The Dark Knight Rises Prologue
This is my summary of the first 7 minutes of The Dark Knight Rises, which premiers on Friday, December 16. It’s all spoilers. Fair warning!
The prologue opens on with the Warner Brothers, Legendary and Batman logos all seemingly carved into an ice wall. The ice wall slowly develops cracks as we fade in on… Commissioner Gordon eulogizing Harvey Dent. He says,
It will be a long time before someone inspires me like he did. I believed in Harvey Dent.
(This is new footage. It’s not what we saw at the end of The Dark Knight. That means it’s going to be important thematically.)
We cut to a jeep driving through tall grass. The jeep pulls up to a plane where a CIA agent is waiting to take a Dr. Leonid Pavel into custody. The driver also has three bound and hooded men in the back of the jeep. He explains that the three were captured trying to kidnap the doctor. And that:
They work for the mercenary. The man in the mask.
The CIA guy exclaims, “Bane?!” He takes the three men with him onto the plane.
After takeoff, the agent announces that he’s only reported one of the mercenaries in his flight plan. Only one of them is making it back alive, and it’ll be the one that talks.
One at a time, he shoves their still-shrouded heads out the door of the plane, threatening them with death unless they tell him the plan. Finally, the third man laughs and we hear a heavily (German?) accented, electronically-enhanced voice taunt the agent. The agent removes the third man’s hood to reveal our first look at Bane, and he looks scary.
The agent scoffs at him, asking if Bane would die if he removes the mask. Bane replies, utterly without fear:
It would hurt very badly.
Taunting him further, the agent asks if part of Bane’s plan was getting caught. Bane affirms that it was, because Dr. Pavel refused his “offer”, and Bane needed to learn what Pavel had told the CIA. Skeptical, the agent asks what comes next in the plan. Bane replies, as calmly as ever:
Now we crash the plane.
With that, Bane stands to his feet and easily snaps his bonds. He is absolutely enormous.
We see a second, much larger plane approach from behind. When it’s in position above the CIA plane, the back opens and four men rappel down to the CIA plane. They shoot through the windows, killing the CIA guards, and attach grapplers (magnetic, I guess?) to the plane’s fuselage. Then the bigger plane winches the smaller plane up, flipping it vertical. The wings and tail flaps rip away, leaving a naked fuselage. Bane and his two companions were clearly ready for this, and grab Dr. Pavel. None of the four fall to the front/bottom of the plane.
The four soldiers outside blow the tail/top off the plane and rappel into the plane, bringing a body bag with them and killing the few soldiers who are still alive at this point.
They transfuse blood from Dr. Pavel into the body inside the body bag. Then, as they are all about to ascend to safety, Bane looks at one of his fellow “captives”. He motions that this man must stay behind, to account for the one extra body on the flight plan.
Without hesitation, and with something that looked like hero worship in his eyes, the man assents, saying
We started the fire.
With a sense of ritual, Bane somberly replies,
The fire rises.
As Bane and Dr. Pavel are about to be winched out of the fuselage, the Doctor screams. Bane replies:
This is not the time for fear, Doctor. That will come later.
- Catwoman in mask and ears. She looks great. Quit worrying.
- A huge brawl between Gotham City PD and what looks to be a mob of Bane’s followers.
- The Batplane.
- Bane walking away from something, carrying half of a broken bat-mask (presumably the image we see in the new poster). As he struts away, Bane drops the broken mask.
And that’s it!
So what did we learn from all of this?
First, Dr. Pavel seems to be a nuclear scientist of some sort who was seeking asylum in the US. It’s probable that Bane is enlisting him to build some sort of doomsday weapon.
Second, it’s interesting that Nolan uses the opening of both films (Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises) to introduce us to the kinds of villains we’re going to see. In TDK, we watch the Joker orchestrate and participate in a shockingly elaborate and vicious robbery of a mob bank. We learn right away that the Joker is a master planner (whatever he says to the contrary), that he works alone even though he takes advantage of people, and that he’s no friend to Gotham’s mob. All of these are essential aspects of his character in the film.
So what about Bane? He’s playing for bigger stakes: Joker had the mob; Bane has the CIA. Joker stole money (which wasn’t actually his goal, only a means to a larger end); Bane stole a scientist (similar assumption – he’s a means to a larger end). Both villains are very smart and plan meticulously. The Joker worked alone, using fellow criminals as literally disposable tools; Bane has a rabidly loyal team who will sacrifice themselves for Bane/the mission without a moment’s hesitation.
Joker wasn’t interested in a War on Gotham. He just wanted to play with the Batman. But Bane? I have a feeling Bane’s plans for Gotham are much bigger than the Joker’s were. And if the Batman gets in the way… Bane just might break him.