The Dark Knight Saga
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In 2005, eight years after Batman and Robin put the Batman film franchise on deep freeze, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer rebooted the franchise with the first entry of a trilogy fans refer to as The Dark Knight Saga. All three films star Christian Bale as The Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.
Batman Begins (2005)
The film opens In Medias Res with Bruce Wayne incarcerated in a prison in Bhutan, where a man named Henri Ducard arranges for Wayne's release and offers him a place in Ra's al Ghul's League of Shadows. Ducard trains Bruce in the way of the Ninja -- and in overcoming his fear -- while Bruce explains his Backstory. Upon discovering that Ra's intends to destroy Gotham City, Bruce fights his way out and blows up the dojo. Bruce returns to Gotham and vows to take back the city from the criminals; to this end, he combines his League of Shadows training, obscene wealth, old fear of bats, and access to his company's R&D projects to turn himself into a vigilante crimefighter. The Batman makes his grand entrance by bringing mafioso Carmine Falcone to justice, but in doing so, he discovers that Dr. Jonathan Crane has disturbing plans for Gotham City involving large quantities of a fear toxin -- and that Crane works on orders from someone else...
The Dark Knight (2008)
Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men...just want to watch the world burn.
A year after the events of Begins, Batman and his allies -- Police Lieutenant James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent -- achieve real success in taking down Gotham's organized crime when they start hitting them where it hurts: their money. The various mob leaders become so afraid of Batman that when a scarred psychopath in clown makeup shows up and offers to make their problems go away by killing Batman, they hire him...but once backed by the mob, he decides that rubbing out Batman isn't good enough. The Joker aims to destroy Gotham City from the inside out, and part of his "plan" involves attempts to corrupt the city's heroes -- Batman and Harvey Dent -- by making their lives hell until they snap...
The Dark Knight received a overwhelmingly positive critical reception as a serious drama (unique for a comic book movie), thanks in large part to the tour de force performances of the cast (including the late Heath Ledger's well-regarded performance as The Joker).
The title of this film -- The Dark Knight -- marks the first time a Batman film has not featured the character's name in the title.
The Dark Knight was named to the National Film Registry in 2020.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
You think this can last? There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.
The final film in Nolan's trilogy, released on July 20th 2012. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Cillian Murphy will return in their specific roles (Batman/Bruce Wayne, Alfred, James Gordon, Lucius Fox, and Dr. Crane/Scarecrow), and new cast members include Anne Hathaway (Catwoman/Selina Kyle), Tom Hardy (Bane), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (GCPD officer John Blake), Marion Cotillard (Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate), Josh Pence (a young Ra's al Ghul, in a flashback sequence), and Juno Temple (a "streetwise Gotham girl", presumably Holly Robinson). Liam Neeson will also reportedly reprise his role as Ra's al Ghul in flashback form.
Eight years after the end of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne is "not in a great state" (according to Nolan). Further plot details are scarce at this point, but it's apparent that the story, along with Bane, will be the most physically and mentally challenging yet for Batman -- and for Bruce Wayne. Quoting Christian Bale's take on the film: "How long will you let the pain and loss define your life? Walking around chasing bad guys is very heroic and attracts attention, but at the end it all accounts for is a means to deal with the pain of a huge loss. It's time for Bruce Wayne to face the pain that has always stirred his life."
You can watch the most recent theatrical trailer for the film on YouTube.
While the films feature original storylines, they borrow many scenes and themes from the comic book miniseries Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween; Alan Moore's The Killing Joke also influenced the plot of The Dark Knight, and the films also borrow heavily from Batman: The Animated Series in terms of styling and character. The trilogy also takes liberties with certain superficial aspects of the entire Batman mythos, but in spite of -- or because of -- these changes, Batman fans widely consider the films to be some of the best Batman adaptations ever.
Viewers outside comic book fandom have agreed, which have helped turn the films into critical and commercial successes. The Dark Knight holds the record for the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time in the United States (behind The Avengers, Titanic, and Avatar) and the twelfth-highest worldwide; it also has the distinct honor of being the first comic book film to win an acting Academy Award, as the late Heath Ledger won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance as The Joker.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
- Action Prologue: Both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises start with establishing the villains' ability.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Bruce Wayne has bad luck when it comes to his homes. The League of Shadows burn Wayne Manor to the ground in the first film, the Joker and his henchmen invade his penthouse in the second, and Bane and his men ransack the new Wayne Manor in the third.
- Animated Adaptation: Batman: Gotham Knight, a direct-to-DVD Animesque anthology that bridges the gap between the first two films.
- Appropriated Title: Batman Begins has two sequels, both under the Dark Knight name, in what has become known as The Dark Knight Saga.
- Artistic License Physics: Microwaves do not work that way! And neither do cell phones! Or police procedures! And neither for that matter does sonar! But, no one really cares.
- Art Shift: As each sequence in Gotham Knight is animated by a different studio, they each have a notably different art style.
- Awesome Yet Practical: Batman's technology. Instead of inventing all of it himself as per his comic origin, Bruce re-appropriates his R&D department to provide him with prototypes that never made it into production. The result is that his gadgets come across as way more believable, since they are all based on current technology or at least technology that is theoretically feasible within a few years.
- This has actually been the comic approach for a couple of decades now, although the Batmobile being, essentially, a re-purposed tank rather than a custom-built sportscar was a new element.
- Though even it harkens to the comics as the Batmobile from The Dark Knight Returns was an explicit inspiration for the Tumbler.
- This has actually been the comic approach for a couple of decades now, although the Batmobile being, essentially, a re-purposed tank rather than a custom-built sportscar was a new element.
- Badass Beard: Bruce in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, and Ducard in Begins.
- Badass Cape: Not only is it stylish, it's made of shape-memory fibers that allow it to turn into a hang glider when an electric current is run through it.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: In Begins, Ducard kicks ass in a suit and tie the first and last time he fights Bruce Wayne. For that matter, Bruce at his fundraiser for Dent in The Dark Knight does it, too.
- Badass Longcoat: Bruce a few different times in Begins, The Joker, Jim Gordon and Bane (along with a High Collar of Doom).
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Commissioner Loeb (see Composite Character below).
- Big Bad: Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins, The Joker in The Dark Knight, and (if the trailers and promotional materials are to be trusted) Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.
- Bishonen: The third segment of the anime anthology Batman Gotham Knight really takes the Bruce Wayne pretty boy concept to the max by introducing an all bishounen version of Bruce Wayne. In fairness it may have also been an attempt to give him a Christian Bale look.
- Bittersweet Ending: Batman Begins. Also, The Dark Knight.
- Blood on These Hands
- Body Motifs: There is much emphasis on faces and masks in both films.
- Broad Strokes: The Gotham Knights shorts, due to being made by different people, have varying amounts of consistency with themselves or the films, such as the guy with the jetpack, or Batman being downright Bishounen in some of the shorts and lantern-jawed in others.
- Some of the wilder interpretations are due to one of the shorts consisting of kids giving their urban legend-style perceptions rather than actually being Batman. While the artwork varies widely, the characters themselves stay pretty consistent, including Batman himself.
- The Batman costume tends to vary wildly, even in the non-kids shorts.
- Canon Foreigner: A lot. Rachel Dawes for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Ramirez, Mendez, Lau, & all of the mobsters from The Dark Knight, except for Sal Maroni, and a few others are planned for The Dark Knight Rises, including some random cop named John Blake, and a Wayne Enterprises executive named Miranda Tate.
- Cape Wings: Batman. Handwaved with some Techno Babble about "memory cloth" and electric currents.
- Specifically, the 'Memory Cloth' is a special type of fabric with certain bundled sections designed to take a specific shape when an electrical charge is applied. In the movie, it was originally meant to make quick-setting tents for soldiers, but Batman re-purposes it and modifies said bundles so it turns into a pair of bat-like wings to use as a glider when he leaps from rooftops. Frankly, it's both realistic, fascinating, and likely insanely expensive.
- Chekhov's Gun: Too many to list.
- Chekhov's Gag: Bruce gives his coat to a bum after a confrontation with Falcone gone wrong. Later, as Batman, he happens to pass the bum again and compliments his coat.
- Close on Title: Neither Batman Begins nor The Dark Knight show their titles until the end.
- Combat Pragmatist: Nobody is an upstanding duelist in these movies, but the Joker is by far the least reserved fighter. Trying to kick Batman in the groin with a knife strapped to his shoe takes the cake(and this is after he shoves one of his mooks into the fight as a distraction)...until he tops that by setting three mad dogs on Batman then beating him with a crowbar in the climax.
The Scarecrow: You look like a man who takes himself too seriously. Do you want my opinion? You need to lighten up.
- Batman's style for the movies, the Keysi Fighting Method, is set entirely around this concept.
- Composite Character: The movies' versions of Loeb, Flass, and Ducard. The movies' Flass resembled the dark-haired, unshaven, overweight Harvey Bullock more than the comics version of Flass, who was blonde, clean-shaven, and muscular, though movie Flass did retain his comic counterpart's corruption. Likewise, the movies' Loeb only shares the name of the comics' character, resembling Michael Akins in both looks and personality (African-American, young, and honest) more than the comics' Loeb (Caucasian, old, and extremely corrupt). Then there's Henri Ducard, which is only an alias for Ra's al Ghul in this continuity.
- Continuity Nod: Scarecrow's appearance in the first act of The Dark Knight.
- Loeb, Jim Gordon's immediate superior, first appears in the flashback to the Waynes' murder in Batman Begins,and eventually meets his end in The Dark Knight.
- A more subtle one in the first movie is Zsasz the mob hitman who gets shipped off to Arkham on an insanity plea. During the mass-breakout at the end of the movie, you get to see him with his shirt off, displaying the same habit as the comics version of marking each kill by adding an extra scar to his body.
- There is also a Continuity Nod between one scene early in Begins and another late in The Dark Knight, Alfred Pennyworth brings Bruce Wayne a meal, Bruce at first doesn't say anything but says "Alfred?" just as Alfred is about to walk away, and then Bruce begins to blame himself for acts of violence committed by others, while Alfred tries to reassure Bruce that they aren't his fault.
- There is also an Ironic Echo in The Dark Knight that serves as a nod to Ducard's crime-fighting tutelage in Begins. During the training sequence in Begins, Ducard tells Wayne that, although Wayne has been spending his time trying to understand criminals, "the criminal is not complicated." In The Dark Knight, Wayne is shown to have apparently internalized this lesson, repeating it to Alfred. "Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he's after."
- The teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises repeats Ducard's "legend" line from Begins.
- The music and cinematography for the scenes with Gordon and his son in The Dark Knight mirror the flashbacks of Bruce and his father in Batman Begins.
- Corrupt Politician: The trilogy isn't as bad as the comics. In addition to Gordon and Dent, there's an honest judge and an honest mayor, and the Commissioner before Gordon was honest as well.
- Crapsack World: Gotham is about crapsack as it can get while still having (just barely) some hope.
- Darker and Edgier: The films in The Dark Knight Saga are arguably the darkest adaptations of Batman to date.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Batman, anyone?
- Deconstruction: Especially in The Dark Knight. Batman is operating in the real world, where superhero armor has trade-offs between protection and flexibility. Gotham is as real a city as Hong Kong and doesn't have overly intimidating architecture. Ultimately the film can be seen as asking whether heroes (and human beings themselves) are motivated by abstract principles (Batman) or have no principles at all (The Joker). This is basically the same question that Watchmen asked ("What would motivate a real life Superhero?"), albeit The Dark Knight gives the opposite answer.
- Arguably, the armor and architecture examples are more a Reconstruction than a Deconstruction.
- The criminals apparently simply compared notes, have figured out Batman doesn't kill, and have gotten sneakier. By that point he's not an evil presence lurking in the night to them, just a really formidable opponent.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys? Well, he sneaks them through his multi-billion dollar corporation's R&D budget, that's how...oh, but wait, someone who isn't in on it has got to run the numbers and wouldn't you know? He figured out what was going on!
- Batman does not kill, and goes to great lengths to do so. Bruce Wayne, however, is clearly shown fighting and killing several members of the League of Shadows in self-defense. Along with their several shackled prisoners. In fact, there's no real indication he was hesitant to kill before he became Batman, just to kill innocents.
- Demoted to Extra: The decline in Crane's role between films is an example of this, from key ensemble component to One-Scene Wonder.
- Doing In the Wizard: The movies discard many supernatural and/or unrealistic elements of the comic, offering plausible pseudo-scientific explanations instead. For example, most of the technology employed by Batman could become accessible in a decade or so.
- Ra's al Ghul's immortality is a simple succession trick. Whenever the apparent Ra's dies, another similar-looking man takes his place and claims to be the original Ra's. This is made easier by the fact that the apparent Ra's is actually just a stand-in for the real leader (e.g. Henri Ducard) who pretends to be a subordinate. All of this is a big change from the comics, where Ra's achieved immortality by supernatural means.
- According to Word of God, Bane's mask supplies him with anesthetic to help him cope with an injury, likely meaning that is strength comes from natural sources, as opposed to Venom.
- Or it could very well be Blatant Lies on his part. There's nothing discounting the possibility that Ra's is indeed using the Lazarus Pits aside from the general toning down of any supernatural elements in the saga.
- The Don: Carmine Falcone and his successor Salvatore Maroni are old-school Italian mafiosi who are slowly put out of business both by The Caped Crusader and his psychotic enemies.
- The Dreaded: Each of the major villains to some degree, but taken to a new level with The Joker and Bane.
- Carmine Falcone is frightened by Ra's al Ghul, but (mistakenly) believes that he is safe in his own town.
- The Joker is feared by EVERYONE: mob bosses, civilians, cops, and for very good reasons.
- Even when Maroni thought The Joker was still technically working for him and the mob, he was still too scared of the Joker to give up any information about him to Batman.
- Catwoman expresses fear of Bane in the trailer, his apparent actions make it well founded.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The Batcave in the first movie. In the second, the Batcave is basically a big white room underneath some Wayne company property with some equipment, a computer, and an incinerator. Everything else pops out of the walls.
- It's mentioned in the film that reconstruction of Wayne Manor was still taking place, so the "Whitecave" was a temporary solution.
- Bruce operating out of a penthouse (complete with secret passage hiding a spare costume) was something of a Shout-Out to the Neil Adams-era comics, which also moved Bruce into a penthouse in Gotham.
- Going by recent television spots, in The Dark Knight Rises the Batcave has been expanded into an even more elaborate underground base.
- Equal Opportunity Evil: The League of Shadows is multiracial, and Sal Maroni employs gangsters of pretty much any nationality.
- Truth in Television for Maroni. It's possible for anyone to work for the "mafia" (they don't actually call themselves that) and even become quite influential. The limitation is that only Italians (or half Italians) can become Made Men.
- Evil Is Hammy: Played straight with Joker in The Dark Knight. Interestingly, Liam Neeson is remarkably non-hammy as the main villain in Batman Begins, and Cillian Murphy starts chewing scenery only when his character becomes criminally insane after having been poisoned by his own fear toxin.
- Expansion Pack Past: Alfred seems to have led several very diverse lives.
- The Faceless: In The Dark Knight, Gordon's daughter Barbara (who becomes Batgirl in the comics) appears, but her face is never seen (she was on-screen briefly in Begins, as well, but doesn't even get credited as her real name).
- Five-Bad Band: The loose collaboration between the League of Shadows and the Gotham Mob in Batman Begins.
- The Big Bad: Ra's al Ghul.
- The Dragon: Scarecrow.
- The Brute: Flass.
- The Evil Genius: Carmine Falcone.
- The Dark Chick: Mr. Zsasz.
- Also the top brass of the Gotham Mob in The Dark Knight:
- The Big Bad: Sal Maroni.
- The Dragon: The Chechen.
- The Brute: Gambol.
- The Evil Genius: Lau.
- The Starscream / Wild Card: The Joker.
- Five-Man Band: It's a bit vague, but one could think this as so:
- Foil: Most of the villains are foils for Batman.
- Batman (hero) vs. Ducard (Well-Intentioned Extremist, at least arguably).
- Batman (Dark but good) vs. The Joker (Light -- clowns are supposed to be happy! -- but evil).
- Batman (Hero) vs. Two-Face (Fallen Hero).
- Batman (uses symbols to inspire fear in criminals) vs Crane (uses fear to accomplish crimes).
- Hannibal Lecture: Do not talk to the Joker. Talking to the Joker can lead to listening to the Joker, and that will be very bad for your mind. You'd be better off snorting lines with Crane.
- At the start of the third act of Batman Begins, Ra's al Ghul delivers a harangue that firmly establishes his status as a genocidal Knight Templar.
- Hello, Attorney!: Both Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent. Maggie Gyllenhall's portrayal of Rachel is usually seen more like this than Katie Holmes', though.
- Honor Before Reason: To the absolute extreme.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Deadshot in Gotham Knight. When we meet him, he headshots a guy from what looks like a mile away. Through a window, into a crowded party, through a sky filled with fireworks, and from a moving Ferris wheel. He also times it so it snaps a cocktail glass in half, while it's being carried.
- The distance wasn't implausible, as a sniper in Afghanistan recently (2010) was reported to have hit a target at 2.7km. The glass thing... was just Deadshot being Deadshot. His employer even complains about how flashy it was.
- Ironic Echo: Aside from the ironic echoes WITHIN Begins and The Dark Knight, (see their respective trope lists for those) there's arguably some between the two movies. We hear the following conversation between Batman and Gordon towards the end of Begins:
Gordon: I never did say thank you.
- And then there is this, towards the end of The Dark Knight:
Gordon: Thank you.
- There's also this quote Ducard says in Begins to his then-student Wayne:
Ducard: You've traveled the world to understand the criminal mind and conquer your fears. But the criminal is not complicated.
- Wayne, having apparently internalized this lesson, paraphrases this in The Dark Knight:
Wayne: Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he's after.
- Jerkass Facade: Bruce Wayne combines this with Obfuscating Stupidity to protect his Batman identity.
- Kill It with Fire: Attempted by Crane, on Batman, and done successfully by Joker, on mob accountant Lau. It's horrifying both times.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Jim Gordon, especially in the first movie.
- Messianic Archetype:
- The unselfish Bruce Wayne of this universe. Somehow, this doesn't stop him from maintaining the Jerkass Facade of being a Rich Idiot With No Day Job at the same time. Probably he acts like he wants to when he's Bruce, and as he feels he should when he's Batman.
- Flip that: he acts like he wants to when he's Batman, and as he feels he should when he's Bruce. Remember, he'd do nothing but cave in bad guy heads all day long if he could.
- Obviously, someone's taking the 'Jesus clearing out the temple' approach to Messianic Archetype.
- Harvey Dent at first seems to be this. Everyone in Gotham seems to view him as a living saint. Have you ever seen a politician so universally loved? Probably everyone of voting age in Gotham voted for him other than criminals, (though in Gotham, even this would not fully explain his victory. By the end of the film, however...let's just say the polish is off the halo.
- Mythology Gag: Several.
- Most prominent are nods to the comics themselves, which in addition to the overarching plot, also provided the inspiration for specific events and gadgets in the films:
- In Batman Begins, Batman escapes pursuit by the Gotham City police department by using a sonic device to summon a swarm of bats. This is taken directly from Batman: Year One.
- Another subtle one is after Lucius gives Bruce the material to make his cape. We are treated to a scene of him using some of that material to make controllable claws, something another Batman uses as his primary weapon.
- In The Dark Knight, Bruce asks Mr. Fox if his new suit can stand a dog attack. Fox says that it would certainly be able to stand up to a cat...
- The Joker's constantly changing backstory (see: Freudian Excuse) is reminiscent of a quote in The Killing Joke, in which we are presented with a possible origin, but later the Joker claims he does not remember what made him the way he is clearly or consistently:
Joker: If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!
- Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth was another reported inspiration. It contains a scene in which the Joker, on the phone with Batman, tricks him into thinking he's stabbed a nurse in the eye with a sharpened pencil (it is actually an April Fool's Day prank, to help hasten Batman's arrival at the asylum).
- Joker's story about his abusive, alcoholic father seems to recall the story he told his then-therapist Dr Harleen Quinzel in the story Mad Love from The Batman Adventures, that was later adapted into an episode of the animated series.
- Joker's line 'Let's Put A Smile on That Face of Yours' is incidentally said, more or less verbatim, by a member of the Jokerz gang from Batman Beyond.
- Many scenes in The Dark Knight are adapted from The Long Halloween (though their context or outcome is often very different): The mob's savings going up in flames, the ploy of transporting a target in police custody to draw out a would-be killer, Harvey Dent getting attacked in court by his own witness, the slogan "I Believe in Harvey Dent".
- Batman's eyes when using the sonar become hidden behind a white glare. In most depictions in the comics, the character's eyes are never seen when he's in costume, replaced by white slits.
- When Bruce is describing his problems with the old suit, Fox sums up his complaints with "You'd like to be able to turn your head." None of the previous modern Batsuits, starting with the 1989 film, allowed the actor wearing them to do this.
- During the press interview where Harvey Dent claims he is Batman, the most prominent of the news microphones says "News 26". Wasn't that the news channel in Batman: The Animated Series?
- And of course, lest we forget: "What the hell are you?" "I'M BATMAN!"
- "You complete me..." could possibly be a reference to The Batman vs. Dracula.
- Gordon's Major Crimes Unit is cribbed directly from Gotham Central, a series which focused on the Gotham Police force. Unlike that series, however, the unit is still filled to the brim with corrupt cops. Gordon regrets this, but points out that if he refused to work with cops like that, he'd be working alone.
- Two scenes in The Dark Knight seem to directly reference Burton's first Batman movie: When Batman plays chicken with Joker on the Bat-Pod and when Batman throws Joker off the building. The first scene mirrors the scene where Batman flies at Joker in the Batwing, the second mirrors Joker's death. Both scenes, however, show the important difference between the two movies: Batman in Nolan's movies doesn't kill.
- Judging by his Curb Stomp Battle in the jail in Begins, it would seem that, even before he became Batman, Bruce was skilled at fighting in the mud.
- And speaking of, the Tumbler was inspired by the hulked-out tank of a Batmobile featured in The Dark Knight Returns.
- When Joker is having his Money to Burn moment, he says, "Everything burns," a line which parallels Mr. Freeze's line in Batman and Robin: "Everything freezes."
- The people who are strung out out Crane's fear gas beating on Batman is very similar to a scene in the third episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
- So is the scene where Crane gets shot with his own fear poison and sees Batman as an inhuman monster.
- The interrogation scene with Batman and the Joker from The Dark Knight seems to be inspired by an interrogation scene from an episode of the 60s TV series called The Penguin Goes Straight, oddly enough. Of course, the 60s version is a hell of a lot campier, but in both cases the police turn the lights off in the interrogation room and Batman (along with Robin in the TV episode) appears in the dark to intimidate the crook. The (double) episode even has Batman hunted by the law, which also happens in The Dark Knight and will carry over into The Dark Knight Rises.
- Batman will have a conversation with Gordon, then disappear in the middle of it, followed by a snarky comment from Gordon when he realizes Batman's gone (subverted the first time when Gordon almost catches him). This happens in other Batman works, especially the animated series.
- There is a scene with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle dancing at a masquerade in The Dark Knight Rises where her dialogue cryptically hints at her nature and intentions. Tim Burton's Batman Returns also had a scene with both at a masquerade, dancing, in which they reveal their secret identities to each other.
- Selina Kyle's Catwoman outfit in The Dark Knight Rises is very similar to those of the Catwomen from Batman '66, only it doesn't have golden necklaces or belts and the cat-ears are actually hi-tech goggles.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Just like in the comics, Bruce Wayne downplays his intellect and behaves like a stereotypical eccentric billionaire so that no one would suspect he is really Batman.
- After Bruce puts his lamborghini in between the big truck and the police SUV, he acts like this to Gordon.
Bruce Wayne: You think I should go to the hospital?
- Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Well, they sure as heck couldn't have called the second film Batman Begins 2, could they?
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Lucius Fox appears to be an expert in toxicology, ballistics, computer technology, sonar, radio communications and personal protective equipment, to name a few.
- Justified in that he used to be the head of a highly prolific R&D department, which, as shown, produced a lot of things. A working knowledge of the science behind most of those things would probably be a necessary part of the job - if not necessary, from what we know of Fox, he'd pride himself on knowing about it anyway.
- Order Versus Chaos: Played exactly backwards between the two films. To the League of Shadows, Batman represents chaos because he lets thieves and murderers live. The Joker represents chaos no matter what, and anybody who tries to stop him stands for order by default.
- Police Are Useless: Pretty much, though they Take a Level In Badass in the second movie, particularly when Jim Gordon takes command. The police in Hong Kong are quick on the scene, but they pretty much watch in stunned helplessness as Lau is taken away by Batman in awesome fashion.
- Porn Stache: Sported by Jim Gordon.
- Race Lift: Commisioner Loeb (Caucasian in the comics, African-American in the films) and Bane (Hispanic in the comics, Caucasian in the films).
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
Sergeant LieutenantCommissioner Gordon in both films. Also Commissioner Loeb, Mayor Garcia, and Harvey Dent earlier in The Dark Knight. Later subverted with ol' Harvey Two-Face, though.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The villains deliver some of the best ones ever. Of special note is the one that Carmine Falcone gives to Bruce at the beginning of Batman Begins. Bruce realizes that Falcone is 100% right about him, and his efforts to remedy that eventually enable him to become Batman.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: The most widely known example.
- Rule of Cool: A whole lot of stuff.
- Rule of Symbolism: The logo for Batman Begins is raw and unfinished metal. The logo for The Dark Knight obscures the light. The teaser poster for Rises has the logo as a hole, representing the void left behind by Batman's "retirement".
- Additionally, the logo in The Dark Knight is fire, representing the destruction the Joker brings; and the logo for The Dark Knight Rises is atop buildings, with the camera looking up, to symbolize that Batman will rise (from the ashes).
- Save the Day Turn Away:
- Inverted in the first film. It's as if Ms. Dawes is saying Bruce's lines.
- The second film ends with a classic example of the second type of Turn Away.
- Save the Villain: Played straight with Ducard, then later subverted. Played straight with The Joker. Played straight and subverted with Two-Face.
- Science Hero: Nolan's vision of Batman perfectly fits the trope, as Bruce Wayne relies on his company's cutting-edge technology to create his superhero persona and provide himself with useful gadgets. Also, Lucius Fox, an Omnidisciplinary Scientist responsible for creating Batman's gizmos.
- Self-Proclaimed Knight: Batman in general, but especially how Commissioner Gordon tells it at the end of The Dark Knight. “He's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight.”
- Sequel Hook: Joker's calling card in the final scene of Batman Begins, and the fact Batman's a wanted criminal at the end of The Dark Knight.
- The Dark Knight offers a surprising subversion. When Two-Face makes his big appearance near the climax, most viewers naturally assumed that he was being set up as the villain of the third movie. Nope. He dies less than an hour after he's introduced.
- Shoot the Bullet: Batman pulls one of these off in Gotham Knight, except since he doesn't use guns, he simply punches the bullet out of the air with the armored part of his gauntlet (because, you know, a Batarang wouldn't be half as badass). This is a bullet fired from a high powered sniper rifle, from a train moving at full speed, towards a moving target.
- Shown Their Work: When Bruce Wayne dumps his wine over the balcony. (To clarify: in the comics Batman doesn't drink alcohol ever, and when it looks like he is then it's actually apple juice. This is perhaps the least known thing about Batman.)
- So Last Season: The Batsuit from Batman Begins proving inadequate to the task in The Dark Knight. At least now he can move his neck for the first time in twenty years.
- Songs in the Key of Lock
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Crane, one of the main villains from Batman Begins, was reassigned in the sequel to the head Mook of the Batman Cold Open. On the other hand, The Joker ends up being worse than the entire mob put together!
- Status Quo Is God: Averted in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
- In Batman Begins, Ra's Al Ghul, AKA Henri Ducard, invades Wayne Manor and burns it to the ground, leaving Bruce to set up his Batman persona and gadgets in a penthouse during The Dark Knight. Arkham Asylum and The Narrows, a massive slum in Gotham, is driven insane by Scarecrow's fear toxin; putting Arkham Asylum out of the plot in The Dark Knight as well. Also, after Batman and Gordon blow up the monorail track to save the rest of Gotham from Ra's, Batman glides to safety...while Ra's Al Ghul is left to be killed in a crash and explosion.
- In The Dark Knight, Batman's primary love interest is Killed Off for Real midway through the film. Two-Face follows her after one dramatic confrontation at the end of the same movie--meaning he doesn't live to become one of Batman's Rogues Gallery. By contrast, the Joker survives the second film, but Word of God indicates that he won't appear at all in the third movie--meaning he doesn't become Batman's Arch Enemy. Perhaps most shockingly, the second film ends with Batman charged for murder and on the run from the law, apparently planning to put his superhero escapades on hold.
- Stealth Expert: Do we even have to say it?
- Stealth Hi Bye: Used multiple times in both movies, and lampshaded in The Dark Knight by Gordon. "He does that."
- Take My Hand
- Theme Music Power-Up: Don't ya notice every time Batman is about to do something utterly awesome in Batman Begins Like taking out the Swat Team, the highway chase in Begins... Molossus plays?
- Also subverted: whenever the Joker is about to do something...no music plays. Joker's theme is an outstandingly creepy rising whine. Even when you know it's happening it's still marvelously disturbing.
- Listen to the music as the man on the civilian ferry is about to blow up the convict ferry - Joker theme in full-force. Then as the man hesitates and puts down the remote, the Batman theme overtakes the Joker theme, which fades and disappears.
- To Create a Playground For Evil: The Joker's apparent goal.
- Took a Level in Badass: Batman takes one throughout Begins, and then between Begins and The Dark Knight. In Batman Begins, Bruce can take on four ninja or Ducard in a straight fight, and relies slightly more on darkness and fear to manage larger groups of enemies. In The Dark Knight, Batman takes on multiple SWAT teams and Joker thugs while they nominally have the jump on him.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Aside from the Joker, it helps to remember that Batman almost always jumps enemies by surprise, and Crane uses chemical warfare in fist fights. And then there was that trick with the rappelling cable on the SWAT team in The Dark Knight...
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Rachel Dawes.
- And then Bruce Wayne himself in the second film.
- Vice City: Gotham, especially in Begins. As Gordon puts it to Flass, "In a town this bent, who is there to rat to?"
- The Villain Makes the Plot
- Warrior Poet: Alfred, though his warrior days are (almost) past.
- Weaponized Car: The Batmobile and the Batpod.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Warriors of The League Of Shadows, who genuinely want to make the world a better place... by burning it to the ground and building a new one over the ashes of corruption.
- Harvey Dent is worried about this, with Gotham city very supportive of him challenging the mobs despite the backlash it might bring.
"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
- Western Terrorists: Ra's Al Ghul is...Liam Neeson (oddly, the name is Arabic for "The Demon's Head", and the organization is multiethnic and headquartered somewhere in or near the Himalayas). And Joker is referred to as a terrorist multiple times, though terrorists usually have some sort of motivation beyond terrorism.
- What You Are in the Dark: More or less the point of the series. Everyone stares into the abyss, Drama Ensues, and the abyss stares back.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Bruce appropriates most of his equipment from Wayne R&D.
- The Windy City: The second film is very obviously set in Chicago, to the point where many Chicago-based viewers spend half the film trying to place where everything was shot. Based on the very obvious use of Chicago architecture, iconography, and Bruce Wayne's
Illinois license plateslicense plates that say "Gotham" where it normally says "Illinois," one could assume that there is no Chicago in this branch of the DC Movieverse, but only Gotham City, IllinoisState of Gotham.
- The first film involved a lot more soundstage work and CGI. In Real Life, New York City is occasionally referred to as "Gotham", and Detroit is the seat of Wayne County, Mich., so Gotham City is often assumed to be a sort of hybrid of those two places.
- In The Dark Knight, less CGI was used:
- The car chase with the Joker clearly takes place on Lower Whacker Drive.
- Maroni's car wrecks in the Amtrak yards at 18th Street.
- Gotham General is actually a Brach's candy factory that was converted.
- As the blaze at the hospital is being extinguished, a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus can be seen, turned into GTA (Gotham Transit Authority, not that GTA) buses through use of cunningly-placed decals. Of course, there's the small matter of the production designers opting for the "Old Look" CTA logo and not the "New Look" CTA Logo...
- 'L' trains frequently appear in the background of scenes in the movie.
- Part of the Batpod scene shows Batman piloting it through the Millennium Station, which is obvious because of the floor pattern and the fact that Metra and South Shore signs are clearly noticeable. There's even a POV shot where signs for the Pedway and Randolph Street are visible.
- Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Happens whenever Batman encounters the police. In the first movie, he manages to avoid any direct struggle by summoning a flock of bats. In The Dark Knight, he has to be very careful not to kill any members of the SWAT team even as he's trying to stop them from making a grave mistake. Granted, he never shoots anybody anyway, but he's far more careful fighting cops than criminals.
- Dubiously though, and lampshaded by Alfred in Batman Begins after the Batmobile's first proper outing: sure Batman doesn't shoot any cops, but expecting us to accept that no-one died in a chase where several cars were completely totaled at high speed (from, e.g., a head-on collision with a goddamn central reservation) is pushing the suspension of disbelief just a wee bit.