I’m not kidding either.
I can’t do the war handwavium score on the movie until I have a DVD and can stop, pause, rewind, and so on. But I just saw the movie last night and wanted to give my first impressions of it.
It was quite entertaining watching it in the theater.
Afterwards, when my friend and I got to the restaurant to discuss it over pasta, all the gaping holes showed up and the film pretty much fell apart.
Well, that’s not entirely true. While I was watching the movie, some plot holes showed up to me. But, dammit, I’d spent twelve bucks on a ticket, twelve bucks on junk food, had driven half an hour to get to the theater, waited in line for half an hour before they let us go in and get seats, sat in the theater for half an hour listening to the same music CD they play at the theater EVERY DAMN NIGHT, to get to this point of seeing the movie, so I was trying to get my money’s worth.
Anyways, I was trying to figure out what exactly is the essence of Dark Knight Rises. And I think I finally figured it out. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Hello, my name is Miranda, you killed my father, prepare to die.
The entire movie is all about the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul avenging her father’s death. She does this through a plan that would have to take her at least 20 years to pull off. And based on the rough history of the trilogy as I know it, that means she started planning her revenge at or before the moment Bruce Wayne killed Ra’s Al Ghul. Probably before.
The Reactor that is Also A Bomb, And a Dessert Topping
First Miranda has to invent a fusion power reactor that will produce carbon-free energy. Scientists have been trying to do this in the real world for 50 years and have not succeeded yet.But she can’t just invent any ol’ fusion power reactor, it has to be clean energy, but it also has to be easily converted into a bomb. Really easy, like it only takes 1 guy about 30 seconds to do it, and impossible to un-convert it or defuse it in any way. Luckily for us, the movie viewer, this part happens off screen before the movie starts.
Let’s just say that this power-core-bomb specification is an extremely specific level of tired(*).
Then she has to convince Bruce Wayne that she is rich (she could have robbed banks to get the money I suppose) and a bleeding heart who wants to save the world with carbon-free energy, and that she needs all of Bruce Wayne’s money to build this reactor/bomb for her and for Gotham. Luckily for us, the viewer, most of this also happens off screen before the movie starts, but we do get this part explained to us as some backstory maid-butler dialogue.
The plan is that once Bruce builds the power reactor, Miranda and her team will steal it, convert it into a bomb, and hold the city hostage. Which points to one of the big weird plot holes in the script. Either  Miranda knew how to build the plant before Bruce started construction, or  she didn’t know how to build it before Bruce started it.
 if Miranda KNEW how the power plant would work before Bruce started it, this means she was a super-fucking-genius able to design something that tens of thousands of physicists haven’t been able to get working for 50 years, and she is able to design it without even building the thing. Because if she knew how to build the thing, and she apparently has unlimited money, why not build it herself and haul it into Gotham, rather than spend 8 years playing nice to the man who murdered your father and eventually even having mind blowing sex on the bearskin rugs in front of the fireplace?
 If Miranda did NOT know how the power plant would work, she would need Bruce’s research powerhouse to figure it out. But this would mean she would NOT know that it would be easily converted into a nuclear bomb that no one can defuse. Which means she spent 8 years gambling on the hope that Bruce would invent fusion power in such a way that it just so happens to also be easily convertable into a bomb.
Either way, during the 8 years that she spends getting Wayne to build the plant, she is gambling that Wayne’s vast research facilities (who can, lets face it, build any gadget the plot needs) does not figure out a way to build nuclear power that is not easily converted into a bomb.
But here’s the thing. The problem with this whole gaping plot hole is that there IS a nuclear power plant design that gives off carbon free power, is relatively non-radioactive, and is impossible to convert into a bomb. It’s called a thorium reactor. These things exist now in real life. They’re a beautiful feat of engineering and they solve nearly every problem there is around nuclear power. Wayne Enterprises doesn’t need to fiddle around with a fusion reactor that is easily converted into a bomb. He just needs to take the plans for any existing thorium reactor and put one in Gotham city and call it a day.
But the plot wants Miranda to trick Wayne into building the reactor so she can further betray Wayne by using his own reactor core against Gotham city. So that’s what happens.
If I were Miranda and I had a choice between taking a huge gamble over the next 8 years trying to convince Bruce Wayne to spend almost all his money on a power plant to the point of bankruptcy and hope he and his team doesn’t figure out how to redesign it so it’s not a bomb, OR just go to the russian black market and buy a nuclear bomb, and kill Bruce Wayne 7 years ahead of schedule, I think I’d go with the quicker schedule.
Rich Man Bruce Becomes Poor! Oh My!
Bruce builds the reactor, and it costs him so much to do it that Wayne Enterprises hasn’t made a profit for the last two years. Anyone notice a gigantic plot hole here? Miranda’s plan to get Wayne to build her the bomb she needs, hinges on the fact that she has to get Bruce Wayne to eviscerate his own empire. The only “explain” as to how she succeeds in getting Wayne to push his company underwater is that he’s turned into a recluse for the last eight years and no one ever bothered to mention to Bruce that his company is losing money.
Lucius Fox, I’m wagging a finger at you.
We are not shown this lack of communication between Lucius and Bruce on screen because it would require such an extraordinary lack of communication that it would cause the viewer to drop their suspension of disbelief and drop kick it one theater over where they’re playing Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. Yeah. I can TOTALLY buy honest Abe as a slayer. Anyways…. Lucius Fox knows the company is going down. Fox knows that Wayne has turned into a recluse. Fox knows that Wayne is spending gobs of Wayne Enterprise money on this power plant.
Do you think that at some point, Fox might have had one of those kind-old-wise-man-tries-to-educate-the-clueless-batman conversations he always has? Yeah, I think so.
The only reason Wayne finds out his company isn’t profitable anymore is because someone chastizes him for not donating money to a charity for orphans for the last two years.
But, apparently, eviscerating Wayne Enterprises is part of Miranda’s plan. She *wants* him to lose money on the power plant because money makes Bruce Wayne (and hence Batman) powerful, and she wants Bruce to be weak. She wants to break him. She wants him to be so poor so badly, that she has her men take over the Stock Exchange in Gotham and fake a bunch of stock transactions to look like Bruce bought bad stock, so he loses all his money.
These transactions are “verified” by Bruce Wayne’s thumbprint, which is stolen by Catwoman earlier in the movie. And because the transactions are “verified” by his thumbprint, it is magically impossible for the SEC to simply void these transactions. It seems that in Gotham, a forged transaction can be voided by the stock commission. If it couldn’t be voided, they wouldn’t need the thumbprint. But because the transactions came with a thumbprint, the transactions have been “verified” and it will be hard to void them.
Using physical attributes for security (retina scans, fingerprints, DNA, etc) seems to be the latest way that writers inform the viewer/reader that they are in the future. It used to be doors that would automatically slide open when you were near them. That was the “Wow, it’s the Future!” signal in the old Star Trek. But nowadays, every grocery store has automatically sliding doors, so that’s no longer a signal that we’re in the future, cause we could just be at Costco. So, now, the signal from the writer that we’re in the future is that the characters are using retina scanners (Minority Report), DNA (Gattaca), or finger print scanners (Dark Knight Rises) to show that the characters are in a future world from our own.
But there’s one little problem: Security 101 will tell you it’s extremely bad security to use physical attributes as your keys to entry. Fingerprints can be hacked with gummy bears. Nobody who knows security would rely on fingerprints for something important like the national economy, which is what the stock exchange has access to. If all it took to hack the Stock Exchange was some gummy bear fingerprints, someone would have thrown the world into the dark ages already.
But, back to the movie, the SEC in Gotham City let the fraudulent stock transactions stand. Transactions that were logged while armed gunmen had visibly entered the trading floor by force, fired shots all over the place, visibly stolen a badge from a trader, and announced to everyone there that they were hacking into the exchange. It was during this period of time that Bruce Wayne’s “verified” transactions occurred, but the SEC let them stand. Because the plot requires that Bruce Wayne be in the poor house, so that’s what happens.
It’s around this time that Alfred and Bruce have an argument and Alfred leaves.
So, now, Bruce Wayne has built a fusion power reactor under Gotham city that can be easily turned into an undefusable bomb, he is financially ruined, and he has to answer his own door when someone knocks.
Fun with High Explosives
This is the point in time where Miranda’s team stop working in the shadows and make their first blatantly open attack. They steal the power core, convert it into a bomb, and take Gotham City hostage.
They take the city hostage with lots of high explosives. One stage of high explosives blows up most of the bridges into Gotham, cutting it off from the mainland. Another stage of explosives manages to bury 3,000 policemen underground, without killing them, but in such a way that Miranda’s thugs can send food down to them on ropes and feed them.
This plot hole boggles my mind.
First of all, Miranda’s plan around the police hinges on some pretty amazing timing. She needs most of the police force to be underground just as Bane is above ground at the football field announcing that they’ve taken over the city. If the police had figured out the trap in time, they would have been above ground, not trapped, and could have attacked Miranda’s thugs immediately.
But the bigger plot hole is even simpler: Why not kill the cops? Why would Miranda’s plan be to trap them underground, where they would be alive and subject to possible escape/rescue and remain a potential threat to her plans? With all the explosives they had, why blow the entrances when they could have blown the whole tunnel and killed all the cops and be done with it?
Bad publicity? Do you think leaving 3,000 cops trapped underground is good publicity?
I’ve not been able to figure this one out at all. I can think of no reason for Miranda and Bane to leave the cops alive.
But the plot hinges on those 3,000 cops being the only force that can stand up to Miranda’s thugs, so they have to remain alive.
But this brings up another plot hole. If 3,000 cops is all it takes to overthrow Miranda’s thugs, I think the United States could get 3,000 military troops into the city. It wasn’t like the cops used any military tactics whatsoever once they were freed. They marched up the street in one long line, completely exposed, a perfect target for one machine gun nest, and yet they were able to take out Miranda’s army, leaving only a couple of armored cars and one truck carrying the bomb to deal with. I mean, if all it took was 3,000 people with guns standing up to Miranda’s army, I think it would have been delivered to them by air, land, and sea.
Lastly, this whole taking-Gotham-hostage thing has a couple smaller issues relating to it. No one could get out of the city? No underground railroad (figurative, not literal)? No people smuggling? The “if anyone leaves, we blow the bomb” might mean that there is no obvious and blatant support from the outside to help people escape, but even then, people on the INSIDE have zero incentive to sit around in their homes and watch TV, waiting for the Scarecrow’s rubber stamp court to send them onto the ice.
Batman Throws a Fight? Unfortunately No
It is around the time that Gotham is taken hostage that Batman attacks Bane directly, and Batman gets a whooping.
This is also part of Miranda’s plan. Bane doesn’t even do anything special to win, we’re just told that Bruce is old, his knees are shot, kidneys are scarred, and he’s out of shape, and that explains why Batman loses. Bruce is still so smart that he can program an autopilot, but he doesn’t appear to have any plan when confronting Bane other than “Batman smash Bane!” only to discover that he isn’t the incredible hulk, Bane is.
This is a different kind of plot hole. Batman HAD to be defeated by Bane at this point. The plot required that he be captured and sent to the prison in Doesnotexististan, for the next five months to watch Gotham slowly die. So Bruce Wayne, the man smarter than Lucius Fox, gets punked by a catburglar and whooped by a thug in a straight on fight. Batman has no superpowers, he only has an unlimited amount of money with which to buy supplies for his Bat Utility belt. Batman’s utility belt contains, in weapons alone, poisoned knockout darts, a flame thrower, a goo-gun, a tazer, thermite grenades, a sword, and a grappling gun. During his fight with Bane, the only thing Batman pulls out of his utility belt is pepper spray.
Think about that for a moment: On a man who’s defining feature is that he wears some kind of gas mask, Batman throws pepper spray at him.
This is the sort of fight that one might expect would happen if Batman WANTED to lose, WANTED to get caught, because he WANTED to be taken to the secret lair of the bad guy or something. But maybe the audience isn’t let in on that part of the plan until later.
And it’s not like we can say Bruce’s mind went soft during those 8 years in recluse in his own mansion. Weeks prior to this fight, Bruce was smart enough to figure out the software to the Batcopter and write himself an autopilot.
Where the hell is this hole in the ground of a prison? Someone is spending money to send food down to the prisoners so they can eat every day. But they’re not spending any money on guards?
What. The. Hell.
If you want someone to stay in the hole, you hire a kid for a couple bucks a day, you give him an AK47, and you tell him to shoot anyone who makes the jump to that second platform. Bang. End of story. The Taliban has been recruiting kids in Afghanistan for the last few years for the low price of a couple bucks a day and an AK47. The FOOD to feed all those prisoners will cost a hundred times more than you would spend on 1 child prison guard.
And good food at that. Did you see the muscles on that guy who’s job it is to hand Bruce Wayne the rope every time Bruce wants to try climbing the wall? The guy is built like a brick shit house. You don’t get like that eating gruel. He’s snarfing down protein, and unless he’s eating other prisoner’s, he’s getting that protein from the surface.
Vertebrae Sticking out my Back? Just a Flesh Wound. I’ll bite your ankles
So, back when Bane whoops Batman, he whoops him real bad. Bane lifts Batman over his head and then drops Batman, World Wrestling Federation style, onto Bane’s knee. Bane essentially breaks Batman in half. Bruce gets to the prison and he has a vertebrae sticking out his back. That’s a pretty gruesome injury. In a prison with no hospital, that’s a likely death sentence, and if not death, then its a permanent injury. John McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected over enemy territory. He can’t raise his arms above his head as a result of his injuries and lack of treatment in North Vietnamese prison.
But Batman must return. Act2 of the plot is Batman defeated and sent to prison. The plot requires Act3, where Batman wins out over his defeat. So a doctor in the prison punches that vertebrae back into place and leaves Bruce hanging from a rope. That should have paralyzed Bruce from the waist down. Seriously. He should have permanently lost the use of his legs at that point. But instead it sets him up to heal enough that he is exercising in a month, and within another two months, he’ll be taking on Bane in a knock down drag out fight, and showing no signs of back pain, and no weakness.
Movies can be pretty crazy when it comes to the healing powers of the human body, but what Bruce Wayne goes through, and how he heals and comes out the other side, it’s enough that would make Wolverine go “Woah.”
In fact, when Batman returns from the prison, he is stronger than he was when he took on Bane the first time around. Because this time, it’s still a straight-on fight, no gadgets from the bat utility belt, but this time Batman defeats Bane.
The only reason he loses, *again*, is that this is the point in time where Miranda takes her sword, points it at Batman, and says, I am the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, you killed my father, prepare to die. No. Wait. Not like that.
But basically, yeah. Like that.
Anyway, Miranda leaves Bane with Batman and tells Bane to keep Batman alive so he’ll feel the blast. Crazy complex supervillian plan to kill a superhero? We all know what must happen, right? Right. Catwoman shows up and shoots Bane with an antitank cannon.
This Chopper Has Knight Rider Turbo Boost Technology
So, Miranda gets in the truck with the bomb to make sure it goes off.
Then Batman kills the driver of the truck with a missile.
And then the truck drives off an elevated highway,
giving Miranda just enough damage that she will die,
but not enough to kill her before she monologues.
blah, blah, blah. She booby trapped the power plant containment unit so that it would flood itself. But she rigged it so it would only flood when someone tried to use it. blah blah blah.
Cut to Lucius in the power plant containment area, turning on the plant, and sure enough, the flood gates open.
The plan was to get the bomb and put it back in the containment unit, but now the containment unit is under water and can’t contain squat.
There has to be some way of bringing it down on remote.
How? The transmitter was on the APC? It’s wasted!
Well, I don’t care how, but we better think of something. We better think of a way.
Think of what? We’re fucked!
We’re doomed here!
Well, there IS one alternative: Batman can hook a cable from the batcopter to the bomb and fly it as far away from Gotham as possible, over the ocean, where it won’t hurt anyone.
But Lucius Fox never put an autopilot on the Batcopter, so Batman will have to stay at the controls till the very end, otherwise the bomb might not be minimum safe distance from Gotham, and oh, man, I was getting short. Four more weeks and out, now I’m going to die on this rock.
So, Batman hooks the cargo cable to the bomb. Catwoman kisses him goodbye. There’s only a minute left on the clock.
And the clock? She is ticking.
What the hell are the specs on the batcopter?
Batman has 1 minute to get the bomb away. If he flies 10 miles (and since there isn’t even a puff of a pressure wave felt by the kids on the bridge by the bus, he’s got to be pretty damn far away) in 1 minute, that means the batcopter was doing 600 miles an hour. Speed of sound at sea level is about 777mph, so we’re looking at about mach 0.75.
The fastest helicopter is a dual rotor with a pusher prop that can do 250 kts.
I don’t even…
Oh. My Head.
Make it stop.
The problem is that if they had anything more than a minute, they probably could have figured something out that didn’t involve Batman dying. Based on the rotor configuration of the Batcopter, they’d be lucky to get 100mph, which means they’d need something more like 10 minutes. But 10 minutes before the bomb went off was way back in the movie before we even knew Miranda was the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul and she has spent the last 20 years of her life searching for the six fingered man who killed her father. Wait. No. Not like that.
But basically, yeah. Like that.
So we get 1 minute so nobody has time to just, oh, I don’t know….
DEFUSE THE GODDAMN BOMB
And instead, we have to get Kitt to hit the turbo boost on the batcopter so it can jump the roadblock the bad guys put in front of them.
I Regret that I have but One Life to Give for My Gotham. No, wait. Two.
So, off he flies into the distance. And then the flash, and the mushroom cloud.
And those boys watching the mushroom cloud don’t feel the slightest blast wave, so, we might even have to have rocket power on the batcopter….
Oh, never mind that.
Anyways, Batman go boom. Batman save city.
City feel bad. City make statue of Batman.
Commissioner Gordon feel bad, eulogizes Bruce Wayne.
Lucius Fox feels bad.
Alfred feels really bad, tells parents he’s sorry. Cries.
There’s the reading of the will. Bruce Wayne is still broke. Apparently, the SEC was never able to void out those forged stock trades with Bruce’s thumbprint. But what’s left, some goes to the orphanage, most goes to Alfred, and a duffelbag with GPS coordinates goes to Robin.
Yes. Robin. Like we can’t ever reboot Batman at this point.
Anyways, Alfred goes on trip. Orders a dry martini, three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shaken, not stirred. Wait. No. Not like that.
But basically, yeah. Like that.
And who the hell is in the same goddamn restaurant but Bruce-I-Punked-All-Your-Asses-Wayne and Catwoman.
Look. This is getting ridiculous. It’s the end of the series. There won’t be another Batman movie starring Christian Bale directed by Christopher Nolan… EVER. Why in God’s green earth would you jerk us around with so many scenes showing us how horrible it is that Bruce Wayne is dead, only to have him give a little smirk to Alfred at the end?
If you’re going to give the audience all the emotional trauma showing all the effects of Bruce’s death, only to say he’s really alive, it has all the emotional importance of a “It was just a dream” story. And for no reason. It’s the last of this series. He could have died and been reserrected with another reboot. It’s not like Bruce Wayne, 40 years old, with NO cartilage in his knees, scar tissue on his kidneys, concussive damage to his brain tissue, is ever going to fight as Batman ever again. He’s gotten too old. He’s gotten too many injuries. He can’t come back again. The series either has to follow the new Robin for a while, or it will have to reboot… again.
If Batman had actually sacrificed himself, it would have given the movie at least one emotionally powerful character/plot arc.
But as it is, the whole thing was Bruce’s way of…. doing what? I’m not even sure. Starting over? Starting clean? Apparently, he couldn’t just stop being Batman and hang around Gotham anymore?
But this also creates one hell of a plot hole: Bruce was planning on faking his own death from the beginning of the movie. When Lucius shows Bruce the batcopter, Lucius tells Bruce it doesn’t have an autopilot. Bruce fixes the autopilot without telling Lucius.
Because Bruce wanted Lucius to think there’s no autopilot. Because Bruce wanted Lucius to believe Bruce sacrificed himself to save Gotham.
But wait. Six months ago, The problem with Bane was that he was some shadowy guy hanging out in the sewers hiring kids to do god knows what. There was no siege of Gotham, there was no nuclear power plant core that had been turned into a nuclear bomb on a 5 month stop watch.
So, if Bruce fixed the autopilot and didn’t tell Lucius, then that would mean Bruce did it just in case an opportunity came up to fake his own death, then he could use the Batcopter-has-no-autopilot excuse to fake his own death.
But if you think about THAT, it makes absolutely NO SENSE.
LUCIUS: Mr. Wayne, allow me to introduce you to your newest vehicle, the batcopter.
BRUCE: Now you’re just showing off.
LUCIUS: It has everything but an autopilot.
BRUCE (VOICEOVER): “If an opportunity were to arise in the future where a lack of autopilot would kill me, but if I were to secretly install an autopilot in the batcopter that could save me, that would be a great way to fake my own death.”
Do you know how many times the lack of an autopilot gets someone killed?
Zero. None. Zilch. Nada.
Bruce Wayne has decided he’s grown tired of being Batman, and apparently that he’s also tired of being Bruce Wayne. So he decides that he’ll fake his own death.
And somehow, that will allow him to fake his own death as Bruce Wayne.
Wait, was it known at the end of the movie that Bruce Wayne was Batman? Or how did they explain that Bruce Wayne was dead?
You know what? Forget I even mentioned that part.
So, Bruce decides he’s tired of it all, and wants to start over, so he decides he will fake his own death and start a new life as some anonymous nobody in a cafe, waiting for Alfred to show up.
So he decides to create an elaborate plan to fake his own death by installing an autopilot on a helicopter with no autopilot, just on the off chance that some strange scenario happens to present itself where an autopilot would save him, but the lack of an autopilot would mean he has to die.
This is such a specific level of tired(*) that it’s measured down to the micrometer.
I mean, it doesn’t even make sense because when he put the autopilot in the copter, there was no nuclear threat. Just some corporate sleazeballs like Daggart involved in Lawful-Evil types like Bane. Bruce was just taking a one-in-a-million gamble that some scenario would present itself where the lack of an autopilot would kill him, but a secret autopilot would mean he could fake his own death.
Look. If you want to fake your own death, just take a tip from Bane. At the beginning of the movie, he brought in a body double, transferred some blood, apparently to transfer some DNA, and left it to be discovered in the wreckage.
If Batman wanted to fake his own death, he could just find a beefy John Doe down at the morgue, put a Batman suit on him, and put him in a big explosion so there wasn’t much left but splatter. Then start shawdowing cafe’s until Alfred eventually shows up and give him a wave.
I mean, really.
But to have him plan a fake-death-by-lack-of-working-autopilot exit is just the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard of.
Not to mention, if you want to fake your own death this way, don’t you think you could figure out someway to check the code in under someone else’s name? Steal their thumbprint and use that to forge who put the patch in the autopilot? Why leave what would have to be an obvious clue that you just faked your own death? At some point Lucius would fix the code, and at some point, he’d find out it had already been fixed.
Which means that Bruce wanted to fake his own death, but then tell Lucius and Alfred and a number of engineers at Wayne Enterprises that he’s actually still alive.
Look, if you just want to walk away from a life of riches, just walk away. Buddha did it. He was a prince and said, you know what? Screw this, I’m out of here. Took a walk and never went back. Ended up starting his own religion. Didn’t have to fake his own death to do it.
Plotwise, the fake death scene doesn’t do anything. The movie would have been far better if batman had to make the ultimate sacrifice, and all the emotional heartstring tugging at the end of the movie would have meant something. Instead, the writers play with those heartstrings like a cat plays with a ball of yarn, batting it playfully a number of times before pouncing, sinking its teeth into us, and kicking us with their back claws. And then they do what’s needed to keep the franchise alive.
If you’re going to keep Bruce Wayne alive, you really shouldn’t try to play us the fool just to get a fake emotional reaction out of your audience. Just keep him alive, show him walking out of his mansion and never looking back. Don’t try to trick us into feeling sad and grieving his death and then pull a “Psych! Just Kidding! Fooled Ya!” on us. Wait. No. Not like that.
But basically, yeah. Like that.