'Dark Knight Rises' Trailer: An Expert Analysis!

We break down what we know so far about the return to Gotham City — and take a stab at some lingering questions.

The "Dark Knight Rises" teaser trailer flickered across movie screens over the weekend, and then popped up online Monday afternoon. It features so many elusive references and inspired so much we-can't-wait-until-the-2012-theatrical-release anticipation that we're still talking about it today.

So the MTV Movies team settled in for a detailed breakdown of what's been unveiled, the new questions raised, and what the whole thing tells us about next year's cinematic return to Gotham City.

Batman, Where It All Began

Director Christopher Nolan has spoken openly about how this film will bring his Caped Crusader trilogy to a conclusion, closing the narrative loop that kicked off with 2005's "Batman Begins." In that sense, it's appropriate the trailer starts with footage (and voiceover, courtesy of Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul) from the original film. We also see Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne here as a man on a mission, very much an outcast from society and attempting to rediscover his true self. That's quite similar to the way we might find him at the start of "Dark Knight Rises" — Batman shunned from Gotham City after his battle with the Joker in "Dark Knight."

Beyond this thematic and visual connection, the early trailer footage indicates that the League of Shadows — the crew of martial arts badasses who trained Wayne before coming to battle him — will in fact play a key role in the new film. Where it gets interesting is that Ra's Al Ghul apparently died in "Batman Begins," but Neeson was reportedly spotted on the "Dark Knight Rises" set and is featured prominently, at least in voice, in the trailer. Very interesting ...

Commissioner Desperation

Jim Gordon, it's safe to say, has seen better days, which is saying a lot, considering how much crap he's been through in the last two films. The commissioner has been shot and had to fake his own death, but none of that compares to his plight here: curled up in a hospital bed, sucking on an oxygen mask and praying that the Batman will return from exile. Gordon has suffered some sort of beatdown, but why and from whom?

The implication of what he's saying is that Gotham City is in trouble. We've seen in the teaser poster and through this trailer that the urban environment is literally crumbling to the ground. Desperation, both emotional and physical, seems to be the theme of the trailer — a stark contrast to the hopeful tone of the title, "Dark Knight Rises." Gordon here is begging Wayne to rise again; when and why he does remains to be seen.

The Caped Quitter

As we've already mentioned, Batman quits his role as the protector of Gotham City at the end of "Dark Knight." This scene of Wayne doing push-ups, which comes from "Batman Begins," is another flashback to a character attempting to rebuild (or create out of whole cloth) a new self. We'll greet Batman in "Dark Knight Rises" as a man without a legacy, without a rock-solid reputation, a superhero who has to start from the ground up. That's not going to be easy. Thus, in this context, this scene almost seems like it's part of Wayne's "Rocky"-esque training sequence. That, or an outtake from "The Prestige."

Facing Bane

We've seen a glimpse of Tom Hardy's Bane in a sneak-peek photo, but this is the first time we're seeing his face. While Bane's look is related to his comic book roots, Nolan once again has shown a willingness to update these iconic visuals; Bane's mask is far more S&M badass than the luchador-like villain from the comics. Yet it's only the briefest of looks, speaking to Nolan's deft touch with teasers: Fans are forced to watch the trailer again and again, pausing and rewinding as we seek to study this key bad guy.

Listen to That Crowd

As the trailer wraps up, we hear some ominous chanting. These are sounds we've heard since the beginning of the "Dark Knight Rises" promotional campaign in a viral video. The chanting sounds cultish and foreign and scary; put another way, it sounds like the handiwork of the League of Shadows. We're likely to hear more of that chanting in the months before release, and we'll hear a heck of a lot of it in the movie itself.

The question remains: How does Bane fit into the League of Shadows-heavy story line? How does that baddie come to blows with Batman, as we see toward the end of the trailer? That last shot of the two men facing off has the feel of a boxing match, the scene caught by a handheld camera, Batman bouncing up and down like he's in the ring. Noteworthy in that shot, as well, is a mysterious character in the upper right-hand corner: Who is that and why would Nolan include him or her in the trailer? "Dark Knight Rises" detectives out there, it's time to get to work!

Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."

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