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Film Talk: Looking Back – The hero we needed with The Dark Knight Rises

He was the hero the franchise deserved, and far more than the one it needed.

Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

When Christopher Nolan stepped up to bring new direction to the caped crusader’s cinematic cowl, we never dreamed we would be treated to anything as extraordinary as 2005’s Batman Begins, let alone that most sublime of sequels, 2008’s The Dark Knight.

This masterpiece of movie making took a hero whose formative story had been exceptionally well told in the first outing, and showed us the on-screen Batman we had long hoped for facing off with his archnemesis, The Joker – brought to life in one of the performances of the century by Heath Ledger.

We’d seen the boy become the bat. We’d seen the bat at the height of his power bashing the biggest baddie he knew. But what about the final chapter? What about when it was time for the bat to wind down and hang up his boots but the world still needed him? Luckily Nolan still had the keys to the Batmobile at this point, and he wasn’t quite done yet...

Co-written with his brother Jonathan and David S. Goyer, 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises would give us Nolan’s masterful close to his Dark Knight Trilogy, telling us the story of a somewhat broken caped crusader forced to emerge from his life as a recluse when a terrible new threat comes to Gotham City.

With Christian Bale reprising his role as Bruce Wayne / Batman, along with Sir Michael Caine as Wayne’s butler and confidant Alfred, Gary Oldman as Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as tech genius Lucius Fox, the cast was further fattened by a number of new star names to the series. Anne Hathaway would join the gang as Selina Kyle / Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt would take the role of rookie cop John Blake, Marion Cotillard would play Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate, and Tom Hardy would star as the flick’s ruthless antagonist – merciless and fanatical terrorist Bane.

Nolan was reportedly hesitant about returning to the series for a third film, but agreed after developing a story with his brother and Goyer that he felt would conclude it on a satisfactory note. With inspiration drawn from Bane’s 1993 comic book debut in Batman: Knightfall, as well as Frank Miller’s triumphant comic series, The Dark Knight Returns, the script was solid. But would it translate to the screen? Could Nolan achieve the impossible and deliver a third Batman flick that was as captivating as his first two? Audiences watched. And they smiled...

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham is enjoying a time of peace following District Attorney Harvey Dent’s secret psychotic rampage as the villainous Two-Face. Having taken the fall for Dent’s crimes to protect his reputation, the enigmatic Batman has disappeared and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne is now living as a recluse.

However, a new and frightening force led by terrifying masked mercenary Bane has arrived in Gotham and aims to take over the city.

Like Wayne, Bane is a former student of The League Of Shadows, and as such is one of the most dangerous opponents Gotham City could face. Wayne knows it is time for the Batman to return, but after eight years, will he be up to the challenge?

As the scope of Bane’s plan becomes even more terrifying than first thought, the dark knight faces his most fearsome adversary yet. With the help of elusive jewel thief Selina Kyle, will he rise to be a hero again, or could this truly be the Batman’s end?..

Grossing over $1 billion worldwide, The Dark Knight Rises became the second Batman film to hit the billion mark, and also stands as Christopher Nolan’s highest-grossing flick to date. Quite rightly it received a store of praise from critics and stands as a triumphant successor to the two previous films.

With superb performances all round topped with a truly terrifying turn from Hardy, this is one that didn’t just rise, but blew expectations out of the water.

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