Nothing is guaranteed to make the internet light up quite the same way as a new trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises," the third and final Batman film from Christopher Nolan, following "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight." No one, bar perhaps J.J. Abrams, has proved quite as expert at teasing audiences with promos without giving the game away, and the latest, curiously elegaic trailer for the film has followed the same path, making people ever more excited about the movie while still leaving them with plenty of questions about what's to come.
We've delved deep into the latest clip to analyze the hints, teases and theories displayed in the two-and-a-half-minute trailer. Are we right? Are we barking up the wrong tree entirely? Do you have your own suppositions about what we're seeing? Let us know in the comments section. "The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters on July 20th, and be warned: there may be spoilers ahead.
"Hope Is Lost"
As a character, Bane is best known for breaking Batman's back in the "Knightfall" storyline, and ever since it was announced that's who Tom Hardy would be playing, speculation has mounted that Nolan would be mining that storyline for material. We're not sure if that's what'll end up happening exactly, but it's clear that Batman ends up at Bane's mercy, prostrate and wounded, and told he wasn't killed because "Your punishment must be more severe." We're a little doubtful of the back-breaking, only because he seems to be climbing up that impossible well-like prison, presumably out of captivity (or is that a "Batman Begins"-style flashback?). What's more interesting is how long he's gone: we know that eight years have passed since "The Dark Knight," but when that child asks John Blake "Do you think he's coming back?," it could indicate a longer absence at the hands of Bane too. Bale certainly looks significantly older in that earlier, bearded shot than he does elsewhere. And clearly, a bigger sacrifice might be in the cards (unless it's a feint from Nolan), with our hero ominously saying, "Not everything. Not yet."
"Faith Is Broken"
Nolan's "Inception" star Joseph Gordon-Levitt got only a single shot in the previous trailer, but he's front and center here, and looks to be giving a strong performance. Any thought of him being a secret villain (or sidekick) seems to have been severely misplaced. If anything, he seems to be Harvey Dent's successor, a purely good cop fighting for the city just as much as Batman. He's clearly getting in on the action (at the 1:17 mark, that's him getting pushed down a rubble slope by a special forces type played by "Stargate SG-1" star Christopher Judge, who's presumably one of Bane's acolytes), and seems to be serving as Catwoman's conscience to some degree. Whether he turns out to don the costume of Robin, or Azazel, or Nightwing, or Batman himself, is kept shrouded at this point (we'd wager no to all of the above), but he's clearly on the side of the angels throughout.
"A Fire Will Rise"
Perhaps the biggest new effects shot is of that bridge being blown, and we think it could be key. Gotham's island status makes it vulnerable, and being sealed in by panic has run through all the films to date: the Bridge to the Narrows being sealed in "Batman Begins," and The Joker's bridge/tunnel/ferry trickery in "The Dark Knight." Has Nolan taken it one step further here? The bridge explosion, along with other imagery, is reminiscent of the 1999 "No Man's Land" arc in the comics, which saw an earthquake isolating and sealing off Gotham from the mainland. Could Nolan be borrowing aspects from that storyline? Whatever weapon he uses for the stadium attack certainly hints that it could come into play, as does the general "Escape From New York" vibe that we see throughout.
Reduced to only a few brief appearances in the last trailer, Anne Hathaway is pretty central here as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and we have to say, any doubts we had about her in the part are long gone; her snippets are very impressive indeed. It's obviously a different interpretation to previous incarnations, but it's clear the essential ambiguity of the character has been preserved. She seems to be in on Bane's plot to some degree, as she has personal knowledge of him with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character asking her "Why did you run? Bane?" to which she replies "You should be as afraid of him as I am." From her teary face in that scene, she may even be the one who betrays Batman in some way. Either way, she's presumably redeemed at some point, because by trailer's end, she's kicking ass and taking names alongside Batman.
"You Sound Like You're Looking Forward To It"
One of the more intriguing snippets of the trailer sees an orange-suited prisoner pulling a somersault, aided by a cellmate. A closer examination reveals it to be a woman, and our natural assumption is that this is Selina Kyle. Is this our introduction to the character? Is she a con, breaking out of prison? Or, given that the earlier trailer showed Bane's thugs breaking a prison wide open, is she aiding that attempt somehow? We suspect the latter, suggesting a major setpiece relatively early on in the film.
"What Are You?"
Given that seemingly every third-spear-carrier-from-the-left in the cast seemed to get their own announcement in Variety, it's impressive that Christopher Nolan has been able to keep some secrets with his casting. First it was "The Wire"/"Game Of Thrones" star Aidan Gillen, who surprisingly popped up in the IMAX prologue in December. And if you keep your eyes peeled, you'll see Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn, another previously unannounced actor, appearing early on, seemingly about to meet a sticky end at the hands of Bane. If you recognize him, it's likely from his scene-stealing breakthrough role in "Animal Kingdom," but he's going to be nearly inescapable this year, with roles in Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" and Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond The Pines." We doubt his part is massive — think William Fichtner in "The Dark Knight" — but it's good to see him among the cast anyway.
"I'm Gotham's Reckoning"
We've seen hints of this all along, but it's clearer than ever that Nolan's got his finger on the zeitgeist with this picture. The corrupt, rotten heart of Gotham City has been a recurring theme of the films so far, and it seems that Bane and his crew (whether aligned with the League of Shadows or not) are out to make it answer for its sins. A particular target seems to be the rich, with a stock exchange and a posh party (Wayne Manor?) once again targeted. We're not sure that Bane will exactly be a class warrior, but this does seem to be the first blockbuster of the Occupy Wall Street era.
"Not Everything. Not Yet"
One major cast member gets short shrift here: Marion Cotillard, who's playing Miranda Tate, seemingly a member of the Wayne Enterprises board. It's clear that she's a love interest for Bruce Wayne of some kind — her one shot displays a rather passionate kiss. But given the recurring rumors that she'll actually be playing Talia Al Ghul, and will possibly be even more fearsome than Bane, it's unsurprising that her role is downplayed, and the clearest demonstration of exactly how much is still being kept under wraps. Also nowhere to be seen is Juno Temple, whose character is still top-secret. Don't take that to mean she's playing Harley Quinn though, she won't be.
"You Don't Owe These People Any More. You've Given Them Everything"
The scope of "The Dark Knight," which looked at politics from the police to the criminals, was one of its most impressive additions to the comic book genre, and it looks like it's coming home to roost here, given the scenes of the city's cops (led by Matthew Modine's Nixon, who doesn't seem to be the villain he was originally announced as) fighting Bane's gang. Despite Batman being a wanted fugitive as the film starts (as we were reminded by the viral yesterday), it clearly doesn't take long for the boys in blue to get behind the vigilante and fight with him against a greater threat. But what does this mean for the memory of Harvey Dent?
"This Isn't A Car"
The trailer's last, fun money shot involves the introduction of something that previous trailers have displayed — some kind of flying equivalent of the Batmobile. Presumably another invention of Morgan Freeman's Lucius Fox, it's pretty slick, and Batman and Catwoman are seen taking it for a spin in the final moments of the promo. Perhaps most intriguing is that the final shot of it flying over the city sees it dodging missiles hot on its tail. Has Bane fired them? Someone else? Are we going to see a full on aerial-combat set piece in the film? Also worth noting is that the craft is later taking on the camoflage-tinged Tumblers, suggesting that Bane (or perhaps Miranda Tate…) have got their hands on Wayne Enterprises technology for their own needs.