Easter Eggs You Probably Never Noticed In The Dark Knight Rises

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Back in 2012, British-American filmmaker Christopher Nolan concluded his highly successful “The Dark Knight” trilogy with “The Dark Knight Rises.” In the threequel, Batman’s (Christian Bale) tired mind and body are put to the test by Bane (Tom Hardy), the human embodiment of fear and brute force. As Batman tries to stop Bane from finishing the job the League of Shadows had planned for Gotham City, he must put his faith in two new figures: a provocative cat burglar named Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and a young cop named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who’s questioning his commitment to the Gotham City Police Department.

“The Dark Knight Rises,” and “The Dark Knight” trilogy in general, can most likely never happen again in today’s comic book franchise-making world. It’s a finite tale driven by the single vision of an auteur director that is only concerned with the world of a singular hero. Even with the criticism that “The Dark Knight Rises” is too long, too overstuffed, and at times too confusing because it’s trying to beat its near three-hour runtime, there’s no denying that this is a Nolan movie from beginning to end. There’s also no doubt that if not for the success of the Nolan “Batman” films, there would be no “Aquaman,” “Wonder Woman,” “Joker,” “Birds of Prey,” or “Shazam!” Above all else, there wouldn’t be Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” either.

It’s been a decade since “The Dark Knight Rises” was released in theaters. For those new to the superhero movie hype, or for anyone who’s been following the trend since Tim Burton’s “Batman,” “The Dark Knight Rises” is worth watching for its sensational thrill, as well as for re-evaluating its strengths against the live-action “Batman” movies of the past and present. It’s also worth re-watching to spot all the unbelievable Easter eggs you may have missed on your first viewing.

John Blake’s real name

Not since the campy days of the Joel Schumacher era has Robin played a pivotal role in a live-action “Batman” movie. While filmmaker Matt Reeves hasn’t completely ruled out an appearance of a live-action Robin in his future Robert Pattinson-starring films, Christopher Nolan had little use for the classic comic book characters in his down-to-earth, gritty Batman trilogy. At least, not the version that Batman fans would expect.

Like many divisive moments in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the reveal near the end of the movie that John Blake’s legal first name is “Robin” was met with mixed reactions. Pro: Revealing Blake’s name as Robin confirmed that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character was spiritually intended to be the sidekick hero whom fans always wanted to see in the Nolan movies. The con, however, is that the reveal was an underwhelming way of giving fans what they wanted without giving them what they wanted. Perhaps the worst offense of “The Dark Knight Rises” is that audiences never got to see Gordon-Levitt don the iconic tights.

Killer Croc

While there’s no denying the critical and commercial success of the Christopher Nolan “Batman” movies, the auteur’s grounded take on the protector of Gotham City meant that Batman’s more surreal supervillains from the comics couldn’t make an appearance in his live-action films. Among the many larger-than-life supervillains in Batman’s rogue gallery, Killer Croc would have broken the suspension of disbelief in the Nolan trilogy. (That said, the animated “Batman: Gotham Knight” anthology film does a decent job of imagining what a Nolan-esque Killer Croc would have looked like.)

Although Killer Croc couldn’t make an official appearance in “The Dark Knight Rises,” his presence is delightfully teased twice in the movie. The first is when Bruce Wayne searches through news archives relating to Catwoman and one newspaper headline mentions “alligators seen in sewers.” The second is when John Blake confronts Wayne at his manor to convince him to take up the Batman mantle again, following the assault on Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) in the sewers. When Blake told the Gotham police about Gordon’s warning of Bane brewing trouble in the Gotham sewers, they replied with a sarcastic response. “They asked me if he saw any giant alligators,” Blake tells the Dark Knight.

Walkie-talkies

Anyone who ever played with a toy walkie-talkie based on their favorite franchise will get a kick out of this Easter egg. During the scene when Commissioner James Gordon maps out how to take down the bomb set up by Bane and the League of Shadows, a close-up of the handheld radios used by the Gotham City Police Department reveals the symbol for Gotham City is designed in a way to resemble an old logo for DC Comics.

The acronym on the walkie-talkies, in particular, look very similar to the text on the “DC Spin” logo that appeared on official DC Comics content from 2005 to 2012. DC has a rich history of comics logos, including the 1976 “DC Bullet,” the 2012 “D Flipping” logo, and the current 2016 logo made to invoke the imagery of the DC logos of the 1970s. It’s a cute nod to the publishing history of Batman’s comic book home.

Catwoman tease

One of the most exciting additions to “The Dark Knight Rises” was the provocative and morally ambiguous Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway. Given the character’s major importance as Batman’s on-again/off-again romantic fling, the inclusion of Catwoman in the final Christopher Nolan “Batman” movie could be seen as expected. What makes the inclusion of Catwoman satisfying in “The Dark Knight Rises” is that the character was hinted at in the previous film, “The Dark Knight.”

In the scene where Bruce Wayne turns to Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) for a more agile costume, Fox delivers a new, plated Batsuit that increases speed and flexibility but at the cost of defense against knives and gunfire. When Wayne asks if the new suit will protect against dogs, Fox responds with an amusing answer: “We talking Rottweilers or Chihuahuas? Should do fine against cats.” Try as Batman might, there’s only so much a new suit can do against a seductive cat burglar after his own heart (and fortune).

Judge Scarecrow

One of the unsung heroes — or rather, unsung villains — of the Christopher Nolan “Batman” trilogy is Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), better known as the Scarecrow. Throughout all three of the Nolan “Batman” movies, Scarecrow appears to spread his version of madness to Gotham City. His strongest inclusion, of course, is as one of the main villains of “Batman Begins,” in which he teams up with Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and the League of Shadow to infect the citizens of Gotham with a specialized fear toxin to spur the city’s destruction.

In “The Dark Knight Rises,” the good doctor makes a surprise appearance as the judge for the kangaroo court prosecuting the surviving Gotham police, following Bane’s bringing Gotham City to its knees with a nuclear reactor converted into a bomb. What’s interesting about Crane’s appearance as the corrupted judge is that his attire is torn up, with stuffing sticking out from his right shoulder, invoking the image of his Scarecrow alter-ego.

Breaking the Bat

Why did Christopher Nolan pick Tom Hardy’s Bane as the final big bad of his “Batman” trilogy? “In deciding on who the next villain would be, it was imperative that it was someone completely different from the Joker … that he be a brute force,” Nolan told Movieweb. “I wanted to see Batman meet his match physically, as well as intellectually. Bane is raw strength with a fanatical devotion to duty, and that combination makes him unstoppable.”

Indeed, Bane is depicted as an unstoppable juggernaut, thanks to the highly addictive Venom compound that physically enhances the user’s strength by unbelievable margins. Though the movie version of Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” is fed anesthetics instead (per CBR) and is more grounded, the masked behemoth is still a physical threat to Batman. And as longtime “Batman” fans have waited to see on the big screen, Bane delivers on the iconic back-breaking scene from “Batman: Knightfall,” the 1993–1994 comic book story arc.

Bane’s knitting hobby

Christopher Nolan’s trilogy was influenced by numerous comic book storylines about the Dark Knight, such as “Batman: Year One” and “Batman: The Long Halloween.” The three stories that had the strongest influence on “The Dark Knight Rises” were “Batman: Knightfall” and “Batman: No Man’s Land” (per MTV), as well as “A Tale of Two Cities.” That’s right. The classic Charles Dickens story set before and during the French Revolution was a major influence on “The Dark Knight Rises,” according to Nolan and his screenwriting brother, Jonathan Nolan (via Coming Soon).

The movie doesn’t shy away from its influence, with its thematic focus on orphans and class warfare — and Commissioner James Gordon even reads a passage from “A Tale of Two Cities” at Bruce Wayne’s funeral (per Slate). The most obvious homage to the book, however, is one that probably snuck by most moviegoers. Throughout the movie, Bane can be seen knitting in the background. This is a specific reference to Madame Defarge, the villain of “A Tale of Two Cities” who excels at two things: killing and knitting.

An eerie smile

“The Dark Knight Rises” is an accumulation of everything that embodied the Christopher Nolan “Batman” film series. While characters like the Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul got to make a comeback for the epic finale, one unforgettable villain that defined “The Dark Knight” was unfortunately absent. The Joker (Heath Ledger) was never mentioned in “The Dark Knight Rises” out of respect for the tragic loss of the actor. However, one scene in the movie seems to eerily pay tribute to the chilling smile of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Near the end of the movie, the seating arrangement for the unveiling of the Batman statue resembles a clown’s smiling face when the camera pans from the balcony above. Unlike the movie’s connection to “A Tale of Two Cities” (per HuffPost), there has been no confirmation from Nolan or Warner Bros. if this shot from “The Dark Knight Rises” was meant to be a tribute to Ledger’s performance as the Joker. But it’s hard to rule the scene out as a coincidence, considering how specific the seating arrangement is, as well as the intentional bird’s eye view perspective.

A familiar doctor

This Easter egg is more for the Christopher Nolan fanatics than “Batman” devotees. Anyone who watched the 2000 movie “Memento” will recall Thomas Lennon playing a doctor performing a series of pain-inducing memory tests on Sammy Jankis (Stephen Tobolowsky) to see if the patient could overcome his memory loss by learning through conditioning. In “The Dark Knight Rises,” Lennon once again dons the white coat to play the doctor examining Bruce Wayne.

When he spoke to HuffPost in 2012, Lennon believed there could be a connection between the two Nolan movies. “They call that I got [said] ‘There’s a scene with a doctor, and Nolan wants you,'” Lennon told the Huffington Post. “I kind of think it’s the same character from “Memento.” The doctor who’s testing Sammy Jankis in that movie. I like to think I’m the same doctor and it’s all happening inside Guy Pearce’s mind. Whether or not that’s true is probably for Nolan to say. I’d like to think that’s happening.”

Batman v. dog

By the end of “The Dark Knight,” it’s clear who’s the greatest Batman villain of them all is dogs. Okay, yes, the Joker and Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) did rough up Gotham City a bit, but those Rottweilers from the beginning of the movie bite hard. The Rottweilers were such a nuisance for Batman that he had Lucius Fox make him a better Batsuit to deal with them. And amusingly enough, the Rottweilers come back for the final setpiece of the film.

The bite of the Rottweilers was so bad that Batman still has the scar on his left arm in “The Dark Knight Rises.” It’s great attention to detail that makes the “Batman” movies by Christopher Nolan feel connected, while also displaying the terrible toll being a masked crimefighter has had on Bruce Wayne’s body. One can’t blame Batman for seizing the opportunity to live a Rottweiler-free life and retiring following the events of “The Dark Knight.”

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