At the end of The Dark Knight, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) had to explain to his son why Batman (Christian Bale) was being willfully chased by police—disgracing himself and abandoning his post for the greater good of Gotham. The new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises zeroes in on the sleepy void that abandonment left behind, positioning Batman as the embodiment of hope, which won't return to the city's people until he himself returns. At the center is another boy who, while chalking the bat symbol on the pavement and chatting with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's beat cop, asks the question on everyone's mind: “Do you think he's coming back?”
Christopher Nolan hasn't been wont to cater to fanboy demands, but with the inclusion of idealistic children, he allows for the presence of both innocence and wide-eyed admiration, representative of vulnerable Gothamites and minute-counting franchise diehards. The moods of both parties are evoked in the trailer's first half, which, but for a light score accented with gentle piano notes, uses the sound of silence to ratchet up tension and augment awe. In rather Spielbergian fashion, both viewers and city residents look on as epic effects ravage Gotham in an eerie hush, its bridges, football fields, and crowded interiors handily destroyed by Bane (Tom Hardy), representing the self-professed “Reckoning” of the gray metropolis. “Hope is lost” and “Faith is broken,” read the ominous intertitles, setting up everything, from the music to the masked avenger, to ultimately rise, appeasing all who were flabbergasted by Gotham's quiet undoing.
Through it all, the trailer finds precious balance in shady Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a character who, beyond possessing unique allure, has notoriously played both sides in Batman's world. In voiceover, she whispers that “a storm is coming,” which one could apply to everything from Bane's impending assault to the movie's probable record-breaking sales. And with both a teasing menace and a clear devotion to the hero, her ambiguity is employed to amplify the theme of unease, another figure denoting citizens' fears and fans' rapid pulses.
The double entendres continue to pour from Selina's mouth, as she assures Batman that he “[doesn't] owe these people anymore,” and that he's “given them everything.” “Not everything,” Batman replies. “Not yet.” Without doubt, this exchange speaks directly to the tricks still tucked up Nolan's sleeve, and aims to assure the masses there's still plenty to come from the Caped Crusader. It's a promise that requires more faith than one may have expected, seeing as this preview doesn't boast the kind of wow factors oft-associated with a year's most anticipated film (the tacked-on reveal of a new Bat-vehicle seems more like a shameless trick than a thrilling addition). But in its use of the silent hovering of hope, the latest Dark Knight Rises trailer weaves audience loyalty into its very fabric, and leaves to the ticket-buyer the final assertion that the storm was worth waiting for.
R. Kurt Osenlund is the Managing Editor of Slant Magazine's The House Next Door, as well as a film critic & contributor for Slant, South Philly Review, Film Experience, Cineaste, Fandor, ICON, and many other publications.