15 Things That Bothered Us About 'The Dark Knight Rises'

The following article was a collaboration between David Chen, Peter Sciretta, and Germain Lussier.

Between those of us at /Film, we've already seen The Dark Knight Rises several times and have found that many questions and problems still linger in our minds (see Dave's review and Germain's review). What's consistently baffling about Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is people's willingness to forgive Nolan for extremely problematic staging and editing, and for screenwriting crimes that would put any other writer/director in "script jail."

What follows are the 15 biggest issues we had with The Dark Knight Rises. Some of these are major problems with the film, while others are minor niggles. But they all have one thing in common: they all jolted us out of the film and took away from our ability to get lost in Nolan's world. We wrote this piece not to troll, but simply to articulate some of our own issues with the film and hold them up for examination. Two warnings before you proceed: 1) MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW, 2) If you think you'll be upset by this article, based just on the title, it's probably a good idea if you just pass this one by.

When and how did Bane find out about Batman's identity and Applied Sciences? - When Bane and Batman first meet, Bane knows his true identity. He likely learned this from Talia Al Ghul, his boss, who likely learned it from Ra's Al Ghul, her father. But the timeline doesn't quite fit. Talia Al Ghul and Bane were trained when Taila was young and escaped the pit. Maybe around 12. She and Bruce seem to be around the same age so, that was about 15 years before Bruce met R'as in his late 20s. Bruce then kills Ra's mere months later at which point Ra's finds out Bruce is Batman. So did Ra's call his daughter at some point in this small window, tell her Bruce is Batman, then give her the idea to become a Wayne Enterprise Board Member (even though the nuclear device didn't exist yet) as a long con back up if his plan in Batman Begins failed? Seems like there should be a more concrete explanation as this information is crucial.

And even if that's how it went down, it doesn't explain how she or Bane knew about the existence of the Applied Sciences wing of Wayne Enterprises, that it was Batman's armory and its specific location in the building. Yet they do because Bane was building his hideout right below it. Even if the aforementioned identity leak was possible, Lucius Fox himself said Applied Sciences was "completely off the books."

Blake Intuits That Bruce Wayne is Batman - WTF, dude? First of all, I'm highly skeptical that anyone could "see" just by looking at Bruce Wayne's face that he was Batman. But even if this were not-at-all implausible, the fact that this development occurs in the first act of the film is a strong indicator of this film's issues (namely, the need to cram in as much plot development as possible). In any other film, such a reveal would normally come after the end of some sort of prolonged interaction between these two characters, where it might be somewhat understandable that one character saw the truth in the other. Here, they get it out of the way right from the beginning in a fashion so abrupt that it has no emotional resonance whatsoever.

Also, if Blake was able to put this together, wouldn't other Gothamites have started to put two and two together? As a separate issue, by the end of the film, practically all the main characters already know that Bruce Wayne is Batman. By the time Commissioner Gordon figures it out while Batman is taking off, I didn't think "Wow, what a revelatory moment!" Rather, I thought, "Oh man, he is so late to the party on this one."

Bruce Wayne Is Down, Then Back Up, Then Down, Then Back Up... – Wayne begins this movie with a significant limp, which is remedied with a pretty cool-looking electronic brace. We spend a lot of time watching him ramp up, and we're thrilled to watch him finally kick ass again...only to see him get totally incapacitated by Bane about two thirds of the way through the film. At first, I thought this might be a brilliant, ballsy, unprecedented move: would Nolan really take the hero out of the final climactic battle sequence?! Nope, turns out it foretells that we just have a bunch more movie to go. We get to watch him recuperate again before finally facing Bane at the end (sans limp, btw, even without the brace). So, wait, WTF was the point of having Bruce Wayne go through that arc twice in one film? For a miniseries or a TV show it might've been worked, but in the course of one film it just feels really drawn out and unnecessary. 

Also, I'm no medical doctor, but I have a feeling a broken back takes more than just a few weeks, some ropes, and a firm smack to the vertebrae to fix.

(Update: Some readers have noted that Bane says the bomb has a timer of approximately 5 months right before Batman gets sent to prison. But we have no idea how long Bruce is in the prison before he even decides to get his vertebrae fixed and begins to train. So the "few weeks" approximation might be a "few weeks" too little. But still not as long as the estimated year and a half estimate for a real-world version of Bruce's injury.)

Alfred Says Goodbye to Bruce – I presume this is supposed to be a monumental moment, a moment when this constant presence in Bruce Wayne's life turns his back on him. Only it happens with such clunky, stilted dialogue and in such a poorly staged way (the hallway outside of the batcave? really?) that I literally cringed at how bad it was.

Why Wouldn't the SEC Just Overturn Bane's Fraudulent Trades - I mean, it's pretty clear that they were done under fraudulently, right? Else what the hell did they think Bane was doing there?

Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard Have Sex – On the one hand, yes these are two very attractive individuals. Why shouldn't they give in to their carnal desires? On the other, more reasonable hand, there is virtually no development in the relationship between these two. They're running in the rain, then they start making out, then in the next scene they're naked. If only real-life romance worked like this...

Seriously though, with no emotional attachment to this relationship, Talia's eventual betrayal is nothing more than a Shyamalan-style twist with no impact behind it. A missed opportunity.

So Batman is a street artist now? - After months away, being mentally tortured and physically broken, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham. He spends the first few hours of what could be the final day in Gotham history getting purposely caught by Bane's cronies, a huge risk, and then escapes and saves Commissioner Gordon and John Blake with mere seconds to spare. Yet somehow, with this impossibly frightening ticking clock, he finds the time to use gasoline to make a huge Bat symbol on the top of a bridge with the knowledge Gordon will be there, pick up the flare, and light it up. Theatrically is part of Batman's persona, yes, but it seems like there might have been a better use of his time.

Bruce Wayne Forgets to Do Proper Background Checks – You would think that after Ra's al Ghul and members of the League of Shadows crashed Wayne's birthday party and burnt down the Wayne mansion that a stricter security policy would have been implemented for Wayne Manor events. First he hires a maid who's actually a notorious cat burglar, then he hires a woman to head his board who's actually the daughter of one of the most villainous individuals out there. Shouldn't he have done a little more digging before surrounding himself with these individuals? Speaking of which, if Anne Hathaway's Selina is easily able to adopt fake identities and hack super encrypted passwords (like the one on Wayne's expensive safe) why does she need the Clean Slate program so badly? I mean, its probably the worst MacGuffin in the Nolan Batman trilogy.

Why Does Bane Take a Break from His Master Plan to Ship Bruce Wayne Off to the Desert? - I don't believe the prison's location is ever named, but it sure seems like it's way the hell far away from Gotham. The sequence was suposed to be Jodhpur-Rajasthan, India. Would Bane really just hop a flight with Wayne at this crucial juncture in his grand master plan, just to make sure Bruce has a front row seat to the world's destruction?

How Does Bruce Wayne Get Back to Gotham? –  How does Bruce Wayne travel back to Gotham in a matter of days with absolutely no resources what-so-ever? No only is he bankrupt, but Alfred has disappeared, he has no identification of any kind which includes the necessary passports to get back into the United States. Even if he somehow gets through customs with no delay, all the entrances to Gotham City are being guarded by Bane's thugs. The Bat is stuck on a roof of the building where Wayne left it, so he doesn't have access to his new flying machine. And speaking of which, somehow The Bat has not been discovered in the months Wayne has been exciled in the prison. Are we supposed to believe that no one checked up there during Bane's occupation? Or maybe that the sheet of camouflage has kept the secrecy? And when Bruce Wayne gets back, how does he know exactly how much time is left on the bomb and where Selina Kyle will be?

Why Does a Prison Exist Where People Can Possibly Climb To Freedom, And By Doing So, Free All The Other Prisoners? - Seems like pretty poor design to me.

Also, what the hell is the deal with this prison? Who runs it? Are there guards? Did Bane just put him in the prison without the warden and guards knowing? Do they just accept anyone who gets thrown into the pit? As with many elements of Nolan's film, the prison is more of an idea than an actual place that makes sense.

The Post-Bane Gotham Feels Totally Fake - Sure, it's cinematic to have Scarecrow hosting weird trials and sending people off into icy exile. But after that initial, effective sequence of watching rich people ripped out of their homes on 5th avenue, nothing about this Gotham feels real anymore. The streets are barren, but nearly pristine. We see only rare glimpses of the occasional Tumbler patrol. Emergency relief trucks pull up with ease. There seems to be no disorder on the streets, but hell breaks loose indoors on a regular basis. This never felt like a fully-realized place, only a series of gorgeous tableaus.

Are the Gotham City Police Department and CIA Really THAT Dumb? – Why would they send every member of the Gotham City Police Department, including the SWAT Team, into the sewers? Seems like a stupid move that wouldn't be made by any reputable agency of law enforcement. But to make matters worse, in The Dark Knight Rises, the GCPD aren't the only stupid government agency. In the opening prologue, the CIA agent allows hooded thugs on board a CIA plane without even finding out who the men are. Then, minutes later, the CIA airplane is unable to detect the huge non-stealth plane flying towards them.

Most of the Hand-To-Hand Combat Is Terrible – Do you remember how in those old Asian martial arts movies, a group of baddies would attack the protagonist one at a time?  Do you remember how unintentionally comical that looked? That's how I feel whenever Batman fights anyone in this film (exception: his fights with Bane, which I thought were appropriately raw and intense). For the most part, all the bad guys have guns and none of them use them. Each one just waits there turn to get their ass-kicked by Batman. Now I know why Nolan shoots all the action up-close and nearly indecipherable: because if you had a wide angle shot, seeing armed thugs stand idly by would look absolutely ridiculous.

Thing is, Nolan's not incapable of staging good Batman action well. The truck chase scene in The Dark Knight was fantastic, as was the first time Batman takes out Falcone's men in Batman Begins. Unfortunately, this film was short on those sorts of transcendent moments. Maybe if there were more than one Batman scene per hour, we could have seen more than this.

Multiple Ending Syndrome - At least at the end of Return of the King, each ending got room to breathe. Here, within the span of five minutes, we're supposed to process the following: 1) Batman dies in a blaze of glory, 2) Bruce Wayne donates all of his remaining assets to the betterment of children, tying up Blake's storyline, 3) Bruce Wayne apparently figured out how to program the autopilot on The Bat? 4) Bruce Wayne survived the crash and is now enjoying a beautiful life in lord-knows-where with Selina Kyle, 5) Alfred is totally cool with all this, and does not lose his s*** at all when he finds this out. 6) John Blake takes up the mantle as Batman, with no training, no resources or mentor. Also, no one notices that Bruce Wayne and Batman disappeared at the same time. WHAT?!