One of the greatest things about Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is that it’s clear that the director is a real Batman fan. Over the course of his three films, Nolan paid tribute to some of the greatest Caped Crusader stories ever written, including Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke,” Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One,” Joseph Loeb and Tim Sale’s “The Long Halloween” and, most recently, Doug Moench and Chuck Dixon’s “Knightfall.” But for obvious reasons the filmmaker wasn’t able to stick the entirety of the Batman universe into the series, so he did the next best thing: he littered his movies with easter eggs.
Below I have plucked out seven of my favorite bonuses that Nolan left for fans in his movies, including hints about characters like Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Victor Zsasz and more. Check out my detailed descriptions below – which come with how the hints connect to the comic book world – and then join us in the comments afterward to talk about more great treats from The Dark Knight Trilogy.
Zsasz is one of Batman’s most horrifying villains. The man is a dangerous serial killer who is best known for carving a tally mark into his skin whenever he takes another victim. While we never actually get to see Zsasz in action – which is probably a good thing – he is still very much part of The Dark Knight Trilogy. In Nolan’s Batman Begins, we first see the murderer as he is sentenced to a term in Arkham Asylum, as he was working as one of Carmine Falcone’s thugs, but that’s not the last we see of him. When Ra’s al Ghul frees all of the prisoners from Arkham later in the film, Zsasz can be seen exiting his cell and turning his head down the hallway to see if anyone is going to stop him from escaping. While the character is never named, if you look closely at the prisoner’s neck in the latter scene you can clearly see tally marks on his neck, indicating that he’s killed at least 15 people. Creepy.
Towards the end of Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne has found himself in a very desperate situation. He has learned that not only is Ra’s al Ghul still alive, but that the League of Shadows leader has made his way to Gotham with the intention of tearing the city apart – but first thing’s first, he needs to get all of the people out of Wayne Manor. And the best way to do that? By giving an insulting, drunken speech, of course! First accusing all of the socialites in the room of coming with the intention of drinking all of the host’s booze, Bruce uses a very particular insult towards the crowd, calling them all “two-faced friends.” This, of course, would eventually be seen as a hint by Nolan that he would be using the legendary Harvey Dent as a villain in the sequel.
But that’s not the only fun easter egg in Nolan’s trilogy about Two-Face. In an early scene in The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent is questioning a witness about the crimes of Sal Maroni and suddenly finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun that, fortunately, misfires. This was Nolan’s fun little way of playing with Two-Face’s origin story from the comics, where Dent was horribly scarred when Maroni, while sitting on the bench, threw a bottle of acid into the district attorney’s face. The director would give the villain a new origin later in the movie, but this was a nice little gift for the long-time readers.
Much like the Two-Face easter egg in Batman Begins, the Catwoman easter egg in The Dark Knight was interpreted by fans as being an indication that the character would turn up in the sequel, and boy were they right. The hidden gem comes when Bruce Wayne is meeting up with Lucius Fox for the first time in the sequel and asks about what improvements can be made to the suit following a vicious dog attack. While the armored suit may not stand up against Rottweilers, Fox tells him that he can be sure that it, “Should do fine against cats.” As many predicted, this did end up being foreshadowing for the finale of the trilogy, as Selina Kyle would arrive in Gotham for the battle against Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.
It would have been really hard for Christopher Nolan to place a villain like Mr. Freeze into his Dark Knight Rises trilogy. The director worked hard to established a certain level of reality to his superhero films, making the audience feel like some of the events in the movies could actually happen, so the idea of having a villain who uses a freeze gun was seen as being a bit too much. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t willing to give Batman fans a little hint of the character. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne finally leaves Wayne Manor after locking himself away like Howard Hughes and goes down to visit Lucius Fox at Wayne Enterprises, a visit that inspires Fox to say something along the lines of, “So you've come out of your cryo-sleep.” This could very well be a hint at the cold loving Victor Fries, who puts his wife in cryo-sleep in the comics so that he can have more time to figure out the cure to the disease that’s killing her.
At the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, bad things are afoot in the sewer system of Gotham. After trying to find those responsible for the abduction of a congressional representative, Commissioner Gordon finds himself trapped below the streets of Gotham and face-to-face with the supervillain known as Bane. While he manages to escape with his life – and a few new bullet holes – unfortunately people aren’t too quick to believe his story about the forthcoming danger. When John Blake attempts to start an investigation based on what Gordon saw in the tunnels, he is scoffed at and asked if knew anything about giant alligators in the sewer system as well. If you heard people chuckling at this line in the theater, it’s because it may be a reference to Killer Croc, Batman’s humungous, reptile-like villain who likes to spend time in Gotham’s sewers. Perhaps Bane took a page out of his book?
What’s interesting about Nolan’s reference to Clayface in The Dark Knight Rises is that it actually takes from Batman: The Animated Series rather than the comics. In the 90s show, Roland Daggett is the owner of a company that produces a new face cream called Renuyu, which gives the user the ability to modify their face. While the cream wouldn’t be allowed to sell in stores due to its addictive qualities, Daggett gives it to an actor named Matt Hagen for use in a series of crimes, eventually leading to Hagen becoming the villain known as Clayface. While this doesn’t happen in the final Batman movie, and the character is renamed “John,” Nolan does have Daggett appear as a corporate rival of Wayne’s who hires Bane to take Gotham’s most famous citizen down a few pegs. Much like in the animated series, Daggett’s plans don’t exactly turn out as well as he planned…
Now it’s your turn! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and head over to our Blend Film Database to read more about Christopher Nolan’s Batman finale!