Spoilers! A word on The Dark Knight Rises ending

Feature Simon Brew 21 Jul 2012 - 14:36

Spoilers! Can we have a quick chat about the ending of The Dark Knight Rises?

We're going to reiterate the obvious here: this is going to be a spoiler-filled post. A very, very spoiler-filled post. We've tried desperately hard not to spoil this film for anyone, hence not posting this until The Dark Knight Rises has been out a few days.

Basically: don't read this until you've seen the film. Please.

Still here? You sure?

Well, we're talking about the ending of The Dark Knight Rises. Specifically, whether it's a lot more ambiguous than it might first appear.

Let's trace what we saw on screen. Batman takes the bomb over the water, it detonates. It detonates in a way that, realistically, leaves you thinking nobody could ever, ever survive that (even appreciating that this is the movies). The long shot of the explosion doesn't leave much obvious doubt there. Common sense suggests that he couldn't get away in time, and thus you get the statue of Batman, people mourning his loss, and the graveyard scene.

Then, we learn that Bruce Wayne applied the oft-talked about autopilot patch to The Bat. And then we get to see Alfred's dream realised, with Bruce alongside Selina in the cafe. A perfect, happy ending.

But is it? Because let's look at it again.

We saw the countdown on the bomb into its final seconds, with Batman still in the cockpit (and we assume, the cockpit of the same craft - there wasn't another version of The Bat with the same sized cockpit tucked away somewhere, was there?). If all is what it seemed, there's no way, surely, he could escape. The blast radius was massive, and unless there's some piece of technology tucked away that we've never seen in Batman's armoury, or unless we missed something, Batman simply couldn't get far enough away in a matter of seconds to escape. No matter what kind of bomb it ultimately was.

I don't recall there being a shot, even from afar, of any kind of ejector device being used (although some online have suggested so). Thus, it seems - and this is all open to interpretation - that it'd be more likely that even if the autopilot was fixed, Batman didn't use it. And off he want to his doom.

After all, Batman's death brings Gotham back into line once more. He made the ultimate sacrifice to save the city. He left the building blocks in place for others - John Blake, most obviously - and everything fell into place, in a calculated way. He could then go off and lead a new life somewhere else, seemingly with Selina.

But did he?

Ultimately, that seems to come down to how you interpret the scene with Alfred in the cafe. We're a bit in Inception territory here, granted, but isn't it just as likely that it's a dream sequence of sorts? That it's in Alfred's head, that he got the ending for Bruce Wayne that he always wanted? Alfred, after all, was parted from Bruce and Batman by this point: was this a man wracked with mourning, trying to find some way to cope? After all, as James Clayton has pointed out, there's already at least one dream sequence in the film, when Ra's al Ghul appears.

There certainly seems to be an argument there. And, given that there's little doubt that Christopher Nolan densely plots and plans his films, you have to assume that everything is in here for a reason, and that Nolan hasn't deployed a cheat. That's not his style.

One point that counters it, though (and thanks to @gingerninja78): why would Alfred imagine that it was Selina Kyle sitting there with Bruce? Why her specifically, when he didn't really come into contact with her? Does that, then, hint that it was all true? Is the world - and us - reading too much into this? The excellent Clothes On Film, incidentally, has an interesting viewpoint on Selina's appearance, related to the dress she's wearing at the end, and where that all fits in. You can find that here.

Once again, Christopher Nolan has seemingly deliberately left his ending a bit more ambiguous than you might first think. At the very least, there's two different ways this one can be read. Leave your own thoughts in the comments below...

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I think you are maybe reading a bit too much into it. I wish they had explained how he had escaped from the batwing but maybe he will do that later. The reason i'm fairly sure about this is because of the inclusion of Selina Kyle - at no point would Alfred have expected a relationship between those two. Maybe the inclusion of Rachel rather than Selina would all but confirm this theory, but as it stands, i choose to believe in the happy ending.

When Lucius found the patch had been applied to the bat, was the vehicle in shot the same bat fished from the wreckage of the blast or another vehicle altogether? I'm struggling to work this one out too...

Even it he did eject how could he got the "bat" back in a condition good enough to see that Bruce had fixed the auto-pilot? surely it would have been obliterated in the blast.

The appearance of Liam Neeson's Ra's Al-Ghul might be relevant here. He's undoubtedly dead but he appears to a character as a sort of ghost or dream vision. Alfred seeing Bruce Wayne in Florence could be the same sort of thing.

My own view is that Bruce doesn't die. Batman lives on as powerful symbol and an enigmatic ideal that defies easy understanding. There are many tricks up those Bat-sleeves and I respect Nolan as a complex filmmaker who doesn't trade in easy answers and the unambiguous. Nothing is what it seems and the philosophies of 'death not being the end' that are prevalent throughout the series resonate here.

No, I think you're reaching. Why would he have imagined Selina? For me the best way to have left it ambiguous would have been to have Alfred reacting to people across the restaurant but not showing their faces.

I don't recall the shot's of Batman in the cockpit and the bomb timer close to zero being so close together. My understanding of it was, after the scene in which Fox finds that the autopilot was fixed by Bruce Wayne six months ago, that he had gotten out and the autopilot had flown the bomb out over the ocean.

That's the one I'm going to go with because to think about it too much is for me going to ruin what is the best film I have seen in nearly ten years. I do think that perhaps all this could have been avoided by taking out the shot of Wayne and Selina Kyle in Florence and merely just had a shot of Alfred looking up and smiling, the audience not shown just what he was seeing.

I may be forgetting a whole scene that's very important to this discussion, but did Alfred at any point actually meet Selina? Apart from at the very start when he thought she was a maid, but he didn't know who she was at that point, does he know her face? Sure by the time he's burying Bruce he'd have been told about everything that happened but no one knew the full extent of her part in events but Bruce. Before he left Alfred only knew of Selina as a thief so unless unless Bruce was alive to tell Alfred about her change of heart why would he be picturing them together? ...OK, now maybe *I'm* reading too much into this!

What about the new bat symbol on top of the Gotham Police Station? And the missing pearls and the coordinates of the batcave that John Blake has. All these points suggest Bruce did indeed survive and wanted to let certain people know he'd survived. Moreover, on a thematic level, Alfred told Bruce the truth about Rachel so that he would have a chance at a new life. To then kill him off in the final scene would seem to render this plot point completely irrelevant. I think people are expecting something ambivalent because of Inception, but I think this film is actually quite clear in its assertion that Bruce survives. Apart from the fact Alfred explains the scene we see at the end of the film earlier on, I don't see the argument to suggest that he is lying? Can anyone offer any other evidence?

Sorry I meant 'imagining' rather than 'lying'

This was real, great ending to a bad movie, of Bruce Wayne living on, moving on, after the end of the Batman legend and Alfred's demons are put to rest. Michael Caine was absolutely terrific at the graveyard and in that final scene. He is simply amazing.

After Doctor Who and Sherlock it's now Batman who's faked his death. What fictional icon is next?

Good point. The Bat must've been destroyed; maybe the patch was uploaded to a central network that updated the other bats? I'm guessing there was more than one seeing as there were several tumbler this time

Gotta admit, I think people looking at the ending as a vision / dream sequence are reaching somewhat. There's no real suggestion in the flick that this is the case and one major point they're overlooking - Selina is wearing the pearl necklace. Which is, in turn, very deliberately pointed out as a missing item from the Wayne estate just a minute or two earlier. No reason whatsoever for those two points to be in the film if the ending isn't exactly what it seems IMO.

There's a scene when were told batman is a symbol. Also how vould the bat not get wrecked in that explsion.

Oh God, the scene with the graves... *goes and cries for half an hour*
But yeah, I think that Bruce is definitely dead, and that Alfred was just imagining what we saw.

The second we see Alfred looking up I was almost sure that was the end of the movie as well. That would have been perfect imo.

To be honest, I really thought the film ended with the eulogy, the graves and a very good performance by Michael Caine and the unveiling of the statue...

I then had a glimmer of hope when the autopilot patch is talked about and then the scene in the cafe with Bruce and Selina looking at Alfred actually saw me get emotional and thinking he's alive! And they're together and thats how I felt when I tweeted just how cool the film was from my cinema seat and how I've thought about it since that is until I saw this topic on Twitter.

Quite possibly Nolan has gone for a kind of Inception type nod and that it is an Alfred Dream Sequence but- its so open for analysis.

As much as theres part of me that wants it to be that Bruce made the ultimate sacrifice and is buried alongside his parents the romantic in me wants to believe that Batman and Catwoman are together.

Batman was missing for 3 months. Gordon was hurting or hiding for most of that time. 3 months is ~ the time frame between Gordon looking at the broken Bat Signal and then seeing it repaired. We also don't know how long Batman was back in Gotham after being in the pit. For all we know we could have been in Gotham for a month.

This is long enough time for him to set a path for Robin (the necklace) and fix the Bat Signal, for he knew Robin was coming!
I'm not sure if Batman is dead or alive, but there is sufficient time for Batman to prep all this this. I do feel however that Nolan's Batman is indeed dead.

There is too much that's unrealistic about what happened to the bomb to ONLY question whether Bruce escaped. The blast radius was 6 miles. Did the Bat travel six miles in under two minutes? It didn't look like it was going 180 mph.

Plus, even with a blast radius of 6 miles, there would be some serious fallout, so Gotham will still be in trouble.

So, we can take for granted that the Bat got the bomb a safe distance away in the amount of time it had left, we should be able to take for granted that Bruce was able to get out of the Bat and escape.

It was recorded on their system,s that the auto-pilot had been fixed by Bruce Wayne himself some 6 months before. They didn't need to see the bat it self and it did get blown up, the one they had there at the end was the prototype Fox had been tinkering with.

SIx mile radius from a horizontal blast but if he let if go and flew above it, he could conceivably survive, like the Enola Gay dropping he atomic bomb on japan.

It's also worth noting the end of The Dark Knight Returns, which is a key influence here, where Bruce also fakes his own death, to begin a new life elsewhere, while Clark realises he's still alive. Granted, that is only a jumping off point, but the film does have a similar spirit to the comic and Nolan did the same kind of thing with Begins, the ending of which is kind of similar to Year One.

I too think that this is rather unlikely, feels like trying to think it through like inception which is unneeded. I respect and appreciate that Nolan is a clever filmmaker and the answer is not always what you expect. The reason we arent shown him escaping is to convince the audience that he has died so they can join in the sense of loss before realising he has survived. Unless I remember incorrectly, there was a chance where he cpuld have escaped the jet, around the point when he blew through the building which we see from Blake's view on the bridge. But the fact he is alive makes much more sense in the context of the film itself.
His survival and new life away from batman bring to a great conclusion the themes within the film, that bruce has been trapped by his identity and seeks a life, and that batman stands for more than he will ever be. Thus he let's both batman and wayne die, leaving gotham united and the symbol left as a beacon for them, while he can have a life of his own. From a story sense it makes no sense to end with the others just imagining he is alive, the ending had a tone of triumph and hope to it, not despair.
The point you make about Nolan not putting anything in his films for no reason is very true and it seems that the inclusion of all these themes that run through the film and the trilogy as a whole, as well as points in the film that suggest we are heading for this ending like the autopilot thing, the story Alfred tells bruce about what he wants his life to become, just seemed to me to fit so perfectly and draw everything to a satisfying close. It felt right.
The point that Ed makes about Selina being there makes a lot of sense too and i think if Nolan had intended to leave it ambiguous, he would have done so by not showing Bruce, instead maybe just cutting to black on Alfred's smile. I think dont think ambiguity was his aim in this ending, it was closure, and a sense of hope for these. characters at the end of this saga. It is after all called the Dark Knight Rises.

Theatrics and deception are powerful agents.............Batman lives!!!!

People will always try to find meaning and explanations to this ending....... i for one will not try to over think the ending and simply enjoy the experience of Nolans Batman, as it has been exceptional.

I like how "fairly known" actors play minor roles in these movies

from IMDB faq's:
"When Batman lifted the bomb using The Bat, he brought it
low to the ground at first, it looked a bit like the bomb was dragging along the
street, just before the plane elevated to go over that tall building. He flew
low for a bit because he didn't want to eject at the very top in the air,
because people would see that. He was done with Batman. That was when he set up
the autopilot, took a deep breath, and jumped out. That's why he set The Bat at
low altitude, so he could eject himself unhurt. The shot of him in the cockpit
was when he was still over land, just before ejecting out. Nolan inserted that
scene in the "over sea" part to lure the audience into thinking he died. The
name of Bruce Wayne is dead. Batman is dead. The man, Bruce Wayne is still alive
in Italy with Selina, clean-slate device used her, and the rest of the world
believing Bruce Wayne's death".
But yeah I can see how it can interpreted as a a dream/fantasy of Alfred's, kind like how the ending of Taxi Driver can be a dying fantasy of a certain character...

I think it's a clever, ambiguous ending by Nolan actually. If Bale decides not to reprise the role, Levitt could very well take over as Batman and Bruce Wayne could stay 'dead'. If Bale carries on, Batman faked his death and Levitt becomes Robin. Simple. The comic books certainly make either outcome a possibility (bear in mind the Tim Drake/Detective Blake name similarity. I'd hope the ending was set up with a sequel in mind anyway.

This sounds very convoluted. Sure you don't see an ejection device from the given camera angles but if Bruce has planned everything so well then he'd have an escape route planned that was "invisible". Some sort of ejection rocket thing (I'm thinking an escape vessel somewhat like the bike in the Tumbler) in the line of sight of the camera could explain what happens more simply and more in line with the rest of the film.

It only occurred to me a few hours after seeing it that the ending might have not been in Alfred's imagination! I think I missed the dialogue about the auto-pilot and was sure that we saw Batman in the cockpit after blasting through the building and into the bay. I thought that him dying was a brilliant ending as it meant that he had had to make the ultimate sacrifice to save Gotham from a plot that came about because of his allowing Ra's to die. This was a key problem with Begins for me and the death ending seemed to finish the story perfectly. I definitely need to rewatch and then rethink if indeed Wayne survives and runs off with Selina Kyle!

I don't think it's over-thinking it; the way it's written, filmed and edited is designed for you to think and draw your own conclusions, it's not conclusively done for you.

At first I thought that the last shot of Blake on the ascending platform thing in the Bat-Cave was a bit redundant, and that the film should have ended on Alfred. Until I realised that it was a shot of Batman's heir standing on a raising platform, and that I was watching as The Dark Knight Rises.

No, he survives. I just saw the film today, and loved it. I waited until I could read about the ending though, I was refusing to go and see it if they killed him, because I love the character and Nolan and Bales version so much. Its nice to know he gets a new love interest and can relax a bit after all he has gone through and fought for. This is a perfect trilogy of films with no weak parts and I honestly dont think we will ever see a better version of the tale on the big screen. There will be different versions and takes on it, but for me this is the best. Batman lives. Bale could come back in another Batman film if he wanted to in a few years depending on the story and where they go with it from here. Simpsons Comic book Guy - "BEST TRILOGY EVER"

I loved this ending because it really makes you wonder. I believe if Batman found a way to survive, he would have used the Background eraser to join catwomen. If he didn't then we know "Batman" didn't really die, because he is a symbol and as we know someone else can become him.

Wow, that's more than reaching. In fact, I find the notion mildly ridiculous. The films intention is very clear and as far as I'm concerned theres no room for interpretation beyond the facts presented.

I think he's still alive because when he's in the prison the other inmate talks about his weakness is not being afraid to die. That, for me, is when he realises why he needs to live. I hope the ending leads to Joseph Gordon-Hewitt being Batman in a Justice League movie but I somehow doubt it.

It's kind of an odd situation. Normally the fans are coming up with complicated reasons and justifications why the hero doesn't die at the end. It seemed to me that the ending is unambiguously and quite crudely meant to show Bruce survives. I for one would have preferred it without the shot of Wayne sat in the cafe, leave it a bit more subtle and open for interpretation. Just show Alfred flash a little smile and then cut to the credits. Then we could bicker to our hearts content. I think like a few things in this film it was nearly superb but ever so slightly overdone.

Yeah that would have been a great ending if Nolan was to say Batman/Bruce was dead. But with Selina there it just makes more sense that it was the new life card. I left the cinema with the happy thought that they had cheated death n Alfred could be happy for Bruce too, not a thought about an Inception style twist(which incidentally I totally got n wasn't confused about until bloggers suggested a twisted interpretation).

Of course Batman survived the blast. He climbed into a refrigerator at the last second and was blown clear of the explosion. Duh.

What necklace?

What missing pearls? I thought that was at the beginning of the move?

Bruce Wayne is alive but the batman is dead, At least the Nolan version is dead, how Bruce Wayne survived? I don't know, my opinion is he ejected shortly after crossing the bridge and and shots we see of him are in the ejected Cockpit watching his life disappear, for me though this has been the greatest superhero trilogy, Nolan has made Batman great again

Ok so what's next with robin ?? That's my ??

How does Bane eat?

I absolutely loved this movie! The ending was amazing and It is very clear that Batman is alive and well. Lucius Fox discovered that the Auto Pilot system that he himself didn't have time to tamper with was fixed by Bruce 6 months prior to him sacrificing himself to save Gotham. John Blake(Robin) also received coordinated from Batman which lead him to the Batcave. Police Comissioner Gordon also finds the Bat signal fixed. Alfred was not dreaming in the last cafe scene he simply saw Bruce heeding his advice that was given earlier in the film. The question's I have for this great movie is what of John Blake? Will he become Robin? If so then the Bat signal means Bruce is coming back to Gotham to show him the ropes and will mentor him until he becomes his sidekick. What if he isn't Robin? What is Bruce is retiring and doesn't have the conditioning to become Batman anymore(Serious physical injuries as no cartilage on his knees) does this mean John Blake becomes the new Batman and takes Bruce's place? Will Bruce train and mentor him to ease his transition into batman?

I left the cinema not even thinking it was in Alfred's imagination until I came on here, I just assumed he'd faked his death.

LOL :-)

Think about this then

1) the scene showing the blast from the bomb looks to come comes from the surface of the sea and mushrooms up and out, this could possibly indicate that batman cut the bomb loose into the water with seconds to spare and got outta there because the bomb was a good couple of feet up in the air when attached to the bat.

2) Fox examins the recovered bat, its in reasonable condition considering it was suppose to be at the center of a nuclear blast and the cockpit is intact beacuse one of Fox's scientists is sitting in it......

just a few things i noticed :)

I think most people wouldn't be second guessing the ending so much, if Inception didn't exist. if you are going to factor in previous Nolan films, then you might as well include the Prestige. Batman dying would be Bruce's prestige.

Alfred dreaming about Bruce being alive in Florence with Selena (why her? she was very insignificant in Bruce's life at the point where Alfred left) wouldn't make his reality any less agonizing. I don't think it would be necessary to show some delusion of Alfred's as the final scene of such a massive trilogy. It seemed to me, that the point was to show Bruce living the life that Alfred wanted for him, so that they could both live happily (cheese, I know).

Why make it a point to say that the auto-pilot had been fixed, if it was not going to be used? Why have Gordon read a letter that has Bruce stating that he is moving on to a better life than he ever knew? Everyone would just take it as a metaphor for the afterlife, whereas Bruce is literally living a better life than he ever knew. The afterlife is never really discussed in the films, so why would Bruce suddenly be this super-spiritual guy. I think deception is a big part of this film, as is rising. In the prison, Bruce realizes that not fearing death is his weakness, and he must rise above it.
Bruce fakes his death, so that he can enjoy living a better life. Bruce sees Ra's in prison, as sort of a motivational factor/awakening. I don't think it's meant to stand for much more than that. It also seems that the idea behind the ending, was to give Bruce some sort of catharsis. Dying would not meet that goal. Bruce finally being free of the bat and living a normal life, would.
Another thing, is that, in the comics, Bruce faking his death is a major plot-point. I think the inclusion of that is pretty obvious. Even some of the movie-goers believe he is dead.

Reading these comments, one wonders why there are so many conspiracy theorist in USA

I'm thinking you're just trolling here.

The ending doesn't seem all that ambiguous to me. Mythbusters did a special on Hollywood explosions, and figured out that every hero from Rambo to Shia LaBoef would be liquefied by their proximity to on-screen pyrotechnics, so I don't think this movie would have been better if we saw Batman casually strolling to a blast shelter a mile away wearing bright orange ear-plugs

Can't you do better than this? There's plenty of other topics to discuss in this three-hour movie.

does anybody remember the scene with selina and her 'apprentice' where they hug from behind, i was under the impression at that point they were lovers as well as crime partners. i thought the times where she kisses bruce were just to show she could.

ive been arguing this point all day with a friend, i really thought that last scene with Alfred was ''wishful thinking'', witch immensely adds to the films theme of ''hope''. You see, by showing us that last scene with Alfred, Nolan has filled us with the hope that Bruce is alive, and come on, you did ''Hope'' that was true. All i can say is, Nolan is one clever bastard!!!

Can someone explain the missing pearls at the end, dont recall the scence

Good film ruined by a chicken Sh1t cop out of an ending. It shouldn't have shown Bruce and Selina, It should have ended like Monsters Inc. but with Alfred smiling at the camera instead of Sully.

I thought that too - would have been a great ending where we were kept guessing (much like Inceptions spinning wheel)

Alfred just looking, without us seeing his POV, is the obvious scene, so there has to be a reason why we see Selina. Perhaps it's to add one detail that makes the POV shot real rather than a fantasy. Although Alfred isn't unaware of Bruce Wayne's attraction to Selina (it's clear in the scene where they discuss the theft of the pearls that Alfred understands the only reason Wayne doesn't call the cops on her is that he's interested in her), it's a stretch that he would picture her as part of an escape plan. He wants Wayne to leave Gotham behind; Selina is part of Gotham. We know she wants out too, so we can appreciate the poetry of Batman and Catwoman hanging up their costumes together (literally in both cases: Selina's blue dress doesn't seem any more or differently significant than Wayne's casual jacket, something neither Wayne nor Batman would have been seen dead in), but Alfred would have no reason to get that. So on balance the hints are towards this being real. I think Nolan is too pleased with the contrived ambiguity, as he is in Inception. Memento made ambiguity a protagonist, but when it's a character actor, as here, it needn't chew the scenery.

You really are reading too much into this. It was a literal movie. It managed to do what Mass Effect couldn't: end an era defining trilogy on an ending which seemed to please everybody. But look, Wayne has left his legacy with Blake, so he must've known he wasn't sticking around no matter what the outcome. They found the remote control was enabled. And Alfred saw him in the cafe. Anyone reading anything else instead of the literal is just reaching. This isn't inception.

Selina had the USB drive with the "new identity" program on it. We all know that she wanted to start a new life, and she did... Along with Bruce who used it to start his own "new life" over again... Thats how I interpurated it anyway. The new idenitity was a major plot point in the film. Its what drives Selina. Everything and anything she does in the movie is to that end.
What I dont remember is though, where WAS Selina when Bruce attached the bomb to the Bat and (apparently) took it over the bay...? Where was she last seen and what was she doing..? There was just simply SO much going on, that I just dont remember how her character was wrapped up... Besides the cafe scene, I mean...

That thing about Selina's clothes is exactly everything that is silly with that theory.

I wanna say, maybe the reason she is wearing the dress is because her whole arc is about getting a fresh start, and so it stands to reason she'd stop wearing the one colour that defined her earlier life (defined it enough that that review deemed it proof that Batman was dead!). Or maybe its because she just chose to wear a dress. She isn't a power ranger, she doesn't have to be in thematic colours all the time.

But really, its the 'Christopher Nolan has taken the step: he has killed Batman' line. The whole punch of the ambiguousness of "this is a dream/fantasy/idea, he's actually dead' only works if you think Batman is alive. Which neither the audience nor Alfred, who seemed pretty damn certain he was dead, have any reason to believe, until THAT VERY SCENE. This means it's inclusion, if it is a fantasy and not in fact real, serves no narrative purpose (beyond possibly showing Alfred is now possibly insane with grief) and is there only for the the meta-cleverness.

Yes, Nolan has a taste for tricksy meta-narratives and ideas in his films but those tricks all serve narrative functions as well. Here, it would just be meta-ambiguity for the sake of being ambigious.

And I think Nolan is better than that.

His mother's pearls, he took them back from catwoman even though he said they looked better on her than in the safe. Then, at the end of the movie, they are said to be missing As to how long Bruce had been back in Gotham, it was made clear that he'd only been back a day or so.
I also don't think it makes sense thematically. The whole point in Alfred telling Bruce the truth about Rachel was so he could move on and imagine a new future. If he were to deliberately kill himself in the end that would undo this whole narrative strand. Bruce faked his own death so he could make Batman the enduring symbol the city needed whilst ridding himself of his own obsession and starting a new life. Had Alfred not told him the truth it is likely that he would have chosen death, but with the truth, I think it makes sense that he was able to move on

My immediate interpretation of it was as a dream sequence. I hadn't even entertained the possibility he survived until I was talking to friends afterwards.

It didn't ruin the movie, it's a great movie. It just added a certain level of cheese that didn't really need to be there. Just about anyone could have figured out that Bruce is still alive, without having to show him and Selena. Alfred's gesture said enough.

Like I said, though, great film/ending, regardless of the final scene. I think all of this discussion about the final scene takes away from the rest of the movie. There are plenty of other scenes to discuss. I had not gotten that feeling from a movie since Gladiator.

IIRC Chris Nolan has made it clear this is the last Batman film - in an interview with Kermode on Friday he certainly said for the first time in 10 years he has a clean slate with no sequels on the horizon.

Nothing. Nolan is done.

I assumed that is was simply another bat in the workshop, it didn't even enter my head that it was the same one that Batman was (not) flying - that was clearly incinerated IMHO

With difficulty.

The fact that Alfred waved to Bruce in the cafe indicated to me that it indeed was not a dream as earlier in the movie when Alfred tells bruce of his dream of years ago he mentions nothing as warm and friendly as a wave! It is almost like bruce as deliberately gone there to have a joke at Alfred's expense as well as to show he is indeed Alive and well and doing fine with batman or Gotham in his life.

What if Christopher Nolan has deliberately left the ending like this, so that the audience can make their own thoughts of the final scene.

Brilliant!

Left the ending like what? With us seeing Bruce Wayne alive, the bat signal rebuilt, and Alfred seeing him in a Parisian Cafe? Very ambiguous.

If only Christopher Nolan had ran the ending by you first the audience may have gotten the ending you personally demanded.

Thank you. Wayne surviving has bothered me since I saw it, but I like the justification you've given for it.

Thanks. I think it's great they didn't kill Bruce but also didn't cop out on killing Batman and making him the incorruptible symbol. This way I can imagine he's still alive somewhere (I know how much of a nerd this makes me by the way).

He survived. Otherwise they wouldn't have bothered highlighting the whole autopilot thing.think you're looking for an ambiguous spinning wheel where there isn't one.
It was a bit far-fetched that he could've got away from the blast radius, but he did. It's an action film, innit.
Far more interesting was the intro of Robin / new Batman / Nightwing / Whatever.
This was heavily marketed as the end of Nolan's input into the Batman mythos, which makes me wonder why they'd so heavily hint at sequel possibilities.

Not only he didn't know about Bruce and Selina, he also wouldn't have placed the pearls that went 'missing' on her neck at the table. Also, there must have been another Bat or, how would that have survived the blast? The auto pilot patch would have been for all models (I'm guessing).

It showed Batman's face and about and the next scene was of the clock at 0.05 I believe.

Thanks Chris, I'm glad you understand me.

I initially thought Bruce died in the blast, then when Fox discovered the Autopilot had been fixed, my immediate reaction was "fuck, he had autopilot but he sacrificed himself anyway!" I was really pleased to see that he had survived and was "living the dream" that Alfred had imagined.

Also, I know people are complaining about Robin John Blake but it seems quite obvious to me that he would become the new Batman, if he is needed in the future, and not "Robin"

Absoultely he survived hence the whole bloody auto-pilot dialogue lol

If true, That scene would support Bruce's survival indeed but I thought it was another "batch" of Bats, not the bat used as it wasn't black?

I left the film praying WB would not reboot but let JGL take over the franchise in the current universe Nolan set up.

Exactly what I thought! I hope that was Nolans intention, as it preserves the universe he created, yet gives him and Bale an exit route and their character a natural end point. Yet the Batman and his legacy lives on, and is cleverly preserved. This is too good an opportunity to miss! Seriously! Please! Make this happen! If he's Batman or Robin/Nightwing I don't care, just try it! I would hate an early reboot, like The "Amazing(ly dull) Spiderman" 2012 just five years after Spiderman 3. Please do not undo the good work of Nolan, that very body else is now trying to copy.

If Nolan wanted ambiguity, he wouldn't have cut from Alfred to the shot of Bruce and would have just left it at Alfred's smile. Also, in talking about his fantasy, Alfred says he and Bruce never acknowledged each other--but in the end they clearly do. It was real.

I think, like the end of Inception, it's deliberately unclear and that's the point. Personally I like to think he survived.

I was mostly distracted by thinking that surely all of Gotham is going to die slowly of radiation poisoning over the next few years...

As I've said before, I do wonder however if JGL's contract has the possibility of sequels in it. Maybe they could continue the story from that ending with a different creative team...?

I agree. I think the world is ready for a Batman that isn't Bruce Wayne. Give JGL a try and then they'll be free to reboot in 15 years' time, if they wish...

That would have been pretty cool. I suppose they didn't do that because they wanted to show Selina there with him. If they hadn't had the shot, we could have assumed Bruce was there, but wouldn't have known if she was...

Through a straw.

I'm pretty sure this iteration of Bruce wouldn't return to Gotham. It seems that he's done with the city. Though I do wonder how Blake would fare as the new caped crusader, given that he hasn't had any training...

I imagine that Warner Brothers loved the suggestion of sequel possibilities, but even if the next Batman film doesn't take its cue from the final shot, it is arguably the only satisfactory way for Bruce Wayne to leave Gotham. He's started a new life, Batman lives on etc...

As long as they were wearing their Protective Goggles (a la the original War of the Worlds) they would have been fine! :-P

I can only assume Batman had the jet on auto pilot meaning he could easily escape, but then again you see him in the cockpit with seconds left which surely means no possible escape? Thinking about it the ending could well be just Alfreds imaginings of seeing his dream come true, but I really hope not. However Warner Bros said they're reinventing Batman after this film so we're getting more Batman whatever way the ending is interpreted.

Seems like you're focusing too much on who directed and wrote the film rather than the story itself. Meta-thinking like this certainly doesn't enhance the film's quality.

Also, we're talking about Bruce Wayne. The man's prepared for just about everything.

An interesting - although a bit far-fetched - was brought up by a friend of mine who reminded me that Nolan has a part in the upcoming Superman reboot. Maybe Batman had an assist from a friend who visited unexpectedly from out of town? Maybe from Metropolis? I know, I know ... why wouldn't Supes have shown up early on if there was a big nuclear bomb threat? We may have to wait and see from the new Superman film if there is a possible tie-in. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Thinking back to the movie, i don't really remember Batman actually entering "the bat" the scenes of him during the countdown could have been held somewhere else. im guessing his batmobile personally.

Did all of you miss the part where Superman was flying in supersonic speed in the Man of Steel trailer....he was on his way to save Batman from the nuclear bomb! =P

Saw it for the second time last night so looked out for clues on how Bruce survived - and it is very clear to me that he did. Couldn't see an escape pod or anything like that leave the Bat, even in IMAX... But clearly the auto-pilot lines are there for a reason. Wondering about the scene with Lucius in the underground lair when Bruce gets his batsuit. They open several drawers as if he's looking for something, but I don't recall Bruce using anything from there. I wonder if there's a clue there to his survival, because it's illogical from the rest of the information that he could survive the blast.

Before taking off with the bomb, he also explicitly states that the Bat has no auto-pilot, which we now know was untrue.

Nolan is a trickster...looking forward to his explanation, as I'm sure the clues are there!

Ra's Al Ghul's being in the movie is what goes against all of the "logic" that Bruce Wayne definitely lived. Could he have lived? Yes, but he could have died also. There are many ways to be immortal, according to the dead guy that was seen in the movie...so yeah....

Ras Al Ghul is immortal as long as the League of Shadows exist to continue his work....and his bloodline lives on with Thalia.

Alfred jokingly mentioned that Bruce and Selina should call and trade notes or something like that in the Batcave, so in his mind, he could have imagined them perfect for eachother. If I"m a major NASCAR fan, and my guardian sees another girl that's a major NASCAR fan, and I die, he could very well think "what would it be like if dan got together with that other NASCAR fan, since they had so much in common..." not hard to see that thought, either way.

There is an explosion right before the Bat crosses the bridge that Blake and the Orphan kids are on. I believe that THIS is the moment that the cockpit disengages like an escape pod and the auto pilot takes over. Therefore you can still see shots of Batman in the 'detached cockpit' as the Bat goes out over the water.

Okay my friend and I calculated this out. We seemed to remember there being 1 minute left on the clock that we last see. The bomb has a 6 mile blast radius, if i remember correctly. (correct me on the details if im wrong here, folks. thanks) So, that would mean he would have to obviously travel 6 miles in under a minute. Multiply that by 60 and you have 360 mph speed that is necessary. Now, i don't find that completely unplausable. Again, correct me if im wrong.

this is all assuming he DIDN'T get out before setting the autopilot, of course :)

this made me laugh harder than it should have! hahahahah

the Tumbler was destroyed by the Joker. I dont think Batman got a new one after he ran off and went into hiding. The other Tumbler prototypes were the ones Bane's mercenaries stole from Lucious Fox's secret weapons stockpile..

He ejected before he flew through the plume of smoke at the edge of the city before flying over the bridge. The cockpit was the tumbler. I am sure Alfred wasn't privy to batmans relationship with Selena beyond knowing her as a thief...no way it was a dream.

I think you fine folks are reading a bit too much into it. Nolan included the scene of Alfred looking at Bruce specifically because it IS unambiguous. You may have had a case had the end scene been Alfred looking up, smiling, then cutting to black, but the scene specifically shows Bruce and Selina. You've already said in the article that Nolan includes scenes for a reason, and the reason of this scene is unambiguity. Bruce is alive.

Case. Closed.

I feel like while Clothes on Film has a valid point about the changing of dresses...wouldn't it make sense that Selina Kyle would now wear something else since she has a clean slate and no longer needs to be the woman who can change her identity at the drop of a hat?

Suggesting that he didn't survive and that the Florence ending was all Alfred's dream is a bit of a stretch. Come on.

My interpretation is that Nolan is taking a hint from Scorsese"s Shutter Island in leaving enough clues to support either theory, in this case Bruce Wayne living or dying. This way everyone wins and he doesn't have to decide as I don't believe that the idea of Bruce living or dying was his intention when making the trilogy.

o_0 how does Bane eat indeed? THAT is the true mystery! I get worn out with no breakfast after one morning...I couldn't imagine doing all that Bane does, and not weakining in the least, with no food.

Batman did not die, but Bruce Wayne did. In a sense, Alfred wanted BW to live on without the mask, but BW chose the life of the masked hero, the symbol, and kill off all that remained from his "real" life. There was alot, too much, being made of that piece of software Selina was looking for. And all the dialogues between the mask providing shelter for the ones that you lived. I believe in a way that BW wanted to start afresh. Clearly he had time to devise an exit strategy, giving his mansion to charity and providing Robin the coordinates of the cave. This is clearly a path to more Batman movies, albeit not from Nolan which is a shame. A truly phenomenal trilogy which puts Marvel to shame

He actually said in his fantasy that they nod, don't say a word, and go on. Did you not watch the movie silly person :)

There was a lot of what Ra's said as well though...he didn't say that you can be immortal in many ways because it was cute or funny.

The scene where Alfred looks acroos the table and sees Bruce was no dream or act of imagination. Selina was there, she's free and can liver her life and doing it with Bruce after she got the "clean slate" on the usb drive. I agree why would Alred imagine Selina and here's another point, the lawyers discussing all of Bruce's property, possessions and assets say the pearls are missing and Selina is wearing them when she is seen with Bruce because as he said "They look better on you than in my vault' and if you remember he took them back after their dance when she stole his car. Now the auto pilot, ok what people don't understand is there was more than one bat (the bat wing) as there were more than one bat mobile (the tumbler). The auto pilot ran on a server connect to all the computers on all bats. Bruce Wayne fixed the software patch, thus fixing all the bats' auto pilot. That's how the Technicians new it was fixed and told Lucious Fox. How'd he escape from the explosion? He's Batman.....an escape artist with tons of gadgets. It's for the next movie to answer. Maybe Superman saved him and we find out this in the next movie lol at the end credits. Any ways the real mystery is Blake. It's hinted he's "Robin" but what was his legal name? The original Robin was Dick Grayson, Dick "The Robin" Grayson of "The Flying Graysons" but he was never a cop he was a circus act. Jason was the "failed Robin" who becomes "The Red Hood" and then there was Tim Drake who was Robin after Dick becomes "Nightwing". So now it wouldn't be right to make Blake the failed Robin, scratch that, the movie universe is different than the comics so he could be a Robin or personally I want to see a Batman Beyond movie but maybe or maybe not this could work for that because it's clear Batman pushed his body to the point where he can't keep being Batman, hence why Batman is thought to be dead at the end, but Bruce Wayne is alive to "retire".

it wasn't explained in the movie but Bane gets his strength from "venom" a steroid like serum that he injects into him making him a big muscualr hulkling brute. Christopher Nohan has said he wants to stick to the more realism of Batman and villians. So no Clayface, Killer Croc, no lazarus pit for Ra's Al Ghul as we know, villians like that. In TDKR they say Bane's mask gives him his power (breaks Batman's back over his knee and punches through concrete walls), maybe he's breathing in "venom". He takes his mask off and eats like a normal person, but excluded from his followers who won't see him become "weak and puny".

The truck was on the lower level of roadway...batman hitches the bomb to the "bat" ...drags the bomb and it seems to stall for a bit...batman intiates autopilot...while the prototype "bat" intercepts Batman on the upper level of the road way...he gets in the prototype bat and flys back to Wayne Enterprises and puts the prototype ...the one with bomb flys out until the bomb detonate. Batman "dies" but Bruce Wayne lives.
Why would batman need to fix the autopilot on the protype if he didnt need to use it?
Why didnt batman just sink the bomb in the ocean to cool the reactor if he didnt need to fake his death?
His finally was a magic act...
Batman saved Gotham...Inspired the People and was given a chance for a new life
He took took it.
He brought the prototype back to let Fox know he was still alive
Alfred knew he was alive because he wasnt stunned to see him alive....he just nodded and smiled.

batman is still alive of course because who would take over is role... even though i dont know much about this specific story line from the comics, john blake was revealed to be robin blake as stated earlier nolan doesnt unthink through is story, so finding out john blake's name is really robin i think is very key

I saw TDKR yesterday and found it to be an absolute mess. I love TDK and the Animated Series. I think Nolan has seriously made his worst film and screwed up the franchise. As with Batman graphic novels, Warners should reboot with a more faithful version. Paul Dini is the only man qualified.

Btw, they said in the movie that the weapon was a neutron bomb. These kill people, leaving buildings intact. Maybe the 'Bat' is lead lined?

Actually, the doctor in the prison explained that Bane wears the mask to keep pain away from his spinal surgery.
Perhaps Bane is able to go beyond normal strength as he can't feel the pain of doing the things he does

well what I think happened was that the explosion did kill batman but his body washed up on shore and ras al ghul picked his body and brought it to his lair and put bruce into his lazarus pit that brings people back to life or makes them younger and brings batman back to life just like in the comics when robin died ras put robin into the pit and brought him back to life so in my conspiracy batman LIVES

If Batman did "die" then I think that Nolan would have referenced some sort of transition with Blake becoming the new Batman. However, Nolan chose to use the Robin reference with Blake, so in my mind, if Blake is Robin, than Batman had to live. Robin is Batman's sidekick (obviously), and if Batman died, there would be no need to introduce that at the end. If that was the case, Nolan would have just tried to hint that Blake would pick up the hood and cowl - instead of joining him...

plus, he fixed the damn Bat Signal...!

Fits in with the despair/hope thing that Bane talks about in the movie, like Nolan dangling the hope of Wayne being alive (for the audience and Alfred) when the reality is the despair that he really is dead.

I went through all the comments and I'm pretty sure no one has mentioned Alfred's drinks in those cafe scenes. When he is telling Bruce about his daydreams he says he ordered the same drink every time and they show a shot of the drink being brought to the table. In the ending cafe scene, he is brought a drink, but it is in a distinctly different glass than the earlier sequence. As always, could be reading too much into that, but it is a Nolan movie and he does tend to flag things. I take it to be Nolan's message that you can either believe that the glasses are different because the first cafe scene was Alfred's memory and the end scene was reality, or that the first scene was reality and the last one was a daydream.

Personally I like that you can essentially pick your ending. Based on what I saw, I believe Bruce Wayne is dead, but there is just as much evidence to suggest he's alive.

Whilst I enjoyed the film I did wonder why there was no tidal wave and why John Blake was doing everything I expected Batman/Bruce Wayne to do.

Yea, far too much is being read into that. I thought it was a nice way to end it and yes, he took some license with technology and our suspension of belief. If any bust it for being a little cliche.

I agree wholeheartedly there. I actually really wish that had of been the ending. It would have been a beautiful one in my opinion.

Basically what should of happened was that after Alfred looked at the camera, nodded and smiled the film should of cut to black and finished. End of.

Guys, Batman/Bruce Wayne did not die..how could they? Batman is a super Hero and they just do not die.
Alfred used to take a yearly holiday to Florence, not dream of a holiday..so what he sees at the end is real..Selina wearing the Necklace is so clear. and when did you ever see Robin with no Batman? end of.

You really can't make up the statement that TDKR "screwed up the franchise". We've seen this franchise screwed up and no matter how much you don't like TDKR it is extremely better than any other batman movie made outside this trilogy.

Because his work was all a transition into being the next masked hero of Gotham City.

I suppose that sets up the Justice League nicely.

There is absolutely no ambiguity. I don't get where this argument is coming from. As stated earlier by Stansfield, Fox discovered that the auto-pilot of the Bat had been fixed. Much like the Tumbler, it is no stretch of the imagination that there was a smaller craft or ejector compartment within the Bat in which Batman could escape and leave the auto-pilot to carry the nuclear bomb to its destination. I really is that simple.

If you're going to make the assumption the the final restaurant scene was just a dream (without any justifiable ground for doing so) you could easily do the same with the alleged(!) scene where Batman was 'seen' flying the bat - claiming it was what the audience expected to see rather than what actually happens...

In short what I'm saying - is where does this meta stuff stop?:

[Cut to prologue of new Superman movie: Shot of Batman waking up in the shower.]

'And off he want to his doom'
Did you mean off he went?

In what way does this put marvel to shame? Marvel embraced it's comic book world. Nolan felt the need to shun it. I love the films but thats a crap comment!

Well played sir. Well played.

It just does not make sense to mention the autopilot three times throughout the film (including the key scene at the end) unless we're supposed to take something substantive from it.

What did Chekov say? Don't show a gun on the mantelpiece in the first act, if that autopilot ain't gonna save your hero's ass in the third. Or something like that ...

Question? So when did Bruce Wayne die in the movie? We all saw Batman supposedly die when the bomb went off but Bruce Wayne's death was never explained, unless i missed something. So with Batman's death, does that mean the general public knows Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same? I feel like i'm missing something or something obvious.

He 'died' somewhere as part of the riots.

No argument with your overall point. I just wanted to mention that the words Gordon reads at Bruce's funeral are not from a letter Bruce wrote. They are the closing words of Charles Dickens' famous novel, "A Tale of Two Cities." In this novel, the words represent the final thoughts of a man who is faking the death of a friend by taking his place on the scaffold.

I didn't think about that. Mutliple Batwings makes sense

Rectal suppositories. I'll bet he loves those.

I have no problem with the ending. But I DO have a problem with Bruce Wayne's knees. Yes, his knees. Why, oh why, did that have a doctor tell him he has no cartilage left in them, then show him using a knee gadget to gain function, THEN allow him to escape the pit with no said knee gadget...an impossibility. I found this continuity glitch stupidly annoying. Why introduce the "no knee cartilage" idea at all??

Hmm. I'd just sort of implicitly assumed he was still wearing the knee-braces when they canned him, you saying that has made me wonder though...

It seems to me that Nolan's Batman would never run the risk of a potential issue with the normal operation of the Bat when the stakes were so high. This, even if he had previously made the autopilot work, I can't help but think that he would pilot the Bat himself as long as necessary in order to ensure the best chance to compensate for any potential mishap, including the failure of the autopilot. Thus, for him to live he would had to have had an ejection system powerful enough to move him outside the kill zone in the roughly five seconds that remained, presuming, of course, that he believed that he had achieved a safe distance by then. Perhaps people more familiar with ejection systems and the presumed characteristics of the bomb might comment upon the feasibility of this outcome. If it isn't feasible, I can't help but think he's dead.

As a simple man, I just figured Batman used the autopilot & went under the water. With the bomb exploding in the air, he could have gotten deep enough to be safe.

Of Course! The old 'Nuke the fridge' trick. Genius.

They are now both working on an Alaskan crab boat together.

if i remember there are two Batwings in the movie; one was stored in the Batcave and the other was hidden in the city on one of the buildings. He used the stealth mode of the aircraft to avoid detection. That's why he was there at the bridge to save Gordon while setting up the flaming logo. At least that's what i took away from it. That would also explain where the second Batwing came from that Lucius was inspecting at the end of the movie. The Batwing that was destroyed was the one that was parked in the city while the other remained in or around the bridge area. I'll have to watch the movie again to try and confirm this so take this explanation with a grain of salt.

I just got back from TDKR, and it completely blew my mind. In my opinion, it looked like Blake was becoming Robin, but what's a Robin without Batman? This isn't Teen Titans, and he's a little old to be Robin. Maybe after Man of Steel we'll see Bruce come out of his "death" and see a Superman/Batman crossover, or a Justice League, but it would be smart to build ALL the characters before a League movie. But an absolutely amazing flick nonetheless, and it breaks my heart that we won't see more.

Also, the fixing of the Bat Signal is a good point, is Bruce really retired? Or is Blake becoming Batman or Robin? God I love Nolan!

we know he was in the pit for at least 84 days. you see it on one of the newscasts where it says day 84 gotham watch

I too wasn't sure at first if Batman died or not. For many of the reasons people have already listed I now believe he is not dead. I would also like to point out that Christian Bale expressed in an interview that he would do another one if Nolan asked him to. How would they do another one without Batman being alive?

Batman and Robin have always co-existed at some point. That is, the Bruce Wayne Batman. So the fact that Robin has only just come into the picture determines that Batman IS still alive

Hey guys, been reading the comments with interest, but noticed that no one else has mentioned something that I noticed in the film.

When we see Blake standing on the bridge with the kids after the police blow it up to prevent him, he's getting the kids back on the bus, there's an explosion, and we see the Bat flying through a massively thick cloud of smoke. A cloud of smoke so thick you can't see anything through it... My thoughts are, that Batman ejected from the Bat there, and then got the Bat to fly on autopilot over the bridge and as far out to sea as possible. This would then give him the opportunity to get everything sorted RE his will etc.

Also with regards to someone mentioning the wreckage of the Bat looking top notch as Fox and co are examining it, I agree think it was just another Bat, and the engineers mention that it had had a patch (software patch update) for the autopilot 6 months previously, which is about the time just before Batman gets put in the hole prison. So think this all works.

The biggest question for me is not the ending but how did he get from the pit of dispair to Gotham City in less than a day. He had no money, no clothes, 3 months of beard growth and the next time you see him he just happens to bump into Selina walking down the streets of Gotham looking clean shaven and smartly dressed.
And how did he get back into Gotham with all the bridges either blown up or having the army camped out on them as John Blake found it impossible to get off the bridge before being blown up by the army.

The bat has auto pilot, Bruce had applied it six months prior, he had jumped out way before the bat had made its way to the ocean to release the bomb. Batman was safe from the blast as he would have been where the people of Gothem were, back in Gothem!

How the hell can Bruce Wayne fake his death and live in peace? He is Bruce Wayne, The Prince of Gotham. You'd have to go a thousand miles to meet someone who didn't know his name. He can't be alive man. Somebody will recognize him,

Did anybody see the part where Robin looks back and sees the bat blow the top off of the some random building for apparently no reason right before it flies off into the bay? My theory is that Batman blew this building up as a distraction to draw people away from the fact that he's actually ejecting from the bat at this point.

I think all of this debate on the ending proves what a great film this is.

didnt we find out bruce fixed the auto pilot on "the bat" 2 weeks before... so if he had patched the other "bat's" from his phone like was said, couldn't he have sent "the bat" with the nuke on autopilot?

In an interview somewhere I read that even though it was almost certain there will be no more Nolan/bale batman films, Christian said that if Nolan came to him with a new story that could be told then he would gladly get his bat suit back on. This indicates that in the casts eyes and probably Nolans as well that batman is still alive. Surely this is a case of people taking a tiny thread and making a whole different story in their head.

I think that if we look to the ending of the Tale of Two Cities, which seemed to be a huge influence on the ending, it's possible someone managed to switch places with Bruce Wayne as Batman at the last moment. Granted, I can't figure out who it would be or how that would've happened in what we saw.

Bats died. Nuff said.

I thought the ending was great apart from the bit with Blake in the cave. He was built up for the whole film as the antithesis of Bruce Wayne: an orphan who lost both his parents tragically, but who didn't believe it necessary to retreat behind a mask to fight crime and corruption in Gotham, and the implication that he would now take up Batman's mantle just felt like it undermined his character a little. I know you could argue that he became disillusioned after the police blew up the bridge, but it still seemed like a very large leap for the character and I felt it reduced the thematic potency of his general ethos, just a thought! Everything else about the film was brilliant, my friend didn't agree, but I thought Bane was an excellent villain for the film. Where the Joker was an antagonist to form a counterpoint to Batman, Bane was a villain to oppose Bruce Wayne, fitting very nicely into Nolan's conclusion to the story of the man behind Batman, though not the end of Batman as a symbol. Acting was outstanding all around too!

there would not really be any point in showing bruce wayne at the cafe' with selina if it wasn't real and there would also be know point of telling viewers that the autopilot was fixed before the explosion if he just died anyway. Also dc i doubt would ever let christopher nolan kill off batman arguably their most loved and popular superhero at the moment. if they don't make a reboot which is unlikely after the popularity of nolans batman flix, then there will be no batman for the justice league and batman was always there for robin he trained him and helped him become a superhero so if batman is dead then who will do all these things for robin like in every other story (or most)?

I really don't see where the justification comes from for believing that the final scene was a dream of Alfred's. Not only would he probably not have included Selina in such a dream, as pointed out, but the only reason to believe that it WAS a dream is the supposed impossibility of Batman's having escaped. That's it. Apart from that, there is no reason to suspect it was a dream.

So, on to the subject of whether he did escape. This article itself states that "everything is in here for a reason". Given that premise, what reason was there for mentioning that Bruce had installed the auto-pilot firmware update other than to let us know that he could have escaped? And it's hardly inconceivable that Batman's ejection from The Bat left him in an escape pod or capsule comprised of just the cockpit and some kind of propulsion, meaning that the fact we see him in the cockpit right before detonation proves nothing.

I'm taking the ending at face value, not only because I like it better that way, but because I don't think there's a strong argument for believing otherwise.

I think the open-endedness lies in John Blake discovering the Batcave, rather than in Alfred seeing Bruce. It's about the end of Bruce Wayne's story, if you ask me, but potentially not the end of Batman's. I don't mean that in a "SEQUELS GALORE!" kind of way, but I feel that this film is very much the end of Bruce Wayne's path in the film's universe.

I thought that was what was going to happen, too. I was slightly surprised that the camera cut to show Bruce and Selina. It would have been brilliantly frustrating just to cut after Alfred's nod and smile. Very Inception-like. And the fact that it didn't just reinforces in my mind that we're not supposed to even doubt that Bruce Wayne is still alive.

I wondered that too, but ultimately I just accepted it as it was simply "because he's Bruce Wayne". In the beginning of Batman Begins, we see Bruce getting around the world through various means like hitchhiking and whatnot. If he really is "the greatest detective in the world", I'm pretty sure he can use his smarts to find a way back into Gotham quickly.

ooh, relevance! thanks for that, i knew it had to be from some classic work of poetry or prose.

it's the end of this batman's story. warner borthers, i guarantee, are already working on a 'reboot'. (which is fine, i welcome more good batmovies).

just to show how difficult it is actually being batman. not a plot point so much.

i think the last time we see her is when they kiss, after talia dies.

They didn't recover the Bat.

Well he is alive, to much hinting towards it. I knew that it would be the end when alfred told him that that was his ultimate dream to see him in venice with a girl, and he would nod and not talk to him. Shocked that he actually ended up with selina(just thinking about the comics where they have a rather weird connection) but hey it works fine for me, good for bruce! :)

Just wondering about that nuke, where were the shockwaves after the nuke?

and still wondering about that pit climbing, why jump with no running? he surely would hit easier if he went a couple of steps back and ran.

i liked the movie and the more i read about it after watching it i like it even more, but the ending was abit clichee but it left me happy and content. Batman died a legend(as they said in batman begins, that was the main purpose of batman to be a symbol of hope and order) and that batman had a successor that could fullfill his task should anything go wrong. They don't need to make another movie but they made it possible to have one if they wanted to, and thats good, leave all possibilities, and the main quote and idea throughout the series, "why do we fall? so we might learn to pick ourselves up again" is a good though, and batman always has to get up from the ground and come out even stronger than before. :)

Yeah, I had the same theory for the ending. It's also interesting to see critic kermode shares ours too.

it just seems odd that alfred cries a river of tears at the loss of wayne, but then when he realises he's alive he just smiles and walks away.

This suggest that it's Alfred's Imagination because Alfred would have been shocked. The question many people ask is how did Selina Kyle figure into his imagination? Another question I can add is that during Alfred's previous imaginations, what girls did he think of with Bruce Wayne? The batsignal could have been repaired by anyone, the auto pilot could have given Bruce Wayne more time to think about his death, and Bruce Wayne gave the coordinates to either Alfred or Fox, to give to John Blake. There is no way Bruce Wayne survived the explosion because even if he did jump out, the radiation would have killed him.

Selena Kyle was indeed insignificant when Alfred left,but let's not forget one thing
Gordan was present when Batman and Catwoman kisses before Batman flew off with the bomb. He deduced Batman's identity (FINALLY) and obviously knows Catwoman is Selina Kyle due to existing records (he can check if he wants to). Next,we see Gordan, Fox and Alfred all present at Bruce's funeral. Is it really that impossible that Gordan would try to comfort Alfred and say something like "You know,if it comforts you,your Master Bruce didn't die a lonely man" and tells Alfred about Kyle. Alfred has seen Kyle before in the batcave computer or he could just flip through some old newspaper or something

Wasn't the reactor supposed to be the equivalent to 5 Atom Bombs? The way they cut that scene, there is no way he could have gotten out of that blast radius. It bothers me because they could have just done a long-shot of the bat-copter flying into the distance, rather than a close-up of Batmans face in the Bat-copter, and I'd be perfectly fine just figuring he turned on Auto-Pilot and ejected over the city.

I agree, there's far more evidence pointing towards, he did survive, than that the ending was just a dream sequence to calm a troubled old man. You have to admit though, there was something really surreal about that cafe scene. It was shot to look exactly like the dream sequence that Alfred thought back on earlier in the film, implying another dream. It felt out of place to me when I was watching it. I don't think it's that much of a stretch that Batman, with an obvious deathwish throughout all the movies, didn't set up contingency plans beforehand that would tie up all the loose ends in the even tof his death. It's also not a stretch to consider that Nolan wanted to kill off Batman, but may have been strong-armed to cap the trilogy with a more friendly ending, and he itnentially edited it be slightly open to interpretation. Ambigious endings are pretty much Nolan's thing.

I like everyone's opinion but personally i feel that Bruce survived he always has done in most batman universes. I do like the opinion that Bruce has moved on with his life.
and that Alfred put his mind at peace regarding Rachel. However i don't think this means that its the end of Bruce Wayne as batman. Why you may ask? simple. If "robin" Has found the bat cave, and many of you think he is to become batman, which is entirely possible but who is going to train him? it doesn't make sense to me that he will just become the new batman, he is a cop and has no where near the skills it takes to become the dark knight. He may have the right morals but he doesn't have the stealth strength and skill yet. Someone has to train him which most obviously is Bruce, i think when he met robin he realized that he was someone who could be trusted,(obviously as he has knew that batman was Bruce Wayne all along) he knew he had the right attitude and had a lot in common with batman it may be Bruce would continue his role as batman and Robin will become the boy wonder or that Bruce has retired and will train Robin to become batman before completely moving on. id go with the batman and robin theory though simply as the woman says "Robin, you should use your name" well not the exact line but you know what part i mean, This may be Robin rising to his own title.

As for the Ra's al ghul appearance it may have been a dream but it was 100% real as he says he cant die, and that's due to the Lazarus pit

exactly the point i just posted, unless Bruce trains him, theres not a chance he could just become batman, bruce must come back

HAHAHAAHAHA..nice one!

What some people forget is Alfred does suggest Bruce should go out with Selina when Bruce is doing recon on her after she steals the pearls. Could be why he imagines her. He says he'd have put him with a chimp if it would snap him out of it.mid like to think its a dream, however I feel like he's meant to be alive - a bit ridiculous really

A friend of mine lost the cartilage in his knees back during the first Gulf War, and yet he was able to do any normal thing, perhaps not with the comfort or power he once did, but he could do them.... it just hurt a lot afterward. That's not a continuity glitch.

i think he got out when it cuts to john blake on the bridge and the kids on the bus go 'its batman!' when i watched the film the second time i think (and i could be wrong here) that the mid shot of batman isn't in the bats cockpit its in a dark room room/subway etc...

I gotta be honest, this movie was very disappointing & the epilogue reinforced that. Giving Batman a happy ever after ending just does not fit the character. The interpretation that it was an imagining on Alfred's part doesn't seem to hold water taking into account the discussion about the auto-pilot. It would have been better not to have had the auto-pilot scene & hold on the reaction shot of Alfred without cutting to Bruce Wayne & Selina. This would have lent things a better ambivalence

I agree. Seems a bit of a stretch to me (just saw it last night). Specially with the scene with Fox and the auto pilot.

who is batman now?

One of the most emotional endings to a movie ever! I think I'd have preferred to have not scene Bruce Wayne at the end though. There was enough there with the pearls, the auto pilot and Alfreds smile to give the audience enough belief he had survived. Maybe Nolan was giving a nod to the fans, simply saying that after 7 years of Batman, we deserve a happy ending. Also I have say how epic the opening scene is...when Bane says "Crash this plane" then the music pounds in - a moment I'll never forget experiencing that in the iMax.

on seeing TDKR a further two times (because its just that good) i agree the bat that fox examines is the prototype grey version he shows to bruce earlier in the movie and in my opinion bruce is alive at the end of the film (even though i nearly cried all 3 viewings when batman takes the bomb to save the city) also just a slight criticism but considering its an atom bomb he doesnt half bash it about i.e. drags it out the truck to the floor, hits every lampost, scrapes across the road oh well :)

Atom not nuclear

I think you are all missing a huge point here. There was at most a minute on the clock when batman flew out of gotham. They said the bomb had a 6mile blast radius in the film. 6 miles in 1 minute means he had to fly at the very least at 360mph to keep the city safe (kinda impossible even by batman's standards). Suggest for a minute that he did achieve this, a bomb of that magnitude over the ocean would without a doubt create a rather colossal tidal wave which would have probably decimated gotham anyway.

I just saw the DK Rises again last night and I KNOW that I am right
about this…just follow me: Everyone here knows the score to the
trilogy, awesome music, no mistaking, right? The same music throughout
the three films. Great job by Hans Zimmer (as usual). Just as Batman
flys the Bat over the bridge about to go out to sea with the nuke, the
music changes. It’s a score that was never in any of the three films up
to that point. Why change the music all of a sudden? And then it
struck me like lightning…it was the same music that is put over the Man
of Steel trailer!!! Which by the way, is also scored by Hans Zimmer!
Superman saves Batman. No doubt. Watch….AND LISTEN to it again. That
music is not heard anywhere else in the trilogy.

SUPERMAN!!!

She is not wearing the necklace in the last scene

No. There is a shot of Batman flying The Bat,still in the cockpit after that.

Muppet. it wasn't the next day. Watch again. It clearly states 3 months have passed...

No... That wasn't a dream sequence. He was recounting to Bruce Wayne what he actually did when Wayne was away for 7 years. Hence how Wayne knows exactly what time and day to be there... No dream. He actually did that.

Jesus Christ No.. That music from the Superman trailer is from The Lord Of the Rings. Fact. There is no way that music is in Batman.

Thats Holly Robinson. In the comics she was her sidekick and her lover

Sometimes Studios make the decisions, not the Directors even if they are as big as Nolan. With the Trilogy coming to end, my guess is Warner Bros *directed* Nolan to leave it open for either Blake or Bruce to play the Protagonist in future.

wow what a stupid ending....im glad i didnt go see this movie...i knew it would be to much to have em just brake batmans back and end it with Azreal comming in to take batmans place... what a friggen joke...im so tired of hollywood changing storylines to suit thier needs and to appease the general movie going audience who probably would not even think twice about reading the comics or books these films are based on

But doesn't that tie in to what he said at the beginning about never having contact with the 'new' Bruce to acknowledge that he, finally, no longer needs Alfred?

Interesting, as (spoiler) a similar thing happens in The Prestige. Oh Nolan you clever bastard.

I think Batman's The Bat dropped him and his cockpit down into sea, instead of upwards. Maybe thats why we never saw it. He probably control it from there maybe thats why he had a worried face & was probably miles away in his little cockpit near the shore.

I think there is a thing about explosion before Bat goes to ocean. Remember? Batman can easly go around that buildings but he chooses to explode it. And we can clearly see Bat is coming from explosion.
My opinion is there must be a different Bat in that building and after a quick "bomb-trading" job, the fake one flies to ocean.
Voila! Now, everything is easier to explain. No escape pods or ultratech bomb covers...

I don't think that unnecessery explosions were in that movie. Nolan never does this.

Just before the batwing flew out across the water past the school bus it emerges through an exploding building. I believe that is where batman ejected using distraction tactics as throughout the films. Also you cannot have robin without batman, don't over think this one guys it's not inception! Batman can return without the need to live the lie of Bruce Wayne. He has become an indestructable legend.

It's more of an artistic touch than an attempt at being realistic; Alfred's dream for Bruce is realized at the end. I think that was my favorite moment in the film. Quite beautiful.

Bruce Wayne survived, How? who knows. Maybe he ejected in time? Maybe, autopilot flew that craft over water ~likely. We know he got in the cockpit initially but he could very not have been in it after the small explosion before the craft headed to sea. In fact after that point we don't see a shot of Batman and the background out of the window of the cockpit. The point of batman is the creation of a symbol. After Harvey Dent died. Gotham no longer had a symbol so Batman, had to die to take his place, hence the statue, presumably replacing Harvey's. The legacy of the masked figure and crime fighter was left to the young cop.

"The point is to be a Symbol, Batman could be Anybody." ~B.Wayne

if you watch before the bat flys over the bridge, there is a mini explosion which john blake confuses as the real bomb, and then the bat comes out of the explosion and it then flys eerily straight over the bridge and towards the ocean to make its final explosion. maybe that initial blast that the bat came out of was a distraction for batman to hope in another bat and leave the other bat in auto flight mode which he patched?

Isn't it any bit strange that at the last scene where Alfred is shown at the cafe' the camera seems to show Bruce and Selina only from Alfred's view angle? I mean there would be no need to only show Bruce through Alfred's eyes (view angle) and not show at least once Alfred and Bruce in the same frame. Also the scene's lighting is rather 'glowing' like those of common dreams or hallucinations - do you think that was done 'on accident' by the the movie producers?

Since first time after watching the movie I felt strongly that Nolan makes both alternatives available/acceptable. We would normally think Alfred shouldn't see Bruce in Paris if he was really dead, but on the other hand why would Bruce be in the Bat left with a NUCLEAR devastating bomb (that destroys whole cities and sickens any organism in-range) about to explode in 5 seconds? Not even whole minutes could help Batman to avoid that IMO.

As Nolan always loves to involve ambiguity in his movies I strongly think this is the case as well, so the final ending is what you make it.

"(and we assume, the cockpit of the same craft - there wasn't another version of The Bat with the same sized cockpit tucked away somewhere, was there?)"

Talking about other versions of The Bat, there was actually another Bat (although it was silver instead of black), seen in the movie at around 02:34:48 when two scientists told Fox that The Bat has been fixed by a "software patch, six months ago, Patch ID: Bruce Wayne".

My theory is: when the Batman blow up a building to make way for The Bat to fly through carrying the bomb, I think that is when Batman jump off the Bat & set the autopilot on. About the shots of Batman inside the cockpit after the "The Bat flying through the blown up building" scene, I think it's just the filmmakers' way to make audiences believe Batman really sacrificed his life. I assume Nolan did that just in case if he would want to continue this Batman continuity to make way for Justice League with the new Superman from the rebooted "Man Of Steel" continuity instead of rebooting Batman like it was rumored.

But the theory of Superman flying in supersonic speed to save Batman is very interesting. Who knew if Man Of Steel would set around the same time with Batman Begins.. :p

Watch it again dude

The happy ending is that John Blake is gonna be the new Batman.

The film made a pretty clear point of the autopilot being fixed by bruce; and that 'anyone' could be batman and that 'this is the whole point' i.e. Batman did not die... it's an idea not a person, but Bruce didn't die either, he just moved over 'faking death' if you will but moving over for fresh blood and retiring.

^ This. It wasn't hard to get. The film pointed out bruce needed to fix the autopilot and that the batman was an idea, not a man and that 'anyone could be the batman' that was the point. Bruce retired, new blood came in.

...inserted where?

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