There are a few issues I wish to address that I don't feel have been discussed in the recent articles and write-ups for The Dark Knight Rises coming out in theaters this July. This will, by no means, be a negative article. I might be the person who is excited the most for the final chapter in Nolan's amazing trilogy of the caped crusader. Because of that, I become invested, and because of my investment, I have decided to address a couple things that I've noticed through the trailers and the IMDb cast list. [Warning: Possible Spoilers if I'm right]
Right from the get go, I want to point out that there appear to be multiple fist fights that will occur in the movie between Bane and Batman. There also seems to be a point where Bane has the opportunity to kill Bruce Wayne, but he refuses on the grounds that Bruce's punishment must "be more severe." From the trailers we are given two major fights. One is in the streets of the city in front of what I'm guessing is a municipal building of some kind, and the other looks to be underground (Empire Online confirms that Bane will be hiding out in the many underground tunnels beneath Gotham). Keep the two-fight idea in mind.
Anyone who is familiar with the Batman canons knows that Bane is the man who broke the bat. He snapped Bruce's back over his knee in one of the most iconic covers to a comic story ever for the Knightfall series.
This is not something Nolan would overlook just to create a cool looking bad-guy for the film. After watching The Dark Knight, it was made very apparent that Nolan and his brother(who wrote the film) have a strong understanding and do a fair amount of research into the villains that they will feature in his on-screen rogues' gallery. For example, Heath Ledger's Joker was someone who's main goal was to show Batman that when people are pushed far enough that they will all end up like the Joker himself. They will accept anarchy and that the established order is a farce and a mask; a mask that Batman chooses to wear and use as a symbol to fight injustice. In the end, Batman proved he was actually incorruptible and chose not to let the Joker die (a luxury he didn't afford to Ra's Al Ghul). This mindset and interpretation of the Joker is one that was made famous by The Killing Joke.
In this graphic novel the Joker tries to push Commissioner Gordon over the edge by shooting his daughter, Barbara, in front of him. The joker then proceeds to take pictures of her after he rips her clothes off as a final straw to break the law bringer's back. This plan ultimately fails, but Barbara (aka Batgirl) is crippled for life and becomes Oracle; a human wikipedia for Gotham. Granted, this is not what happened in The Dark Knight, but that motive was carried over brilliantly.
Using this idea of pulling from the comic series for inspiration, I also noticed a similarity to another graphic novel from the Batman universe that will play a major role in this upcoming film. It is no secret that The Dark Knight Rises is going to be taking place 8 years after the last movie ended. Gotham is at peace, and Batman has retired. Only now, a younger, more dangerous foe appears to force the Dark Knight out of retirement and get back into the fight. That setup will be familiar with most die-hard Bat-fans as the plot to The Dark Knight Returns; Frank Miller's infamous (and in my opinion greatest) Batman novel to date. When Batman comes out of retirement to combat this leader of the Mutant Gang he is beaten. Badly.
Batman comments later that he tried to fight a "young-man's fight," that he tried to use his brute strength instead of his skills to win a battle that his body couldn't keep up with anymore. Now look at the trailers that we've been seeing for Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Bruce is sporting a cane to help him walk, from what I'm guessing is an injury from when he fell with Harvey Dent at the end of The Dark Knight. It is my belief that Batman will lose his first fight against Bane fairly easily. Batman will then realize that he cannot keep up with Bane's younger, more intense version of combat, and a new approach must be taken. That fight in front of the municipal building will be round one, with the underground fight being round two.
There is also another key element from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that I believe will be taken into the plot line for The Dark Knight Rises. At the end of Miller's novel Bruce Wayne fakes his own death (after Alfred dies) and begins to train the remaining members of the Mutant Gang to become Bat-men of a sorts. He destroys the Wayne manor and turns his former bat-cave into a training facility. We know that this will be the final chapter in Nolan's Batman legacy, but, despite much speculation, I don't think Nolan is going to kill Batman at the end. The main reason behind this is because Nolan isn't that obvious. In one of the latest trailers Selina Kyle (the lovely Anne Hathaway) says that Batman doesn't owe the city of Gotham anything more, that he's given them enough. He replies that he hasn't given them everything, not yet. It doesn't take an English major to realize that this hints at Batman dying for the city he loves so much. So does the line Alfred says to Bruce about not wanting to bury any more members of the Wayne family. The problem is Nolan isn't that obvious to give away a big twist ending away in the trailer of a movie (I REALLY hope I'm not wrong about this). So instead, I think that "Batman" will die, and Bruce will live on to train a new group of Bat-men. Here's another reason why, and where he will get these Bat-men from to train.
Look at the cast list for The Dark Knight Rises over at IMDb. One thing that should quickly jump out is the re-casting of Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul, as well as a Young Ra's and a Young Talia Al Ghul. Most of us remember the fate of Ra's from Batman: Begins; where Batman left him to die on a speeding railcar to crash into Wayne Tower. This could possibly allude to the fact that he didn't die. Perhaps Ra's lived, and in his defeat he came to some sort of self realization about his methods. Or, perhaps, Ra's is the one pulling the strings behind Bane. Another theory of mine is that Bane is a former member of the League of Shadows, as Batman himself was. Those familiar with Ra's will note that he has always wanted Batman to marry his daughter, Talia, and become the new head of the League of Shadows. Nolan is usually pretty careful what he shows in his trailers, so no mention of Ra's or Talia has been shown as of yet. However, I think that Batman might find that the only way to combat Bane is to finally take up Ra's' offer and use the trained and disciplined ninjas of the League to defeat Bane and his mercenary army. A lot of this is purely speculation, but I wouldn't put it past Nolan and his brother to swing this element from The Dark Knight Returns into The Dark Knight Rises.
This would also be a decent wrap up to the series, as it wouldn't give the happy ending of Batman just resuming his duties in the city even after he's retired. The Dark Knight made the case that he couldn't want to be Batman forever, and I don't believe this version of Bruce wants to be the caped crusader into his sixties. Marion Coltillard is also playing a character in the film called "Miranda Tate." The trailers show her to be a romantic interest of Bruce's, but I believe that this is a cover for her true identity as Talia Al Ghul.
Or maybe I'm just dead wrong. Maybe the scenes with Ra's will just show some of the other training that Bruce did with the League that will help him defeat Bane. Maybe Talia is just there to take vengeance for her father's death at Batman's hands, and her romantic interest in Bruce is merely there to keep him distracted as he tries to combat Bane in the attempt to finally bring down Gotham on the second attempt. Either way, I can't wait to see what's in store for this swan song of my favorite hero of all time.