'The Dark Knight Rises' trailer: Read a description (and some theories) here

The first teaser for next year’s The Dark Knight Rises is airing in front of a little movie called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 2. For those of you who missed the Hallows midnight screening because you’re too tired/too busy/too no-longer-a-college-student, here’s the lowdown on the Rises preview. It kicks off with a montage of scenes from Batman Begins, with Bruce Wayne walking over the frozen tundra while Liam Neeson narrates his speech about becoming “A legend, Mr. Wayne.” “Every Hero Has a Journey,” say the intertitles. “Every Journey Has an End.”

Cut to: A shockingly intimate shot of Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordan, lying on a hospital bed, breathing through what appears to be an oxygen mask, speaking in a tremulous voice. He tells someone offscreen — it’s pretty clear that he’s talking to Batman — that people believed in him, but then, suddenly, “You were gone. Now there is evil rising. The Batman must come back.” From offscreen, Christian Bale’s voice — and this sounds specifically like his Bruce Wayne voice, which could indicate that Gordon has figured out Batman’s true identity — says, “What if he doesn’t exist anymore?” Gordon, sounding like a man who hears his own death rattle: “He must…he must…”

There’s a quick shot of Tom Hardy’s Bane in his weird mask which literally looks exactly like that photo from a couple months ago, then a long shot of buildings collapsing which literally looks exactly like that poster from a couple days ago, and then the real attention-getter: A single shot of Batman, braced for a fight. Bane steps into view. We only see him for a second, from over his shoulder, but he looks huge. For the first time in the Nolan Batmen that I can remember, the Caped Crusader actually looks a bit scared. (The shot only lasted for literally 2 seconds, but I could’ve sworn Bats was wearing a new outfit.) A final title promises, “The epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend,” while terrifying chanting plays in the background.

All-in-all, it’s a weird way to launch the year-long lead-up to Rises. In my sold-out Potter theater, there was nary a cheer or clap after the trailer, which either indicates that everyone was stunned into confusion, or I somehow found the one theater in the country filled with people who had no feelings whatsoever about The Dark Knight. Let’s try to decode the trailer with some theories:

–When Gordon tells Batman, “You were gone,” it seems like an indication that, following the climax of Dark Knight — in which Batman become a hunted fugitive, Bruce Wayne decided to retire his alter ego. Maybe Rises will be about his attempt to start a new, normal life — kind of like Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2 — only to get called back into service after the arrival of Bane. The haunted man of violence who tries to lead a peaceful life, only to be forced by circumstances and fate to return to his old ways, is a recurring plot point in the films of Michael Mann — a director who has had a huge influence on Nolan’s work.

–What’s up with all the destroyed buildings, and why does Gordon look like he’s on life support? For hints, look back to the storyline that introduced Bane to the Batman mythos. In “Knightfall,” Bane freed Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery from Arkham Asylum and set them loose on Gotham City, creating relentless mayhem and sending the city spiraling into anarchy. People have theorized that the strange chanting is coming from Arkham inmates. It’s possible that Gordon was injured by Bane — or perhaps even targeted. As for the buildings, here’s a wild idea — could it be that Nolan is flavoring his story with elements of “No Man’s Land,” the other great Batman story arc about a citywide descent into anarchy? Sure, “No Man’s Land” seems a bit fantastical for Nolan’s realist mythos…but then again, so does Bane.

–Lastly, a note about that shot of Batman and Bane. When you think about it, all of the villains in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight weren’t really all that physical; the Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul were both most dangerous when they were getting inside of Batman’s head, and the Joker openly scolded Batman at the end of Dark Knight for thinking that their battle would just come down to fisticuffs. (There were also various gangsters who did various gangster things.) It’s interesting, then, to consider that Bane is such a beast of a man — you can tell that these two dudes will wind up fighting each other tooth and nail, just like Schwarzenegger and the Predator (or, more recently and hilariously, the Rock and Vin Diesel in Fast Five.) And something about the finality of all the intertitles — “Every journey has an end, the end of the Dark Knight legend” — makes me wonder if Dark Knight Rises will be a genuine ending. Like, not a “Superhero flies off into the night, forever hunting evil” ending, but an old-fashioned “This story is over, it will not begin again” ending ending. (Remember: When Bane met Batman in the comics, this happened.) And since Nolan, Bale, and Warner Bros. are adamant that the Dark Knight series will end with this film, you have to wonder: Could this be the first superhero movie with a genuinely unhappy ending? Could Christopher Nolan’s Batman die? Or at least be very badly injured?

We’ll post the trailer as soon as it becomes available online. In the meantime, did anyone else out there see the pre-Potter trailer? What did you think? Are you surprised that the trailer focused so heavily on Bane, with nary a shot of Anne Hathaway or Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Anyone else intrigued by the fact that Dark Knight Rises is apparently building so strongly on Batman Begins, a film that Dark Knight really kind of ignored? Could this join Toy Story 3 and The Return of the King in the tiny pantheon of trilogy-enders that are actually good?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Comments (265 total) Add your comment
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  • Sam J

    This probably won’t work for most people, but what if the title is refering to another character? Maybe a new Batman? Maybe there is a legitamite predecessor to the “dark thrown”? Bruce Wayne retires and a new Dark Knight protects Gotham. This would follow the Nolan themes wouldn’t it?

    • J-Bone

      Maybe Bane is a ‘dark knight’ – the League of Shadow’s Knight to the Gotham equivalent of Batman.

      • bale

        exactly. all you could hear was michael caine’s voice introducing the joker.

      • David

        Clearly you guys didn’t pay attention to the last film. In “The Dark Knight” at the end batman was accused of murdering Harvey Dent and went underground. The title of this one means Batman will rise again and prove he is good. It’s not implying there is a new character. Nolan is done with Batman after this film, he’s not spinning it off into something else.

      • dbfjkl

        NO TDKR tariler in my theather and I saw it in Imax, so fork it!

      • J-Bone

        re: David “Clearly you guys didn’t pay attention to the last film. In “The Dark Knight” at the end batman was accused of murdering Harvey Dent and went underground. The title of this one means Batman will rise again and prove he is good.”

        Err, at the end of the trailer, people are chanting ‘the fire rises, the fire rises’. So I really don’t think it is that much of a stretch to think that Bane could be one of the character that ‘rises’ over the course of the film.

      • AshleyBrooke

        I don’t know how for real this is, but there is a trailer showing Anne Hathaway and is more along the lines of an actual trailer, as she’s kissing Bruce Wayne I believe. I just watched it on YouTube.

      • Sean

        Ashley, saw the video. It’s a fake. Fan made. It shows both actors going into a kiss. But it’s cut from other movies. And pieced together. The fan did a good job though

      • nailp086

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      • hha

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      • Bill

        “Could this be the first superhero movie with a genuinely unhappy ending? ” Didn’t XMen 3 kill off Professor X, Cyclopse and Jean Grey?

      • Sean

        X-Men 3 wasn’t a film, it was a visual waste disposal system. Didn’t anyone tell you?

    • pulse

      I have also heard that Batman and Bane have a brutal fight not that far into the beginning of the film. Now perhaps Bane does break Batman’s back and he is in recovery. This would set up the story for Catwoman to sort of become Gotham’s substitute crimefighter and for Bane to take over the city. Perhaps that’s why he pleads for Batman to come back and Bruce Wayne unsure of his recovery asks “what if he can’t?”

      • ms

        What if Bruce/Batman is laying in a hospital bed (due to a broken back) next to Commissioner Gordon when they are talking?

      • Michelle

        @ ms…i like it!!

      • Emilio

        Too obvious.

      • Bill

        Batman actually is killed off in this movie.

      • wes

        I think Bruce wayne is in the room. Re watch the trailer, when gordon is talking, there is a hand on the bend that is not his. The hand is not the hand of batman, but of a regular man. If we are to believe that he is talking to batman/bruce wayne, then it would appear to me that he has to be talking to bruce wayne. So it could make sense that he is “broken” at the beginning of movie,and then rises from his broken state to defeat bane

      • dbug

        RE: wes-“I think Bruce wayne is in the room. Re watch the trailer, when gordon is talking, there is a hand on the bend that is not his. The hand is not the hand of batman, but of a regular man. If we are to believe that he is talking to batman/bruce wayne, then it would appear to me that he has to be talking to bruce wayne. So it could make sense that he is “broken” at the beginning of movie,and then rises from his broken state to defeat bane”

        I think wes could be right because in the trailer it looks like whoever is talking to Gordon (most likely Bruce) has a hospital tag on his wrist. So maybe Bane did break his back

    • darclyte

      Is this trailer shown in IMAX theaters too? Sometimes when I see movies in IMAX they have different trailers than the “regular” theaters, and more often than not it’s the “event” trailers like TDKR would be considered.

      • John Debono

        Yes they that show TDKR trailer in IMAX and I’m surprised, the people in my theatre loved it. Its was exactly what I expect from a teaser, to get me excited about a movie without revealing anything.
        As for my guess to what happens, I think Batman will die but that there will be a sense of catharsis behind it. That through Batman’s death Gotham will be a better place and Batman will seek the redemption he desires. Nolan has always treated the series as though it was Shakespeare and I feel like that’s the best way to end the series after the Dark Knight.

      • MB

        It was in the IMAX Theater I saw Potter in today.

    • Johnnyb

      *throne

      • Jereom25

        Well, the fans in my theater all took a big gasp and in a whisper yelled out YES! Batman is the superhero who owns the big screen. Christopher Nolan and many others with the film has done a fantastic job of really providing a story worthy of fans and the comics. So, people respond well to people who actually provide true and creative entertainment instead of over rated non emotional crap.

      • Mielke

        Remember the ending to Dark Knight Returns – Miller’s epic graphic novel. In that Batman “died” only to reveal that he is alive & went underground, training a group of young individuals to continue his mission. Maybe in this film, he defeats Bane, assumes the leadership of League of Shadows and shifts their agenda & tactics to those he adhered to as Batman…just a thought.

    • Mack

      In the comics, after Bane broke Batman’s back, another student of Ra’s, Azrael, is recruited by Bruce Wayne to wear the Batman’s cape while Wayne recovers from his injuries -yes, he’s THAT good. Then “Azbats” becomes way too violent for what’s expected of “Batman” and there’s the inevitable confrontation between “Bats Classic” and “New Bats”.

      • Corbijn Von Doom

        Yeah but that story relied heavily on Nightwing and Robin being a part of the chemistry too. I think this is going to be spun in a whole new direction.

      • TJ

        re: Corbin.. If I recall the Knightfall Novel makes minimal use of Robin/Nightwing’s stint in the Bat suit so it is not a stretch to think that a film could follow the same/similar arcs and themes and remove him completely

      • demongo

        Yup. I had similar thoughts about how this will resolve. But rather than Azrael, I think Nolan is going to be relying more on Frank Miller’s TDK Returns for the arc. That is: the Mutants/Mutant Leader Arc. Bane = Mutant Leader; Bats, in “retirement” since TDK, comes out of retirement to tackle Bane, gets his a$$ kicked, and recruits a “stand-in” in the form of catwoman to carry his torch while he recuperates. Batman recovers, Batman/Catwoman beat Bane, Bats has to take out Catwoman because her “methods have become…unsound”; then he fakes his death and retires underground, taking over the League of Shadows. THE END

      • Jake Thomas

        Azrael trained under the Order of St. Dumas, which had no association with Ra’s al Ghul or the League of Assassins

    • Sith Lord J

      Would not surpise me if JGL is Batman at the end.

      • Sean

        Why do you have to scare me like that. Horrible idea. Got rid of my hiccups though

      • Ann

        JPL would make a good Batman Beyond. I sure hope they make movies of that one day.

  • MCS

    Didn’t show you much, which I understand is the point of a teaser, but I didn’t even find it that exciting of a tease.

    • Liz Lemon

      Me neither, but it’s probably because I was so anxious to see Potter by the time it came on.
      However, I was expecting more.

      • sm

        no i saw the trailer leaked a couple of days ago. Even without the anticipation of Potter, it’s still not that exciting… The hype and buzz for last installment, The Dark Knight, will never be matched. I have high hopes for TDK Rises, but will reserve my anticipation for a long while. It’s still summer 2011 for crying out loud.

    • MB

      A terrible trailer.

      • Nalon

        A terrible comment.

      • Bgg

        A terrible trailer? Yesterday @ 2pm The official facebook page had 63k likes. It now has 114k. Its a “teaser” not a full trailer and it is awesome!

  • Sam J

    To above comment: More specific, by the end of the movie, A new Dark Knight will Rise. Most of THIS movie will be our Batman.

    • sm

      No remember, when we last left off, Batman was outcasted as a villain. The public doesn’t see him as a hero right now. I’m willing to bet the Dark Knight Rises refers to his return to public grace by saving Gotham from Bane. Not a new hero, it just doesn’t make sense to end a trilogy that way.

      • Matt

        Sure it does. They will make another movie. Starring a colorfully gay red and yellow bird boy. Oh boy

      • dave

        Wasn’t there talk of JGL being Azrael and taking over the Batman mantel?

      • Jordan N.

        @Matt:
        Nolan has already said he’s done with Batman and the story arc after this film, and Warner Bros. has already stated they’re rebooting the series once Nolan is done.

      • Steve P

        BTW, Nolan is staying on with the Batman franchise as the Ex.Producer…the Dark Knight saga is over but it will be retooled for another Bat…

      • Dave P.

        I think Warner Bros. shouldn’t go the reboot route just yet. Ask Nolan to try one more film in this series under a new director. Put together the same cast with as much of the same crew as possible to ease the transition. If it ends up being garbage, reboot.

  • Joe

    I am not surprised at the lack of Catwoman. Nolan has never been able to create a fleshed-out, utterly engaging, substantially conceived female character; as much as I love his work, I kinda wish he wouldn’t have tackled Selina, because we know she’ll be, just like every other Nolan woman, an afterthought in the film.

    • Summer

      I’m only familiar with Nolan through his Batman stuff, but that’s a terribly depressing thought. Catwoman’s one of my favourite costumed characters, and I hoped that this is the exception to that rule about Nolan and female characters.

      • Monty

        Mal in Inception was done VERY well. Scarlet Jo’s magicians asssistant and the two Rachels from batman would fit this though. Also, don’t forget about Carrie Ann Moss’ role in Memento, which often gets forgotten. Maybe not the best female characters ever (Mal & Carrie Ann Moss’s), but certainly not pushovers or underdeveloped.

      • GREEN

        Mal in Inception was the very definition of underdeveloped.

      • Fabian

        I agree, as much as I loved Inception and every Nolan movie, Mal’s character could have been so much more. Then again, there was a lot going on in that movie already.

      • That Other Guy

        Mal was a memory. How can a memory be underdeveloped?

        And, Maggie G’s Rachel was the only character in the film to take away attention from Ledger’s Joker. A feat the mighty Batman could never accomplish.

      • RyanK

        I loved Mal. And you can’t develop Mal much more. As the post above says, she’s a memory. I just don’t think Nolan has really had a yet story yet that calls for a deeply developed female character. He makes very male-centric movies. But we may have an opportunity now with Catwoman.

      • Teller

        Why do you think Nolan hasn’t had a story that calls for a deeply developed female character? Because he can’t do them properly so he excludes them. Anyone with real cred does a movie at least every once in a while with a strong female.

    • B

      That’s a good observation, Joe. But maybe its just that he hasn’t filmed any scenes with Catwoman yet. What do you think? But it’s good to know that you have your finger in the pulse of Nolan’s writing. I anxiously await your next comment.

    • stickittotheman

      Everyone rips on Nolan for the Mal character. But she was dead – only existing as a memory in her husband’s subconscious. How frickin’ fleshed out could a memory be??? BTW – did you even see Memento? Carrie Ann Moss was a complete character and almost stole the movie. Let’s end this comic piece of urban myth-making and come up with actual critiques of Nolan’s work…

      • Mark

        Yeah, he’s never had a strong female character, but then again, none of his films have had female protagonists. The guy can definitely write, but maybe his talent is only limited to writing male characters.

    • Jenelle

      I have to disagree. I thought Nolan did an excellent job directing the young woman who played Mal in Inception. She was amazing. I can’t downplay Maggie G from playing Rachael in Dark Knight Rises because she had to portray the character as Katie Holmes did. The transition from old actress to new actress had to be seamless. She couldn’t really change the character because of who Katie created her to be. However, I don’t think Holmes or Maggie G. did bad. But comparing Selina Kyle to Rachel is ridiculous. Selina’s psyche is messed up. Hathaway will do great.

      • Brett

        It’s not his directing, but his poor writing when it comes to women (including those in “Inception”) that’s been Nolan’s Achilles heel.

      • Helen

        “The young woman who played Mal in Inception” is Marion Cotillard, an Academy-Award winning actress.

      • Matt

        Can you blame her? Nothing was memorable about Inception.

    • Emma

      I adore Nolan, but I have to agree that he has never written a strong female. Every woman in every single one of his films has been either plot contrivances, expository devices or window dressing. With his writing talent, I’m still hoping that one day he will write a film in which a woman is the main character, which will probably make him write the role with substance.

      • Ed

        Some friends and I got to talking about how different “Inception” would/would not have been if the main character had been female and the lost love had been male. I think really you wouldn’t have had to change anything, other than the names and having Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotilliard switch roles.

      • Matt

        And Men say the same thing about women. Even when they write men, you can often tell it has been written by a woman. People often write what they know. It’s as hard for a man to write about a strong woman as it is for women to write about a strong man. They can nail their ideal romcom softy, or rapist for Lifetime Movie of the Week, but could a woman write Bruce Wayne?

    • Dr. Chim Richalds

      I doubt that Nolan will let images of Catwoman leak until he’s good and ready. Otherwise people will go apesh*t dissecting the costume etc.

      • Matt

        I’m still appalled that if this is the conclusion and last episode, he chose Bane and Catwoman over epic characters like The Riddler. Penguin would have been a bit hard to take seriously, but how awesome would a serious, sadistic Riddler be.. Especially if he had went with Tommy Solomon in the lead role.

  • Bloomington

    The trailer wasn’t even played before my midnight showing. You have no idea how big of a buzzkill that was!

    • AAR

      Same here! I was excited that HP just started, but now I wish they had at least shown this preview.

      • Megan

        Same! We were so bummed!

    • KarenM

      My husband & I would have loved to see it but it wasn’t shown at our screening either. I’ll be checking online

      • jen

        wasn’t before my showing either, I would have liked to see it, but was way too excited for HP to care at the time.

      • Jessica

        Mine either. We got a trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie. The first one wasn’t even good!! LAME!

    • Lindsay

      same here. i was so looking forward to seeing it, but it never came on :(

  • Matt

    Wait didnt Gordon already learn batmans true identity in TDK? After the car wreck that bruce uses to distract reese getting shot. It seems Gordon at that moment knew he was batman. “you don’t watch a lot of news do you mr wayne”

    • The Blur

      No, that scene was just another “Bruce Wayne being a idiot/playboy scene”, like his drunken speech in Batman Begins.

      • kelly

        no, i agree with matt – i think gary oldman pulled off with great subtlety that “a-ha” moment without giving it away to anyone else but bale; i think it was one of the best acted scenes by both b/c they were speaking without words

      • laxin

        Nah, I agree with The Blur, no way Gordon knows just from that scene.

      • TJ

        I think that scene was done in such a way that it can be used as the ‘tipping point’ that either confirms a theory or plants the seeds for a new theory in Gordon’s mind that he ‘Might’ be Bats. if it’s the latter given the 1-2 years in universe since those events he can easily have figured it out in the meantime

  • What if they use Kryptonite against Batman?

    If they use kryptonite against Batman then maybe he can’t fly and then “Banned” could kill him so bad that he would die!! That wud be bad.. Maybe his batty sense will warn him of danger so “Banned” dont break his back again!

    • Monty

      No no no no…you got it all wrong. If they take away his hammer, he can’t fight anything that is yellow, but at least Magneto won’t be able to use his magnetism against his adamantium skeleton.

      Pffff. Amateur.

      • Chris

        Batman would still have the speed and proportionate strength of a spider, plus the Care Bear Stare to use in emergencies.

  • Dan

    My theater had the same reaction. I feel like it was because every in there was a Harry Potter fanatic and just wanted the movie to start. It also was somewhat ambiguous, maybe some people didn’t even know the trailer was for the sequel to The Dark Knight.

  • Sarah El

    I didn’t get a trailer at my theater! I was so pissed!

    • Joshua Domash

      Were you at Amc or regal and was it in imax

  • Rachel Renee

    I had the opposite reaction in my theater. Everyone hushed when the trailer came on and hooted and clapped after it finished!

  • Wasalu Jaco

    I saw the trailer at my premiere. I know it didn’t tell us much, but honestly, I was just really excited to see a trailer for Rises at all, considering the July 2012 release date. And think about it, it got everyone on this site curious and dying to know more. That’s what a teaser trailer is supposed to do

    • Justin

      Well said! I couldn’t agree more.

  • travis

    Theater was way too loud to hear and focus on the trailer.

  • deedeedragons

    Warner/DC won’t let them kill off Batman, injured maybe? but no one (not even Nolan) will be allowed to do that.

    • Monty

      With the life Nolan has breathed into DC and Warner Brothers, I’m pretty sure the’d let him execute Buggs Bunny and Wonder Woman if they thought he could pull it off well.

      • hector

        Why not kill him off? Does anyone think this is the last Batman movie?

        They are making a freaking movie based on Battleship! Jack & Jill isn’t a joke – its a real movie.

      • Tony

        I almost think they have to kill Bats. Nolan’s real world take will never work if (big if) WB/DC ever wants to bring heroes together ala Marvel. If you don’t truly end the Nolan series (and how do you without a death), fans will never consider a different take.
        You know, like when your dog went to that and you took a long time to accept the puppy your parents bought.

    • Mike

      Remember that this is a movie based on a comic book character and a character dying doesn’t really mean anything. People come back from the dead and movies have been “re-booted” with an ever increasing speed. So even if Nolan killed off Batman, the character would come back or be re-booted.

      • Sean

        And there are other incarnations of batman. Not just Bruce wayne. Wb can continue the film that way.

  • Steph C

    Right before the trailer appeared I had whispered to my friend how excited I was to see Anne Hatheway and Joseph Gordon Levitt only to be supremely disappointed at the conclusion of the trailer.

  • Mike Harper

    I wouldn’t put too much weight on the crowd reaction to the teaser- the teasers to batman begins and dark knight both got the same mellow reaction and were quite abstract compared to your typical Hollywood teaser…

    • Bob Loblaw

      This guy gets it. If I remember correctly, The Dark Knight teaser was basically a logo. At least this one has actual footage. Anyone expecting to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Anne Hathaway at this early stage of promotion is delusional.

      • Dr. Chim Richalds

        Agree. I may be remembering wrong, but I swear the only image I saw of Ledger’s Joker before the movie was the one in the clown mask from the opening scenes.

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