Back to IndieWire

Decoding ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Teaser Trailer

Decoding 'The Dark Knight Rises' Teaser Trailer

Neeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrd! Ok, we’ll admit, we don’t normally do this type of thing, but there’s been so much bitching about the apparent lack of goods delivered in “The Dark Knight Rises” teaser trailer (at least on our blog) that this writer figured he’d deliver his take on the trailer. And because our two dads said it was ok.

Ok, folks have felt somewhat underwhelmed. Even our man Kevin Jagernauth seemed slightly unimpressed, noting a lot of the footage was old, from “Batman Begins” and said, “it seems the rush to cobble something together has taken the inspiration out of it.” It’s true to some extent, Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight Rises” just started shooting a few weeks ago, so that secretive and measured team is not really ready to reveal all their goods just yet. However, with Comic-Con 2011 starting on Thursday and to some extent Wednesday, the nerd herd demands that something is shown.

While many have complained that that something is chintzy, this writer thinks Nolan moves to the beat of his own drum and is only going to reveal what he wants. Still, some have said zero plot has been revealed — again, at least on our blog — and that seems flagrantly wrong.

“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely,” Henri Ducard/Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) says at the top of the trailer, “A legend. Mr. Wayne. A legend!” These are quotes taken directly from “Batman Begins” the first film in Nolan’s trilogy. It seems this is very obviously the third or fourth sign now indicating that “The Dark Knight Rises” will come full circle with the story that began with ‘Begins.’

There’s been some pretty obvious signs too. Josh Pence has already signed on to play a young Ra’s Al-Ghul in flashback scenes, and Ghul’s return in some shape or form has already been let out of the bag. “The Dark Knight” ends with Batman purposely taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s death; choosing to preserve the necessary lie that he was a beacon of hope and righteousness in Gotham and turning him into a martyr for good, rather than reveal that Dent lost his marbles, became Two-Face and tried to murder Police Commissioner Jim Gordon’s family. So Batman is hunted, and instead of being Gotham’s savior is turned into a pariah. The bat signal is torn down and a new era begins in Batman’s story.

“The Dark Knight Rises” seems to pick up where this story left off, but maybe a few years later. In one of the rare few pieces of new footage we see a dying Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) in a hospital bed, pleading for the Batman to return. “We were in this together and then you were gone,” he says “And now this evil rises. The Batman has to come back.” These comments seem to suggest that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hung up the cowl for several months, or possibly — to make this story even more poignant — several years.

“What if he doesn’t exist anymore?” is the reply and interestingly enough it’s hard to tell if that reply comes from Batman or Bruce Wayne. If it’s the latter, he’s revealed his identity beyond Alfred (Michael Caine), Lucius (Morgan Freeman) and the late Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Either way, Batman/Bruce Wayne must feel responsible for Rachel’s death in the previous film, so it’s easy to see why the Batman would want to call it quits after the defeated ending of “The Dark Knight,” coupled with the fact that he is now wanted by the law and not on the side of public opinion.

So there are lots and lots of (some might say rather obvious) clues where “The Dark Knight Rises” story is going. What is this great evil that has risen? Well, Ra’s al Ghul’s original plan was to essentially burn Gotham to the ground like his shadowy League of Shadows cabal had done previously to many other great civilizations that had become bloated and fat.

“Gotham’s time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice,” he said in “Batman Begins.” “It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we’ve performed for centuries. Gotham…must be destroyed.”

With a young Ghul entering into the picture and rumors of Neeson returning, it again seems pretty clear that Nolan is trying to steer the film full circle to its origins. Is Bane (played by Tom Hardy) a new superhuman pawn-thug in the League Of Shadows’ greater scheme perhaps now run by Matthew Modine who is said to play one of the key villains in the picture? (there is a brief shot of Bane in the trailer as well).

Gotham is virtually crumbling at the end of this trailer. And two more key questions. What is that creeping, Nazi-like chanting at the end of the trailer and who is that guy standing behind Batman holding what appears to be a rifle? There’s still lots to discern from this trailer and surely there’s many more surprises, but this writer thinks it’s evident that the plot is definitely starting to take shape.

One last thing. “The Dark Knight” seemed to be a story about Harvey Dent and The Joker and Batman and Bruce Wayne received some short thrift. We’re hoping Jonah and Christopher Nolan’s screenplay rectifies this for the final go-round. The epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend arrives July 20, 2012.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox