Though I adore Christopher Nolan’s vision for the caped crusader (sans the incomprehensible fight scenes, of course), I realize that it isn’t for everyone. The Dark Knight was essentially a crime film featuring a superhero. It made Batman a supporting player in a story that made allusions to 911 and the USA PATRIOT Act. Perhaps that is why many fans found it just a tad pretentious. Not to mention that while Nolan can be heavy handed, his intent is sometimes murky. For that reason, an in-depth analysis of the new trailer (or at least an attempt at one) might be in order.
Little is known about the actual plot details of The Dark Knight Rises. Having shouldered the blame for the atrocities of Two-Face in order to protect the legacy of DA Harvey Dent, Batman incurs the all-encompassing wrath of the Gotham PD. He disappears from the scene, resurfacing eight after the events of The Dark Knight. Gotham faces an all knew threat in the form of the menacing Bane. This is an ordeal the likes of which Batman has never faced. The following are key moments from the new trailer.
As the trailer opens, a seemingly tearful Alfred bears his soul to Bruce Wayne. He laments his failures as a legal guardian. That Alfred now questions himself in light of the path Bruce has taken adds an air of tragedy to the proceedings. The Dark Knight hinted that the presence of Batman in Gotham might have escalated an already bad situation. Alfred’s dialogue in this trailer goes a long way in confirming such suspicions.
Jim Gordon is shown giving some sort of address at a private function. As he does so, an attendee reveals that the mayor is “dumping” Gordon. He is described as a war hero, the likes of which is not needed during peace time. Gordon is being cast aside as a new age is being ushered in. He fought in the trenches, and is now being expelled like lower income residents before gentrification.
Bruce Wayne is then shown dancing with Selina Kyle at a ball of some sort. She warns him of a coming storm that the wealthy will not be shielded from. She also implies that Wayne and the rest of Gotham’s elite have not done right by the lower classes. This is interesting given that Batman Begins showed Bruce’s father to be a philanthropist. Could The Dark Knight Rises be saying that Bruce has not lived up to that legacy, and in fact might have betrayed it by creating Batman?
As a seemingly battered and imprisoned Bruce Wayne lies on a bunk, Bane glowers over him and growls “When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.” This implies that Bane indeed means to raze Gotham to the ground, just as Ra's al Ghul did before him. Throughout this series, each villain has had different philosophical reasons for inciting anarchy. The dominant theme in this trailer seems to that of class struggle. As always, Batman must find a way to avert the coming apocalypse. Is Bane, and by extension Christopher Nolan, requiring him finally choose what side he’s on?
The rest of the trailer balances out such heavy themes with apocalyptic imagery. The centerpiece of the trailer is Bane crashing a crowded football game. As a runner makes his way across the field and into the endzone, the earth opens up and engulfs the field, swallowing all of the other players. The runner himself does not realize what has transpired until he turns around after scoring the touchdown. The image is both cataclysmic and shockingly funny. It’s unlike anything Nolan has ever attempted with such a large scale sequence. Another scene shows what looks like an airborne tumbler (possibly the Batwing?).
This trailer makes The Dark Knight Rises feel epic and dense. It looks packed to the gills in every possible sense. Nolan and company seem aware that they have an impossible task ahead of them. They have to pull off arguably the biggest finish in the short history of superhero cinema. Are superhero films ill-equipped to tackle such issues? Perhaps, but it will be grand fun watching Nolan try to pull this off. The Dark Knight Rises actually looks like the grand finale it’s being billed as, and that’s a good sign.