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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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,