Five More Important Quotes For TDKR
Which Batman dialogue will be significant for TDKR?
Last week, Warner Bros. officially released the second trailer for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. One of the most anticipated films of all time, Nolan’s super-sequel will likely be closely linked to the previous two films, This article is an extension of a previous piece, and will explore quotes from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
“A vigilante is just a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification. He can be destroyed, or locked up. But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely.”
Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) – Batman Begins
This dialogue is key in understanding the psychological differences between Bruce and other characters within the Nolan universe. Unlike Dent and Ra’s, Bruce did not avenge his loved ones’ deaths. In Batman Begins, the gangster Carmine Falcone takes this choice from him, and he is later disgusted by their thirst for vengeance, throwing away a gun intended to kill Joe Chill (Nolan and Lee Smith’s editing emphasises Bruce’s self-disgust, with smash cuts to his parent’s death linking his need for violence with Chill’s careless act). In The Dark Knight, Bruce refuses to kill The Joker, going so far as to save the serial killer’s life when he could have fallen to his death: The Joker actually admonishes this act as “misguided,” further accentuating Bruce’s differences with others. Both sociopathic Ra’s and the psychopathic Dent were once good men, but they fell into murder and self-gratification, with their good intentions undermined by their cruel acts and their troubling self-justification. Bruce/Batman is the hero of the films because he refuses to let his pain lessen his empathy towards others. His anguish may have initially defined his need to fight crime, however he still makes the moral choice to allow others the chance to live, despite their actions. This is what saves him from becoming “lost” ethically, and focuses his intentions on his “ideal” of saving Gotham.
This speech may be relevant to TDKR’s Bane. Physically, he is “more than just a man.” Like with Batman, Bane’s exterior appearance is vital in the public’s understanding – and fear – of the character. In the prologue, Bane comments, “no one cared who I was until I put on the mask.” Both Bruce and Bane use symbolism – Batman’s bats, Bane’s fire – to project their authority and power over the populace. Both men also seemed devoted to their respective, contradictory ideals. Bruce seeks to protect and restore Gotham to security and prosperity, whilst Bane looks to destroy the city. Whether or not Bane is following Ra’s ideals – or constructing a new value system based on destruction and control – still remains to be seen. As the marketing continues, we will come to understand more of Bane’s values, and how they relate to Miranda/Talia.
“Don’t be afraid, Bruce. You are just an ordinary man in a cape. That's why you couldn't fight injustice and that's why you can't stop this train.”
Ra’s al Ghul (Neeson) – Batman Begins
In terms of Bruce’s inner conflict, Batman Begins is the story of Bruce facing conflicting teachings from two father figures: Thomas Wayne taught his son compassion and understanding of society, whilst Ra’s focused Bruce’s anger into crime-fighting. In the first part of this speech, screenwriters David S. Goyer and Nolan link these two characters with repeated dialogue: before he dies, Thomas comforts his son by asking him not to be afraid, whilst Ra’s says this sarcastically, an expression of the characters’ fraught relationship and Ra’s cruelty. By the end of the film, Bruce has instilled the teachings of both men into his life – applying Thomas’ empathy with Ra’s concepts of social unity – and has grown into a more mature man. Bruce is no longer governed by his fear, and is able to shake off his emotional baggage for the benefit of others.
The second part of the speech is more relevant to our understanding of TDKR. Ra’s comment that Batman is “just an ordinary man in a cape” is an attempt to undermine Bruce’s confidence in his aim – to save Gotham through symbolism and influence. Obviously, this speech has parallels with Bane. Unlike Bruce or Ra’s, Bane is obviously no “ordinary” man. The other rogues (including The Joker and Scarecrow) use mythological archetypes to instil fear and dread within their enemies. Bane’s power extends beyond mere misdirection and perception. He is the franchise’s closest character to a horror-film monster (Nolan made this allusion in a recent interview), and can offer a physical threat to Bruce that the other enemies simply can’t. Can Bruce – an “ordinary man” – possibly defeat a nemesis that is more than “ordinary”?
“No, this is your mask. Your real face is the one that criminals now fear. The man I loved – the man who vanished – he never came back at all. But maybe he's still out there, somewhere. Maybe some day, when Gotham no longer needs Batman, I'll see him again.”
Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) – Batman Begins
Retrospectively, this speech operates on multiple levels of dramatic irony, as our knowledge of the events of TDK colours this dialogue differently. Firstly, Rachel Dawes never saw the “real face” of Bruce again because of her sudden death, as Bruce was still struggling to battle criminality and injustice until her murder. Secondly, Rachel chose to be with another man, not Bruce, which suggests that that theirs was not the great romantic love perhaps originally intended by the filmmakers, but a childhood infatuation that never had a future.
In TDKR, Bruce has to face a Gotham that “no longer needs Batman.” In the trailer, it is evident that both Bruce and Gordon are struggling with feelings of inadequacy and displacement. Bruce is still seen as the vacuous, ridiculous façade of the billionaire playboy, whilst Mayor Garcia plans to dismiss Gordon from the force. Yet, it is clear that Bruce still needs Batman, his “true face.” Bane’s presence not only embodies the wrath of the League of Shadows, but it shows Bruce that he still has not accomplished his goals, that – despite the city’s hatred – Gotham still “needs” him. The city may need to acknowledge their need of Batman, and face that their true hero is not, in fact, Harvey Dent, but Batman.
“The night is always darkest before the dawn. But, I promise you, the dawn is coming”
Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) – The Dark Knight
In BB and TDK, this concept is embedded within the structure of the narratives. In BB, Bruce defeats Carmine Falcone and puts pressure back on the mob and corrupt cops, but then is shocked by the emergence of the League of Shadows, culminating in a battle that almost destroys Gotham. In TDK, Batman, Gordon and Dent arrest key members of the mob and charge them with a conspiracy, but The Joker retaliates with a plan that pushes the three men to their limits. In these two films, Bruce achieves an initial – read: hollow – win, loses in a very significant way and then must find some resolve to defeat evil.
TDKR may follow this structure in terms of how the film fits into the trilogy. At the beginning of TDKR, Bruce thinks he has vanquished evil in Gotham, imprisoning the mob and The Joker, hiding Harvey Dent’s crimes and attacking the League of Shadows. In this respect, Bruce is naïve, believing that Gotham is safe and has reached “the dawn”. Bane might act as a catalyst for Bruce’s acknowledgement of the hollowness of his achievements, and may push him to examine his own role within Gotham, especially given the events of the previous film.
“The public likes you, Dent. That's the only reason this might fly. But that means it's on you. They're all gonna be coming after you now; and not just the mob: politicians, journalists, cops. Anyone whose wallet's about to get lighter. Are you up to it? You better be. Because they get anything on you, those criminals will be back on the streets, followed swiftly by you and me.”
Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) – The Dark Knight
Garcia is a relatively small role in TDK (he only features in four scenes), but is very important in helping us understand the social ramifications of the characters’ actions. Although the mayor is clearly pragmatic, he seems to be genuinely care for the well-being of his citizens, reverting to a cover-up to protect the interests of the city: when Harvey goes missing, Garcia tells Gordon to hide this fact, a deception that is expanded in the form of the Dent fraud. These actions show his appreciation of the public and their thoughts, and point out the characters’ responsibilities not only towards each other but to the public, as well.
In this speech, Garcia outlines the reasons behind Bruce and Gordon’s choice at the end of TDK. Gordon and Bruce understand the importance of Dent within Gotham – he is the “White Knight” – and that Dent’s crimes may destroy everything that all three have built. Garcia says, “they get anything on you, those criminals will be back on the streets, followed swiftly by you and me.” Bane seems motivated by destroying what each has done, and sees the Dent crimes as the perfect starting point in destroying Gotham and Batman.
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