I figure that enough time has passed since the opening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and enough people have seen the film that we can discuss the ending of the movie and what it means for the future of the Batman franchise. What follows will openly reveal major plot spoilers about ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. If you haven’t yet seen the grand finale to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, go do that now and come back before reading.
We know that the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies are over, but we also know that Warner Bros. plans to tell a new Batman story in the future. Just as he he’s doing for Zack Snyder’s new Superman flick, ‘The Man of Steel’, Nolan will “oversee” all of Warner’s DC comic book movies, but not necessarily direct. Until recently, it was assumed that the Batman series would go through yet another reboot. But after the final shot of ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘, I don’t think that was ever the studio’s intention.
Think back to the last image shown in the movie. Detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) follows a GPS code that was mysteriously provided to him. Where does it lead him? Through the waterfall, right into the heart of Bruce Wayne’s secret Batcave. Blake, who we just learned was given the name Robin at birth, stands on a rising platform that we earlier saw as the location where Wayne stores his Batman suit. Cue the credits.
Upon exiting the theater, a group of my friends were convinced that this final shot was the set-up for a Robin series. I have a feeling that’s what everyone thinks initially, because it’s the natural response. Personally, I don’t think that Nolan or Warner will take the franchise in that direction right now. Mind you, the opinion that I’m about to give is in no way backed up by any sort of insider information. This is simply where I believe (and hope) the story will go.
Why in the world would this cliffhanger ending be in the film if there wasn’t a plan to follow through with it? This is a set-up, and I highly doubt that it would be included in the film without a plan for pay-off. We know that Warner is going to make another Batman movie in a few years, but I don’t believe the studio could pump out a solo Robin adventure before then. If DC wants to set up a Justice League crossover movie on the heels of the success of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’, there’s no way it can establish the sidekick before the hero.
I believe that Gordon-Levitt will put on the Batman suit. After all, in many Batman comic book storylines, the Robin character has donned the iconic suit. If my prediction is true, and Gordon-Levitt becomes the next Batman, then the next franchise is already set up and ready to go. After Bruce Wayne’s back is broken in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, a large section of the film shifts the focus to Blake. I believe that is the introduction to the character that we need in order to see the entire franchise move to him for the next movie. The reboot that we thought we’d get all along won’t be a reboot in the traditional sense.
Remember, ever since Rachel told Bruce in the second-to-last scene of ‘Batman Begins‘ that she wouldn’t start a relationship with him until the Batman was gone, Bruce has been looking for a way out, an exit strategy. Bruce Wayne wanted to place Gotham in the hands of a worthy caretaker. In ‘The Dark Knight‘, that successor was supposed to be Harvey Dent. Dent’s death provided a temporary season without need for the Batman, but ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ shows how fleeting that relief was. In the process of saving Gotham one last time, Wayne met Blake, a kid who grew up under the exact same circumstances he did, who possesses the same sentiments and desires for justice. Finally, Bruce has found his replacement in a younger version of himself. It’s eight years too late to realize his dream life with Rachel, but a dream come true nonetheless. Wayne doesn’t have to be the Batman anymore. Aging and worn down, Wayne takes off the bat-suit for the last time.
If my theory comes true, we should get a new Batman movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the Caped Crusader in two or three years. Assuming that ‘Man of Steel’ is a success, it will only be another year or two after that before Warner gives us the ‘The Justice League’. With Christopher Nolan at the helm, I can easily see this prediction becoming a quick reality.
Now that you know my take on the final shot of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and my predictions for what’s to come, what do you think? Will Blake be the new Batman? Do you agree? Disagree? Where do you think the franchise is going?