The Dark Knight Rises Teaser Trailer – Analysis

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 Howdy, fellas! I figured I’d keep on this roll of updates and do an article on something very cool (though brief) that came out recently – the teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, the last movie in the Nolan trilogy of Batman movies. I’d like to discuss the teaser, pointing out my thoughts and what I’ve concluded from the short scenes we see.
You can find the trailer at the official site. If you haven’t watched it yet, I suggest you do so before reading this. Enjoy!

Let’s begin with the very first new image we see and contextualize it, shall we? Click on the screencaps to see a higher resolution version, if you wish.

I bet this scene is the very first thing you see on the movie. In the first movie, Batman Begins, a flock of bats forms the Bat-symbol in th skies; in the second, The Dark Knight, blue flames create the shape of the Bat-symbol. Here, Gotham itself is decaying, with the collapsing buildings forming the Bat-symbol in the sky, keeping the motif of the trilogy and displaying the theme of the movie.
The Nolan trilogy’s main theme is escalation. The League of Shadow’s attempts at destroying Gotham before the beginning of Batman Begins created the Depression that, in turn, created Joe Chill, the desperate man that murdered the Waynes for their money, wich, as we all know, was the catalyst for the creation of Batman. The Dark Knight’s intervention, aimed at motivating the people of Gotham, had, in itself, both good and bad consequences. On one hand, he inspired Harvey Dent to step up and try to uphold justic; on the other, he created a new breed of criminals, such as the Scarecrow and the Joker, that terrorized Gotham City. The scene of collapsing buildings implies that this is the next step in the escalation – and I have reason to believe that, in this case, Ra’s al Ghul’s death in Batman Begins is what propels the events of the movie.

In fact, the teaser heavily hints at this movie tying into Batman Begins more than The Dark Knight. While you do see two scenes from the second movie – Comissioner Gordon breaking the Bat-signal, Batman riding the Batpod at the end of The Dark Knight -, the teaser spends more time rehashing the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s quest, even including a voiceover from his mentor turned nemesis, Ra’s al Ghul.
Having recently watched Batman Begins, I have to say, the voiceover – dialogue from the first movie – sounds a bit different. It might be just an impression, but I get the feeling Liam Neeson might have re-recorded it. Even if that’s the case, it might only have been for the teaser trailer, but you never know.
The voiceover reflects the moral, taught by the League of Shadows, that spawned the Batman: a man becoming a legend by dedicating himself to an ideal. Again, the return of the League of Shadows is implied – and, with the line “Every journey has an end” and, later, “The epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend“, the notion that these are Bruce Wayne’s last steps towards becoming a legendary figure in Gotham. In other words, the rise of Batman.

The main scene of the teaser trailer: Comissioner James Gordon, Batman’s trusted ally turned unwilling antagonist, in a hospital bed, recovering from something – most likely, the first attack of the movie’s villain, Bane. In case you can’t make it out, his monologue begins as follows:

We were in this together… and then you were gone. Now this evil rises. The Batman has to come back.

It’s clear that some time has passed since The Dark Knight, and, apparently, Bruce Wayne has retired from the role of Batman during that time. What’s confusing is this: is Gordon talking to Bruce without the mask? If you look at the screencap, the shape in the left looks like the silhouette of a masked individual, but the dialogue seems to distinguish the person who’s being addressed from the role of Batman. Either Gordon is referring to “the Batman” as the role of watchful guardian, or he’s aware of Bruce’s dual identity, a la The Dark Knight Returns.

The rising evil Gordon mentions is almost certainly Bane, played by Tom Hardy, whom, in the comics, is a cunning foe who managed to physically and mentally break Bruce Wayne. This appears to be our first, but thankfully not only, look at him in the trailer, as he climbs (thus literally “rising” from) some sort of pit… one that reminds me of the well Bruce fell into when he was young, which, in turn, led to his fear of bats. It’s likely not the same, of course, but the contrast between Batman falling into a pit and Bane rising from one might have been intended.
The popular theory online is that Bane is a part of the League of Shadows, being introduced in a flashback scene set thirty years ago. To be honest, that makes perfect sense to me, tying into the first movie and giving some notion of relationship between him and Bruce; after all, Ra’s himself said Bruce was his greatest sudent. If Bane was a fellow pupil who was cast aside in favor of “Gotham’s favored son”, he would have good motivation for wanting to defeat Bruce Wayne and earn a high place in the League.

Bruce/Batman, answering Gordon’s plea: But what if he doesn’t exist anymore?
Gordon: He must. He will.

I find that first sentence and the accompanying scene both very interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, Bruce’s line reflects one of the reasons why this iteration of Batman is one of my personal favorites, weird Christian Bale growling voice notwithstanding: it defies all conventional notions that Bruce Wayne is only Batman’s mask. Usually, that’s the notion people have of the character, and, while it generally makes sense – after all, Bruce Wayne isn’t really a playboy as he pretends to be -, I still find it too simplistic. The idea that Batman is simply a brooding, isolated man hell-bent only on revenge with no other goals in life doesn’t really have a lot of depth to me. In the movies, however, Bruce Wayne is a more complex character: yes, he began his journey obsessed with revenge for his parents’ deaths, but he comes to realize, thanks to his short stay with “Henri Ducard”, that he needs to aim higher than that. It goes from a personal vendetta to something more, a mission to save Gotham City, and he creates two different masks for that: one, an irresponsible millionaire who just wants to enjoy his fortune, and the other, a watchful guardian who stalks the night to protect the innocent and prey on the guilty. Bruce Wayne is not Batman; Batman is simply the legend he’s created to achieve his ideal of justice, and that line sums that up nicely and discreetly. Bruce has quit playing the role of “the Batman”, possibly because he’s become detached after the death of Rachel Dawes, his childhood love, the one goal he had for himself, and now the circumstances demand he go back to his role.
The scene itself seemed, at first, only a throwaway reference at the motif of Bruce trying to improve himself constantly, until I took a closer eye at it. First of all, and very obviously, he’s in a prison of sorts. Secondly, he has a beard, unusual for Bruce’s public appearance, which implies he’s been there for a while. Now, this could be a flashback to Bruce Wayne’s stay in a prison in Batman Begins, but the scenario doesn’t seem to be the same, so I wonder… has he been captured? By the League of Shadows, perhaps?

Here it is – our first good look at Bane’s face! I have to admit I’m conflicted when it comes to that strange mask – it looks incredibly unsettling to me, but also something highly unrealistic. I don’t see the practical use for it, unless it’s Bane’s answer to Ra’s al Ghul’s philosophy on theatricality and striking fear into the heart of enemies.
The scene itself is weird. At first, I figured it was probably just a quick cut for dramatic impact in the trailer, but now I wonder if it has any meaning. Perhaps Bane has drugged someone, hence the blurred image at first and the sudden cut by the end of it. Perhaps I’m just overthinking it. Either way, it’s very cool. (Oh, and for the naysayers who complained that this teaser trailer had too little: The Dark Knight‘s first trailer had nothing but the Bat-symbol and three voice clips. No look at The Joker, nothing. Consider yourselves lucky for getting this one year early!)

Wow, it’s the title! Never saw that coming.
Seriously though, have you heard the background sound on this part? That odd chorus was first revealed on the official website a few months ago, hiding a message: “#thefirerises“, which was a Twitter hashtag that led to the first image of Bane. While this is only speculation, I suppose it’s a chant by Bane’s followers, probably part of some rite of passage or ritual. That said, it does sound to me like they’re shouting “Gotham“, but I might be wrong.
Another theory about the movie’s plot that’s grown popular is that the overall story is similar to the quintessential classic The Dark Knight Returns. There’s already one clear similarity: Batman having retired and then coming back. In this case, say the theorists, Bane would be replacing the leader of the savage Mutants gang that terrorized Gotham. If that assumption is correct, I can see his followers chanting this to celebrate their leader.

Man, these are the two best seconds of the entire teaser: a glance at the showdown between a clearly exhausted Batman and Bane. In the comics, their first battle ended with Bane breaking Batman’s back, which led to a long storyline on getting a temporary replacement who ended up insane and then Bruce Wayne bringing him down once he recovered. I doubt they’ll follow that storyline for this movie closely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they replicated Bane’s greatest achievement on the movie. That would, however, mean that Batman would be out of comission for a while – which would be the perfect excuse for Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, sadly absent from this teaser trailer, to step up and become Gotham’s temporary defender, until Bruce Wayne rises again and retakes the mantle of Dark Knight.
As you can see, there’s also a third individual at the scene. A goon, perhaps? It sort of looks like he’s holding his neck, though, so it could also be a hostage; perhaps Bane’s method of incentivating Batman to fight him in a one-on-one duel. It could be someone important or really just a thug guarding the spot; it’s too early to tell.

I’m afraid there’s nothing more that can be said about this short tease, except that I’m really looking forward to this. Too bad it’s the end of Christopher Nolan’s genius Batman saga, but at least I’m sure he’ll go out with a bang and a memorable movie. I can’t wait!

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