Just like Inception before it, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises spurred significant discussion regarding the final scenes in the closing chapter of the latest bat-verse. Luckily, a recent interview with co-writer Jonathan Nolan cleared the air a little bit. Okay, a very little bit.
SPOILERS: This is your only warning.
Many questions came up after the closing scenes of The Dark Knight Rises. Though some were attributed to poor continuity on the part of Nolan and co., some fan-boys (myself included) wanted genuine answers to come of our questions. Is Bruce Wayne really dead? Did Alfred just imagine him at that café? Is John Blake meant to become the next Batman? Is he supposed to be Robin? Nightwing? Batman Beyond? What?
It seems unlikely to many fans that Batman could just up and save the day by sparing Gotham City from a nuclear blast only to ditch The Bat last minute, use the “clean slate” tech to wipe his identity from the system (along with Selina Kyle’s criminal record), and live happily ever after with the woman who spent the entire movie trying to steal his stuff and get him killed under the radar in Europe. In fact, it seems more likely that Alfred, broken emotionally by the events of the film, simply imagined Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle at the café, following along with the not-so-subtle foreshadowing earlier on. It was pure wish-fulfillment, right?
And then there’s John “Robin” Blake, played effectively by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose only real purpose in the film seemed to be giving an broke Bruce Wayne a ride that one time and inheriting the Bat cave in the end. His real legal name, revealed in the final moments of the film as “Robin,” had fan-boys a-buzzing, predicting that the franchise would turn into one based on Batman’s comic book side-kick of the same name. Yeah, that doesn’t sound completely lame at all.
There have been some good theories on both of these points, but what do Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have to say for themselves?
Jonathan, who co-wrote the screenplay for The Dark Knight Rises, basically said that he thinks it’s adorable how we all have our own theories about the ending, and fell backwards upon the time-honored “it’s open to viewer interpretation.” He did, however, clarify that John Blake’s legal name of “Robin” was only intended as a wink to Batman fans, and that we shouldn’t read into it any more than that.
“It’s a wink at the audience,” says Nolan. “I think, what we endeavored to do, was not the complete story of Batman, but our complete story of this character. … The wink towards Robin was an acknowledgment that he liked the character, and I liked the character. It’s a huge part of that universe for 70 years.”
So the implication at the end of the film after John Robin Blake inherits the Bat cave and quits his day job is simply that he’ll use those tools to make a difference in Gotham City the same way Bruce Wayne did as Batman. He’d probably adopt his own persona or simply use the tools in a different way, but he won’t be the comic book version of Robin, Nightwing, or likely even Batman.
What do you think, Bat- fans? Is that a satisfying answer to your burning questions? What’s your take on the ending to The Dark Knight Rises?