With The Dark Knight Rises, the story arc that began with 2005’s Batman Begins comes full circle. At the start of this last chapter, the character Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been away from his role as Batman for eight years, his crime-fighting purpose having been largely fulfilled — as well as Batman’s status as a fugitive after having assumed responsibility for the death of Gotham City D.A. Harvey Dent. The long hiatus in hiding has had a dramatic effect on the mindset of both Bruce and Batman.
“In Batman Begins, you see the tragedy and the pain that motivates this angry young man, who feels useless and is searching for a path — who wants to find out who he is and what he can become,” Bale explains of his characters’ tandem fates. “In The Dark Knight, he’s discovered that path. He is useful; he is doing what he imagines is the best thing for him to be doing in his life. [In The Dark Knight Rises], we are eight years on and he has lost the one thing that gave him a purpose … until he is forced to deal with a new threat to the city and to himself.”
That threat is two-fold in The Dark Knight Rises. First, there’s the arrival of a clever cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) with an agenda shrouded in mystery. Worse is the emergence of Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked terrorist whose ruthlessness finally draws Batman out of retirement and back into the public imagination. The timing isn’t particularly auspicious for Bruce. “This is the first time it appears highly unlikely that Batman will come out on top in a physical altercation,” Bale suggests. “He has been dormant for years, so he’s in a weakened condition to begin with, and Bane is not only incredibly strong but ruthless in terms of his sheer militancy and the ideology that drives him.”
It’s a tough way to finish the saga, and it wasn’t an easy finish for Bale, either, who had to part from this highly dramatic persona foreseeably for the last time. “It was very bittersweet when I took off the cowl for last time, because it’s meant so much to me personally to play this character,” he says. “It never stopped giving me goose bumps to stand in that suit, because I recognize the honor of having portrayed this icon. And I can’t help but feel immensely proud.”
The Dark Knight Rises is available on Video On Demand starting Dec. 4. Check your cable system for availability.
Photo: © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures Funding LLC.