Aside from the obvious things like casting and the fact that it's based in the same location, The Dark Knight Rises seems to have more in common with Batman Begins than The Dark Knight did. Director Christopher Nolan, in his third and final outing with Batman, is eager to tie up the loose ends left by the first film--even the ones that didn't obviously seem like loose ends at the time. We've been pointing out for quite some time that there seem to be a number of thematic, visual and even plot similarities between the two films, but after a viewing of Batman Begins last night, we decided to scribble down some notes and see what came out of it. Class consciousness The idea of social stratification and the inherent conflict of the haves and the have-nots is an integral part of the Nolan Batman universe. The Wayne family wants to improve the station of the less fortunate, but they do so in a fairly center-left way, almost Reagan-like, by investing privately in infrastructure that will then indirectly benefit people's lives and help them to make for themselves. They themselves aren't really particularly successful with it, until Thomas and Martha's deaths spur their friends into action and the wealthy of Gotham do good deeds in memory of the fallen one percenters. Fast-forward to The Dark Knight Rises and you've got it all over again--an unruly blue collar mob is manipulated into Bane's thrall, and from what we've seen in ads it's pretty obvious that at least some of it is connected to a resentment of the concentrated wealth and power of Gotham's elite. Certainly it seems to annoy Catwoman. The bridges are out This one's pretty obvious, but in both of the films, the idea that Gothamites are unable to escape after someone takes away their escape route by raising (in Batman Begins) or destroying (in The Dark Knight Rises) the city's bridges seems like a dead giveaway. It's key to setting the stage for the Gotham-as-Thunderdome thing at the end of Batman Begins and likely will serve a similar role in The Dark Knight Rises.
"Mister Wayne." We've all seen by now that Bane refers to Batman (who is wearing his costume at the time) as "Mister Wayne" in a trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. That's gotta be a surprise to the ol' Caped Crusader--but it's not the first time it's happened, exactly. Upon first meeting up with Bruce--who was at the time masquerading as an anonymous criminal in a prison thousands of miles away--Ra's al Ghul calls him "Mister Wayne," and surprises Bruce quite a bit. Here's a related question: Does his apparent connection to Ra's al Ghul in this film diminish Bane somewhat from his comic book counterpart? In Knightfall, the man who would break the bat was also an incredibly intelligent adversary who deduced Bruce Wayne's identity all on his own. In the films it seems to be "inherited" information. Disorder in the House Forgive me a little Warren Zevon reference there, but it's fitting. In Batman Begins, it's the League of Shadows who trash Wayne Manor. In The Dark Knight Rises, it's...well, it's not 100% clear who it is yet, but there's certainliy a mob in there tearing up the place and it's probably a safe bet that Bane is behind it. Why? Does he already know at that point who Bruce is? Those are questions we probably won't be able to answer until the movie's out.
A villain on drugs In order to be an effective villain, Scarecrow needed his gas. Bane needs his own gas--which may or may not be connected, but almost certainly is--just to get through the day, or he'll be in a ton of pain. It seems like a big, obvious thing and while I can't quite put a pin in why the Pharmacy of Doom is an important connection, it feels like it's staring me in the face. Thoughts? A strong female counterpart While Rachel was little more than a prop in The Dark Knight, she was a major motivating factor (and love interest) for Bruce in Batman Begins, and it seems as though it's possible Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate could serve a similar role in this film. She's said that she's not a bad guy, books tied in with the movie have identified her as close to Wayne, and we've even see the pair kissing in one ad. What's to say we won't have a strong, smart female lead who can bring something to the table when Bruce needs help the most? 7 years gone, 8 years gone People may think it's odd for Batman to have retired for eight years between films, but if you'll remember, Bruce Wayne was gone on his training for seven years just before the start of Batman Begins. The number of years may or may not be relevant, but the larger idea is likely to force Batman to find himself and establish who he is in the context of a new Gotham, much like Bruce Wayne had to do when he returned from his time with the League of Shadows. Wayne MacGuffins, Inc. In both movies, the heavily-secured and easily-stolen item that the bad guy needs to do his dastardly deeds is manufactured by and stolen from Wayne Enterprises. While Scarecrow and Ra's wanted to tear Gotham to the ground using that water-microwave-thing, Bane's earthquake machine looks as though it might have a more substantial long-term impact on the city. The real question here, of course, becomes whether or not the bad guys "win" this one.
Failure in the first encounter While it's not 100% official, it seems entirely likely that we can say with some authority at this point that Batman's first encounter with Bane doesn't end well for the Dark Knight. He shouldn't feel too bad, though; his first encounter with The Scarecrow ended with Batman on fire, leaping out the window of a building in the hopes of putting it out. Why do we fall, sir? This one is, of course, tied to that last one but even if #9 turns out not to be totally true, this one holds because it's thematically connected to the title "The Dark Knight Rises." It was used as a callback at the end of that first movie and worked extremely well, and it's easy enough to imagine Michael Caine's Alfred saying something of the sort to Bruce while he's recovering from his injuries.