Please be aware: This article spoils the ending of The Dark Knight Rises.
With director Christopher Nolan's epic finale The Dark Knight Rises now firmly in the rear-view mirror, we've spent most of the week examining the minutia of the film, coming up with observations about what we liked, what we didn't, what the next filmmakers can use and what Nolan did right. Today, we wanted to keep it pretty simple, pretty light--and look at some of the great lines in the movie. Some of them are just very quotable moments, but some are more than that. Nolan crafted a complex and pensive trilogy of films where threads from the first carry through to the third and thoughtful themes play out over the eight hours of screen time. Check out five standout lines, and let us know if we missed one. "It certainly looks better on you than in my safe." This comment about the necklace that Selina Kyle had stolen from Bruce was something that really stuck out at me. It's an odd, awkward phrase, meant to give Bruce an opportunity to force a flirtation into the conversation, I suppose, but at the end of the day it just comes off like Mitt Romney's pickup line.
"So that's what that feels like." I still can't remember for the life of me who it was that did this to Bruce in the comics, but I remember reading it and thinking, "Man, how have they never done that joke before?" When he turns his back for a moment and Selina disappears in mid-conversation, Bruce looks down and muses, "So that's what that feels like." It's a great moment and, like so many other things that Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle brought to the table, a needed moment of levity in a very dark world. "No guns. No killing." Selina Kyle uneasily lives by this rule, barked at her in the heat of battle by Batman, for most of the film. It's also a key part of the Nolan Batman mythology and an important part of what makes Batman work. The dirty little secret of the comics industry, which is always lobbying for a "grim and gritty" Frank Miller Batman movie (remember that he and Darren Aranofsky were once supposed to be the creative team behind the reboot that became Batman Begins) is that on some level, we secretly understand that Miller's iteration of Batman, who generally is much more brutal and willing to deal out death than other creators have written the character, doesn't really work as the hero of a continuing, serialized story. Not only because it means he's constantly killing off his villains (see the Burton/Schumacher movies for why this is kind of a drag) but because it really does make you question whether he's all that much better than the dozens of other masked crazies that he fights against on a daily basis. The strong, moral compass of the Nolanverse always reminded me of Kingdom Come—that no matter where the two differ, they can always agree that killing is never the answer. This is a theme that runs through most Batman comics and the Nolan films—and one that we'll be wise to remember over the coming weeks and months as we're inevitably challenged to defend both the character and the medium that we love against unjust and uninformed attacks in the wake of the murder spree in Colorado.
"Anyone can be a hero…" Another line that was great on its own but also works even better in the grand scheme of the Nolan trilogy, Batman tells Gordon (without really telling him) who was under the mask all of this time, but does it in such a way that's quiet and eloquent, and that echoes what both he and Gordon have been saying throughout the movie and before: that it doesn't matter who Batman is; he's Batman. That allows, then, for John Blake to step into the role at the end of the film without violating any over-arching narrative of Bruce as the Bat. "Good-bye, Alfred." The moment between Bruce and Alfred where they finally figured out that they had irreconcilable differences was more painful to watch than the humiliating and bone-crunching fight with Bane that hit the screen shortly after. But while it seems likely that Bruce never really intended for this good-bye to be the honest-to-God last one (he didn't see Bane as the threat that Alfred did, after all, and it's hard for most people to wrap their head around actually saying good-bye to someone who was such a major part of their life), it turned out really to be. Which might have been heartbreaking except that, in the end, the way Bruce likely pored over that conversation again and again in his head gave him the inspiration to give the old man the happy ending he deserved the most.