Warning: Spoilers ahead!
“The Dark Knight Rises” might be a Batman movie, but at its heart, it’s very much a Christopher Nolan movie. In his eight feature films, Nolan has established a clear set of hallmarks and motifs that he likes to repeat and reinterpret across his movies, and a few of those patterns pop up in “Dark Knight Rises.”
Here’s how “Dark Knight Rises” fits within the Nolan-verse:
Michael Caine, voice of reason
Ever since casting him as Alfred Pennyworth in “Batman Begins,” Nolan has considered Caine his lucky charm. In the five movies they’ve made together, the actor has taken on the role of the voice of reason. As Cutter in “The Prestige,” he tried to put a stop to the insane feuding between the rival magicians. In “Inception,” Miles told Cobb to stay out of the dream business.
Nolan’s go-to director of photography has been there since his breakthrough with “Memento,” but “The Dark Knight Rises” marks their final collaboration as director and DP. After winning an Academy Award for his mind-bending work in “Inception” and closing out the Batman trilogy, Pfister is headed off to the greener pasture of directing. He’s currently working on his first project, on which Nolan is serving as executive producer.
Bwuh, bwuh. BWUH! Zimmer and Nolan cleverly incorporated the slowed-down count-off from the Edith Piaf kick in “Inception” into the score for the now-infamous effect. For “Rises,” they joined forces once again for Bane’s concept-driven theme. The “deshay basara” chant became a core element of the score and the promotional campaign, grabbing the attention of casual filmgoers in a way most instrumental soundtracks do not.
Nolan is famous for twists that change how viewers re-watch a movie. John G has been dead the whole time? Hugh Jackman has been killing his clones the whole time? Was it a dream the whole time? To that list, we can now add “John Blake’s name was Robin the whole time?” Nolan and Bale might have both said that they didn’t want the Boy Wonder showing up in their movies, but there he was, tricking us into liking him without full disclosure. Looking back on the whole movie, John Blake always was serving a Robin role, but in a very Nolan-esque way. Just like “Memento” plays differently once the secret has been revealed, we can go back and re-watch “Rises” and all of Blake’s wonderful sidekick antics for what they really are.
What would a Christopher Nolan movie be without backlash? For “Rises,” however, the negative response to the film coincided with much praise. “The Dark Knight” found some dissenters in time, but they took a little while longer to surface. People were quicker to take down “Inception” as just another film falling prey to Nolan’s worst tendencies. The majority of critics work the same lines, claiming that praise for Nolan comes largely from fanboys and that he’s overrated.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Dark Knight Rises.”