The Dark Knight Rises is a 2012 British-American epic superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan, and the story with David S. Goyer. Featuring the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the final installment in Nolan's Batman film trilogy, and the sequel to Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). Christian Bale reprises the lead role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, with a returning cast of allies: Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. The film introduces Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a sly, morally ambiguous cat burglar, and Bane (Tom Hardy), a revolutionary bent on destroying Gotham City who forces an older Bruce Wayne to come out of retirement and become Batman again.
Christopher Nolan was hesitant about returning to the series for a second time, but agreed after developing a story with his brother and Goyer that he felt would conclude the series on a satisfactory note. Nolan drew inspiration from Bane's comic book debut in the 1993 "Knightfall" storyline, the 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns, and the 1999 storyline "No Man's Land". Filming took place in locations including Jodhpur, London, Nottingham, Glasgow, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, and Pittsburgh. Nolan used IMAX 70 mm film cameras for much of the filming, including the first six minutes of the film, to optimize the quality of the picture. A vehicle variation of the Batplane and Batcopter termed the "Bat", an underground prison set, and a new Batcave set were created specifically for the film. As with The Dark Knight, viral marketing campaigns began early during production. When filming concluded, Warner Bros. refocused its campaign: developing promotional websites, releasing the first six minutes of the film, screening theatrical trailers, and sending out information regarding the film's plot.
The Dark Knight Rises premiered in New York City on July 16, 2012. The film was released in Australia and New Zealand on July 19, 2012, and in North America and the United Kingdom on July 20, 2012. Upon release it received critical acclaim and is widely considered by publications to be one of the best films of 2012. Like its predecessor, the film grossed over $1 billion worldwide at the box office, making it the second film in the Batman film series, and by extension the second film based on a DC Comics character, to earn $1 billion. It is currently the 12th-highest-grossing film of all time, the third-highest-grossing film of 2012, and the fourth-highest-grossing superhero film of all time
Eight years after Harvey Dent's (Aaron Eckhart) death, the Dent Act grants the Gotham City Police Department powers which nearly eradicate organized crime. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent's crimes, Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) writes a resignation speech confessing the truth but decides not to use it. Batman has disappeared, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse. Cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) obtains Bruce's fingerprints from his home, kidnaps a congressman, then disappears. Selina hands Bruce's fingerprints to Phillip Stryver (Burn Gorman), an assistant to Bruce's business rival John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), in hope of having her criminal record erased. Stryver double-crosses Selina, but she uses the congressman's stolen phone to alert the police to their location. Gordon and the police arrive to find the congressman, and then pursue Stryver's men into the sewers while Selina flees. A masked militant called Bane (Tom Hardy) captures Gordon, but Gordon escapes and is found by John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a once-orphaned patrol officer who has deduced Batman's true identity from their similar backgrounds. Gordon promotes Blake to detective, with Blake reporting directly to him.
Wayne Enterprises is unprofitable after Bruce discontinued his fusion reactor project when he learned that the core could be weaponized. Later, Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange, using Bruce's fingerprints in a transaction that bankrupts Bruce. Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), concerned that Bruce has not moved on from being Batman, reveals to him that Rachel Dawes had intended to marry Dent before she died. Alfred then resigns in an attempt to dissuade Bruce. Fearing that Daggett, Bane's employer, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to take over his company. After being promised the software to erase her criminal record, Selina agrees to take Batman to Bane but instead leads him into Bane's trap. Bane reveals that he intends to fulfill Ra's al Ghul's (Liam Neeson) mission to destroy Gotham with the League of Shadows remnant. He engages Batman and delivers a crippling blow to his back, before taking him to a foreign, well-like prison where escape is virtually impossible. The inmates tell Bruce the story of Ra's al Ghul's child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping—the only prisoner to have ever done so. Bruce assumes the child to be Bane.
Meanwhile, Bane lures Gotham police underground and collapses the exits with them in it. He kills Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) and forces an abducted physicist, Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Abutbul), to convert the reactor core into a nuclear bomb. Bane uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the world. Using Gordon's stolen speech, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent's crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary, initiating a revolution. The wealthy and powerful have their property expropriated, are dragged from their homes, and are given show trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), where any sentence means likely death.
After months of recovery from his injury and re-training, Bruce escapes from the prison and enlists Selina, Blake, Tate, Gordon, and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to help stop the bomb's detonation. While the police and Bane's forces clash, Batman defeats Bane, but Tate intervenes and stabs Batman, revealing herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra's al Ghul's daughter. Talia escaped the prison aided by her fellow prisoner and protector, Bane. She plans to complete her father's work by detonating the bomb and destroying Gotham, but Gordon blocks her signal, preventing remote detonation. Talia leaves to find the bomb while Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Selina shoots Bane with the cannons on the Batpod. Batman pursues Talia with the Bat, an aircraft developed by Fox, hoping to bring the bomb back to the reactor where it can be stabilized. Talia's truck crashes, but she remotely destroys the reactor before dying. With no way to stop the detonation, Batman uses the Bat to haul the bomb over the bay, where it detonates.
In the aftermath, Batman is presumed dead and is honored as a hero. With Bruce also presumed dead, Wayne Manor is left to the city to become an orphanage, and Wayne's remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had fixed the Bat's autopilot six months prior, and Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurbished. While visiting Florence, Alfred witnesses Bruce and Selina together. Blake resigns from the police force and inherits the Batcave.
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman:
A billionaire socialite who dedicates himself to protecting Gotham City from its criminal underworld as a bat-like vigilante at night. Nolan has stated that, due to the eight-year gap between the events of The Dark Knight and those of The Dark Knight Rises, "he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state." Bale employed a martial arts discipline called the Keysi Fighting Method, but due to Bruce's current state and Bane's style, the method had to be modified. Bale has stated that The Dark Knight Rises will be the final film in which he plays Batman. He describes the character's arc as finally confronting the pain of loss that he has deferred for years by fighting criminals balanced against the need to internalize that pain lest he give into his emotions and become the killer the city already believes him to be. Bale also acknowledged that Batman is not a flawless individual, that "he's not a healthy individual, this is somebody that is doing good, but he's right on the verge of doing bad. He's got that killer within him that he's desperately trying to not let off his leash. And that's what I always return to." Bale clarifies that "He doesn't want to forget [his parents' deaths]. He wants to maintain that anger he felt at that injustice. But equally he wants to present this very vacuous, soulless persona to Gotham, so that hopefully no-one will suspect him but will just think he's a spoiled bastard." Bale felt bittersweet about leaving the franchise, saying that it was like "saying goodbye to an old friend."
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle / Catwoman:
A professional cat burglar, grifter, and femme fatale who establishes a playful teasing relationship with Bruce that "takes some of the somberness away from his character", pursuing a "clean slate" computer program rumored to be able to erase a person's criminal history when she crosses paths with both Bruce and Batman. Hathaway auditioned not knowing what role she was being considered for, admitting that she had one character in mind, but only learned that the role was Catwoman after talking with Christopher Nolan for an hour. Hathaway described the role as being the most physically demanding she had ever played, and confessed that while she thought of herself as being fit she had to redouble her efforts in the gym to keep up with the demands of the role. Hathaway worked out five days a week for the role, including rigorous exercise and stunt training followed by an hour and a half of dance. She explained, "I've always thought that skinny was the goal, but with this job I also have to be strong." Hathaway trained extensively in martial arts for the role, and looked to Hedy Lamarr—who was the inspiration for Catwoman's character—in developing her performance.
Tom Hardy as Bane:
An excommunicated militant revolutionary in the League of Shadows portraying himself as a "liberator", who is intent on continuing Ra's al Ghul's legacy by finishing his work on destroying Gotham. The character was chosen by Christopher Nolan because of his desire to see Batman tested on both a physical and mental level. According to costume designer Lindy Hemming, the character wears a mask that supplies him with an analgesic gas to relieve pain he suffers from an injury sustained "early in his story". Bane has been described as "a terrorist in both thought and action" and is "florid in his speech, [with] the physicality of a gorilla." Hardy intended to portray the character as "more menacing" than Robert Swenson's version of the character in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin and that in order to do so, his portrayal entailed creating a contradiction between his voice and body. Hardy gained 30 pounds (14 kg) for the role, increasing his weight to 198 pounds (90 kg). Hardy based Bane's voice on several influences, which include Bartley Gorman as well as a desire to honor the character's intellect and Caribbean heritage. Hardy describes Bane's fighting style as "Brutal. He's a big dude who's incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and oriented fighting style. It's not about fighting. It's about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it's nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks." Bane proclaims that his revolution's enemies are the rich and the corrupt, who he contends are oppressing "the people", and fooling them with myths of opportunity. Political theorist and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek sees Bane as fighting "structural injustice", while likening him to a modern day Che Guevara who is counter-intuitively driven to violence out of a sense of love. Others have compared Bane to a "high-tech Robespierre on steroids," a melded triad of Lenin, bin Laden and Steve Austin set on fomenting "proletarian retribution," and "the one thing that's worse than the second film's raving anarchist: a demagogue."
Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon:
The Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, and one of the city's few honest police officers. Oldman described the character's work in cleaning up Gotham City as having left him world-weary and slightly bored, likening Gordon to a soldier who leaps at the chance to be on the front lines. His life has taken a turn for the worse since The Dark Knight; his wife has left him and taken their children, and the mayor is planning to dismiss him from his job. Gordon feels guilty over his role in covering up Harvey Dent's crimes to the point where he is prepared to resign from his position as Commissioner over it, but refrains from doing so when he senses that Gotham is about to come under threat.
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth:
Bruce's trusted butler and confidant, who has acted as a father figure to Bruce and continues to aid Bruce on his missions as well as supplying him with useful advice, yet is unable to accept Bruce's desire to revive his Batman persona, even going so far as to resign from his position to impress the seriousness of Bruce's position upon him. Christopher Nolan emphasized the emotional bond between Alfred and Bruce, stressing its importance in the previous films and predicting that the relationship will be strained as it never has before.
Costume designer Lindy Hemming explained that Bane uses a mask to inhale an analgesic gas, which, in director Christopher Nolan's words, "keeps his pain just below the threshold so he can function." In designing Bane's costume, Hemming needed it to look "like an amalgam of all sorts of bits and pieces he cobbled together, as he passed through some very remote places. We made parts of his vest, for example, from fragments of an old military tent. His clothes are militaristic, but are not in any way a uniform." Hemming also designed Bane's mask to look "animalistic". Costume effects supervisor Graham Churchyard created a three-dimensional model of actor Tom Hardy's face and skull to design the mask, allowing the mask to perfectly conform to the contours of Hardy's face. Hemming personally designed Bane's coat, which she admitted took two years to complete. Taking inspiration from a Swedish army jacket and a frock coat from the French Revolution, it was designed to make Bane look like equal parts dictatorial and revolutionary. The design was difficult as Hemming struggled to find a tailor in Los Angeles who could work with shearling. The Batsuit consisted of 110 separate pieces, each of which had to be replicated dozens of times over the course of the production. The base layer was made of a polyester mesh that is utilized by the military and high-tech sports manufacturers because of its breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Molded pieces of flexible urethane were then attached to the mesh, to form the overall body armor plating. Carbon fiber panels were placed inside the sections on the legs, chest and abdomen. The cowl was sculpted from a cast of Bale's face and head to become a perfect fit for Christian Bale. The suit remained unchanged for the film since The Dark Knight. In creating Selina Kyle's catsuit, two layers of material were used, with the outer layer being polyurethane coated spandex, embossed with a hexagonal pattern. The catsuit also consisted of elbow-length gloves, a utility belt, and thigh-high boots with spike heels.