"The Dark Knight Rises" is a big, ambitious movie that shows little mercy to those audience members who can't recall the finer details of Christopher Nolan's previous two Batman films. As the conclusion to a true trilogy, "Rises" name-checks and calls back to almost all of the major plot points and characters from "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight."
To get you prepared for "The Dark Knight Rises," here's a rundown of some of the most pertinent information from Nolan's trilogy to make the final conclusion that much more satisfying.
Note: There are no outright spoilers, but if you want to stay completely free, read carefully.
Just Re-watch "Batman Begins"
For months, when we sought any ounce of plot information from the cast of "The Dark Knight Rises," the best we could get was a tip from Gary Oldman that the trilogy has a circularity to it and that the final chapter will double back to some "Batman Begins" territory. Suffice it say, he was correct. As much as "Rises" is the natural story progression from the events of "The Dark Knight," it doesn't ignore what happened in the first film, a flaw far too common in franchises. Nolan's trilogy tells one story, so you can't just ignore the first third. We won't say how "Rises" connects to "Begins," but we will say it's significant.
The love of Bruce's life, Rachel's presence is still felt in "Rises" in a greater capacity than the framed publicity still of Maggie Gyllenhaal that shows up. Bruce's self-imposed exile has just as much to do with Rachel's death as Batman's status as an outlaw, if not more so. The final conversations between Rachel and Bruce, about the possibility of future together after Batman, have stuck with him all of these years. He never knew that Rachel planned to leave him for Harvey Dent, and that has shaped his idea of Rachel.
The Life and Death of Harvey Dent
Gotham's former beacon of hope became the one thing that could destroy everything Harvey Dent worked so hard to achieve while he still had one face. To protect that legacy, Gordon and Batman agreed to a lie that would keep the sterling image of Dent intact, while throwing Gotham's silent guardian under the bus. The fruits of that lie play a key role in setting the stage for the Gotham of "Rises."
We know that "Rises" begins after eight years without a Batman sighting, but the same also applies to Bruce Wayne. He has become a Howard Hughes-like Hermit, locked away in the rebuilt Wayne Manor. With Batman considered an outlaw and Bruce's "only chance at a normal life" gone, there is nothing left for him but to try to do some good with his money and keep out of sight.
Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."