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The Dark Knight Rises: 8+ Thoughts I Had While Watching Christian Bale’s Last Batman Movie 10 Years Later

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight Rises, viewed as enjoyable to some (including CinemaBlend’s official review) and derided by others for feeling hackneyed and sloppy, was released 10 years ago. Despite the mixed feelings of others, the closing chapter to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has always had a special place in  my heart and is probably the entry in the saga I’ve watched the most.

Including opening weekend in theaters, on Blu-ray upon home release, on TV, and on the flight to Europe for my honeymoon, I’ve probably watched Christian Bale's final rodeo at least a dozen times. But, until recently, I hadn’t watched it in a good five years — so I decided to change that and see if my thoughts on it had changed...

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Dark Knight Rises Prologue Is Still One Of My Favorite Scenes From Any Christopher Nolan Movie

My hometown didn’t have an IMAX theater when The Dark Knight Rises prologue debuted ahead of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol in late 2011, so I had to settle for grainy fan-cam videos. I was speechless when I finally got to see the opening scene of Bane (Tom Hardy) putting his plan into motion and destroying a plane mid-air in all its glory

To this day, the massive scope and scale of the prologue still takes my breath away, and it remains one of my favorite Christopher Nolan moments. And my love of it has only continued to grow since finding out how Nolan constructed the scene using mostly practical effects.

Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Holy Heart Attack Batman, There’s So Much Exposition At The Wayne Foundation Event

If you were someone who made the mistake of getting to the theater late for The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan made you pay. During the Wayne Foundation event held at Wayne Manor for Dent Day, you are hit with one piece of exposition after another in rapid succession. 

Just when you’re processing the fact Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hasn’t been seen in eight years, you are being thrown into Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and his myriad of personal and professional issues. Before you have time to let that sink in, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and Roland Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) are walking about setting their respective plots in motion. If you were late to the party, you would be too busy asking questions to watch the movie.

The bridges to Gotham City are partially destroyed in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

I’m Bummed They Didn’t Use Chicago For The Gotham City Backdrop

The first two Christopher Nolan Batman movies used Chicago for Gotham City, but the production left the “Windy City” for Pittsburgh and Newark, New Jersey, for the saga’s final chapter. According to the Chicago Tribune, Nolan moved to the “Steel City” because of the city's iconic bridges, which makes sense considering what happens to Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises

But even though the destruction of all those bridges (plus the stadium formerly known as Heinz Field) was admittedly an amazing sequence that wouldn’t really make sense in Chicago, the change in filming locations has long irked me and takes me out of the movie every single time.

Bane (Tom Hardy) preparing to break Batman's (Christian Bale) back in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The First Batman Vs. Bane Fight Is One Of The Dark Knight’s Best

Batman fighting Bane in the sewers of Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises is as brutal in 2022 as it was the first time I saw it in 2012. For the first time, it feels like Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader was outmatched by Tom Hardy’s Bane who, went all Wesley Willis on him and broke his back. Each blow thrown by Bane hits with a resounding thud as he beats down Gotham’s protector without barely breaking a sweat.

The pair’s second fight on the streets of Gotham looks epic and like something out of Les Miserables, but lacks the intensity, danger, and unpredictability of their first encounter. I mean, he broke Batman’s back.

Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Bane Deserved A Better Death

Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard) is technically the real villain in The Dark Knight Rises, and Bane is only doing her bidding, but his quick death is one of the my biggest grievances with the movie. Don’t get me wrong, Catwoman's (Anne Hathaway) arrival is cool, but that kind of death should have been given to some lackey and not the guy who spent the first three-fourths of the movie looking like a beast.

And about the whole “Batman doesn’t kill people” thing — the Dark Knight could have taken care of Bane like he did with Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) in Batman Begins by letting the villain’s own hubris lead to his downfall.

Michael Caine in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Alfred Storyline Will Never Not Break My Heart

Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth is at the center of two scenes in The Dark Knight Rises that continue to break my heart. First, there’s the scene where he tries in vain to get Bruce Wayne to stop his crusade against Bane which ends up being the last time they speak. Then there’s the funeral where Alfred admits he has failed the Wayne family for not protecting them.

The two see each other at the end as Alfred had wished all those years, but I still can’t help but get misty-eyed knowing he will never be able to talk to the man he treated as a son for the rest of his life.

Burn Gorman in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Dark Knight Rises Is Eerily Relevant 10 Years Later

The Dark Knight Rises is just as relevant today as it was in 2012, so much so it’s eerie. I’m talking about the various themes and ideas shared throughout the story like greed, the division of classes, fear, and how it seems like we’re only one step away from the world devolving into chaos. 

And I guess this all makes sense, considering the movie was heavily influenced by Charles Dickens' classic A Tale of Two Cities, which itself touched on a lot of these issues. I guess I should say it's eerie how the 263-year-old novel is still relevant.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The ‘Robin’ Ending Is Pretty Cheesy But I Still Love It

The whole “Robin” reveal with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake at the end of The Dark Knight Rises is pretty ham-fisted and cheesy, but I’d be lying if I said the movie’s ending sequence didn’t send goosebumps down my spine and get me excited for a sequel that was never going to happen. 

Whenever I watch this scene again I try to convince myself it isn’t going to fade to black before the platform reaches the top to show the former Gotham P.D. detective see the Batcave with all its bells and whistles for the first time. I even lift my head in hopes of seeing a little bit more, knowing all too well it’s the same shot I’ve watched multiple times over the years.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Other Random Thoughts

But, these aren’t the only random thoughts I have about The Dark Knight Rises, as there are a ton of bats flying around this cave, I mean brain, of mine. Here are a few others:

  • Could the Talia Al Ghul reveal be any more obvious?
  • So the entire Gotham PD was trapped underground?
  • The Dark Knight Rises does a tremendous job of showing the danger of a lie.
  • I full-on cried at the end of the movie

The Dark Knight Rises may not be the best live-action Batman movie but it remains one that I still enjoy and take pleasure in watching 10 years later, even if about 15 to 25 minutes could have been trimmed from its runtime.

Philip Sledge
Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.