The Dark Knight Rises was a hell of an entertaining movie, and Nolan did deliver on the massive expectations. Of course all mammoth movies inevitably come with a few inconsistencies and Nolan’s especially are packed with double enterdres. What follows are spoilers, and those who haven’t seen the film yet are advised to close this tab right now.
The big finale, though epic in scale was straight out of Iron Giant (and it was much more heartbreaking in that movie). Even last year’s Captain America had a similar climax where the hero flies a bomb away to save lives and sacrifice himself. But there is another aspect of the ending that interests me more:
1) Was the scene at the restaurant a dream or reality?
All his life, Alfred has wished to see Bruce Wayne chilling out at the restaurant with a wife and family, and suddenly his wish seems to have been fulfilled. Bruce is seen having drinks with Selina, and has survived the nuclear blast after all.
It makes more sense that Alfred imagined this scene, because he never gave Bruce the name or the address of the restaurant, yet he appears in the exact same seat at the exact same time that Alfred expects him to be in.
If it wasn’t a dream, and Alfred actually went to meet Bruce, it brings me to the next question:
2) How did Batman survive the Nuclear Blast?
We’re shown that Bruce had fixed the autopilot on The Bat. Note that when Batman hooks up the bomb to the vehicle, he flies really low. Why? Presumably to engage autopilot and get off the vehicle and onto a building terrace. We never see the cockpit when The Bat goes out into the sea, right before the blast all we're shown is a closeup of Batman's face. And if that was indeed a shot of the cockpit, there was no chance that Bruce would've survived the blast, since he was right above the bomb.
In any case, disbelief has to be suspended here, because the nuclear bomb 6 miles away should’ve incinerated everyone on the coast of Gotham, and resulted in devastating nuclear radiations in the months to come. Yet no one is injured and Gotham is safe. Batman is alive and Robin becomes the new.. err.. Batman.
Which brings me to the most difficult query of them all:
3) Why does the Batman need to stage his own death??
Batman has just saved Gotham, now everyone in Gotham knows that Batman is the hero, and criminals would now be forever afraid to him. So why does he need to destroy himself?
And why does Bruce Wayne need to stage his own death? To escape corporate life and lawsuits involving fraudulent shares and unending court cases over reclamation of his own enterprise? It just doesn’t gel, because both Bruce and the Batman are heroes, and it only solidifies the theory of Alfred imagining Bruce alive.
4) How the fuck does Batman travel from Jodhpur to Gotham?
After breaking Batman’s back, Bane takes a trip from Gotham to an unknown medieval location and dumps Bruce Wayne in the Lazarus Pit. A chiropractor snaps his spinal cord back in place, and Bruce exercises like Hrithik Roshan in Mission Kashmir, and heroically Rises out of the pit. We then see Bruce miraculously appearing in Gotham and hitting on Catwoman.
How the heck did he travel from the 'Jodhpur-location' desert to a snowy Gotham? A desert and a snowy region are never walkable distance from each other so it is unlikely that Bruce just walked back to Gotham. Even if both regions exist next to each other in a comic book universe where anything goes, Gotham was under freaking siege, and was completely cut off from the outside world. All the bridges except one heavily guarded one were destroyed. Even the army couldn’t get in Gotham, but Bruce just waltzes in, goes home, shaves, wears a new suit and meets Selina.
You may argue that this is a movie, a comic book movie at that, but this is a major plot hole considering Nolan’s persistence on grounding the Batman films to the real world. I should also mention that Bruce, when he returns to Gotham, also somehow finds time to gather equipment and explosions and climb the top of a bridge to make the awesome Bat logo. He also has not yet met anyone, but seems to telepathically know the amount of time left for the bomb to explode.
The best answer, of course, is HE IS MOTHERFUCKING BATMAN. That’s how he reached Gotham, okay? Moving on..
5) Is The Dark Knight Rises a worthy ending to the trilogy?
While still an incredible movie and thoroughly satisfying, The Dark Knight Rises would’ve been an utter classic had Nolan not shown Bruce Wayne alive, and had just cut to black (or to Robin in the Batcave) after Alfred breaks the fourth wall with a startled look on his face. Like the tiny wobble of the spinning top in Inception.
Speaking of which, the entire trilogy could well have been a part of the Inception universe. Bruce Wayne, the owner of a big corporation might have been incepted at the behest of Saito. In the first level he is given an idea to become more than a man, in the second level he is strategically fed guilt, in the third he is successfully convinced to make a silly decision and give up his corporation. Arthur the point man, Eames the forger, Saito the employer are all present, so is Mal.
Are the above really plot holes? Or are they easily explained? You now have my permission to send in your theories/arguments in the comments below.