monday morning movie club

What Exactly Did Gordon-Levitt See in Batman’s Face? And Other Dark Knight Rises Discussion Points

L-r: MORGAN FREEMAN as Lucius Fox and CHRISTIAN BALE as Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action thriller “THE DARK KNIGHT RISES”
Photo: Ron Phillips/WARNER BROS

By now, $160 million worth of people have seen The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. We can talk plot now, right? Because if you are one of the aforementioned moviegoers (and basic probability suggests that you are), you will surely have some questions and opinions about the nearly three-hour film. Vulture hereby calls to order a new session of the Monday Morning Movie Club in order to address these pressing issues. Understand us now: The rest of this post contains real, very specific spoilers about The Dark Knight Rises. Scroll down at your own risk.

So How Exactly Did Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Character Know That Bruce Wayne Was Batman?
When cop John Blake was a child, Bruce Wayne visited a boys’ home/orphanage run by the Wayne Foundation. And because his parents had also been tragically taken away from him, Blake was able to tell that Wayne was Batman by looking at his face. At his face. And when he gets older, he drives out to Wayne Manor and says, I knew it was you because you smiled sadly, because I looked at your face and now I am here telling you that you are Batman because I saw it on your face and …

His face.

Did Those Edits Fix Bane’s Voice? And Did It Matter?
A small, totally unscientific survey conducted by Vulture staff found that most viewers (okay, friends) could understand about 50-70 percent of what Bane said. Was that enough? Tom Hardy’s garbled, lilting voice was amusing, sure (“What a lovely, lovely voice”), and even menacing at times (that “Do as You Please” revolution speech). But did it also lower the stakes a little? How can you take Bane’s threats seriously when you can’t even understand them?

And the Movie’s Most Memorable Shot Is…
Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight contain their share of moments that immediately imprint themselves on the viewer’s memory. Most of those moments involve Batman moving through space somehow: as he dives into a downward-flowing flock of bats and swoops straight down towards the camera; as he glides magically through the skyscrapers of Hong Kong; as he falls directly onto a car’s roof, destroying it completely. The Dark Knight Rises has exactly one moment of directorial playfulness — Batman, lit by strobelike gun blasts, approaches the camera herky-jerkily until he is right in our face. Brief, but unforgettable.

How Pissed Are the Occupy Wall Streeters Right Now?
Pre-release rumors hinted that Dark Knight Rises would include a timely Occupy Gotham tie-in — and that was true, in the sense that Bane led a nominal people’s movement and Anne Hathaway dropped some sass about the one percent. But there are no drum circles to be found, and Bane’s revolution is not a peaceful one (see: the trading floor knockdowns, the Park Avenue assaults), nor is it for the people, in the end. Not exactly the big-screen bump OWS was looking for, probably.

Bane’s Reading of Commissioner Gordon’s Confession
Wouldn’t the average person think, “Couldn’t you have just written that yourself, guy who just destroyed our football stadium? I’m supposed to take your word on this?”

If An Atom Bomb Explodes Over the Ocean …
… then do we not have to worry about a tidal wave? Or any sort of fallout? We’re not nuclear experts here, but how far can the Bat really fly in two minutes? (It’s not the most aerodynamically efficient plane, no offense to Fox.) And is it far enough to neutralize all the consequences of an atom bomb? Please, weigh in.

Can You Really Heal a Bat-Back by Just Punching the Vertebrae?
We’ve already covered this with the experts. The answer is: no.  N-o.

The Blank Slate
The film’s MacGuffin, it is a device that allows one to completely erase his or her identity. It’s what is dangled in front of Selina Kyle as an incentive to get her to steal Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints. When the bad guys tell her they don’t have it, Wayne just happens to have another one hanging around. Convenient, hmmmmm? At film’s end, Wayne and Kyle are able to use it to scrub their lives from the books and escape to Europe. Convenient, hmmmmn? If I were Bane, I’d be like, “Forget this bomb ish, gimme that blank slate!”

Welcome Back, Cillian Murphy!
And we sincerely hope your nutso character will return to terrorize Robin, if and when that day comes.

What Did Gordon-Levitt See in Batman’s Face?