Joseph Gordon-Levitt on The Dark Knight Rises ending

The Dark Knight Rises is arguably the weakest installment of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy, but star Joseph Gordon-Levitt thinks there’s one thing the movie got very, very right. In a recent interview, the actor praised the last act of the movie, calling it the “perfect ending.” 

As fans will recall, The Dark Knight Rises concludes with Bruce Wayne faking his death and running off to Europe with Selina Kyle, where they get to live out the rest of their lives soaking in the Italian sunshine and sipping fine espresso. In addition, Bruce Wayne leaves the Batcave and all his Bat-accessories to Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake (a.k.a. Robin), who will presumably take over as the new Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises finale has gotten mixed reactions over the years, but Gordon-Levitt is a fan. (And not just because he got to play the character who winds up with all the Bat-toys.) He came to its defense in a chat with CinemaBlend.

I know we’re all used to the sort of Marvel movies, which are just kind of endless series. They don’t really have a beginning, middle, and end. But I think Nolan very much thought of that movie as a conclusion, and there’s a theme that runs through all three of those movies that begins in the first movie, runs through the second movie and it concludes in that moment where he says that Batman is more than a man, Batman is a symbol. And so to have another man other than Bruce Wayne kind of becoming Batman at the end of that trilogy, I think that’s the perfect ending to that story.

As Gordon-Levitt points out, the Dark Knight Rises ending is a rarity in that it’s an ending at all. Most franchises these days try to leave the door open; even when Captain America stops being Captain America he’s expected to report for duty once the Infinity War gets underway. And these never-ending sagas aren’t limited to superhero movies. As my colleague Jacob Hall discussed recently, both Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Star Wars: The Force Awakens had to undo earlier “happy endings” to some extent.

That can be a good thing or a bad thing, but in the case of The Dark Knight Rises, the finale makes sense for the story Nolan was trying to tell. It may not be perfect, and it suffers a bit from coming at the end of a rather messy movie, but it lets Bruce Wayne evolve as a character and move beyond Batman, while simultaneously establishing that Batman has become something bigger than Bruce Wayne. Plus, I bet all the Marvel heroes with their six-picture contacts are looking with envy at Bruce Wayne’s European excursion right about now.

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