Batman fans remember Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy pretty fondly. We look back on how well these movies managed to tell stories about their central hero that were dark and gritty without becoming parodies of themselves. The movies are also widely beloved for their careful plotting, their great casting, and their ability to weave complex ideas into stories that are already compelling.
Like all movies, though, the films in Nolan’s trilogy aren't perfect. The plotting isn’t always logical, and sometimes it exists only to put the characters in specific situations. There’s still tons to love in this trilogy, of course. They’re great to look at, and they provided us with a template for how we could take our superheroes seriously. They made Batman cool again, but that doesn’t mean that everything about them adds up. Here are the 15 Biggest Plot Holes In The Dark Knight Trilogy.
15 Bane's Extra Body
The Dark Knight Rises has one of the great opening action sequences of all time. During the sequence, as Bane hijacks and crashes a CIA plane, Bane leaves one of his men behind to die and explains that he must, or authorities will suspect that the doctor that Bane has extracted is missing. That might have made sense if the movie was made 50 years ago.
The Dark Knight Rises is set in the present day, though, which means that the bodies could likely be identified by their DNA or dental records. There would be no reason to leave the extra body behind, because it could very quickly be identified as the wrong body.
For all of Bane’s careful planning, it seems as though some of his decisions aren’t entirely rooted in logic. This decision works to show ruthless Bane is, but it may not ultimately be the smartest move he could have made.
14 "Playing This One Close to the Chest"
Early in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne tells Lucius that he’s planning to “play this one pretty close to the chest.” The line doesn’t stick out in any particular way, and largely seems to exist so that we understand how secretive Batman will eventually be about his plan. Later in the film, after Harvey Dent discovers that Gordon pretended to kill himself, he remarks that Gordon really does keep things close to the chest.
It’s an interesting callback in the script, but it’s one that makes no sense logically. The second exchange features none of the characters from the first, and there’s no way that Dent would have heard that expression before. It’s the kind of thing that’s hard to notice, but actually makes fairly little sense. Script callbacks are nice in moderation, but they have to make sense logically. In The Dark Knight, this particular callback just doesn’t make sense.
13 Nobody Notices Batman Uses Wayne Tech
So Lucius Fox gives Bruce Wayne most of his gear, and he’s ultimately instrumental in allowing Batman to function asa superhero. It makes enough sense for Lucius to help Bruce out, but there must have been other people who worked on for Wayne technology gear. After all, it wasn’t really designed to be used by Batman. Many of the programs were designed by the research and development department, and as such, were probably designed by scientists.
When Batman arrives on the scene, he uses tons of gear that the scientists would definitely recognize. They worked on the gear after all, and would remember designing it for Wayne Enterprises. As a result, it’d be pretty hard to keep Bruce’s identity a secret once he showed up in a small tank that had likely taken a team of scientists to design. All three films glide over that gap in logic, which is understandable. They wouldn’t be nearly as fun if Wayne was discovered immediately.
12 Bane's Five Month Plan
When Bane takes over Gotham, he shows incredible force. He manages to cut the city off from the rest of the world, and successfully holds its citizens hostage for five straight months. The question is, why? Five months seems like an incredibly arbitrary amount of time, and it’s likely only a part of Bane’s plans because Bruce would require that much time to recover from his injuries.
Of course, you could conceivably argue that Bane held Gotham hostage for such a long time because he wanted to attain total control, and break the spirits of anyone who wanted to rise against him. Still, if Bane had been willing to act more quickly, he might have actually pulled off his scheme and destroyed the city. Instead, he simply sits around and waits for Batman to come back and save the day. Really, Bane’s loss was his own doing. He had a win in the bag, and he threw it away because of some arbitrary deadline.
11 The Decoy Ra's Al Ghul Twist
In Batman Begins, we’re led to believe that Ra’s Al Ghul is someone other than Liam Neeson, a decoy played by Ken Watanabe. Neeson is instead playing someone named Henri Ducard, who trains Bruce and ushers him into the League of Shadows. When Bruce learns the true purpose of the League of Shadows, he turns against the organization out of a belief that Gotham can be saved.
While Bruce believes he’s wiped out the League of Shadows, the organization eventually returns to attack Gotham at the end of the film, when we discover that Neeson is actually Ra’s Al Ghul. The reveal is a neat one, for sure, but it’s not really a logical one. It’s not like Ra’s Al Ghul expected Bruce to turn against him. After all, Ducard/Ra’s thought Bruce was planning to join up. In the end, it seems like this secret was kept not for logical reasons, but in order to deliver a stellar surprise to audiences in the third act.
10 The Bridge Signal
When Batman returns to Gotham at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, he does so to take back his city and end Bane’s reign. Given that goal, he probably could have made better use of the element of surprise. Instead, Batman decides to set up an elaborate pyrotechnic display in the shape of a bat to signal his return, which required a convoluted plan to execute, in and of itself.
For the signal to successfully appear, Batman would have had to know that Gordon would walk out onto the ice, and that he wouldn’t fall through, and that he would grab the flare to light up the bridge. While it certainly makes for a cool image, and may even work as a tactic for intimidating Bane, Batman probably could have made better use of the element surprise. He might have beaten Bane faster if he didn’t let the guy know he was back.
9 Gordon Sends Every Cop in Gotham into the Tunnels
Commissioner Gordon tended to be a pretty adept leader throughout his run in The Dark Knight trilogy. Unfortunately, Gordon made one crucial error during The Dark Knight Rises that ultimately allowed the city to be shut down. When Gordon ordered every officer in the city to go underground to flush Bane out, he played right into the villain’s hand.
It’s still unclear why Gordon made this decision, though. He’s not generally a dumb guy, and he must have known that sending all of his men to one place wasn’t a great idea. What’s more, we don’t know why Bane thought Gordon would make such a dumb move in the first place. Nobody acted the way they should here, and it’s only because of Gordon’s stupidity that Bane is able to take over the city. Gordon’s usually more careful than this, which only makes this plotting feel like a greater betrayal of his character.
8 The Monorail Fight
The climactic battle in Batman Begins takes place on a train, but we don’t really get a sense why that is. Sure, it’s cool that Batman and Ra's Al Ghul get to have a showdown on a moving train, but that’s about the only reason they should be on it. Ra’s Al Ghul is ostensibly using the train to get the vaporizer to Wayne Tower, which is close to the city’s water supply. If he really wanted to vaporize all of the city’s water, why wouldn’t he just start in Wayne Tower?
Even if you can buy his reasons for being on the monorail, it’s even harder to understand what Batman is doing there. He’d already told Gordon to cut the train off before it reached Wayne Tower, so it’s unclear why he needed to be there at all. Batman knew the train wasn’t going to make it, but he went to fight Ra’s anyway. Perhaps he did so just to settle some sort of personal score, but that doesn’t mean it was a smart move. In fact, it makes it even stupider.
7 Where'd Coleman Reese Go?
Remember Coleman Reese? He’s the guy who managed to figure out that Bruce Wayne was Batman simply by pouring over old Wayne Enterprise records. Reese ultimately decides not to reveal Wayne’s secret identity after Wayne saves his life. Still, in the aftermath of The Dark Knight’s climax, it seems like Reese should probably have come forward with the information. After all, the general public believed that Batman was responsible for all the crimes that Harvey Dent actually committed, and for the death of Harvey himself.
Considering the fact that Batman became enemy number one, Reese had some information that might have been useful in finding him. Alas, after Wayne saves his life, we never hear from Reese again. It appears as though Reese believes wholeheartedly that Batman exists to do good, and can’t be persuaded that he was responsible for all of that death. Of course, it’s also possible that Nolan simply forgot about him.
6 Gordon's Fake Death
Many of the plans in The Dark Knight are confusing, and not just because they’re hard to follow. The Joker’s plan is absurdly complicated, but he’s not alone. Jim Gordon’s decision to fake his own death is both confusing and strange. It’s unclear how Gordon knew that the Joker would carry out an assassination attempt on the Mayor, which is what gives him the opportunity to fake his own death.
What’s more, it’s unclear exactly what Gordon planned to accomplish by faking his own death. He tried to keep his family safe by killing himself, sure, but it seems as though the Joker could still have been captured had Gordon been alive. Gordon’s return makes for a nice surprise in a film that’s packed with them, but it’s unclear when he chose to begin this plan, and what his reasons were.
Gordon’s plan requires a lot of knowledge that he just doesn’t have, and what’s more, the plan probably wasn't even necessary.
5 The League of Shadows' Plan in Batman Begins
In Batman Begins, the core of the League of Shadows plan involves releasing a toxin into the water throughout Gotham with the goal of forcing the citizens to go mad and burn the city to the ground. The plan almost works, but Batman arrives in time to save the day, and fight for his city even as he acknowledges its flaws. When you step back and examine the League of Shadow’s plan, though, it’s easy to get confused.
While their goal was to vaporize all of the city’s water and release an airborne toxin, we know that the water itself has carried the toxin for some time. This means that no one in the city has vaporized any water in the past few weeks. If they had, they would have been susceptible to the madness it brings on. That means no one boiled any water, no one took a hot shower, and no one made tea. The citizens of Gotham may be weird, but they’re not that weird, right?
4 How did Bruce Get Back to Gotham from the pit?
For much of The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne is trapped in a hole a world away from Gotham, and he’s forced to watch his city's demise on television. Eventually, Bruce learns that he can escape from the pit if he can climb out himself, and he does so near the end of the film. The next time we see Bruce, he’s returned to Gotham and is recruiting Catwoman to help him defeat Bane.
In making this leap, The Dark Knight Rises forces the audience to ask how Bruce got back to Gotham from an unpopulated desert prison on the other side of the world. It’s true that Bruce is a wealthy and widely-recognizable man, but it’s not like he had money on him. How did he get out of the desert in the first place? The film acts as if Bruce’s fight to get out of the pit was his only obstacle, but most audience members knew that probably wasn’t the case.
3 The Joker's Plan is Insanely Convoluted
The Joker relies on a lot of convenience. Not only does he allow himself to get captured after putting up the most convincing fight in history, he also seems to know where the cops will keep him, and that the police will leave an officer inside the room guarding him. If the officer had been stationed outside the room, the entire plan would have fallen apart. The station wouldn’t have blown up, and The Joker would have remained locked in his cell.
It’s easy to overlook these conveniences as the plot moves along, partly because the pace never lets up enough for us to consider how things are unfolding. Still, when you stop and think about it, it’s hard to imagine the Joker’s plan working in the real world. It’s not just that he manipulated the pieces into position masterfully. It’s that he seemed to know exactly what was going to happen at every turn, even when what happened next wasn’t necessarily logical.
2 How did Bruce Escape the Bomb's Blast Radius?
At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman loads up his plane with Bane’s nuclear bomb, and flies as far away from Gotham as he can before the thing explodes. In the film, this moment is meant to be read as Batman’s last great act for the city, ending his time protecting Gotham and allowing someone new to take over. It’s a fitting end for a hero who has already given everything for the city, but its meaning changes when you realize that Wayne survived the ordeal.
Wayne’s survival might make for a nice moment at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, as we finally see him enjoying a life that doesn’t require any cities being saved, but it’s also a bit confusing. We find out that the ship that held the nuclear bomb was on autopilot, and that Bruce escaped before it exploded. While this may be true, we still know that Batman took off in the plane, and must have ejected himself at some point. If he did this, how did he avoid the bomb’s massive blast radius when it exploded in Gotham harbor? Batman must be quite a swimmer.
1 Batman (Sort of) Kills His Enemies
Throughout the Dark Knight trilogy, a huge emphasis is placed on the idea that Batman has a single rule -- he doesn’t kill. Even ignoring the number of random henchmen that he at least maims, Batman’s governing ethos falls apart pretty quickly inside of the trilogy. In Batman Begins, Batman makes the fairly arbitrary decision that his rule doesn’t apply if he simply allows Ra’s Al Ghul to die. While it’s true that Batman didn’t physically kill the man, it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t responsible for his death when that train car crashed.
What’s more, Batman has a more direct hand in Harvey Dent’s death. While it’s true that he tackles Harvey off the edge of that building to save a child, he’s still pretty much singlehandedly responsible for the man’s death. That’s not to say that it’s the wrong choice, just that his rule seems to be breakable. In fact, for a trilogy that puts so much focus on Batman’s reluctance to kill, the fact that he sort of kills two of the series’ villains is more than a little significant. Some rules were just meant to be broken.
Are there any other plot holes we missed in the Dark Knight trilogy? Let us know in the comments!