifice” on their part provides the illusion of prosperity and progress for Gotham, until (in a development that is both wonderfully literal and figurative) the ugliness that Gordon and Batman tried to bury literally explodes out of the bowels of Gotham’s sewers up to the surface, as Bane appears on the scene and forces the Commissioner and Bats to reconcile with the fact that their lie was only a superficial accomplishment. In the case of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Bane’s reign of terror forces our hero to suffer through a painful and perilous journey to truly become the symbol of hope and justice he wanted to be in the first place (i.e., what he sought to become in Batman Begins).

While this arc works well in making The Dark Knight Rises an epic and resonant tale, it also leaves The Dark Knight diminished in terms of its aforementioned uniqueness and profundity. Looking back from the ending of TDKR, TDK is transformed into a story about all the ways in which Batman and Gordon screw up – from who they trusted (bad cops), to how they dealt with The Joker (ignored him at first) and how they resolved the issue of Two-Face (a lie that cost them their spirits). The Dark Knight basically said “Sometimes a lie that inspires is better than a truth that defeats,” while The Dark Knight Rises basically says, “Hope and inspiration cannot be falsely earned, they have to be fought for through blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice.” It’s not every day that a movie uses a sequel to contradict the thematic conclusions of its predecessor.

batman vs bane1 Does Dark Knight Rises Contradict The Dark Knight?

[Of course, it's only fair that I act as my own Devil's advocate: there is a scene in The Dark Knight Rises where Bane is sitting with Bruce Wayne in the cell where he's imprisoned him. As Bane explains Bruce's situation, he makes the point that the prison's greatest weapon is the false hope it continuously inspires, via the sun-lit opening at the top of the pit. The message is that hope - in the right context - can become the most deadly poison of all. Interesting point, but one that TDKR doesn't fully and firmly connect to the events of TDK, in my opinion.]

Do you agree that The Dark Knight Rises contradicts The Dark Knight? Or do the chapters of Nolan’s Batman Trilogy all fit together perfectly (narratively, thematically) in your view? Let us know in the comments.

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TAGS: batman, the dark knight, the dark knight rises

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  1. I know this is a bit off topic but as a comic fan I still don’t understand why they changed the fact that bruce wayne never recovered from the back injury and was in a wheel chair while azreal came back to defeat bane? was this just for the sake of a good movie and to see bruce wayne win? either way I liked it just wonder why they change key elements like that.

    • Bringing in Azrael would have muddied up the film with TOO much story/character introduction/necessary plot exposition. The film, to make sense for a closing piece. They had already moved ahead almost a decade AND skipped ahead a few months to heal Bruce and return him to action. Any more substantial time-skipping and/or introducing a replacement for Batman would have simply added to this.

      • You forgot to also mention that this was not a movie based on Knightfall but a Batman movie which took certain parts of that story… more as fan-service imo. The fans wanted to see Bruce get his back broken by Bane. I do not think that Nolan would have put it in there for any other reason although, this would be the biggest fan-service points he’s probably used in any of the trilogy.

    • This was the final film of the trilogy. It’s kinda poor storytelling to throw in a new Batman just because it happened in the comics. In the comics you had Dick Grayson and Tim Drake. Also yeah, the end game of all this is to see Bruce Wayne as Batman win. I don’t think I would be too invested in seeing Azreal come out of nowhere and be the main character while Bruce sits in a chair.

  2. I think the writer himself believes that TDKR corrects never says what Batamn did in TDK was wrong, that was the right thing for that moment, but in the long run truth cannot be hidden or locked away. Just like true innocence that could not be locked in a Prison neither the person who would give away everything to protect his beloved city & its people. I think the writer’s only objection would be that this plot might have reduced the The Dark Knights plot. I’d disagree to that. Comparing with Star Wars trilogy (which Nolan is a big fan & a worthy comparison for The Dark Knight Trilogy), just because ‘The Empire Strikes back’ showed the rebels fall back & ending in all low, never is less important or wrong compared to ‘Return of the Jedi’ because through the suffering & pain & self-correction the hero found his true path that he was seeking right from his beginning of his Journey. I hope I made my thought well shared

    • true true true. well said

  3. I would like to start by saying that Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, were both great movies. I enjoyed them both entirely. The Dark Knight Rises disturbed me for few reasons I’ll discuss. First of all, “I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” – Joker. That line alone says to me, that there will be more Joker to come. I loved Heath’s Performance, but for TDKR, I expected to see the Joker again. I’m sure even Heath would understand, “The Show Must Go On!” The Joker is known for escaping from Jail. Would have been a great way to introduce Harley Quinn. Which they should have. But the eight years of no Batman is just stupid. Batman, the character that we all know and love can never stop being Batman. This is the sad truth of his life. And in many ways over his life of being the Bat, he doesn’t want to stop. In those eight years, the Joker would have escaped (probably after just a few months) and wrecked more havoc, the Batman would have had to stop. Not to mention, that a few of the Villains in the Batman story line, would have developed on their own anyways, still causing problems for Gotham. So the eight years of no Batman I call BS. Next is the whole, Batman fakes Death to retire from being Batman. I call BS again. I have already stated above why he can’t and won’t retire. Granted his injuries would slow him down, but he would find a way to keep fighting. “Batman Begins” said to me, this is how he starts, “The Dark Knight” said to me, he now knows what kind of hero he is. “The Dark Knight Rises” meant to me that Bruce Wayne had finally understood what it was to embody the ideology of Batman. He finally rises up to the challenge of being the True Dark Knight we all love and adore, and also realizes, there will be no end to his work. Done and Done. So yes I wasn’t happy with the way Nolan Ended his trilogy. He should have brought back a different Joker to cause more trouble. More Villains to be mentioned that Batman has put away over the Eight years. I just hope that the next series of Batman movies will keep the realistic sort of nature of this trilogy, (we don’t want anything like Batman and Robin ever again) but still bringing in the Mythical powers and bad guys anyway. Make it feel like it doesn’t belong. And that is my opinion.

    • Look I get it, the Joker was great in TDK. He is not the only Batman villain. Had Heath lived, this wouldn’t have been TDK Pt2. The Joker was one story and one story only. Batman can exist without the Joker. You didn’t need him for the first film. I don’t think he would have added much more then Crane for this.

      This isn’t a comic book. They have a finite story. This allows them to do what if scenarios. What if Bruce quit being Batman for a few years. The comics have an excuse in that the world has a crisis every several months. Not the time to retire. But in the Nolanverse the bad guys stay in jail or die. So Batman not being around doesn’t mean the world gets to end. And of course Bruce gave up on life so……..yeah.

      If Bruce never stopped being Batman we would never have had Batman Beyond or The Dark Knight Returns.

      Again the comics come up with a excuse. If the crime rate in Gotham went down and the criminals stayed in jail. What reason would Bruce have to continue being Batman? His job can actually be done. But alas in the comics, Joker 2,3,4 come in to take the deceased place before Joker comes back to life.

      Your argument is that TDKR has an end to the story while the comics keep going on. I think that’s unfair because the first minute of the Nolanverse was against the comics. It’s about having the spirit of Batman.

      In TDKR, Bruce is Batman in spirit like Old Man Wayne in Batman Beyond. And like TDK Returns, Bruce realizes that Batman is still needed. He comes to this realization. At the end though unlike Bruce in the comics….he lets himself move on while leaving the equipment for another. This comes back to begins. Batman has to be a symbol and not just Bruce Wayne in a mask.

  4. I don’t think its a contradiction so much as an evolution of the character’s understanding of how to inspire. Their goal, to help save Gotham, relies heavily on the idea that they inspire the people of Gotham to change their ways and to live better. It’s only through experience that we truly learn anything because the after effects of our choices are rarely predictable. They did the best they could with what understanding they had at the time, whether or not the choice to cover up Two-Face’s spree would come back to haunt them wasn’t something they considered, and frankly, had they thought it through they may not have made the same decision which was needed at the time. Sometimes there isn’t a good answer, I think that’s the theme. You learn as much as you can about actions and consequences and what to expect when you choose a certain course but the most important lesson of all is to approach everything you do with the understanding that things can and will change, most importantly you will change, along with your view of the world. Looking back can haunt you, as it did Bruce Wayne, the only logical way to live is to do so looking forward.

  5. Maybe Bruce realized that their decision 2 lie 4 the greater good was the wrong way 2 go about it. Tdkr was the realization that “Hope and inspiration cannot be falsely earned, they have to be fought for through blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice.” New enemy, new situation, new solution

  6. The 2 first movies in the series was awesome. The endpiece, not so much. Not as deep or gritty as TDK. For me, it was an ok movie, that perhaps should have been the opening act (with az few tweaks to the storline of course, TDK shold have been the grand finalli. It was, by far, the best batman movie ever =)

  7. Good point, but I don’t agree with it… That contradiction itself is the fact that makes the story goes on… isn’t it?

  8. I don’t disagree with the point of the author. However I look at it from a different perspective. I think these films were written as a microcosm of the worlds we were dealing with at the time they were created and released so as someone above said Batman adjusted to what was necessary for what was happening in the city at the time, so to have these films adjusted to our time. When the Dark Knight came out at the tail end of the Bush administration. We had a President who made a lot of very unpopular choices in the name of “freedom” that seemed unnecessary and were upsetting to a lot of people. (I think this is most obviously portrayed in the film with the use of the cell phone sonar device necessary to catch “a terrorst”..The Joker. Comparable to the Patriot Act). I remember wondering at the time if the film was portraying the necessary evils that our government was partaking in, that they felt were necessary at the time with Bush being the hated Presidential martyr. We, as a country were losing as hero’s on the surface despite our attempts to do what was right.

    Fast forward to today’s world, a mere 4 years later. Those lies (WMD’s) have come back to haunt us, and the freedom we had hoped to preserve has created even bigger monsters. There’s a sea of terrorist unrest rising to the surface around the world, and major class warfare here at home. Those two theme’s are pretty evident in the TDKR. That lie, created to hold the tide of hope over crime (terrorism), also lead to polarization socially and economically and a new uniting hero must emerge to confront these conflicts. “Hope” as an idea is fading so it can’t just be an idea that people cling to, it has to be realized and fought for. You mentioned the pit and how it represented “hope.” During that scene I couldn’t help but think of where our country is at, and the Presidential slogan we’ve been looking towards thinking the whole process would be so easy.

    Say what you will about our current administration but we’ve become as apathetic as gotham, and we’re a divided bunch as well. But, unlike Gotham we have yet to let our apathy and divisions allow us to be taken hostage. In this film Batman doesn’t fight on his own. He has help in the form of ordinary citizens who rise up to the challenge that hope represents. Say what you will about our President, but he has inspired millions to rise to that same challenge. Yet as a country we have not realized the “hope” that is fought for in this film so ultimately I believe moving past our divisions and directly confronting our past evils, mistakes, lies, and fears is perhaps the message this film is delivering about where we need to go, or where Nolan assumes we are heading, and to do that we may need to get behind a Batman that is both loved and feared that we’re not sure we can trust.

  9. I love the connection you made to the truths that Alfred concealed for the sake of Bruce and the lie that Batman and Gordon made to conceal the truth for the sake of Gotham, but I don’t think those lies are THE main focus of TDK. I think your focus on them is deterring you a little from what I think the actual main theme of the movie is; There is no reward for Bruce to be Batman. He gives so much and receives nothing in return – and in this case particularly he chooses to give up his nobility for hatred instead. Translate that into everybody terms (instead of just TDK/Batman relations) you have your morals, but there is no reward for having them. They serve a purpose for you but there is nothing “rewarding” about it. They probably have benefits that you like or whatever, but no one is going to give you a prize for holding those beliefs except maybe those that agree will show appreciation and maybe even praise. Respect really. But there are others who will disagree and ridicule your morals. Anyway, I’ve said too much, lol. Moving on… In TDKR Bruce is faced with Gotham learning the truth about what happened and actually being justifiably despised because of his deceitfulness. But he doesn’t care, He’s here to protect Gotham and the weak and helpless because he was once weak and helpless and wishes that no one else should experience that. He will literally continue to give, just like Selena says, “You’ve given them everything.” And at the end of the story he even gives his life for them! So still, no reward is ever given to him for doing what he does. Seemingly more hate is given to him for it, lol. No contradiction in that. Except, in the very end, after he has already died, do the people appreciate what Batman did for them. You might say that that is contradictory to what I’ve said, but I strongly disagree, because Bruce, not Batman, has given everything to see his dreams come true. Batman has transcended person hood and become a symbol of hope that is truly incorruptible; In his death he has given all of his processions to charity to help those weak and helpless boys he once was and did it in the name of his parents so that his parents would be loved and appreciated for being the great people that they were; He solved his friends auto-pilot problem and literally took zero credit for it, letting his friend be the master inventor behind it all; and in the best turn of events – I at least think so anyway – he fooled everyone into thinking he was actually dead but granted his greatest friends wish instead, He ran off and had a life of his own that wasn’t at all a part of Gotham that was only a source of tragedy for Bruce. F*CKIN’ Brilliant if you ask me! So, there is no reward for Bruce being Batman, just like established in TDK. But TDKR says that there is a reward. A self given one actually (so it still holds up). Giving selflessly and lovingly is it’s own reward! Seeing the joy he gave Alfred, for example, must have been one of THE MOST gratifying things Bruce has ever felt. So, together, the two films basically say, “There is no reward for having the morals that you hold, but giving selflessly and lovingly as guided by those morals is a reward in itself.”

  10. Nolan always said that TDKR was more in keeping with Batman Begins in terms of the feel of the theme. It certainly connects more to it with the story and you could even argue that TDK wasn’t needed at all. However what TDK gave us was a way to bring the two together through the rise and fall of Harvey Dent. TDK never said it’s lie was the right choice. And I think it was an brilliant way to examine what the characters did at the end of the film.

    You get movies that after it ends you think – well those people that just killed other people through necessity but under normal circumstances would never harm a person – how do they cope with it? We just accept that the movie ended and all is well. What TDKR does is say – these characters made a decision and tried to convince themselves it was the right thing but ultimately were unable to. But just because it argues the other side of th coin to TDK doesn’t mean it contradicts it.

  11. I understand why the themes seem to contradict, but I have some points which I think might clear the plot up – or, at least, provide some food for thought.

    In my analyses of TDK and TDKR, I came to a few conclusions, the first two regarding the theme(s) of TDK:

    I observed a strong duality among the characters, with another character representing both sides. The Joker and Batman represent two sides of one *entity.* As the Joker put it, “I don’t, I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You… you… complete me.” The two are an embodiment of a conflict of perception. One sees Gotham as a madhouse waiting to burst, while the other sees Gotham as a rising body of hope. This duality between Batman and The Joker brings into question OUR perception of the protagonist and antagonist. This film is one of my favorites because it really addresses that idea. The scene at the end, while The Joker hangs by his legs outside the building, brings the symbol of the card into play as it shows Batman upward and The Joker downward, but then flips and shows The Joker upward (and Batman is, intuitively, flipped, as well), just like the figures on a playing card. This, again, suggests a certain unyielding connection between the two characters, and is where I draw my conclusion of the “Antagonist/Protagonist” theme: the two are one-in-the-same. The difference is one of perception. The Joker appears to be an antagonist, while Batman is the protagonist, but both are pushing ideals and both contradict each other. This is the Hero/Villain duality.

    This next point refers back to Harvey Dent/Two-Face. This character was an incredible idea. I’m sure we all understand the parallel between his character and the entire back-and-forth between The Joker and Batman, but what makes him unique is his understanding of the flaw in the antagonist/protagonist relationship: humanity and subjectivity. He understands that chance, alone, is “Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.” He tells Batman he could not be a decent man in an indecent time (paraphrasing) as he holds up a coin, hinting to chance as the ultimate judge of fate. This connects to the actions of the citizens on the boats. When it comes down to it, The Joker COULD have been right, because it all depended on numerous factors – a huge one being the people who COULD have been on the boats, instead of the selfless few who actually WERE on the boats. This is where I draw my second thematic conclusion: The fate of Gotham is out of the hands of both Batman and the Joker. Chance determines all outcomes.

    Now, as you said, the idea suggested at the end of TDK – that faith sometimes deserves reward, even at the cost of truth – appears to be contradicted by the points made by Bane in TDKR, when he claims that “hope and inspiration cannot be falsely earned.”

    I do not believe this is the case.

    Through analysis of TDKR, I came to a few more conclusions, and I was honestly shocked as I put some dots together.

    TDKR uses another character trio similar to that of TDK, but this time it is a little bit different. In TDKR, Bruce Wayne/Batman is obviously conflicted between being Batman and being Bruce Wayne, and Alfred tells him a story which ends with his sharing a concern for Bruce, as he believes there is nothing in Gotham for Bruce but pain and tragedy. This point ties in with something later, but bear with me. For now, we have a conflict, within Bruce Wayne, between his past and his future, but that’s not where I want to really start.

    First – to keep format similar to my above breakdown of TDK – I would like to talk about the two opposing characters: Catwoman/Selina Kyle and Bane. Both characters have their own dark history. Catwoman is a burglar with a criminal record, and Bane is an excommunicated mercenary from the League of Shadows, who lived most of his life in a pit of a prison in some godforsaken desert (similar stories, I’d say).

    Catwoman, throughout the entire movie, is engaging in a last-ditch effort to escape her past with “The Clean Slate.” She wants to live a new life, away from her criminal work (This might be unintentional, but I think this parallels the mystical “nine lives” idea associated with cats, given that Selina Kyle wants to end one life and start another). Selina Kyle is focused on the future – one free of crime.

    Bane, however, embraces his past, and even employs it in his criminal philosophy – one must live in true darkness to be allowed light (Just another loose association; this might suggest his permission of death [the one he planned] to Bruce Wayne is his “light,” allowed after his “darkness”). Bane also employs an appeal to the “oppressed” while he stands before Blackgate Prison and refers to the prisoners as such, while also holding a picture of Harvey Dent and revealing the truth of his death. This action ties directly to Bane’s comparison of the light at the top of the pit-prison to a “poison.” That light was nearly unreachable, but men tried again and again to escape, either going insane or dying from the fall. The light was a false hope of a sort, which is why Bane believes Gotham’s hope in Harvey Dent, which is based upon the lie told by Gordon and Bruce Wayne/Batman, is worthless.

    Ultimately, from those two characters, I derived two themes, which are tied, in a way: The conflict between the past and the future; and the conflict between truth and morality.

    Now, Bruce Wayne/Batman takes his turn as the both-side character in TDKR (the place previously filled by Harvey Dent/Two-Face in TDK). Bruce Wayne, from the very start, is in a conflict with his past which has pushed him to live as a hermit for (presumably) eight years; this life, sadly, is what he calls a future, finished with Batman. We all know that’s BS – we all know he’s doing it wrong. Alfred calls him out on it, as I mentioned before, and tells him the story of the time Bruce was gone (coincidentally – maybe ironically – the time he was gone to train to become Batman), and Alfred tells of how he wished he would see Bruce at a table in a restaurant in Florence, because he wanted Bruce to move on and leave Gotham, which he felt had nothing more for him but pain and tragedy.

    I felt this point, by Alfred, tied to the prison. Where Gotham was an “abyss,” (Full quotation: “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss.” – Gordon) the prison was a pit. Now, we could go either way with this: either Gordon is actually looking at a bunch of loonies who pry for poison light, or the people actually ARE rising up, and Bane is mistaken in his observation of a false hope.

    Either way, Batman experiences both abysses. One, he swore to protect, and the other, he was forced to suffer and escape. We know he was reborn as he returned to Gotham – one abyss – the first time in Batman Begins. This was his first transformation, but in TDKR, Batman wants to be a thing of the past, so Bruce Wayne must enter another abyss; in this case, the prison. Through his rise, he finds the necessary tools to defeat Bane and returns to Gotham. At this point, he has decided that Batman is not YET the past, and has a little more work to do. He has nearly settled his conflict between past and future, but that’s not all there is to say on that.

    Before I go on, though, I would like to point out a nice character arrangement to parallel the past/future theme at hand. Throughout the movie, we know Bruce Wayne wants to escape his past and embrace his future, even if he IS doing it incorrectly for a while. I noticed his relationship with Catwoman (who represents moving to the future) is an open one, with a flirty, embracing air about it, and closely resembles his desire for a future free of Batman – of crime(-fighting). Conversely, his relationship with Bane (who represents the past) is one in which he is forced, again and again, to embrace, until the end, where he willingly goes to Bane to fight. I think this relationship with Bane represents Bruce’s reluctance to find closure with his past, until the end, when he is spiritually prepared to face his past, and similarly faces Bane.

    Anyway, when Batman flies the bomb off to sea, apparently sacrificing himself, he settles both conflicts.

    First, addressing the past/future conflict, Bruce Wayne decided that neither were important, so long as someone needed him. In that moment, Gotham needed ACTION, not past or future; Gotham needed RIGHT NOW. The point made here suggests selflessness: a hero may be anyone (which was Batman’s originally intended message), and everyone is conflicted, but a hero overcomes those conflicts and RISES to the occasion – The. Dark. Knight. Rises.

    Second, addressing the truth/morality conflict, Bruce Wayne is seen in Florence with Selina Kyle, which suggests he survived the explosion (somehow) and finally moved on with his life (and so did Catwoman! Yay!). Now, did this movie REALLY contradict TDK? I don’t think it did. Batman’s final sacrifice is a sham! And the people of Gotham don’t even know it! BUT IT WORKS ANYWAY! This is Batman’s final point: something is not falsely earned when it is given (Which I derived from the scene in which Catwoman says he’s already given the people everything, and he responds, “Not everything.”). Honestly, Bane of all people should understand that, given that his freedom from the prison did not come from work to escape, but from someone who HAD escaped coming back for him.

    I would like to add, with that last bit about Bane and escaping, I felt a sort of six-way parallel between Bane, Batman, The Joker, Scarecrow, Harvey Dent/Two-Face, and Miranda as well. Through the entire trilogy, Batman pushed the point that the hero can be anyone, but I think, subtly, Christopher Nolan also pushed that the VILLAIN can be anyone. First, Scarecrow is the mysterious drug lord with no identity; he could be anyone. Second, The Joker pushes to show that everyone has the potential to be crazy, and his identity is never really revealed. He’s just the Joker; he could be anyone, and he wants to prove that anyone can be just as bad as him. Thirdly, The Joker DOES (almost) succeed with Harvey Dent, showing that anyone – even the Attorney General – can go crazy and become a villain. Fourthly and Fifthly, through ALL of TDKR, I felt comfortable in my perception of Bane as the only villain, but (like most, I’m sure) I was shocked to learn that Miranda was pulling the strings. This twist goes, again, to show that anyone can be the villain.

    Ultimately, I find Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy to be f****** rad. It’s good stuff… for sure.

    Thank you for reading this if you made it this far. I really like these movies, and I love interpreting them. I hope you enjoyed this or found it informative or enlightening, and I would love responses if you have anything to say or any corrections to make to my comment.

    • *Addition to my comment*

      Regarding the final bit about the villain being anyone, I noticed Bane even said, at the beginning of TDKR, “No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.” This line puts Bane right up next to Batman, whose mask plays a huge role in his position as a symbol of hope – Bane’s works in the opposite direction.

  12. I posted earlier and I just wanted to add one thing: In TDK Batman and Gordon lie and blame Batman for Harvey’s crimes, and in TDKR Batman/Bruce – yet again – fools the world and fakes his death. I’m not going to get into it and analyze this, but it seems the endings are surprisingly similar, yes? Maybe more of a duplication of themes rather than a contradiction.

  13. Just because Batman and Gordon suffer for their lie, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t have a purpose. The entire point of Bruce’s life was Batman, so vilifying the Bat would naturally wreck Bruce. Similarly, Gordon had to feel guilt about the fact that Batman bore the wrath of the Joker’s victory.

    This even contributes to the selfishness of Bruce Wayne in his becoming Batman again. Alfred argues that he was supposed to move on. The only discrepancy is the inclusion of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character. The “inspirational” ending that he will carry on the mantle of the Bat whitewashes the moral ambiguity in the existence of Batman.

  14. The two films don’t contradict each other, they just follow the bigger story presented in that Wayne and Gordon learned from their mistakes in the second film.

  15. I think you’re analyzing them the wrong way.
    See,in TDK,they decided to tell a lie in order to maintain hope because Harvey was corrupted and Gotham was going to explode if the truth got out.
    It was the obvious choice at the time because they didn’t have the experience and were caught off guard by Joker.
    There’s no permanent fix for something and there will come a time when you must find a new solution for a problem.In TDKR,you can feel how everything was boiling and Gordon was feeling the weight of the lie he told and it spread through the city as well,it was only a temporary fix until things got worse again.In the end,only the truth would set things right because people stand up for what they believe in but they’ll do it more convincingly when what they believe in is something tangible,in this case Gotham city.Also,it takes only one to start a movement and fight for the greater good,becoming a symbol and that’s what Bruce achieved in the end.
    So no,I don’t think the movies contradict each other at all,they just had different solutions for different times.

  16. I think you’re analyzing them the wrong way.
    See,in TDK,they decided to tell a lie in order to maintain hope because Harvey was corrupted and Gotham was going to explode if the truth got out.
    It was the obvious choice at the time because they didn’t have the experience and were caught off guard by Joker.

    There’s no permanent fix for something and there will come a time when you must find a new solution for a problem.
    In TDKR,you can feel how everything was boiling and Gordon was feeling the weight of the lie he told and it spread through the city as well,it was only a temporary fix until things got worse again.In the end,only the truth would set things right because people stand up for what they believe in but they’ll do it more convincingly when what they believe in is something tangible,in this case Gotham city.

    Also,it takes only one to start a movement and fight for the greater good,becoming a symbol and that’s what Bruce achieved in the end.
    So no,I don’t think the movies contradict each other at all,they just had different solutions for different times.

  17. Batman is a contradictive character

  18. The world has to c the truth some time I think it’s realistic

  19. The world has to c the truth some time I think it’s realismail atman is contradictive he’s not perfect

  20. The way I see it, TDK was incomplete.
    Personally, if they left it with TDK, I’d be dissapointed. They chose a lie, over the truth. Not noble at all, deceitful infact.
    TDK Rises really ‘fufilled’ the story.
    Hope and inspiration…
    rather,
    True Victory, of goodness, cannot be falsely earned, otherwise, that victor is corrupt.
    When nessesary, these victories have to be fought for through blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice.

  21. I think that was the point of TDKR. In my opinion TDK and TDKR are companion pieces (Think like Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2), where Batman Begins is the epilogue.

  22. Well I thought about this while watching the TDKR for the first time yet I don’t see it as a contradiction.The fact that batman still has to struggle with the past and the outcome of joker’s deeds actually emphasizes on joker’s importance as well as the TDK.In a way joker is present in TDKR the way Ra’s al Ghul is.

  23. I agree with this article.

    Leaving the larger ideas behind, the finale of The Dark Knight was primarily about the “death” of Bruce Wayne and the “birth” of Batman. Batman isn’t a hero or schmaltzy symbol of “hope”–he is a necessary evil.

    But he is necessary, nonetheless.

    In a city this wrecked, there truly is no such thing as law, order and justice. It is the duty of The Batman to maintain the balance because nobody else can. Remember the Caesar discussion from TDK? The shoe fits.

    This is a great evolution of character (also a radical departure from what he initially set out to be) and firmly cements him as a tragic hero.

    Batman does cause Bruce Wayne a great deal of pain, but TDKR would have been a much better movie had it focused on Wayne coming to terms with his role in the grand scheme of things.

    The “moving on” and “quitting” aspects absolutely betray every fiber of the characters being.

  24. What hardcore Batman fans need to understand is that Christopher Nolan took the Batman legacy and made it his own. The Dark Knight Trilogy isn’t exactly a full adaptation of any comic ever published. The trilogy is more of a re-vamped, but realistic retelling of an already famous story. He changed certain story elements so that they’ll work in his story line. Many things were changed. Probably too many to count.

    The whole reason Bruce Wayne hung up his cape is because of the death of his only love. In a way, Batman and Gordon did win the war with the Joker, but it defeated Wayne in another way that only he can feel. Gordon doesn’t seem so defeated by the lie they created in order to keep hope going. (Except for the lament of the actual lie itself.) Neither did Wayne, but he felt defeat when he couldn’t save his one true love.

    The Dark Knight ended the way it had to. There was no coming back from what Harvey Dent did. Batman and Gordon knew this. So they created a lie that would allow people to believe that the incorruptible is truly incorruptible. The Dark Knight Rises is a whole other story.

    One word: Bane.

    Bane isn’t the oldest of Batman villains, but he is one of the greatest. He isn’t just the meat-head he was in Batman and Robin or other adaptations. He’s incredible intelligent and he gave Batman a challenge that no other villain did. But you have to remember, this is Christopher Nolan’s Bane, not the comic’s or animated series. Bane isn’t out to disprove Batman or Gordon. He didn’t go to Gotham to continue The Joker’s legacy. As the rules of trilogies exist, we have to go back. Back story is everything to the final chapter of a trilogy. Bane is simply here to destroy Gotham because of it’s injustice. The League of Shadows believes they are a necessary evil, but Batman believes he can save Gotham without destruction.

    The Joker had no master plan and he didn’t want to destroy Gotham. He wanted to show that the incorruptible could be destroyed if pushed in to a corner long enough for it to believe it could fail. Batman, no matter what, cannot fail. The entire reason Wayne creates Batman is because he knows as Wayne he can fail, but Batman can carry on, but Bruce Wayne cannot. “The Batman can’t do this forever, how could he? He’s looking for someone to take up his mantle.” That quote from Harvey Dent disproves everyone’s theory that the whoever is Batman must do this forever. Hence why he showed Blake where the Batcave is.

    Batman is forever, but Bruce Wayne is not. Because remember, this is not a comic book. This is a completely different take on the character. Realism is everything to this story. There are no supernatural aspects of this trilogy at all. Bruce Wayne is going to have to stop eventually, but the Batman, or any symbol of hope for that matter, can be forever.

  25. There is no contradiction in the way that you have presented it. The idea that TDKR makes TDK look like a series of follies that somehow managed to work out is an interesting take on it. The apparent contradiction comes from characters growing as people. The results of TDK came from a limited group of people (Batman & Gordon) making decisions on the behalf of a whole city. Though these two are quite smart and capable, the fact that only two made such a big decision means it is very likely that they could make a wrong decision. TDKR is just the fallout from that decision and the fact that they could realize that they had made a bad decision is a sign of both personal and intellectual growth.

    • DKR was terrible and internally inconsistent as well as inconsistent withTDK.

      Batman does not quit. Not once. Certainly not twice.
      Alfred spent all of TDK encouraging Bruce to endure, so why is he arguing the oppos. In dKR.
      Batman DOES NOT USE GUNS. In DKR the first thin post retirement batman does is draw a gadget-gun during a chase. Not a batarang. A gun. And what saves batman from bane? Catwoman and a bazooka. Meanwhile JGL is learning that guns don’t leave criminals alive to interrogate……

      And can anyone explain why the prisoners of what should have been Santa Prisca could not simply climb the rope out of the hole, gym-class style?

      All just very stupid. Nolan made Two definitive Batman movies and the made a movie that was very definitively NOT Batman.

      • I haven’t typically responded to comments on this post, but I have to respond to JC because his comments are pretty asinine.

        1) If Batman doesn’t quit, ever, then why does he have to return in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. He also fakes his own death in The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel and has other people doing Batman’s work in Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Returns is considered one of the greatest graphic novels written, so I think we can agree that Batman does quit…twice. Crime was down in Gotham at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman was no longer needed, therefore he quit.

        2) Since the beginning of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Alfred has been against Bruce Wayne being Batman, but he also felt in The Dark Knight that Gotham needed Batman. He knew that Batman wasn’t the reason Joker was killing people, and therefore he knew that Bruce needed to endure the mental torment Joker was putting him through. Batman at that time could operate above the law and do things the cops couldn’t do to find Joker and take him down. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce is a physically broken man, and Alfred felt that Bruce could help with taking down Bane in other ways than physically. Alfred felt, and knew, that if Bruce went out as Batman he would be seriously injured or killed. In TDK he knew Batman could take down the Joker, in TDKR he was concerned about Bruce’s well being.

        3) Batman still doesn’t use guns, this is just ignorance of what Batman is actually using at this point. That gun-like device is actually a targeted Electro-Magnetic Pulse device. The purpose is to target an object with the EMP and cause it to lose electricity. It could be used to turn off lights, stop vehicles, etc. It’s not meant to actually shoot anything. It doesn’t matter if other characters use guns, Batman still doesn’t use guns.

        4) The rope doesn’t go all the way to the top of the mouth of the prison. Even if they climbed up they wouldn’t be able to get out.

      • Why are you replying to my comment? Your comment has nothing to do with mine.

        • I hit reply on JC’s comment, he’s the one who hit reply on yours. Or were you talking to him?

  26. This is directly respondent to the previous 2 comments:

    I think that what was happening at the end of The Dark Knight, what caused Bruce to stop for those 8 years, was Batman was afraid he was actually more harm than good. Bruce was upset that Batman wasn’t liked and loved by the people he protects – in fact they hated him if you recall. Alfred was basically telling him, “Of course they’re not going to like you! Not at first anyway. But it’s not about being liked, it’s about change. Change for the better.” So Alfred said Bruce should endure the hate because what he’s doing is far more important than the people’s opinion of it. And in the end of that story, Batman takes the fall intentionally and lets everyone hate him so that he could win. Brilliant Irony there, but that’s beside the point. Batman took the blame for Harvey Dent to reward the people’s faith in good, because then they would have the hope and the drive to bring good about themselves without Batman. Now in The Dark Knight Rises, Alfred is telling Bruce to stop because Alfred thinks that Batman’s job was done; to use Batman’s own words, Dent was the symbol of hope Batman could never be. Then Bane comes along, and now Gotham needs Batman again. Gotham doesn’t want him, but Batman is more than that. Now to simplify it, the city learns the truth that Harvey Dent was in the end a homicidal maniac and then all hope is lost. Time for Batman to step up to the plate. Alfred’s concern in Rises is not about Batman, but about Bruce. He loves Bruce and can’t stand to see him suffer and get hurt, and Alfred knows that all Gotham holds for Bruce is pain and tragedy. Yes, Alfred told him to endure for the sake of Batman, but Bruce personally couldn’t do it and that pain ruined him and he spent the next 8 years of his life alone in his house suffering from guilt and dejection. And Alfred feels guilty and sorry for Bruce. He wants to make it right again because he loves Bruce and wants him to have the reward he was after. So Alfred confesses to the truth of Rachel – and that truth hurts Bruce a lot, his own personal hope was lost – hoping Bruce will see the truth that Alfred knows; there is nothing in this for you, it’s a waste of your time and the only thing this will ever bring you is hurt – Batman will not pay off for you. It’s the same thing as Gotham learning the truth of Harvey, but more personal and directly relevant to Bruce. In both cases Batman has to rise to the occasion.

    Harvey Dent was just another corrupt psychopath that you feared and thought he would protect you from – Rachel was just like everyone else and despised what Batman had done to them.

    I feel like I might have lost it a bit towards the end, but I hope you understand what I had to say.

    • I disagree with that initial statement. He stopped for 8 years for a number of reason, but I don’t think it had anything to do with Batman being disliked by the masses. 1) Rachel Dawes had been killed, that sent Bruce into a prolonged state of mourning. 2) Batman made him feel needed. The Dent Act helped end organized crime and police corruption in Gotham. Crime was down and Batman was no longer needed to thwart Gotham’s criminal element. I think more than mourning Rachel, Bruce was morning the fact that Batman was no longer needed. The need for Batman is what gave Bruce Wayne purpose. Without purpose he became a shell of a man.

  27. I agree, nor did I say that Bruce quite Batman because he was disliked. It just hurt Bruce knowing that his hard work wasn’t appreciated, or that he might even actually have some blame in all of it. He quite because he wasn’t needed, but it hurt to be so disliked for all of the good he caused.

  28. I agree that TDKR does contradict it’s predecessor, but believe that it is done well. The fact that there are 8 years between the two story lines helps this contradiction be more successful, as, it allows the lie that Gordon and Batman create to develop and actually work for 8 years. However, like any other lie, this one did eventually catch up to them, which again raises the question of who really won in the long run, Batman or the Joker?

  29. The Dark Knight Rises did go back to the “noble lie” thing. The people falsely believe Batman sacrificed himself to save them, giving them a Jesus-like figure to admire and perhaps try to model themselves after.

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