The Dark Knight Rises Podcast

I anticipated the release of The Dark Knight Rises so much I found it impossible to wait four years without reading anything about it. That Dark Knight fix I craved… well, it diminished the impact of key revelations, most notably, Miranda Tate as Talia Al Ghul. As soon as Bruce Wayne handed her the keys to Wayne Enterprises, I knew she would use that against him. At the football stadium, where Bane reveals the bomb and the trigger-man as a random Gotham citizen, I thought, “and that’s how she’ll reveal herself.” And I was right. I guess I only have myself to blame.

I have two main issues with the film. The first is the stock exchange sequence. Gotham’s wealthiest citizen has been drained of his wealth, coincidentally, on the same day of Bane’s attack. This correlation is never brought up in Gotham’s media, or the Wayne Enterprises board room (Lucius Fox does say it will take months to prove fraud). It provides the means to position Miranda Tate in Wayne Enterprises, giving her access to the clean energy project and Wayne’s arsenal in Applied Sciences. The League of Shadows’ plan to attack the city hinged on this. Executing it needed to be a covert operation, not a big, ballsy show of force.

The second issue was the trust Wayne places in Selina Kyle, aka, Catwoman. Sure, he had a thing for her, but Wayne never struck me as a desperate or foolish character when it came to the opposite sex. This woman was the reason Gotham fell under martial law with the threat of nuclear destruction, the reason Bane broke Batman’s back, and the reason Wayne spent nearly half a year in a hellish prison. Just as much, he could have relied on Gordon or Blake, or even one of the three thousand cops he freed from the sewers. They compromised logic with the protagonist to fulfill her arc. They asked us to believe that Wayne was stupid enough to potentially arm this woman against him in Gotham’s most hopeless hour. My bullshit meter went off the chart here.

There are other little things, namely expository and on-the-nose dialogue, John Blake having Robin as his real name (EDIT: I don’t feel the same after after reading this article and this article), and Wayne’s ease in his return to Gotham after escaping the pit without a cent to his name. I was hoping for a step up from my favorite film in the series, The Dark Knight, yet I watched something I enjoyed far less than Batman Begins. Perhaps I shouldn’t have walked in with those expectations. Hey, I still enjoyed it. Looking back at the three Batman films as a whole, Christopher Nolan and his team gave us the best superhero trilogy to date. The next filmmaker who lands Batman has some big shoes to fill.

The Dark Knight Rises Screenplay Podcast

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Comments

  1. donarumo says

    I disagree with your take on Catwoman. I believe Bruce Wayne saw, at that moment in the parking garage, a woman on a razor’s edge, able to fall into evil or good based on her actions over the next couple of hours. Batman and superhero films in general have always been about saving the individual AND saving the world. Wayne, instead of saving Kyle outright (which she would have never allowed) gives her the chance to save herself at the only moment he had possible to do so.

    But I still have no idea how he got from India to Gotham so fast and so cheap. I’m guessing Fox helped?

    • says

      Fox was being held by Bane, so he wouldn’t have been able to help. They are basically telling us that Bruce is street-wise and could navigate his way back in enough time.

      You said superhero films “have always been about saving the individual AND saving the world.” I can agree with that, but the fact that she caused so much damage with her self-interest, it was a foolish move on Wayne’s part. He risked the lives of millions placing trust in her again. Obviously, it worked great for the film, but I hated what it said about Wayne’s character.

      • Doug says

        Regarding Bruce getting back to Gotham, I don’t have much of a problem with it given that he is Batman and had about 2 weeks to get back in, which seems a reasonable amount of time given his skill set and resourcefulness.

        With Selina, I don’t know that I’d be too harsh on her as far as blaming her for what befell Gotham. She was hired for a specific task, to get Wayne’s fingerprints. She couldn’t possibly have known that was going to put a bomb in the hands of a man who was planning on destroying Gotham. Batman shoulders a lot of blame for leading “a bloated police force on a merry chase with a load of fancy new toys from Fox.” If he hadn’t shown his face, the police may very well have apprehended Bane right then.

        You mentioned the Stock Exchange and Bane’s “ballsy show of force.” I don’t know what kind of time frame over which to expect an investigation to occur if something like this were to happen in real life, but if we’re talking at least a couple days, by that point Bane had already set havoc upon Gotham. He might have anticipated there wouldn’t time for anyone to sort things out once he detonated the explosives throughout the city and bridges and revealed he had a bomb by which to destroy Gotham.

  2. Jamie Roach says

    Are you absolutely certain there were only three main acts. I counted at least four? Also what did you identify as the overall metaphor and meaning of the film? Thank you.

    • says

      Great question, Jamie. Analysis in screenwriting is subjective. It’s kinda like ‘Nam — there aren’t any rules. That being said, I believe you could interpret Rises as four acts. Act II is divided in half at the midpoint (I denote this as Act II-A & Act II-B above). Rises feels bigger, perhaps more complex, because you have so many characters with their own narratives that could almost be stand alone films themselves. Just think about it: Wayne, Catwoman, Gordon, Blake, Bane, and Miranda Tate — all characters with independent, intersecting story lines throughout each act of the film. You also have secondary characters like Alfred, Fox, Foley, and Daggett who appear at key points to add conflict and resolution to the other lines. Note the focus to the above analysis is on the Wayne/Batman, as he is the protagonist.

      In the podcast, Dan brought up a ‘clean slate’ theme, which started an interesting discussion. Clean slate is the name of the program Selina Kyle needs to erase her criminal record and start her life over. Bruce wants to get past Rachel’s death. Alfred wants to move on from a life of service to the Wayne Family, but he’s been unable to retire until he’s sure Bruce is safe and happy. John Blake gives up his police officer gig to become a lone avenger. Gordon wants to tell Gotham the truth about Dent. You could even say The League of Shadows wants a clean slate — Ra’s Al Ghul had a line from Batman Begins “every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence, we return to restore the balance.”

    • says

      You’re right. Thanks! You know, outside all this TDKR commentary, I just gotta say you’re more than a legend in your mind. You’re a legend in my mind, too.

      EXT. GOTHAM BRIDGE – CONTINUOUS

      Blake turns back to the Uniform.

      BLAKE

      Your orders are out of date! The situation’s changed! Listen, I’m a cop like you. And I’m walking out there. Please don’t shoot me.

      Blake walks. Shots ring out at his feet. He keeps walking...

  3. Rock says

    You kind of contradict yourself. Alfred mentioning Bruce being gone for 7 years was somehow insulting to the fans of the trilogy yet his return to Gotham from the jail was an issue since nothing was shown as to how he came back; yet its already been established in BB he traveled for 7 years without any money or documents and is a capable traveler. Furthermore before he escapes the jail there was a scene where fox says that there was 23 days remaining before the bomb explodes, so he had more than 24hrs to get back to Gotham.

    • says

      First off, thanks for taking the comment, as well as listen to the podcast.

      You’re right: There were twenty-three days from the point Fox gave the info on the bombs to the Special Forces team. This may have been stated incorrectly in the podcast, as we didn’t have the screenplay at that time. It’s a small criticism, but it would have been nice to see him hop a freighter or two while contrasting those images against a ticking time bomb. Given the circumstances, it wasn’t an easy journey and I doubt it would have taken a minute or two to communicate effectively.

      Now, would you really call Wayne a capable traveler without money or identification? All I know is he can hop a freighter to China and get thrown in prison for stealing. I also know, in Batman Begins, even after his training with The League of Shadows, he had assistance in his return to Gotham: He called Alfred and Alfred brought the jet.

      I enjoyed the TDKR — I’ve seen it twice. The criticisms leveled at it are because of the benchmark set by its predecessor. I’m sure that was a fool’s errand, but I expected that kind of depth, those complexities. In TDK, think of what The Joker does while he inflicts terror upon Gotham: Wayne violates the privacy of every Gotham citizen with a cell phone to catch him, Alfred burns Rachel’s letter, Dent confuses vengeance for justice, Fox is complicit in what he perceives as unethical detective work, Gordon lies to Gotham about Dent – a man that nearly killed his son. And on top of all that, the actions were completely plausible in the world they created. As antagonists, Bane and Talia Al Ghul didn’t come close to that.

  4. Solo says

    Hey Bob, I have a few questions:

    When Alfred said: ‘Sometimes, the pit sends something back’.
    When Bruce Wayne climbed up the pit, and the bats came out and he escaped, did this mean the pit sent ‘Batman’ back, the true Batman not just Bruce Wayne wearing a mask and an electric strap?

    Is the Pit a metaphoric-homage-conclusion to the ‘well’ Bruce fell into? That he was finally able to climb out of it?
    Essentially, Batman Begins = fell in the well, The Dark Knight = fights in the darkness of the cave, twisting lies to truth for cover up, so blinded he could not see, Dark Knight Rises = He comes out of the world, he rises, the truth will no longer be hidden and he is reborn.

    Next, is it possible to think that Bruce returned to Gotham since climbing from a 1km deep pit was achievable, so naturally stealthing underneath the supply bridge (the only one kept intact) was realistic? Also, the film showed the supply truck coming into the city (which allowed the Special Ops to enter), could Bruce have used those stealth methods he learnt from the Ra’s Al Gul into getting back to Gotham?

    One final question: The reason why Gordon and the others did not fall into the ice was because it was a colder winter day, and at night time, making the ice more solid?

    Thanks.

    • says

      Thanks for listening to the podcast!

      1. Bruce found fear again — I thought it was great when the bats came out near the top.
      2. I believe you’re right. You can find little things like that in all the films. The scene in Batman Begins where Bruce saves Ducard as he slides down the icy slope was reused in The Dark Knight when The Joker throws Rachel out the window at the fundraiser.
      3. I don’t believe the two are correlated. I had an issue with this part of the story. In Batman Begins, Bruce needed Alfred to pick him up. We never saw a return to Gotham.
      4. I think that’s a safe assumption.

  5. Solo says

    Rob, one more before I leave:

    In TDK you said “Wayne violates the privacy of every Gotham citizen with a cell phone to catch him” – is that the method he learnt from Alfred “we burnt down the whole forest” to catch the bandits?

    Every Nolan-Batman film starts with a Bat symbol, either made out of Bats, from the blue smoke screen and then finally the ice.

    What would you say the theme would have been for each one?

    Batman Begins: Bats forming Bat symbol
    How he gathered up the fear of bats, conquering his fear, becoming Batman, forming a symbol.

    The Dark Knight: Smoke screen revealing Bat symbol.
    How Batman used the sonar to see everything in the city, the illusions and delusions of the Joker.

    The Dark Knight Rises: Ice
    The lies, peace are all cracking. So happens winter is approaching and a lot of innocent people are exiled to death on thin ice, eventually Batman cracks through that ice and saves them (Gordon especially).

    What do you think? Thanks

    • says

      Yes. The bandit was so irrational they had to commit an irrational act to catch him. The Joker made all of people involved with him compromise their values to catch him.

      The thing I liked about your commentary on theme is how you reference events from each film. That’s all analysis is. It’s purely subjective. Just be able to back up what you’re saying with details from the film.

  6. SOLO says

    Thanks Rob! Your answers were more than expected.

    When you said Bruce caught Rachael the same way he saved Ra’s on the snow cliff, is it the same as the way the Al Guls died? Falling off in a transport vehicle?

    • says

      No problem at all — thank you for your questions!

      I was speaking of the scene when Bruce saves Ducard as the League of Shadows’ monastery explodes. Ducard slides down an icy mountain and Rachel slides off a building.

  7. SOLO says

    Hey Rob,

    I know which scene you were referring to, I was just saying if Nolan used the same re-used type of near death, for example you used Bruce saving Ra’s from the snow-cliff’s fall with Batman saving Rachel from Joker’s penthouse push, the same as how Ra’s Al Gul died from the train falling off the mono-rail and into Wayne tower’s underground with Talia Al-gul’s death, the truck falling down a bridge and crashing to her death.

    Speaking of -reusing certain scenes, do you think Nolan had chosen Joseph-Gordon for the role of Robin because he looks so much like Heath Ledger? In ‘The Joker Returns’ we find out that Tim Drake is the second Joker, and they both look near identical to each other. Is there a connection here or did Nolan choose Joseph purely on his acting skills and experience from Inception, and not just for his outrageously similar look and character relation with the Joker?

    Thanks Rob!

    • says

      I believe it’s just a nod to the previous films or scenes. There are similarities with the scenes, but it’s more a representation of the character than anything else.

      You bring up an interesting scenario with TDKR and The Joker Returns. I never knew this! I doubt Nolan cast JGL with that intention — he was just looking for a bookend to the trilogy. Batman is a symbol — it didn’t have to be Bruce Wayne under the cowl.

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