The Dark Knight Rises trailer analysis

Trailer James Peaty 20 Dec 2011 - 06:46

What have we learned from the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises? James goes through it in a bit more detail...

After six months of posters, teasers, paparazzi shots and the recent six-minute IMAX only prologue, the new ‘no-strings-attached’ trailer for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is finally with us.

But now that it’s finally landed, what does this two-minute long snippet actually tell us about next summers most anticipated film?

TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING…

Starting with the very un-Batman like image of a child singing The Star-Spangled Banner, our first impression of the film is jarring.  Is this going to be a flag-waving piece more akin to Superman than The Dark Knight or is Nolan screwing around with our expectations one last time?

Thankfully, the latter appears to be the case and – as the trailer builds – the anthem gives way to the familiar swoops of Hans Zimmer’s Batman score.

But this opening choice is interesting as it’s inverting this very formalised and symbolic image of American civic pride, and saying that something sinister is lurking under the surface

LEGACY OF ‘THE DARK KNIGHT’…

In the eight years since the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham appears to have been both renewed and reborn, and its former DA Harvey Dent seemingly deified.

However, we know that this is a lie, as Dent became the murderous Two-Face before his death and threatened to unravel all the work that he, Gordon and Batman had achieved.

It was only Batman taking Dent’s crimes onto his own shoulders that managed to entrench those achievements and it’s clear – especially in the Commissioner’s brief scene at the podium - that Gordon and Batman’s decision at the end of The Dark Knight will reverberate throughout this new film. 

Muddying the waters of Gotham’s ‘salvation’ are the ‘99%’ style utterances of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) as she addresses Bruce Wayne at a high-society function.

If anything, Selina’s words about how the wealthy of Gotham "have lived so large and left so little for the rest of us" implies that Gotham’s new dawn has seen the rich get richer, while the poor have gotten poorer. 

That’s hardly the endgame that Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham to achieve...so what’s gone wrong? 

THE BROKEN BAT…

We’ve all seen the images of Batman’s broken cowl on the recent poster, but that image is seemingly more than just a cool marketing visual for The Dark Knight Rises.

Seen using a cane on numerous occasions in the trailer, Bruce Wayne is clearly not in the best of shape. Is that as a result of his literal - and metaphorical - fall at the end of The Dark Knight or are his scars more emotional and psychological than purely physical?

What isn’t in doubt, as seen in the original teaser, is that at some point early in the story Commissioner Gordon is hospitalised and urges Batman to return from his imposed retirement.  But is Bruce really up to the task?

Judging by the scene of Bane looming over the seemingly vulnerable and broken Batman, it’s clear that this time he might be facing an enemy that he just can’t defeat alone.

BANE …

A gas mask wearing, paramilitary brute, Bane (Tom Hardy) clearly thinks nothing of hijacking CIA planes in mid-flight, destroying American football stadiums during a play, or leaving Batman alive after unmasking and humiliating him in combat.

Defiantly more overt in his tactics than Ra’s Al Ghul and infinitely better resourced than The Joker, Bane seems to be using weapons torn directly from the Wayne Enterprises R&D division to raze Gotham to the ground.

But to what end? We know he’s a mercenary with an army of loyal followers, but why target Gotham and Batman? Is he connected to the League of Shadows from Batman Begins?

Perhaps the key resides in his sole line in the trailer. Delivered to the seemingly unmasked Wayne, Bane says: "When Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die." 

Wasn’t the destruction of Gotham the core of Al Ghul’s plan back in Batman Begins? Perhaps Bane wants to complete the work that Ra’s couldn’t finish? But if that’s the case, why wait nine years to avenge Ra’s?

Or perhaps Bane isn’t working alone?

CATWOMAN…

Given a prominent role in this trailer is Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. As was mentioned earlier, her lines to Wayne at the masquerade ball would indicate that Selina is a direct opponent of Batman’s in the film.

However, despite the seemingly confrontational nature of her dialogue, I’m not sure that Catwoman will be a villain.

The images of Selina in the trailer seem to set her up as something of spectral presence, all film noir glamour and lingering looks, which gives her a far more ambiguous air than that of a simple criminal.

If anything, as with much of Nolan’s Bat-work, this take on Catwoman seems to be heavily informed by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale‘s Long Halloween/ Dark Victory comic book series.

In those stories, Catwoman is not only playing off the various competing parties in Gotham to achieve her own ends, but she’s also nursing a secret about her true identity/lineage.

Knowing how much Nolan likes to play around with perception and identity, I think it’s more than likely that there’s more to this incarnation of Selina Kyle than meets the eye.

THE REST…
 
Despite the cool shots of Bat-planes, multiple Tumblers and collapsing football fields, for my money the most interesting material in this trailer are the little snippets of characters, that up until now, we’ve had very little information about.

For example, just how does Matthew Modine’s character, Nixon, figure into proceedings? He’s a Gotham City police officer, that much is clear, but is Nixon friend or foe?

Similarly, where and how does Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Detective John Blake fit into the story? Levitt is clearly filling a role of significance, but how significant?

The same is also true for Marion Cotillard, who’s playing the mysterious Wayne Enterprises board member, Miranda Tate. We briefly see Tate flirting with Wayne at the same costume party Selina Kyle attends, but what’s her angle?

And lest we forget, in amongst all the talk of Bane and Catwoman, there’s plenty of mystery surrounding the fate of Batman himself in The Dark Knight Rises.

The marketing tagline for The Dark Knight Rises is simply ‘The Legend Ends’.  In just seven months we’ll find out how true that statement is…

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