Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Fate In 'The Dark Knight Rises' - SPOILERS

#1 Posted by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

This is an amazing article written by Mark Hughesover at Forbes. I think it's more pertinent right now given the rumors circulating about JGL playing Batman in the Justice League movie. Check it out below or here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2012/07/26/the-meaning-of-joseph-gordon-levitts-fate-in-the-dark-knight-rises-spoilers/

Now that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has come to a conclusion with The Dark Knight Rises, everyone is talking and debating the meaning of the end of the film, and what happens to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character John Blake. So let me break it down for you and explain, including perhaps the one obvious thing that everyone seems to have missed so far. Read on! But be warned, here there be SPOILERS!

First of all, let me clear one thing up right away — yes, Bruce Wayne really is still alive at the end. For some reason that escapes me, a segment of fans are insisting it’s “open to interpretation” whether Bruce actually is sitting in that cafe, or if it’s just Alfred’s imagination. But there should be no confusion, the shot of Bruce at the cafe comes amid a montage of scenes showing each person close to Bruce finding out a bit of information revealing Bruce survived the nuclear blast. Lucius finds out Bruce secretly did repair the autopilot on “the Bat,” Gordon finds a repaired bat-signal on the roof of the MCU (contrary to some reviewer’s misunderstanding, Gordon didn’t repair it himself, he walks up and looks shocked to find the new bat-signal, runs a hand over it, grins, and looks around, all in the montage about Bruce’s actions), John Blake gets a big bag full of equipment and a GPS locator, and Alfred gets Bruce’s money and then sees Bruce at the cafe. Bruce’s arc ends with him finally being able to move on with his life, and without that fulfillment Bruce would actually have no true character arc (getting his back fixed and climbing out of the hole to fight Bane again is not a full arc, for those inclined to say the climb out of the pit is the major point in his arc).

Now, I’ll move on to the main question about the film’s end, and the one most of you are probably still unsure about — what happens to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character at the end, and who exactly will he become? I previously wrote, prior to the film’s release, my theory that the character John Blake would be Nolan’s version of Robin in this film, and it of course turned out to be pretty much true. Blake has the background of Jason Todd and Tim Drake, for the most part (his father is murdered due to a debt, and he later deduces Batman’s identity while still a young kid), but then grows up to have Dick Grayson’s adult life (being a police officer and ally of Batman who has dealt with the tragedy in his childhood in a more productive and healthy way than Bruce dealt with his own tragedies, plus that whole chalk emblem, all adds up to a “realistic” incarnation of Nightwing). Then, we find out that his actual legal name is Robin. So I’d argue that yes, he definitely served the role of Robin in The Dark Knight Rises. Meaning he was ALREADY Robin, he isn’t going to become Robin in the future.

Who is he going to become, then? Obviously, Batman. I know most fans seem to feel Blake is going to continue being Robin, and will just now use a mask to disguise his identity — although, that would mean his “secret identity” is his actual literal first name! Nope, that isn’t the meaning of the end of the film. A major theme in the story is “Who was Batman? He was just Batman, the person under the mask doesn’t matter, because ANYBODY can be Batman!” We hear this several times, and it speaks back to the longstanding concept in the Nolan trilogy that a symbol is eternal and cannot be killed or destroyed, and that is what Batman became — an eternal symbol for Gotham, a symbol that would be anybody.

Then, Bruce gives Blake a bag full of equipment to help him locate the batcave, which still contains all of Batman’s equipment. Meanwhile, Gordon was given a brand new bat-signal to call Batman. And as Blake crosses the cave to approach the bat-equipment Bruce has left behind, he is enveloped in a swarm of BATS — just like Bruce’s own initial moment upon entering the cave, in the iconic symbolism of the scene from Batman Begins when Bruce slowly stands amid the swarm of bats to represent his crossing of a threshold on his journey to become Batman.

With Blake getting a cave filled with bat-themed equipment and suits while crossing a swarm of bats just like Bruce did, and Gordon having a signal with the bat-emblem on it, that’s some additional strong evidence that Blake is indeed going to become a new Batman.

But there’s one final piece of evidence, and it’s the “big guns” in my argument. I’ve not seen anyone mention this yet, despite how powerful the imagery is. Consider…

What is the very last shot in the film? It’s Blake, stepping forward in the batcave as the big platform comes up out of the water to lift him into the air toward the Batman equipment that we can see in the distance. The platform lifts Blake out of sight, turning the screen black. And what comes next? The title: The Dark Knight RISES.

Yep, that title has many meanings in the film, including Batman coming back from retirement, Batman climbing up out of the pit to save Gotham, Batman rising as a symbol of hope again in Gotham, and Batman’s general victory over Bane and over the tragedy in his own life. But it has one final meaning, symbolized extremely clearly in the final shot of the film when we see John Blake step forward and that platform RISING to lift him to claim the legacy of Batman that Bruce has passed on to him. The Dark Knight will rise again, with someone else taking up the mantle to keep the symbol alive.

You simply cannot ignore the overt imagery of Blake rising on that platform followed by the title appearing on screen. Notice that Nolan’s films always leave the title until the very end of the movie. That’s where the title of each film has its final, full embodiment: from the announcement that Batman has begun; to the proclamation that Batman is Gotham’s dark knight protecting the city; and lastly to Batman rising to his final, firm status in Gotham as an incorruptible symbol that cannot be killed.

While of course people are free to interpret the story and the end of the film however they wish, I feel that there’s too much importance in the symbolism of that final scene, and in Blake having already served the role of Robin before moving on to serve as the man who will keep Batman’s legend alive. Without those things, the story has a gap and doesn’t truly come full circle with all of the themes of the trilogy. Just as Bruce being alive is necessary for his arc to be fulfilled, so to is it necessary for Batman’s arc and Blake’s arc to be fulfilled by John Blake assuming the mantle as Batman.

And there you have it, dear readers, the real meaning behind the end of The Dark Knight Rises. No doubt, the debate will continue, but I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming and supports my conclusions.

#2 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (33491 posts) - - Show Bio

@Reignmaker: The reason some fans think it's "open to interpretation" is because the director side it's "open to interpretation"

#3 Posted by ReachDestroyer (54 posts) - - Show Bio

Brilliant post and I agree with everything you just said. I really hope they make Joseph the Batman in the Justice league movie alongside the new Superman in Man of Steel. I think that he'll have to bulk up a bit to fit the physically imposing nature of Batman but he's proved that he can act and do action in numerous films and to be honest if anyone else is announced as Batman now I will feel very disappointed. 2015 feels a long way away now!

#4 Edited by Weddep (31 posts) - - Show Bio

I just can't wrap my head around a "non-Bruce Wayne" STARTING as Batman..... Bruce Wayne is supposed to set a huge example for anyone even attempting to become Batman "ie. Dick Grayson and even Terry McGinnis". I don't see Nolan's Trilogy setting a good enough platform for what Batman is supposed to become. Anyone can't be Batman as it was said so much in TDKR. It takes years and years of perfecting yourself, Body and Mind. It goes against all of Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne left for what 7 years in Batman Begins? (I don't recall the exact amount of years right now, but I know it was significant) and John Blake only needs to go through the few months that Bane was terrorizing Gotham City? Aside from all of that.... Even the Batman in the Nolan Trilogy doesn't really stand up to the one we know in comics. I was OK with that because I always took it as Nolan's Batman and it was a totally separate from the one we know in the comics. Partly because Nolan was going for a more realistic approach and that was fine. But the Batman we know in the comics is so much more, and that is why he deserves to be one of the main members in the Justice League along side Superman and Wonder Woman. He doesn't have any powers.... He brings his incredible intelligence and unquestionable loyalty to the cause. He is one of the most important members of the Justice League. Even Nolan's Bruce Wayne/Batman I feel would be out of place in the Justice League. I didn't get the impression that he was the "Greatest Detective in the World" and one of the most Brilliant tacticians ever. He was more of an above average man on a mission. All in all what I think I am trying to get across is I think Nolan's Universe is too different than the actual DCU we know in the comics and I just hope they bring the Batman we all know and love into the Justice League so that he can actually stand up with Superman and Wonder Woman and the audience as a whole knows he belongs there.

#5 Posted by colonyofcells (2038 posts) - - Show Bio

It is possible the Justice League movie might not even bother to mention the real name of the Batman so viewers are free to interpret the Justice League as a continuation of the last Batman movie and other viewers are maybe also free to think that the Justice League Batman is a rebooted Bruce Wayne.

#6 Posted by Weddep (31 posts) - - Show Bio

@colonyofcells said:

It is possible the Justice League movie might not even bother to mention the real name of the Batman so viewers are free to interpret the Justice League as a continuation of the last Batman movie and other viewers are maybe also free to think that the Justice League Batman is a rebooted Bruce Wayne.

It's not just the Justice League movie, as they have said there will be solo films as well to go along with the the actual cross over Justice League movie event.

#7 Posted by colonyofcells (2038 posts) - - Show Bio

If the Justice League movie makes money, I am sure there will be Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern solo movies based on the Justice League movie. A new Batman movie could be a reboot and Warner can just say the Justice League Batman is just plain old Bruce Wayne. During the time of the Justice League movie, they can just keep quiet about the real name of the Batman to keep their options open since the next solo Batman movie is still far away. A new Green Lantern solo movie could also be a reboot.

#8 Posted by Weddep (31 posts) - - Show Bio

It's also a question of the Nolan Batman Villains. Not sure if Bane is still alive, if he's not it's kind of lame to think he was just blasted real fast by Catwoman. Two Face is dead. Ras and Talia Al Ghul are dead. GOD FORBID the Al Ghul's have access to the Lazerus Pit since they and Bane just know the location of Bruce's home which now is just filled with young children. Don't want them snooping around for clues on this new Batman there, or if they think Bruce is still alive... Alfred has all of Bruce's money.... he's not too invested in John Blake.... only reason he stuck around for the Robins in the comics where because they where basically his grand children. Alfred hated the idea of the actual Batman out there in harms way and even left Bruce in TDKR to try to prove a point. John Blake has quite the commute to get to the Batcave from his Brooklyn apartment or where ever that dude lives.

#9 Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy (7870 posts) - - Show Bio

smh.

#10 Posted by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

Truthfully, I don't think DC/WB has the balls to make JGL Batman in the JL movie. But I do think JGL was meant to become Batman at the end of the DKR.

#11 Posted by serpent222 (319 posts) - - Show Bio

I have no doubt that Blake becomes Batman in the Nolan-verse, but that is where it needs to stop.

I am fine with JGL becoming Batman if he either changes his name to Dick Grayson, or if he is simply recast as Bruce Wayne in a new universe. Honestly, I will be super pissed if he is John Blake as Batman. Batman is Bruce Wayne, and any re-imagining AT LEAST needs to start with that, and then you move on to Dick Grayson if you must. I feel like a lot of people are just shrugging Grayson off in regards to Blake, but to me, the sanctity of his character is just as important as Bruce Wayne's, and he is the only other option to be Batman. This is a character that debuted less than a dozen issues after Batman, but gets almost no thought in the Batman discussions. ONLY because of his lack of appearances would I be okay with him being Batman, but the foundation is not there.

Really, though, they need to use this as an opportunity to re-do Batman in a new way. Bale's Batman was great, but it really downplayed his intellect and detective skills. With a Justice League movie, this is the sort of Batman that needs to be emphasized, and that should not be from "John Blake." Although I still maintain that the best thing that could happen would be if Bale has been secretly involved all along, and the audience collectively craps themselves as he appears at the end of Man of Steel. I know it's out of the question, but it would be awesome.

#12 Posted by Jdd895 (22 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm confused. I was under the impression that these new films would be separate of the Nolan films. I'm probably wrong here.

#13 Posted by serpent222 (319 posts) - - Show Bio

@Jdd895 said:

I'm confused. I was under the impression that these new films would be separate of the Nolan films. I'm probably wrong here.

That's what we've heard from the start of all this. It is just the recent rumors about JGL being involved in the project that brings this up.

#14 Edited by havoc1201 (514 posts) - - Show Bio

nolan never wanted his batman outside of his universe he has even said that his batman does not fit with other universes just his and john blake as batman was to be implied and never to go past that movie. Warner would never back a batman movie that was not bruce wayne under the cowl. Nolan told his story and he ended it, it is not suppose to go on as other movies nolan never wanted his story to go on after he was done. Also the rumors have been confirmed as false.JGL will not be batman in JLA movie

#15 Posted by FatihBATMAN (1389 posts) - - Show Bio

@serpent222 said:

I have no doubt that Blake becomes Batman in the Nolan-verse, but that is where it needs to stop.

I am fine with JGL becoming Batman

both of these is QFT

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