Five questions “The Dark Knight Rises” didn’t answer about Batman’s future


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This weekend’s premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” has already answered a lot of questions regarding the box-office reception to Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman movie, with screenings selling out across the country over the last few days.

While the tragic events of Thursday evening’s shooting at the screening in Colorado loom large over the film’s debut, it’s evident that “The Dark Knight Rises” has transcended standard movie fare and become a bona fide cultural event, bringing the record-breaking trilogy to a close in dramatic fashion. But that doesn’t mean we get all our questions answered in the concluding chapter of Nolan’s franchise.

Here are five big questions about Batman’s future that “The Dark Knight Rises” left us asking — but be warned: there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead!

1. What happens to Wayne Enterprises and the city of Gotham?

By the time the credits roll in “The Dark Knight Rises,” most of Wayne Enterprises’ board of directors are dead, various pieces of “secret” tech developed by the company for Batman have been abandoned throughout the streets, and Bruce Wayne is both bankrupt and no longer running the company. This seems like a lot of problems to overcome before the company can ever — if at all — get back into business. Even so, we see Lucius Fox examining one of the remaining Batwing planes late in the film, with the help of some technicians who don’t seem to be very secretive about what they’re doing. So… what happened?

On top of everything that happened to Wayne Enterprises, the bridges into Gotham have been destroyed, the chief financial center is a smoldering ruin, and most of the city’s businessmen and executives are either riddled with bullets, beaten senseless, or frozen underneath the river. Oh, and the city’s worst criminals are roaming the streets, hoping to avoid the small number of policemen still breathing after a winter spent underground and a valiant charge into a spray of bullets in downtown Gotham. I’m pretty sure this is a situation calling for federal disaster-response aid, but is that even enough?

2. So is John Blake the new Batman… or the new Robin?

Christopher Nolan made sure everyone caught the “Robin” reference at the end of “The Dark Knight Rises” (so much so that it was one of the more unintentionally funny moments of the film), but given everything else that occurred during the film, the future hinted at for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character remains a little uncertain. Sure, his real name is Robin and he now has access to the Bruce Wayne’s secret hideout, but Bale’s character spent most of the film indicating that John Blake could be the heir to Batman’s cape and cowl. Bruce Wayne’s recurring tutelage of John Blake in the ways of being Batman, plus his comment about how the face under the mask doesn’t matter, plus the final scene in which John Blake “rises” in the cave would all seem to point toward him becoming Gotham’s new Dark Knight. So where does that leave Robin?

3. Who doesn’t know Batman’s identity at this point?

I might be missing a few people here, but at last count the list of people who know that Bruce Wayne is Batman includes: Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, Selina “Catwoman” Kyle, Bane, all of Bane’s henchmen who watched his fight with Batman, all of the inmates in the prison where Bruce Wayne recovered from his injuries, the technicians who worked on the Batwing (not certain, but since they noticed that Bruce Wayne was the last person to work on the vehicle, it’s likely), Talia al Ghul (who’s probably dead), whatever members of the League of Assassins are still around (since Talia, Bane, and Ra’s al Ghul all targeted Bruce at one point or another), the various thugs who apprehended Bruce Wayne during Bane’s reign in Gotham and were later pummeled by him just before Batman returned, and anyone else who connects the dots between Wayne Enterprises’ collection of secret tech and the timing of Bruce Wayne’s disappearance/return and that of Batman.

Not much of a secret identity at this point, is it?

4. Will the next Batman movie be a reboot or a sequel?

Warner Brothers execs seem to be keeping their cards close to their collective vests on this question, with news hitting the wire a while back that the studio planned to reboot the franchise after Nolan concluded his trilogy, but the end of “The Dark Knight Rises” clearly leaves the door open for another sequel. Whether the next film will relaunch the franchise, continue on with a new Batman, return with the old Batman and a new Robin, or simply create an ongoing franchise set apart from its plans for Superman and the rest of the Justice League remains to be heard — and with all the flak “The Amazing Spider-Man” received for rebooting that franchise, one can’t help wondering if the studio would risk a similar response.

5. Does the rest of the DC universe exist yet?

At this point, it’s a little surprising that Nolan didn’t include even the slightest mention of some of DC’s other superheroes in his trilogy, given that the first trailers for “Man of Steel” debuted in front of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Sure, “Green Lantern” didn’t exactly solidify that character’s place on a potential “Justice League” movie’s roster, but with Superman’s impending return to the big screen, as well as upcoming movies based on The Flash and other DC heroes, it feels like the time is right to start bringing these universes together. Marvel has already proven it can work, so with Nolan’s trilogy coming to a close and the potential for a fresh start with a new franchise — or simply a new Batman — I can’t help wondering when the Warner Brothers movie-verse is going to get a little bigger.

Where do you think Batman is headed after “The Dark Knight Rises”? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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