Even if "Avengers" ruled over 2012, it didn't happen without stiff competition from the Caped Crusader. The second highest-grossing film of the year and the end of an era, "The Dark Knight Rises" brought Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy to its natural conclusion. It was a full circle ending, one that, in retrospect, we should have seen coming, but didn't because of that signature Nolan-wizardry he's perfected over the years.
Relive the greatness of "The Dark Knight Rises" and its reign in 2012 with our handy GIF guide!
"Rises" kicks off with a bang — a very big, very literal bang, in the form of a plane hijacking and crash, one of the greatest sequences committed to film all year. It ends like this:
Ballsier still is that the final "Dark Knight" movie begins without a Dark Knight. It's been eight years since Bruce donned the cape and cowl, and he now looks like this:
But don't worry, it doesn't take too long for him to look like this:
He suits up again because he meets Selina Kyle, an intriguing cat burglar who looks like this:
And soon, she leads Batman to Bane, a man who looks like this:
The very same guy who, on meeting Batman, does this:
With Batman beaten, Bane goes on a Gotham City rampage that includes destructive acts like this:
And that makes Batman mad, so he rises again, and returns to Gotham to do all kinds of badass action movie moves like this:
But Batman faces the threat of defeat once more, when he learns that would-be girlfriend Miranda Tate is actually the traitorous Talia al Ghul, and she gives Bane longing looks like this:
But it's no big deal, because Batman is Batman. Batman (with a Catwoman assist) beats Bane, and later beats Talia, leading to the silliest demise of the year. It looks like this:
So Gotham City is saved, and Bruce decides to retire for good, leading him and Selina to live the rest of their lives like this:
But even without Bruce, Batman lives on. Gotham's new Caped Crusader is named Robin (spoiler!), and he looks like this:
And, if you believe the rumors, you'll see him again in this.
"The Big & Best of 2012: A Year End Celebration Presented by T-Mobile" goes LIVE at 12 p.m. ET on 12/12/12. Watch at BigAndBestOf2012.com for eight hours of live performances from stars like Bruno Mars and Miguel, special editions of "RapFix Live" with Ma$e and A$AP Rocky, "Big Morning Buzz Live," "MTV After Hours" with Norman Reedus, "You Oughta Know," surprise guest appearances, prize giveaways and much much more!