15 Things That Bothered Us About ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

The following article was a collaboration between David Chen, Peter Sciretta, and Germain Lussier.

Between those of us at /Film, we’ve already seen The Dark Knight Rises several times and have found that many questions and problems still linger in our minds (see Dave’s review and Germain’s review). What’s consistently baffling about Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is people’s willingness to forgive Nolan for extremely problematic staging and editing, and for screenwriting crimes that would put any other writer/director in “script jail.”

What follows are the 15 biggest issues we had with The Dark Knight Rises. Some of these are major problems with the film, while others are minor niggles. But they all have one thing in common: they all jolted us out of the film and took away from our ability to get lost in Nolan’s world. We wrote this piece not to troll, but simply to articulate some of our own issues with the film and hold them up for examination. Two warnings before you proceed: 1) MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW, 2) If you think you’ll be upset by this article, based just on the title, it’s probably a good idea if you just pass this one by.

When and how did Bane find out about Batman’s identity and Applied Sciences? – When Bane and Batman first meet, Bane knows his true identity. He likely learned this from Talia Al Ghul, his boss, who likely learned it from Ra’s Al Ghul, her father. But the timeline doesn’t quite fit. Talia Al Ghul and Bane were trained when Taila was young and escaped the pit. Maybe around 12. She and Bruce seem to be around the same age so, that was about 15 years before Bruce met R’as in his late 20s. Bruce then kills Ra’s mere months later at which point Ra’s finds out Bruce is Batman. So did Ra’s call his daughter at some point in this small window, tell her Bruce is Batman, then give her the idea to become a Wayne Enterprise Board Member (even though the nuclear device didn’t exist yet) as a long con back up if his plan in Batman Begins failed? Seems like there should be a more concrete explanation as this information is crucial.

And even if that’s how it went down, it doesn’t explain how she or Bane knew about the existence of the Applied Sciences wing of Wayne Enterprises, that it was Batman’s armory and its specific location in the building. Yet they do because Bane was building his hideout right below it. Even if the aforementioned identity leak was possible, Lucius Fox himself said Applied Sciences was “completely off the books”.

Blake Intuits That Bruce Wayne is Batman – WTF, dude? First of all, I’m highly skeptical that anyone could “see” just by looking at Bruce Wayne’s face that he was Batman. But even if this were not-at-all implausible, the fact that this development occurs in the first act of the film is a strong indicator of this film’s issues (namely, the need to cram in as much plot development as possible). In any other film, such a reveal would normally come after the end of some sort of prolonged interaction between these two characters, where it might be somewhat understandable that one character saw the truth in the other. Here, they get it out of the way right from the beginning in a fashion so abrupt that it has no emotional resonance whatsoever.

Also, if Blake was able to put this together, wouldn’t other Gothamites have started to put two and two together? As a separate issue, by the end of the film, practically all the main characters already know that Bruce Wayne is Batman. By the time Commissioner Gordon figures it out while Batman is taking off, I didn’t think “Wow, what a revelatory moment!” Rather, I thought, “Oh man, he is so late to the party on this one.

Bruce Wayne Is Down, Then Back Up, Then Down, Then Back Up… – Wayne begins this movie with a significant limp, which is remedied with a pretty cool-looking electronic brace. We spend a lot of time watching him ramp up, and we’re thrilled to watch him finally kick ass again…only to see him get totally incapacitated by Bane about two thirds of the way through the film. At first, I thought this might be a brilliant, ballsy, unprecedented move: would Nolan really take the hero out of the final climactic battle sequence?! Nope, turns out it foretells that we just have a bunch more movie to go. We get to watch him recuperate again before finally facing Bane at the end (sans limp, btw, even without the brace). So, wait, WTF was the point of having Bruce Wayne go through that arc twice in one film? For a miniseries or a TV show it might’ve been worked, but in the course of one film it just feels really drawn out and unnecessary. 

Also, I’m no medical doctor, but I have a feeling a broken back takes more than just a few weeks, some ropes, and a firm smack to the vertebrae to fix.

Alfred Says Goodbye to Bruce – I presume this is supposed to be a monumental moment, a moment when this constant presence in Bruce Wayne’s life turns his back on him. Only it happens with such clunky, stilted dialogue and in such a poorly staged way (the hallway outside of the batcave? really?) that I literally cringed at how bad it was.

Why Wouldn’t the SEC Just Overturn Bane’s Fraudulent Trades – I mean, it’s pretty clear that they were done under fraudulently, right? Else what the hell did they think Bane was doing there?

Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard Have Sex – On the one hand, yes these are two very attractive individuals. Why shouldn’t they give in to their carnal desires? On the other, more reasonable hand, there is virtually no development in the relationship between these two. They’re running in the rain, then they start making out, then in the next scene they’re naked. If only real-life romance worked like this…

Seriously though, with no emotional attachment to this relationship, Talia’s eventual betrayal is nothing more than a Shyamalan-style twist with no impact behind it. A missed opportunity.

So Batman is a street artist now? – After months away, being mentally tortured and physically broken, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham. He spends the first few hours of what could be the final day in Gotham history getting purposely caught by Bane’s cronies, a huge risk, and then escapes and saves Commissioner Gordon and John Blake with mere seconds to spare. Yet somehow, with this impossibly frightening ticking clock, he finds the time to use gasoline to make a huge Bat symbol on the top of a bridge with the knowledge Gordon will be there, pick up the flare, and light it up. Theatrically is part of Batman’s persona, yes, but it seems like there might have been a better use of his time.

Bruce Wayne Forgets to Do Proper Background Checks – You would think that after Ra’s al Ghul and members of the League of Shadows crashed Wayne’s birthday party and burnt down the Wayne mansion that a stricter security policy would have been implemented for Wayne Manor events. First he hires a maid who’s actually a notorious cat burglar, then he hires a woman to head his board who’s actually the daughter of one of the most villainous individuals out there. Shouldn’t he have done a little more digging before surrounding himself with these individuals? Speaking of which, if Anne Hathaway’s Selina is easily able to adopt fake identities and hack super encrypted passwords (like the one on Wayne’s expensive safe) why does she need the Clean Slate program so badly? I mean, its probably the worst MacGuffin in the Nolan Batman trilogy.

To be continue…

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