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Trailer Breakdown: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

When the teaser trailer for the upcoming 2012 Christopher Nolan-directed film The Dark Knight Rises was released over the summer, I had every intention of creating a trailer breakdown for it. The time came and went, however, and the idea was tossed to the scrap pile. Now, we have two full-length trailers that have been released for the film, and I find it only fitting to bring you a trailer breakdown not only for the new trailers but also for the teaser I so terribly forgot. As I always do with my trailer breakdowns, I have gone through and watched the trailers a number of times and have written down some questions and comments that came to mind. Below for your viewing pleasure are the three trailers followed by their respective questions. Let me know if you thought of anything else while watching these videos - there's a high chance there is something I might have missed.

Now that you've been reminded of the teaser trailer, here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

1. One of the most prevalent images in the teaser trailer is that of the crumbling skyscrapers that ultimately form the "Batman" insignia. What might this mean?
Despite the penchant for the dramatic, I think this image is rather easy to decipher. If we remember the end of 2008's The Dark Knight, we have the Joker (Heath Ledger) behind bars, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) deceased, and the Batman (Christian Bale) run out of town

and believed to be the villain. Because Dent supposedly will assume the graces as the hero and the evilest mastermind that Gotham has seen is now locked away, it might be safe to say that Gotham experienced a bit of a renaissance in terms of a drop in crime. However, with the visage of Bane (Tom Hardy) looming on the horizon, one can only imagine the destruction that Gotham soon faces. In a sense, the image of a crumbling Gotham is a sign of things to come.

2. Speaking of Bane, we actually catch a glimpse of him here in the teaser.
While this is a little old news by now, the teaser trailer was the first time anyone truly got to see Tom Hardy all done up as our central antagonist, Bane. Adorned with a massive breathing

apparatus on his face and head, he still manages to send a shiver down the spine. We even get to see him square off against Batman in the final images in the trailer in what's sure to be a wonderfully-choreographed fight.

3. We're getting a lot of images and dialogue from the previous films. What gives?
I think this was done for a few of reasons. First, I think the filmmakers wanted to give everyone a recap of what had happened in the previous films while setting up this final chapter with something familiar. Secondly, I think they wanted to emphasize the finality of this film. Regardless of box office output and accolades, this will be the final installment in Nolan's Batman trilogy. They have two title cards that say, "Every hero has a journey. Every journey has an end." We also get a voice-over using dialogue from Liam Neeson's character in Batman Begins that says the following:

If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, then you become something else entirely. A legend, Mr. Wayne. A legend.
And, at the end of the trailer, we get another title card that says, "The Legend Ends." All of this ties together to emphasize the finality of this film. Finally, I think that, by using older scenes, they didn't have to use as much material from the new film, which is probably a plus for them given the nature of how popular this movie will probably be.

4. What exactly is Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) saying in this trailer?
I remember that when this teaser first premiered, there was a lot of debate as to what exactly Oldman's character was saying while lying on the hospital bed. After a number of listens, here's what I was able to scrape out (Note: the conversation also includes a line from Christian Bale, either as Batman or as Bruce Wayne):

Gordon: We were in this together, and then you were gone. Now there is evil rising. The Batman has to come back.
Wayne: What if he doesn't exist anymore?
Gordon: He must... he must...
Now that that part's out of the way, let's talk about what it might mean. Obviously Gordon is referencing how he and Batman had worked together to bring down the crime in Gotham, but once Batman left, Gordon was left alone, waiting for evil to return. He knows he cannot combat it on his own, so he's essentially pleading for Batman to return to Gotham and reinstate himself as the vigilante power he once was. Wayne is obviously doubting whether he could possibly reprise his role as the Batman, but Gordon insists it must happen if Gotham is to remain alive.

And now, for the first full-length trailer:

So there's the first full-length trailer for The Dark Knight Rises; let's see what I thought about while watching it:

1. What's with the football game and the kid singing "The Star Spangled Banner?"
Right when I first saw this trailer, that was my initial thought. If you were only working off that first image, you would probably never guess that this was a trailer for a Batman film; however, it

ultimately comes into play later in the trailer when we see Bane set off explosives that cause the football field to collapse. For those of you who may have seen the seven-minute prologue for this film at theaters in the past week or so, you'll know that Bane is going to be portrayed as a terrorist rather than your average criminal. That being said, his destruction of a public place seems to fit the mold a little bit better. And, with the crooning of the national anthem throughout the trailer, there's this odd sense of foreboding that the music somehow fits perfectly. It's an eerie combination, but somehow Nolan makes it work here.

2. What is all this talk about "war heroes" and "peacetime?"
The first mention of this in the trailer comes when Commissioner Gordon is coming up to give a speech at what appears to be a memorial for Harvey Dent. Two men in the crowd discuss how the mayor is going to let Gordon go in the next few months because he's a "war hero," and those aren't needed in times of peace. If you recall what I said about the concept of a "crumbling Gotham" back at the top of this post, I think this idea makes a little more sense. Allegedly, The Dark Knight Rises will take place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, meaning that there has been an extended time of peace and prosperity in Gotham. As a result, the mayor may think that Gordon is no longer necessary in his position. As we see later in the trailer, however, a new evil is, indeed, rising, as is evidenced by the quote, "There's a storm coming," which is said a little later in the trailer. It looks as though Gotham might be getting ready to experience a scene of utter and complete chaos.

3. Who is that woman dancing with Bruce Wayne?

This is actually our first real look at Selina Kyle, more commonly known as Catwoman, who will be portrayed by Anne Hathaway. Although we're not getting a ton of detail from the trailer, I think it's safe to say that Hathaway looks to be a bit feisty in this one, and I'm sure we can all breathe a heavy sigh of relief.

4. We get our "first" real snippet of Bane's dialogue in this trailer, but what does he say?
For those of you who have seen the film's prologue, you might know that there has been quite a discussion about Bane's dialogue in the film. I personally have not seen the prologue, but I know that many a moviegoer is scratching their head as to what exactly Bane said in his scenes. We do get one line of dialogue from him in this trailer, and it reads as follows:

When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.
Because he has a breathing apparatus, it may be a tad bit difficult to understand exactly what he's going to be saying. I read an article chronicling the prologue that talked about how an unintelligible villain may have been Nolan's only real option after having an over-the-top and charismatic villain in Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight. To go in the polar opposite direction, Nolan may have done just enough to distance his Bane from his Joker so that audiences won't necessarily be able to compare the two. Instead, they'll be able to look at each villain as an individual and see how effective they actually are.

5. Finally, is the film going to get too bogged down with too many big-time stars?
I often ask this question whenever a film looks to have a massive cast list that includes a lot of A-list actors. Sometimes ensembles can work, but often times, there's just too much bravado on-screen for the audience to handle. Generally, I have faith in Nolan and his direction, so I'm holding out hope that this will all work out; however, here's a look at the major players who will be appearing in this film, some of whom I've already mentioned:

Christian Bale (as Bruce Wayne / Batman)
Tom Hardy (as Bane)
Gary Oldman (as Jim Gordon)
Anne Hathaway (as Selina Kyle / Catwoman)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as John Blake)
Marion Cotillard (as Miranda Tate)
Morgan Freeman (as Lucius Fox)
Michael Caine (as Alfred)
Juno Temple (as Holly Robinson)

I don't know about you, but that seems like quite the crowded screen...

And now, for the latest full-length trailer:

Now that you've had the chance to watch the latest trailer, take a look at the thoughts that crossed my mind while watching it:

1. We're seeing a lot of familiar faces in the trailer, but we're also being introduced to what may be a bigger character than previously anticipated. What's up with that?

As you may have noticed, we are seeing quite a few characters from previous films as well as some we've already met in past trailers. We catch glimpses of Batman, Catwoman, Gordon, Lucius Fox,

Alfred and Bane, but the biggest change here is that we're getting our first real look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character. As of right now, all that is really known about the character is that his name is John Blake, and he's a beat cop assigned to work under Gordon. However, if you've been listening to the rumor mill as of late, there's a little bit of talk that John Blake may be the character that stands up to take Batman's place should something terrible befall our hero. Perhaps it's just Internet rumor, but I wouldn't doubt Nolan taking a chance to leave his mark on the franchise.

2. I also thought there was a lot more action in this trailer.
Although previous trailers - as well as the previous films in Nolan's Batman saga - have shown quite a bit of action, I never truly thought of these films as strictly action-based. However, there's definitely quite a bit happening in this latest trailer. We're getting snippets of the opening scene - the one with Bane on the airliner - that has already been played for millions of fans, but it's the second half of this trailer that truly shows quite a bit of battle. We even catch a glimpse or two of hand-to-hand combat between Bane and Batman, which should be quite the treat for the audience.

3. Speaking of a fight between Bane and Batman... I thought I saw Bane holding a broken Batman mask?
Your eyes did not deceive you. As we've already seen in one of the film's teaser posters, this trailer

confirms that there will be a scene in which Bane will toss away a broken Batman mask. In one strain of the comic books, Bane is the villain who finally kills Batman, and there's been a lot of talk as to whether Nolan will be going that route with his saga. The continued images of a broken down Batman and Bruce Wayne make it seem as though this might be the case, and this trailer even goes so far as to suggest that Bane may have a bit of a personal vendetta against Wayne. At one point, after hurting and terrorizing our hero, Bruce asks Bane why he didn't just kill him. Bane simply replies, "Your punishment must be more severe."

4. Should we still be worried that we won't be able to understand Bane?
After the first few trailers were released, there was a growing panic amongst fans that Bane may be entirely inaudible. I'm not sure whether this trailer debunks that idea or if we've just grown accustomed to trying to figure out his dialogue, but he seemed to speak more clearly this time around. The quote I gave you above is easily the most understandable line he's uttered in the trailers, but even another line - "I'm Gotham's reckoning" - is moderately understandable. Perhaps there's hope after all.

5. What will the relationship between Batman and Catwoman be?
It's starting to seem more and more apparent that the two will be allies during the film. The first full-length trailer made it seem as though the two might have a bit of a conflicted relationship, but this new one shows them working side-by-side on many an occasion. The two do happen to have one of the more interesting dialogue exchanges in the new trailer, however:

Catwoman: You don't owe these people any more. You've given them everything.
Batman: Not everything. Not yet.
I'll let your mind run wild with what that might mean. I have too many theories running through my head at the moment. 

6. Holy smokes, Batman! Is that the Batwing? 
Yes. Yes, it is. We finally catch a glimpse of the Batwing, and boy does it already look glorious. I know the cast and crew had some issues with the Batwing during filming, but the final product looks as though it should bring quite a bit to the table. I suppose we'll still have to wait and see.
Ultimately, all of these questions will have to wait until the film is released this summer. Until then, I can tell you that I'll be waiting (im)patiently until I am able to see the film hit the big screen.

The Dark Knight Rises will be released in U.S. theaters on July 20, 2012.