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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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