The Dark Knight Rises Over 2012: A GIF Guide

Dark Knight Rises

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.

Do you think "Dark Knight Rises" ruled over 2012? Vote for your favorite comic book movie of the year, and let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter!

"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 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!

Stick with MTV as we count down the Best of 2012, including the Best Songs of 2012, Live Performances, Movies and EDM Videos of the year.