Whenever fans or critics rank the greatest superhero films of all time, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy consistently secures several of the top spots. There’s a reason for this: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises were genuine game-changers that challenged audiences’ perception of the genre. Not content to churn out simple “popcorn flicks”, Nolan and his cast and crew crafted a trio of movies that balanced pulse-pounding action with nuanced characterization and weighty themes.
But that doesn’t mean the Dark Knight trilogy is perfect. On the contrary, just like any acclaimed franchise, these pictures have their fair share of little blemishes – particularly when it comes to dangling plot threads. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up a list of burning questions that remain unanswered nearly a decade on from this epic trilogy’s conclusion.
10 Who Were Two-Face’s Five Victims?
In the closing moments of The Dark Knight, Batman and Commissioner Gordon are left to salvage the good work done by District Attorney Harvey Dent, before his transformation into the villainous Two-Face. Commenting on Harvey’s crime spree – and how hard it will be to sweep under the rug – Gordon remarks “Five dead, two of them cops”.
Now, unless we’re missing something, Jim’s math is a bit off here. Based off what we see on-screen, Two-Face only bumps off three people – corrupt cop Wuertz, crime boss Sal Moroni and Moroni’s driver – while a fourth potential victim, Detective Anna Ramirez, is ultimately spared. So who are the five Gordon is referring to? It’s possible that Dent himself (who was fatally injured during his confrontation with Batman) is included in this number, but that still leaves one body unaccounted for!
9 How Does Gordon Still Have A Job?
The Dark Knight Rises villain Bane is a verbose guy, even by the standards of a comic book supervillain. During one of his many rousing speeches, the hulking baddie reveals to the public that Commissioner Gordon was instrumental in covering up Harvey Dent’s crimes in The Dark Knight, with Batman willingly serving as the fall guy for Dent.
Fast forward to the film’s closing montage, and it appears that Gordon still holds that top job on the Gotham City Police Department…and we’ve got no idea how. One could argue that nobody believed Bane. After all, he’s a deranged extremist who held an entire city hostage before attempting to nuke it – so not exactly a trustworthy source. Nevertheless, surely somebody would have investigated Bane’s allegations, and once it became clear they were accurate, seen to it that Gordon was fired (if not thrown in prison!).
8 What Is The Joker’s True Origin Story?
Expanding on a concept introduced by legendary comic book scribe Alan Moore in the seminal graphic novel Batman: The Killing, the Joker as portrayed in The Dark Knight doesn’t have a definitive origin. Instead, the Clown Prince of Crime offers two contradictory accounts of his traumatic backstory, with Batman cutting him off before he can rattle off a third.
It’s hard to know if any of these yarns is true, although we think that’s unlikely – which only fuels our speculation even more. And while a huge part of what makes this incarnation of the character so terrifying (aside from Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance) is his mysterious past, we really would love to know exactly how the Joker did get those scars…
7 How Did Gordon Fake His Death?
To be honest, this entry constitutes more of a plot hole than an unresolved plot point – but nevertheless, we still want to know how Commissioner Gordon faked his death in The Dark Knight. For starters, who was involved? We’re guessing Gotham City Police Department veteran – and one of Gordon’s most loyal allies on the force – Detective Stephens had to be in on it. Yet he plays the part of grieving brother-in-arms very convincingly, as does Batman himself.
Then there’s the logistics to consider. Assuming Stephens (and presumably coroner!) were privy to Gordon’s ruse, when did he bring them on board? Did Jim have a plan in place that covered any scenario where he was non-fatally injured in the line of duty? So many questions, and frankly, we’re not sure they’ll ever be satisfactorily answered.
6 What’s The Deal With Bane?
For much of The Dark Knight Rises’s runtime, we’re led to believe that Bane was raised in hellish third-world prison, the Pit. However, it later transpires that this nightmarish childhood belonged to Miranda Tate – secretly Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Batman’s mentor-turned-enemy Ra’s al Ghul – with Bane serving as her self-appointed bodyguard, instead.
This all begs the question: who exactly is Bane? Was he also born in the Pit as he claimed – is that the kinda thing that happens more than once?! – or did he merely adopt Talia’s history as his own? If not, what landed Bane in the Pit? And why was he so driven to protect Talia? Don’t get us wrong: riddles like these enrich the character – we’re just desperate for a little closure here!
5 What Happened To Flass?
Batman Begins establishes very early on just how crooked the Gotham City Police Department is, and in many ways, Detective Arnold Flass is the poster child of this corruption. The very first time we meet Flass, he’s pocketing ill-gotten cash, and we subsequently learn that he’s on the payroll of crime boss Carmine Falcone.
Yet despite playing such a prominent role in The Dark Knight trilogy’s opening instalment, Flass disappears entirely from follow up entries in the franchise. This is surprising, especially once one realizes that he could easily have substituted for fellow dishonest cop Michael Wuertz in The Dark Knight. Still, an argument could be made that Jim Gordon – emboldened by his increased stature within the GCPD following the events of Begins – finally informed on his former partner, leading to his expulsion from the force off-screen.
4 Did Reese Ever Spill The Beans?
In one of The Dark Knight’s more memorable scenes, Wayne Enterprises accountant Coleman Reese tries (and fails) to blackmail his employer, after piecing together that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Reese drops the idea after Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox points out the potential risks involved with extorting a man who is both obscenely rich and the scourge of Gotham’s underworld.
So Reese’s main motivation for keeping mom on Batman’s secret identity boils down to fear for his own safety. In fairness, there’s at least a little gratitude mingled in with that terror, as Bruce later puts his life on the line to rescue him. But a guy like Reese is clearly driven by greed, and following Batman’s apparent demise in The Dark Knight Rises, we’re left to wonder whether he ever cashed in on this valuable knowledge, once the fear of retribution was seemingly lifted.
3 What Was Scarecrow’s Final Fate?
After serving as one of the main antagonists in Batman Begins, Scarecrow is relegated to bit part status in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. In his final cameo in the trilogy, Jonathan Crane serves as the judge in Bane’s kangaroo court, holding mock trials before sentencing “guilty” parties to a fatal march across Gotham’s frozen river.
We never see Scarecrow again after this, leaving his final fate up in the air. That said, it’s not hard to fill in the blanks here. We’re guessing Crane was incapacitated (or worse) during the skirmish between the Gotham City Police Department and Bane’s forces, winding up behind bars (or in the morgue) during the post-battle mop up.
2 How Did Bruce Make It Back To Gotham City?
The Dark Knight Rises isn’t without its critics, and something the film’s detractors often call attention to is Bruce Wayne’s journey back from the Pit all the way back to Gotham City. According to these naysayers, Bruce had neither the resources nor the time at his disposal to travel from the Pit’s undisclosed third-world location to America’s East Coast, making this a gigantic plot hole.
We disagree. For one thing, securing passage home without money or a passport would be child’s play for someone of Bruce’s intellect and extensive survival training (this is Batman we’re talking about here, people). For another, according to comments made by Wayne and Lucius Fox, Bruce had three whole weeks to make the trip. So we’re not debating that he could have done it – we’d just like the lowdown on exactly how it went down!
1 Where Is The Joker Now?
Despite its large roster of characters and nearly three-hour runtime, The Dark Knight Rises still manages to leave out one key character: The Joker. Obviously, the real-world reason for this is that star Heath Ledger’s fatal overdose made it impossible for him to reprise the role – and Christopher Nolan chose to honor Ledger’s memory by not cutting together unused footage to create a brief performance.
While Nolan’s respect for Ledger’s memory is admirable, it’s nonetheless quite jarring that Joker – almost as important a character in the trilogy as Batman himself – isn’t even referenced in dialogue. True, The Dark Knight Rises’ tie-in novelization suggests that the Joker might still be locked away in Arkham Asylum. However, the canonicity of supporting material such as this is dubious at best, so until Nolan weighs in on Joker’s current whereabouts in The Dark Knight universe, we’ll never get any closure!