06.26.2012 Screenwriting Blog 13 Comments

The Dark Knight Rises beat sheet speculation

The Dark Knight Rises Script

Originally published on May 7, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises has yet to open, and since I’ve been analyzing Christopher Nolan’s films for a larger project, especially the first two chapters in his Batman trilogy, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I can’t help but speculate about The Dark Knight Rises beat sheet.

I’ve seen a lot of predictions and theories online as to the story, but not any that attempted to break down the entire film or incorporated Nolan’s signature style of complex story structure, using templates like The Dark Knight and Inception. Below, you can download my Full Story Map for The Dark Knight Rises, before I’ve seen the movie.

I’m using a five-act structure which most closely resembles The Dark Knight, as that seems the obvious parallel, plus there’s so much content advanced in the trailers that a four-acter (my normal Story Maps structure) just won’t cut it.

MY TAKE ON THE “BIG QUESTIONS”

Talia Al Ghul? Yes, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) is actually Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ducard (Liam Neeson), who was not the only Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s is more of a title that is given to the current leader of the League of Shadows. An extended flashback will show the history of Ducard, his daughter Talia, and their troubled history with Bane.

Bane breaks Batman’s back? Maybe, maybe not — what’s important to me is that he badly wounds Bruce and keeps him imprisoned in the pit that we see in the trailer. Bruce climbing out of the pit is a crucial “Assumption of Power” moment, and we will be cheering and pumping our fists as he climbs, as if he were Rocky running up those steps.(Although I’m theorizing that he will have help, as it’s crucial to his arc in this film to accept help from others.)

Bane’s first big strike? Will be when he liberates prisoners from either Arkham or another prison (or both). How this ties into Selina Kyle in jail, I don’t know. Maybe Bruce had her arrested after the party invasion and she’s using the distraction in jail to make her own escape.

Bane tearing off Batman’s mask? This will come at or around the 90-minute mark, after the stadium attack and subsequent chase with The Bat (the flying batwing vehicle) and Bane’s armored convoy. Bane will tune up Bruce, tear off his mask, then throw him in the pit. (This would normally be an End of Act Two “hitting bottom” moment, but with a 5-act structure it’s technically the end of Act Three.)

The Lazarus Pit? It’s not supernatural — it doesn’t reincarnate people. Nolan hasn’t had any real supernatural elements thus far, so I don’t think he’ll add any now. It’s just a big, deep hole, and Bruce Wayne is going to take a tour of it.

The final Batman-Bane fight: Batman’s “method of defeat” will be to tear off Bane’s mask, but in the process he will expose himself to the “venom” gas. Bane suffocates to death and Bruce…dies? See The Dark Knight Rises Story Map PDF at the link below.

As for my big-picture take…

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES STORY ENGINES

ACT 1

Bruce struggles to retire from both Wayne Enterprises and Batman as unrest builds in Gotham City.

We’re catching up with Bruce Wayne eight years later because Gotham City has become relatively peaceful and his job as Batman seems to be ending. Retirement is definitely on his mind, and he must make the decision on how to leave Wayne Enterprises. I think the obvious choice is that he will turn Wayne Enterprises into a philanthropic/charity organization, dedicated to directly helping the people of Gotham City, who are now reeling from the effects of economic recession more than the iron fist of organized crime. Of course, that will not go according to plan.

ACT 2

Bruce puts his trust in Miranda Tate and investigates an anarchist group until a larger threat emerges: the terrorist known as Bane.

The attackers at the party are not Bane’s crew, they are members of an anarchy group that I will call The Resistance. Selina Kyle’s warning to Bruce in the trailer is the heralding of this attack. Bane will not attack in Gotham for a while; I’d say at least 45 minutes into the film.

ACT 3

Bane unleashes a large-scale attack, leading to a fight in the sewers where Bane defeats and imprisons Bruce.

Bane must defeat Batman at some point, and I’m saying that this will happen about 90 minutes into the film (or 90 pages in a screenplay), and Bruce will be imprisoned. But Bane will not reveal Bruce’s identity as Batman — this must be Bruce’s decision — to finally reveal himself to the people of Gotham City.

ACT 4

As Bane keeps Gotham under siege and chaos reigns, an underground movement starts to spring up, invoking the symbol of The Batman.

This is the “bridge” act where Bruce is out of commission and Catwoman, John Blake and the people of Gotham begin to form a new resistance movement, with the bat symbol as their rallying cry.

ACT 5

Bruce and his allies take on Bane for the final fight. Bane kills Miranda and Batman reveals his identity to Gotham City before taking his final action.

Yes, I’m saying that Miranda is Talia Al Ghul and Bruce will decide to reveal his identity as Batman to the world in the climax:

Bruce will rip off Bane’s mask, exposing himself to the poison and kill Bane in the process.

A shocking Epilogue will put the trilogy to bed. Will Bruce live or die?

DOWNLOAD THE DARK KNIGHT RISES STORY MAP AND FIND OUT!

The Dark Knight Rises Script Bane

Let me know what YOU think in the COMMENTS below — the point here is to get a righteous fanboy discussion going. Feel free to disagree and spray fear toxin in my face. For a bit more about my process in making this Story Map, go here.

Good Luck and Happy Writing,

Dan Calvisi

13 Responses to “The Dark Knight Rises beat sheet speculation”

  1. Brandon says:

    After seeing the latest TV spots and viral marketing pieces, I think it starts out more like this (in a nutshell):

    Bruce Wayne -- out of commission for eight years. His leg was actually injured by his fall at the end of TDK (remember the limp as he ran for his pod). Note the big beard shots in the trailers… Bruce hasn’t done a thing as Batman since TDK, he’s already been broken by The Joker (who did in fact win).

    Lucius and Alfred convince Bruce, finally, to get out into the world and do good by the Wayne name (philanthropically) -- enter Miranda. This is where the beard gets shaved. Bruce starts fighting for the Wayne legacy -- enter Selina, challenging that legacy by calling BS on Gotham’s wealthy.

    Bane makes his first move, a huge prison break from Blackgate (aided by Selina, who at this point is in league with Bane, for extreme Occupy-type reasons). After some serious debate, Bruce dons the Batsuit in response to an urgent call from Gordon. At some point in here Lucius shows Bruce The Bat. Bruce also has a check-up with his doctor to see where his weak spots are. As that latest humorous TV spot shows, he has no cartilage in his knee, brain trauma, scars on his kidneys, etc. Bruce realizes if he puts the suit back on, it’s going to cost him everything. He resigns himself to his fate for the sake of Gotham. To the death.

    At some point soon after this, Selina crosses Bane (or visa versa) and he nearly kills her. She escapes, and ends up joining Batman’s efforts to stop Bane, not because she is good, but because if Batman doesn’t stop Bane, Bane will find her and end her.

    Bane strikes again -- the football field…

    From this point on, I am curious to see how close your guesses are to the finished plot. In particular I HIGHLY suspect your ending is fairly close…

    • Dan says:

      Hi Brandon,
      looking back at your comment here, nice job! I decided to stop watching TV spots and clips at a certain point, so I didn’t see the clip with the doctor (played by Thomas Lennon, co-screenwriter of Night at the Museum and many other things, who was also in Memento, btw), but nice catch on the limp at the end of TDK. Of course, he had no cartillage in BOTH knees, so I guess we’re supposed to believe that he was just pushing himself the whole time in TDK while his body was breaking down (“Batman has no limits, Alfred.” ” But Bruce Wayne does.”) Maybe his injuries continued to degrade after he retired? Not sure of the science behind that, and it doesn’t really matter anyway.

      Moving on, personally I think 8 years was too long of a time span between stories. Why not 3 or 5? Nolan hasn’t given a good answer yet. The ending: I was right on Bruce faking his death but wrong that he would be exposed to the gas. I wish they would have addressed Bane’s mask better in the film, although it’s a pretty wild “comic book device” so it makes sense that Nolan avoided it, as he is wont to do. But it was kind of lame that Bane wouldn’t know how to connect the pipes in the mask himself and would need Talia to do it for him. He doesn’t know how his own mask works? Maybe he was suffering from a concussion and too out of it to have the dexterity.

      Anyway, I could go on (and may go one in future columns or podcasts). Thanks for your comment.

      Btw, when did Blackgate prison get invented in the comic books? I don’t remember it from my childhood.

  2. Casey says:

    Reread this after the Nokia commercial…. great stuff! You do great work! Do you have any scripts of your own?

  3. mge457 says:

    I think there is an unexplored military aspect to Bane that we haven’t quite learned about. The intro starts with Bane and the CIA, meaning he is a threat they’re aware of. I’m thinking he’s a soldier that possibly underwent some kind of army experiment, went insane then went rogue. This hinges on two key items -- Bane’s use of the military transport plane in the prologue, and his later use of the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT).

    Here’s where things get really interesting -- Is Wayne Enterprises connected? They are a major government contractor and in Batman Begins, one of the directors on the board states:

    “I don’t think Thomas Wayne would have viewed heavy arms manufacture as a suitable cornerstone for our business.”

    What if Bane is some product of a Wayne Enterprises experimental super-soldier program gone wrong? Hell, they created a super-soldier suit, that later became the batsuit. It would also explain his knowledge of the Tumbler.

    • Dan says:

      Nice theories, mge457! As Nolan is ALL ABOUT story cohesion, where every element flows organically from another and all are bound by theme and the main dramatic elements (listen to our podcast on Batman Begins for more), Bane MUST have a connection somehow to Bruce Wayne. Whether it’s via Wayne Enterprises or the League of Shadows, who knows, but it will be there. In my beat sheet, I’m theorizing that Bane was Talia’s former lover, so we have a sort of love triangle. Also, he was Ra’s Al Ghul’s “champion,” if you will, the pupil who became more powerful than the mentor.

      I really like your military connection. Hell, Bane dresses like a commando, right? And I never got the impression that the League had the ability to pull off a mid-air snatch and grab like the one we’ve seen. They’re more about ninja skills.

      Batman Begins is all about the legacy of Thomas Wayne, so I think we’ll see an aspect of that in The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe the DARK SIDE of Thomas Wayne? The question then becomes, was Thomas complicit in dirty military contracts or was it all done behind his back? He knew Lucius Fox and Fox developed all of that tech, so I dunno. But…the uses of the technology were not necessarily destructive — the battle suit was primarily armor, to protect a soldier, and the tumbler was designed as a bridging mechanism, to build a bridge over a chasm for soldiers to pass by. The microwave transmitter that is stolen in Batman Begins was built by Earle, the corrupt CEO who took over after Thomas Wayne’s death and had Bruce Wayne declared dead when he went missing for seven years. Earle was the primary force in getting military contracts. As far as we know, that is.

      We shall see! I have tickets for the Thursday midnight show and also for Saturday, two days later.

  4. D. says:

    What part of “the legend ends” makes sense for batman to continue surveying Gotham?

    • Jimmy Weston says:

      Maybe I should qualify my statement: the batman figure may not necessarily be Bruce Wayne, but a Robin or a Night Wing-type character; in other words, the message is hope for the future, Gotham’s future and the franchise’s future.

  5. Jimmy Weston says:

    Great Work! My money is on Bruce Wayne living in the end with the closing shot of Batman surveying Gotham as the lone hero. Watch the trailer #3, around the 1.36 mark.

  6. C K Bedwell says:

    Really, really dug this interpretation. I now hope you are entirely wrong so I get to enjoy the movie all over again when it comes out.
    There are a few elements that are just too close to the The Dark Knight for them to happen, like the plans for the Tumbler being discovered by Miranda. As you said yourself, Nolan will want to keep this as fresh as possible. With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how the hero/villain screen-time is handled this time round. Joker opened The Dark Knight and had such a powerful presence throughout the entire film -- Bane is such an interesting character, it would be a waste for him not to be involved throughout the whole movie but I wonder whether he’ll get to open, too.
    I think Bane’s parallels with Batman are going to be more transparent early on. You have too much going on with Bane’s development at the end of the film and it will need to trickle out before being delivered with a sledgehammer.
    Otherwise, I think this a great job and I’m a bit worried it’s too close and there will be little surprises left to learn!

  7. [...] reading Dan’s theory, I believe we’ll see the following beats in the [...]

  8. [...] reading Dan’s theory, I believe we’ll see the following beats in the [...]

  9. Josh R says:

    I think this is right on the money for the most part, but there is one spot where I disagree. Your backstory for Talia is, I think, more along the lines of what Bane’s story will be. Ducard found him abandoned as a child (injured, maybe that’s where the mask thing comes from) and raised him in the League. Maybe Ducard kicked him out when his ideas became too radical. Just speculation, of course.

    • Dan says:

      That’s quite possible, but then how does Talia fit in or do you think they won’t include Talia? Miranda Tate has her own thing going, probably more on the business side of Wayne Ent?

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