So We All Agree Bruce Wayne Will Die In ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, Right?

While this post contains no actual spoilers, it does contain rampant and unfounded speculation. Read at your own peril.

In the wake of the most recent, and likely final, trailer for the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, I have had some thoughts. Basically I’m tired of pretending we can’t see it coming, because the writing is on the wall: Bruce Wayne is going to die. Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have both asserted that this will be their final Batman film. Bane is known as the character who breaks the Bat. And then there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Could it be any more obvious than that? No? Well allow me to break it down as I see it.

First off, Nolan is clearly someone that likes to telegraph his plays without you (read: the audience) getting what he’s saying until he himself explains it. Just see The Prestige and Inception for examples of what I’m talking about.

Am I reading too much into the trailers? Almost certainly. Is it possible that Nolan is so good he could anticipate over-analyzation of his own trailers and thus tossed in a moment of Levitt(ty) to throw us all of from an even greater dénouement? Possibly. Do I still think Bruce Wayne is going to die? Yeah, I think there’s little avoiding it.

Just to be fair, I have not been scouring the internet for speculation. I’ve read one speculative article on the new film, saw the “prequel” that was shown before Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (not that I understood a word of it), and have watched the trailers. That’s it. If I perfectly mimic the theories and ideas you read about in another post, consider this shocking convergence of ideas as yet more fuel to the fire that we’re all onto something.

So how exactly can Nolan kill Wayne while including the word “rises” in his title? Note: I have been very specific in my wording. I have not said that Batman will die in the film, only Bruce Wayne. Is your mind blown? Probably not, so allow me to continue.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Your New Batman!

DC Comics is built upon the idea of legacy characters. I could list myriad examples but if you’ve been reading comics since last week you probably already have some idea what I’m talking about. Within the Batman comics the obvious successor has always been Dick Grayson. However, Nolan has fervently denied the idea of including The Boy Wonder in his Bat-vision. His logic is sound. His Batman exists in as realistic a world as is possible to create, and this realistic illusion might be shattered by some of the more fantastic elements of the Batman mythos. Clayface would hardly be an appropriate villain, for example. So for a Batman movie set in the modern world it would hardly make sense to have a playboy billionaire adopt a boy from the circus as his ward. The only wards these days, as far as I know, are wards of the state. And the adoption via circus tragedy is such an integral part of the Robin story that without it the whole narrative lacks the connection to the comics. Which all means that Robin becoming Batman is more or less probably out of the picture.

Hence my comments regarding Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Here we have a new character that has never appeared outside a coloring book showing up as a prominent player in the Nolan-verse. What’s the deal? Well we know he supposedly a cop, meaning if he has any connection to The Bat it’s probably through Gordon. Gordon has been shown to understand the importance of Gotham City having a Batman. Thus, is it then fair to assume that if something happened to Batman, Gordon might be the one to try and find a suitable replacement?

Some people have commented based on both the trailers and their knowledge of Bane from the comics that they’re surprised this movies isn’t called “The Dark Knight Falls”, but I think that’s exactly the sort of twist which Nolan is planning that will make this movie great. For those who haven’t read the comics, Bane is the man who breaks Batman’s back. There’s no reason to suspect that there won’t be similar physical repercussions to their encounters on film. If anything, it’s almost more likely that Bane will hurt Batman’s body based upon the fact that the last movie provided almost entirely psychological, not physiological, threats to Batman.

Furthermore, in the Nolan-verse, one doesn’t heal from a snapped spine. The world is just too real for that. Some have even suspected that the scene from the teaser with Gordon in the hospital has the voice of Bruce/Batman off-screen because he’s in a wheelchair. To me, that seems optimistic at best. I think the Batman Beyond scenario, of having Bruce guide a new person from an electronic linkup at the cave, is entirely too optimistic for the vision Nolan has shown us thus far. I think the off-camera shot in the first trailer was to keep it ambiguous as to just how open Bruce/Batman is being with his identities when it comes to his confidant Jim Gordon.

So I think Bane will succeed in ending the reign of the “Bruce Wayne as Batman” era. But I also think the movie’s title will fulfill the line from Batman Begins, “…as Bruce Wayne, as a man, I’m flesh and blood I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting. ” In order to bring that idea full circle a NEW Dark Knight will have to RISE to keep the symbol going, even though the man has been killed. And who better to that then the last good cop in Gotham Joseph Gordon-Levitt? I think Nolan can pull it off, and I think he’ll be smiling to himself when we’re all reminded of that line as Gordon-Levitt dons the cowl.

But that’s just me. I’m just one man with an opinion. And an opinion can be debated and eventually killed. But a discussion? As a discussion, this thread can be…everlasting. What I’m saying if you should share your own opinion in the comments.


Ryan Haupt still hasn’t figured out how Alfred and Gordon-Levitt will get along, but he knows some mysteries will have to wait until the theatrical release. Hear him explore the mysteries of the universe in the podcast Science… sort of.


  1. This is very much what I was thinking. Will Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s suit be black with a red bat on the front? That would be interesting. No link-up to Bruce in the cave required.

  2. What I’m thinking is there gonna break his back and mayb like a quarter of the movie hav Jean Paul Valley AKA AzBats and the end will be Bruce defeating Jean-Paul. The reason do you kinda see his deshelved (poor spelling) look in the trailer this is just a fanboy dream doubt it will happen.

  3. Hmmmmmm… no! 0_o

  4. No one rrly knows Nolan might keep it open for someone else to cont. the franchise instead of a reboot again

  5. It would actually be a fairly daring thing to do, regardless of how much it is (or isn’t) telegraphed in the trailers. Certainly a departure from previous incarnations of the Bat outside the Nolan-verse.

    Either way, I’m 100% in.

  6. I have no idea but I can’t wait to see it. In Nolan we Trust.

  7. I feel like the latest trailer made it too obvious that Bruce is going to die for it to actually happen.

  8. Eh. I guess they can kill him, but why? From the trailer I think that Bane is the leader of Occupy Gotham and that they kidnap Bruce Wayne to teach him a lesson. Maybe someone takes his place while Bruce is kidnapped… don’t know… and then Bruce gets out of kidnappville and comes back as batman and whoops ass on all those lefty commie Occupy Gothamites and teaches them a lesson Joe McCarthy style. End Credits.

    • I dunno, kinda seems a waste of Bae if he’s not gonna figure out Bat’s identity

    • *Bane

    • He clearly figures it out. In the trailer he is fighting Bruce without his Bat costume on. In fact I would say it is at least alluded that Bane, Gordon, and Catwoman all discover who Batman is in this film.

    • I really hope this film isn’t Batman facing off agianst Occupy Wallstreet on steroids. All politics aside, I don’t think a bunch of protesters and squatters (no matter how many guns and bombs they have) are going to be a very interesting or threatening villian for the a larger than life figure like Batman.

    • I honestly don’t know where you’re getting that. It’s been made fairly clear from the previews that Bane essentially breaks open Arkham and the inmates are his army.

    • I thought it was a fairly direct correlation – Gotham fat cats “feasting” and being brought to a “reckoning.” Sounds like Occupy clap-trap to me.

    • I guess my point was filming for The Dark Knight Rises began in May 2011 and the script was completed over a year before then. The Occupy Movement didn’t begin until fall of 2011. Well after The Dark Knight Rises had completed production and over a year and a half after the script had been finished. I just don’t see how the Occupy Movement could have had an effect on a film that was completed months before the Movement began.

    • I think you may be so obsessed with your political view that you are seeing lefty commie conspiracies everywhere. As USPUNX points out, production on this film was basically over when the Occupy movement started.

  9. This is the guy who made Inception. I’m not even gonna try and figure out how his mind works.

    • True Nolan & his brother Jonathan for that matter, must be thinking on a completely different brain wave than the rest of us lol : )

  10. I do think something’s going to happen to Bruce to take him out of action for a decent chunk of the movie. But there have also been a bunch of rumors about Ra’s al Ghul appearing, and Lazarus Pits (I think there was a leaked photo of one, too, if I remember correctly). It’s the biggest red herring if JGL isn’t some kind of Batman replacement, or Nightwing, but I don’t think, even though WB “trusts” Nolan at this point to make them a crap-ton of cash, they’d let him actually kill the “real” Batman. But I look forward to finding out.

  11. i think you make some really good arguments, but i don’t think WB or DC will allow Bruce Wayne to die straight up…or even comic book fake dead without an immediate follow up movie planned (to undo it). I think they might leave it open for interpretation. Bruce Wayne still has a lot of pop culture value and recognition, so i don’t see why they’d want to do it.

    I kind of feel like the trilogy will end playing up the idea that Batman is in fact a legend….a shadow in Gotham that is larger than one man. Which i suppose can leave the door open for a successor..I can see it being left totally open ended more than showing Bruce in a casket.

    • This would be my arguement against Bruce dying. As with Clark Kent, and a lesser extent Peter Parker, their secret identities are too well known to the general public to try and create a whole new persona. You could do this with the Mission Impossible franchise, for example, as Jim Phelps had already replaced the original Dan Briggs as leader of the IM Force (in the TV series), but only total geeks would care. BATMAN is on a whole other level.

      Bruce ending up in a wheelchair seems the most likey outcome, with a temporary replacement filling the cowl until things improve. Of course, as we have learned it’s hard to guess what Nolan will do, which is one of the reasons his films are always so good.

  12. That shot towards the end of the trailer of Bats stood upon a building? That’s Levitt, bet you a giant penny

  13. I see your logic & if this were to be the actually twist in the movie then I would certainly praise its audacity & brave storytelling, but there’s still that part of me that can’t help but not see Nolan straying THAT far from the comics. Of course the Nolan Batman movies have not been utterly faithful to their comics counterparts, actually they’ve barely been faithful on the surface of the characters, yet their spirits are more than rewarded with the performances by these amazing actors Nolan is able to extract such brilliant performances. However, to have Bruce Wayne die & then have this out of field “cop,” I still think that he has a lot more going on than Gotham PD & the latest trailer adds more to my speculation with his conversation with Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman, just seems to be a little too far fetched in my taste. What would compel Bruce to actually trust in JGL or “John Blake,” to don the cape & cowl that is Bruce’s portal to expose the real beast inside of himself. Don’t forget that Bruce is just the mask, Batman is his true face & to have someone else try to replicate that process seems to go too far away from the logical conclusions that Nolan has established time & again throughout not just his Batman films, but all of his films in general. Now of course there is the possibility of Gordon dying, as the teaser provided speculation for just that & of course anything like that happening to Gordon has never occurred in the comics, at least in recent memory. But this is Batman we’re talking about & of course Dick made a great Batman in the old 52 in the comics, but this Batman & Bruce Wayne, in Nolan’s Batuniverse is one & the same. Its almost like a symbiotic relationship between the two identities that to have an outside element just hop on the Bat-plane & take over the legacy of the Bat, which of course was the tragedy of Bruce’s parents being killed in front of him propel him to become The Dark Knight, is a little ludicrous to me. Yet, I do very much believe in Nolan’s storytelling capabilities & have more than an abundant amount of faith for him to deliver what I am sure will be a classic superhero film, even just a classic film in general. I just don’t think that your theory, although it is sound, will hold up once the curtains come up in July & that’s just my honest opinion. I will agree that Bruce will most definitely be injured by Bane & judging by the scale of the destruction that Bane’s committing in the trailers, there will be a hell of a lot of work to be done for the Batman to finally RISE up to this new evil that plague’s Gotham’s integrity & survival.

  14. I think this is a fair prediction. Most of my ideas on what would happen have mirrored yours.

  15. Very well written article Ryan, as usual. I say that with the caveat of wondering what the actual point of it was other than the geeky need to be able to say “See, I told you so.”

    I have enjoyed watching the trailers for things like Avengers and Dark Knight but other than that I try to avoid any “leaked photos” or discussions and predicitions about what might happen in a movie no one has seen yet. I just want to go see a movie that I think might be good and decide, then and there, if it is.

    Maybe it’s just that the headline of the article is so matter of fact, but I would have much rather gone into the movie without this thought in my head. Something just saying you were analyzing the trailer so I could have had the choice to click through and see it instead of a headline that, while it did grab me, was also potentially spoilery.

  16. Two of my least favorite things about super-hero movies – origin stories and killing the super-villain.

  17. BROKEN maybe. I can see Bane breaking the Bat and someone else taking his place.

    But I think KILLING Wayne outright… hell, DC didn’t even really kill Bruce Wayne when they said they killed him in the comics. I think outright killing the character is too high of a concept for anyone really.

    Its one thing to take liberties and kill the villains or 2ndary characters… after all, the movie isn’t called ‘The Joker’ or ‘Two-Faces Gotham Adventures’.

    Never say never though.

    The implication that bugs me though is the thought that after this trilogy, we’re suggesting there be a continuance of this universe with JGL as Batman? I hate that idea. I hate the idea of any comic book movie going on years and year in the same universe. While I doubt anyone cares what I think really, but films should just be like GRAPHIC NOVELS, not serials. You tell a story. that’s it. Move on… next film… new creative team, new style. This is what makes comics so wonderful and flexible, there’s no reason to not have that flexibility in films. Except rule #1 for this idea… SKIP the origins. These characters are 50 – 70 years old now… people don’t need origins all the time.

  18. The more i think about it, the more i can talk myself into the idea that maybe killing Bruce Wayne or even Batman himself would be the ultimate PR move, and the best way to justify a new franchise starting down the road totally separate from these Nolan/Bale films.

    It would totally steal thunder from the the summer blockbusters including the Avengers. Imagine the media buzz around that?

  19. Disagree, but it looks that way. It’s true Batman is just a construct but he is the construct of Bruce Wayne. The Batman isn’t the Iron Man suit that can just be put on and fired at things, it’s the sum of experiences and skills of Wayne, the pain that drives him to do this and the physical, finical, and mental resources that allow him to be the bat. What the Batman is outside of the story, the reason that we find him (and James Bond) so interesting, is that he is a “Man with Full Agency”, meaning he is able to do all the things that man capable of doing, he is man at his most effective. He is only able to be this thing because of who Wayne is, what Wayne has in IQ, physical ability, drive, and wealth. Take any one of those things away and Batman doesn’t work. You can dress a man up as Batman, but that doesn’t make them Batman.

    • So then in your opinion were Dick Grayson, Terry McGinnis, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne not Batman?

    • Each is an individual case. Damian Wayne, most certainly not, he lacks the moral drive. Tim Drake is smart enough, but lacks the money and i would say is less of a physical threat. Terry comes close ( it helps that Terry is a clone) but still he lacks as much of the situation and the drive, it being something he stumbles into by design, Wayne choosing to be the Bat and create himself as the bat adds to the whole drive thing, (think Apple without Steve Jobs, still shiny and nice, but there is an X factor in the creator). Dick comes closest, he has the drive from his parents death and he was raised into it, made his own name as Night wing, I think his weak point would be in the IQ area, but if your looking for how close we can get he’s the best choice.

    • Everyone has a different idea of what makes Batman Batman, but coming up with strict rules is a little silly. For example, what if someone has all the physical and emotional attributes you described, but is one IQ point short?

      Also, and as much as some modern fans would like to ignore it, crazy 60s Batman is as much Batman as gritty, modern Batman. It’s a very tenuous thing.

    • Agreed. I think that ‘what makes Batman Batman’ is a personal thing, and not something you can apply rules to for someone else. Nolan has already spun his Batman into something it’s never been, so …

  20. What about the line in the beginning of The Dark Knight when Batman tells off his “imposters”?

    I can’t recall the quote exactly but I think Batman slips in a caveat along the lines of saying he doesn’t want people in umpire pads playing Batman…does anyone remember this quote?

    • “What gives you the right? What’s the difference between you and me?”
      “I’m not wearing hockey pads!”

    • Thanks Conor. What brought it to mind when Ryan wrote…

      *But I also think the movie’s title will fulfill the line from Batman Begins, “…as Bruce Wayne, as a man, I’m flesh and blood I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting. ” In order to bring that idea full circle a NEW Dark Knight will have to RISE to keep the symbol going, even though the man has been killed.*

      Strictly working from the source material (Nolan’s movies) if Bruce Wayne is (forced) to introduce a new Dark Knight, then this person will need to have access the same training and resources in order to be successful. That requires a lot of trust for Bruce Wayne to impart on someone – especially if that someone has not been introduced into the story until now.

      Is it possible? Could Bruce Wayne and Gotham City be put in such desperate, perilous circumstances to bring this about?

      Tune in this Summer! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Theater!

  21. Before we had any trailers, I speculated that Bruce would die in this. Now that we’ve had three trailers and each seems to be hinting that he dies with all the subtly of a ten ton hammer, I’m starting to change my mind. It’s not that I think Nolan wouldn’t kill Bruce, it’s just that if he had, I would expect him to be a lot more secretive about it and keep any hints out of the trailer.

  22. i think it’s going to be a lot like knightfall. bane will break batman’s back, but instead of azrael taking over the mantle i think it will be jgl or maybe even catwoman. if it’s catwoman then i think that bruce wayne will come back and have to take the mantle back from her when she goes mad with power. or maybe jgl will need to take catwoman down.

    • I agree that there will be Knightfall elements.

      What I’m expecting though is an amalgamation of the Knightfall & Dark Knight Returns storylines.

      Bane breaks Batman’s back early on in the film, causing his long absence. The person walking with the cane in the trailer actually being Bruce Wayne.

      Bane becomes the villain/leader of criminals like the Mutants of the Dark Knight Returns.

      Dark Knight Returns (rises). The End.

      I have no idea what will happen with JGL or Catwoman.

      Though, if John Blake (JGL) is to have a prominent role in this film…my guess is that “John Blake” is a fake name…and his real character name in the film will be “Jean-Paul Valley” or hell…even Richard Grayson.

      Any insight into JGL’s real name will be the plot spoiler.

    • you’re definitely right that it will include some elements from the dark knight returns. the film-makers said that they were inspired by three different series: knightfall, dark knight returns and no man’s land. i think we can see the no man’s land element with the bridge being destroyed in the newest trailer. maybe a long time will pass after that event during which the city is run by criminals, a la no man’s land? i just re-read the dark knight returns and i think you’re right that bane could be a good fit for the mutant leader. also, “john blake” sounds a lot like “tim drake” to me, but christian bale said he wouldn’t play batman if there was a robin in the series and christopher nolan said he didn’t want to use robin because it would effect the dark tone of the series. also, everything i’ve seen is saying that john blake is supposed to be some kind of hard-nosed cop, so that’s not very similar to tim drake. so i’m more inclined to think he’ll be playing some variant of jean-paul valley. these trailers are doing a good job of leaving a lot of questions in my mind, the one definite is that there will be some surprises no matter how hard i try to figure this out.

  23. A very well argued and reasoned argument, Ryan, but I think if there was going to be a character that was going to take over for Bruce Wayne as Batman, they would have to have introduced him in the first movie. I’m sure if Nolan had the idea to kill Wayne, he’s had it since the beginning, so he would have the replacement character in the previous 2 movies in order to get people familiar with the character and justify his taking over the role. As it stands, if JGL comes in as a new character in this movie and he all of the sudden becomes the Batman, it will seem rushed or forced. Plus, we see the three acts played out in the trailer with the final act being Batman and Catwoman teaming up to fight the mob on the steps of that building, but we also see the second act, which has Bane finding out Wayne is Batman and sending him to some prison, hence the Beardsly Wayne. If Nolan was going to kill Bruce Wayne, it would have to be in the second act and leave the third act to explore the JGL as Batman and how he rises to the occasion. So unless he dies in the final fight scene with Bane and we only see JGL as Batman in a quick shot at the end, we clearly see that he is alive in the third act which makes me believe he won’t be killed. (I hope this made as much sense written out as it did in my head)

    • I think that it depends. If indeed John Blake turns out to be Jean-Paul Valley (or some variation), I think Bruce could conceivably be taken out of action and replaced more quickly… Especially if there is also a John Blake connection to the League of Assassins (the rumors of a young Talia Al Ghul and a Lazarus Pit indicate that there is at least a possibility there.

  24. what about Bat-Mite?

  25. Good reasoning, now you have me thinking.

  26. The answers are out there. We have to piece it all together. Bane, in a still, is shown holding a picture of Harvey Dent. This is how he draws batman back out. He doesn’t care that Bruce is Batman. He probably even knows. But he not only wants to burn Gotham, he wants to break its back. Revealing Dent as the fallen from the events 8 years ago brings back the hope that Batman is still there for them and going to protect them. We can expect, early in the film, for Bruce/Batman and Bane to square off. Bane will defeat Batman. Not killing him though. He wants to make bruce watch Gotham burn. The prison we see Bruce in is somehow linked with the league where Bruce is sent where he cannot save Gotham. Meanwhile, in Gotham, Kyle/Catwoman, turns vs Bane. Knowing the insides of the wayne/batman enterprise, she takes JGL into the bat suit to hold up the symbol for the city of gotham. Bane, thus kills JGL for the city of gotham to see that he has killed Batman, thus destroying the symbol. (kyle/catwoman could be pulling one on jgl to have him get in the suit so bane can kill him, thus keeping bruce alive to watch gotham burn). Bruce has to escape from the prison, and rise up to take on bane. The catwoman turning on JGL scenario comes into question here bc she is seen with batman. Shes always been a tricky character. Al Guhl’s daughter is definitly in the mix. She is softening up Bruce to get inside of wayne enterprises to gain access to the technology it possesses. Possibly the plans to the cave. This could be the insight to have kyle gain jgls trust, lead him to the cave, have him dress as the bat, and bane kill him. Batman/Bruce is going to have to kill Bane. Bane is smart. He is physical. Batman/bruce, to stop him, is simply going to have to eliminate him. I think the day scene of the two fighting is the end. The city is going to see Batman/bruce kill bane. Batman will have given up his innocence, his one rule, to save gotham. He will have to hang up the suit. No longer can he go on because he broke his own code. However, his character as Bruce lives on, keeping the League away from gotham knowing he can provide for the city to defend itself. There are certainly holes in my theory. Especially with the kyle/bane/al ghul/jgl scenario. Would love some feed back/thoughts

    • hmmm i think i’m adopting this as my new theory.

    • theres many ways the kyle/catwoman scenario can play out. Bane is supposedly a smart dude. He may be anticipating for kyle to betray him because of his brutality to the innocent. He may be using her the whole time as a ploy to get someone else to put on the suit.
      As far as the ending, batman may or may not have to kill bane. There will be plenty of flashbacks in the movie while bruce is in the prison, probably revealing a weakness in Banes plot. It will certainly be where Bruce discovers that Miranda is actually Talia Al Ghul. I think the story has to end with Bruce not being able to be batman anymore. So the next logical step (vs Bruce dieing) is breaking his rule. If this is the case, at least Bruce knows that there are people out there willing to hold up the symbol in his place (as I anticipate JGL to do).

  27. I’m impressed by the reasoning, and using JGL to be the new Bat is exactly the way that Nolan would use one of his favourite actors, imho.

    Got a question; in the trailer, upon the roof, a girl in a costume does a spin kick. Her hair doesn’t seem to be the right colour; is this just my opinion?

  28. I don’t think Bruce Wayne will die but I’m pretty sure Batman will die.

  29. Killing Bruce would make sense because this series has been about Batman as a symbol rather then a person. So killing/crippling Bruce and Levitt replacing him would work since Batman is still ‘alive’. It would be interesting to see IF it happens then IF Levitt will play Batman in the reboot. Maybe they’ll go for the full origin again but it would be cool to see a ‘new’ movie with a new Batman that isn’t Bruce.

    Think of the possibilities and the creativity…..that will never happen because this is Hollywood and WB would rather see money then new ideas.

    • from the other side though…”Bruce Wayne” has some brand value with with general population and cultural awareness….insert another character into a Batman suit and you could have major audience issues.

    • There will never, NEVER EVER be a Batman movie made with anyone other than Bruce Wayne under the cowl. Plus Nolan has already said that the reboot will have no connections to his trilogy. JGL would make an awesome Bats though.

  30. I think you have strong reasoning here Ryan. I could definitely see the movie’s plot going in this direction.

    Personally, I think its hard to say if JGL will take the mantle in the movie. A majority of the scenes we’ve seen have Bale in the outfit. I’d like to think that the battle in front of the building with all the soldiers and explosions in the daytime is probably in the closing moments of the movie, and those are clearly Bale. If JGL does take the mantle, then the trailers are only showing us the first hour of the movie, especially if he’s the one to defeat Bane.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say till I’m blue in the face, I think this movie takes from Batman: The Cult, which has a scence of Batman’s “army” taking on the Reverends forces to recapture Gotham after Batman loses it. I think they’re using this structure for the film as well.

    I always assumed the the “Rises” in the title is that he comes back from the perverbial “dead” after the events of the first movie. He rises from the ashes of Bane’s destruction to take his place as Gotham’s protector.

    Either way, I think the movie will be great.

  31. I have had this theory before as well. I want to see it happen just because it would be so subversive to modern movies where the good guy always wins. I told my dad this theory and he was pissed. Like most people he wants a happy ending (insert joke here…) and told me to see it first and to let him know if Batman dies so that he can avoid it. Otherwise, he wants to see it with me. I would argue however that just because Bruce Wayne dies, does not mean that the antagonist wins. No, the symbol, the hero Gotham needs, will prevail and will overcome Bane. If only I could convince my dad of this. It would be great to see, but am doubtful it would actually happen. Realistically, I think Bruce could become incapacitated as opposed to murdered.

  32. It would be hilarious if, after all the realism in Nolan’s Bat-films, they introduced the Multiverse right at the end.

    “This Batman is dead! But meanwhile, on Earth-47…”

  33. Whether he dies or not, I hope the next Batman movie is a Brave and the Bold style Trilogy leading up to a JSA/JLA crossover mega event movie.

  34. I will be surprised beyond belief if DC Comics and Warner Bros. allows Bruce Wayne/Batman to be killed. And I’m sorry, I just don’t see the kid from 3rd Rock From The Sun becoming Batman.

  35. A few thoughts on all this:

    – No Boy Wonder =/= no Dick Grayson, or Tim Drake, or any other sidekick. I would not be surprised to see JGL playing someone who is Nightwing. “John Blake” could be a red herring, Nolan has done similar things before.

    – Breaking the Bat does not have to be breaking his back. Don’t get wrapped up in what was in the comics. It looks more to me like he abducts Bruce and throws him in some prison hell hole. It doesn’t have to just be physical, but I think Bane will beat him severely and then throw him in some foreign jail.

    – Bruce Wayne will be the Dark Knight that rises to finally defeat Bane, but he will sacrifice his life in doing so. JGL might be in the costume while Bruce is out of the picture, but Bruce will come back when things are most dire, probably saving JGL in the process and defeating Bane.

    – JGL will become the new Dark Knight. All the talk about creating a symbol that endures was not just flowery dialogue.


    • I think you can read exactly into the comics on this one. Nolan kept pretty close to Year One with BMB. It’s what we’re not seeing in the trailer that’s going to tell the story. Talia is in this. There will be a Lazarus Pit and a Ras cameo (all documented). With no Robin or Nightwing (that we know of) in the Nolanverse, there must be a stand in like in Knightfall. Don’t forget Matt Modine’s in this as well. Not exactly a throwaway actor either.
      Bruce will return. I don’t think in anyone’s wildest dreams that DC is going to let the character die. There’s too much conflict in that in regards to the next movie. With the looming mega success of Avengers you can bet your bat ass there’s going to be a JLA film. And Bruce will be in it.
      I think DKR is going to be close to Knightfall with a smattering of No Man’s Land thrown in to wear Bruce out.
      Watching the second trailer before this one reveals a lot….

    • So who “confirmed” that this grainy picture is actually of a Lazarus Pit? Nolan? I have seen speculation to that effect, but it is just that – speculation. And that kind of speculation about leaked stuff is often wrong. Would Nolan really go that far afield from his rooted-in-reality universe that he would have something as far-fetched as the Lazarus Pit as a plot lynch-pin in this film? I have my doubts.

      The Ra’s cameos will likely be flashbacks. There is a “young” Ra’s cast as well as a young Talia. I don’t expect him to be resurrected – was there enough left of him to resurrect after the train crash and explosion in BB?

  36. The idea that we can become more than our name. That our ideals, beliefs and everything we have sought to build in our life can be passed on, parent to child, by mentoring, etc., and continue and, perhaps, even grow long after we are gone is important and comforting, in a way, to many of us (especially the older you get). This is one of our most base emotions. It is engrained and hardwired in many of us. To see this type of thing portrayed in a film through one of our most iconic superheroes will resonate very strongly with many of the viewers.

    I’m not convinced this will be the outcome, but it is important to remember the title is “The Dark Knight Rises” and not “Bruce Wayne Rises”. Unless Nolan will be going for some sort of resurrection story here. 🙂

  37. I loved the fact that it’s not obvious. I love the fact that I didn’t know Rachel would die until I saw The Dark Knight. One thing I expect from Nolan, judging from his films, is finality.

  38. My theory? Joseph Gordan Levitt plays Bat-mite

  39. This is basically off topic, but I REALLY want Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play Hunter Rose in a Grendel movie.

  40. The ‘wouldn’t it be cool if side of my brian’ can certainly see the hints that Bruce is going to die, but honestly I just can’t see WB pulling the trigger.

    Batman is all they have to stand against Spider-man, X-men and Avengers at the box office, they need another Bayman film in three years time. This is Nolans last Batman film, the next director isn’t going to want to play with his Batman-knock off. Even if Nolan kills him, and the next director reboots the franchise audience will be confused about how Bruce isn’t dead anymore. I don’t think well get a legacy character Batman movie. For business and brand reasons the big screen Batman will always be Bruce Wayne.

  41. Here’s the thing that everyone keeps overlooking with regard to the “Bruce dies” argument:

    Even if Nolan does kill Bruce off in TDKR, subsequent films don’t have to follow this one chronologically.

    Isn’t Marvel rebooting Spider-Man THIS SUMMER? Like none of the previous movies even existed, even though the first Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire was ONLY 10 years ago? Killing off Bruce Wayne in this movie does nothing to preclude him from being Batman in a JLA movie or any future Batman films. This is the Nolan trilogy, it ends with the third act. He most likely won’t be involved in the next Batman or JLA movie. They don’t have to have continuity between all these films like Marvel has done recently with Avengers and the films leading up to it. They can reboot Batman again, or, given that everyone already knows all about him, just put him in the JLA with Bruce Wayne as his secret identity. We’re comic fans here, we’re accustomed to reboots and retcons!

  42. i really like ryan’s idea but i would go even one step further and get the idea out that gordon-levitt is bruce’s son damian.

    there are some scenes that could be flashbacks and i still kind of think that bane is in a way batman’s replacement within the league of shadows (or whatever they were called: you know, ra’s assassins). it would again fit the legacy idea. bane is supposed to bring down gotham. he is the new, the better (or worse) batman that even brings down the corrupt rich guys.

    so if we assume that there are ties to the past, then there is one interesting scene with bruce and marion cortillard (and i still think she is actually talia). the two are kissing in a room with sheets covering everything, much like in wayne manor in the flashback of batman begins. so maybe this is a hint towards a flashback in which bruce little son happened 😉

    so why should gordon-levitt be the son? well in the scene where he is next to the yellow bus we can see something like “gotham orphanage” written on the bus and i heard that he was supposed to play an orphan in the movie. so maybe he is actually bruce’s long lost son that takes up the mantel and becomes the new batman.

    or maybe i’m just seeing things, but i just thought it’s a funny idea. and this idea would only work if we apply comic-time, where no one ever ages. because otherwise gordon-levitt would be probably to old to be bruce’s son 😉

    i love discussing stuff like this but in the end i’m just looking forward to see the movie. i’m sure whatever nolan does, it will be fine.

  43. i so want them to do it if for no other reason then it will give them so many new ideas, they could do this or they could just reboot the whole franchise for the up coming jla movie. i think the latter is most possible it will be like the spiderman movies leave them in their own universe with there fans while they can get together and remake it with the idea of creating a dc universe

  44. Yeah I think he’s totally going to die. I mean, Nolan has hinted as much throw out the movies. Especially in the last movie, there’s a line that goes “You either die a hero or live to become a villain.” It’s likely that Batman’s death is the only thing that will ensure he is both a hero and a legend. Plus, a hard ending like this fits perfectly because unlike the other heroes, Batman is just a man in a suit. Besides, in this Batman universe, he’s the only hero. There is no Superman, Green Lantern or Wonder Woman. I remember reading a rumor a year or so ago that WB wanted to reboot the movies after this one is released with Nolan as producer. I guess the idea is to have a Batman that will fit into the DC universe so they can do a Justice League movie in the future.

  45. I know The Joker was originally going to be in this third film. I wonder if they do kill him, how Joker would have killed him. Hopefully someone eventually asks this question.

    I love JGL but he’s very tiny to be Batman. I’m still totally for it.

    • You know what? I think you’re all crazy and I think there’s this weird Internet game of telephone thing happening right now with the Dark Knight Rises killing off Batman. The first time I heard that theory was a few years ago when Dave Chen from SlashFlimcast was talking about what a crazy idea killing Batman off in the third film would be

      None of the trailers I have seen suggest that, especially when there are shots from the third act with Batman flying around in some weird machine (which does not look like it could ever possiblely stay in the air)

      Remember how every Internet commenter was positive Nolan was setting Harvey Dent up as Two-face in the third film after the last trailer for The Dark Knight? Nolan totally pulled the rug out from underneath us all then, didn’t he?

      I do think the movie is about the symbol of Batman though. Batman is going to inspire a citizen up raising after Bane takes control of the city

    • Oops, sorry, that was meant to be a new post, not directed at you halik

  46. “I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be”…..exactly, great to the point article and love the “someone had to say it”…..I’m not fully convinced Bruce will die, but wouldn’t be surprised either. Levitt looks like Robin, would be a perfect successor any way they play it as you/the films have said, the symbol and legacy must go on, Bruce can die or be in a wheelchair and we could end up with a full on new Bat or lead into a Nolan inspired Batman Beyond scenario, just closer in matters of time as in the same sense that Bruce can’t live or be Batman forever as he ages in a real world Batverse as Nolan has done. Either way, I for one can’t wait to see his take on Knightfall meets The Dark Knight…..returns and rises and beyond.

  47. In thinking about it more, I just don’t think its going to happen. As much as Batman is a brand, so is Bruce Wayne. I mean, this is general pop culture knowledge that most people know. If you kill him in a big budget, super popular movie, then Warner Bros. will mess up the brand, especially if he’s still Bruce Wayne in the next movie. This the type of confusion that keeps people away from comics with deaths and resurrections.

    I think that as comic fans, we’d like to see this story because we’ve come to accept this aspect of a storytelling. A rebooted character, the return of someone from death, etc.

    With a movie that MILLIONS of people will see, I just can’t see Warner Bros. pulling the trigger killing Bruce Wayne. Is it possible that someone else will be Batman in the course of the movie? Yes. But not at the end. No way.

  48. Someone else – I don’t remember who or where but it was a message boarder – put forward the theory that JGL may actually be Ra’s Al Ghul. I thought that was interesting… Though it might be more than the Nolanverse would accept in terms of its realism.

  49. Maybe someone else has mentioned it.. (theres so many comments here, i sort of stopped reading.)

    As much as i think it COULD happen. i don’t think it will. My thoughts were that maybe JGL becomes a replacement Batman, but they work together to take out Bane. Also 2 Batman(Batmen?) would relieve some stress from Mr. Wayne.

  50. Another reason it could happen is from Ra’s Al Ghul from Begins. In that movie we learn Ra is a title and not a real name at this point. Batman could easily be the same since Batman is more of a title then an actual person.

  51. Has anyone else noticed at the end of the newest trailer when batman says to cat woman “it’s not a car” that it doesn’t sound like bales voice? I think it sounds a lot like JGL talking batanese. Maybe this is just me.


  53. I understand the theory of Wayne dying and levitt or whatever, taking uple the “mantle” but if you think about it you just can’t kill Bruce Wayne. He is Batman and the legacy of all the comics, I’m pretty sure that in all of the batman comics batman is portrayed as Bruce Wayne not some cop. I could believe if robin or someone that worked with batman as a vigilante but not some random guy off the streets, and don’t you think that if this levitt guy was going to become batman that they would introduce him before the third movie?? I do believe that batman will become broken, but not physically, but mentally. Just because bane is some juiced up guy doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to break someone down. I don’t think you kill Bruce Wayne because that would ruin it for the other directors after Nolan. It would be stupid to kill Wayne then magically reserect him in another series. I’ll admit that anything is possible and I will keep an open mind but I just don’t believe that you kill Bruce Wayne. And besides, who else but Bruce Wayne could actually afford to be Batman?? I don’t think it’s cheap. In the end we will finally know, who is the batman.