The Dark Knight Rises Undid Batman’s Greatest Sacrifice

The Dark Knight Rises saw Bruce Wayne becoming Batman again after eight years of not doing so, and through that, it undid his greatest sacrifice.

The Dark Knight Rises saw Bruce Wayne’s return as Batman, but that undid his greatest sacrifice, which happened at the end of The Dark Knight. After going through a rough patch in the 1990s with Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, the Caped Crusader got another chance on the big screen with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, which gave a darker and more realistic tone to Batman and Gotham City, resulting in some of the best adaptations of the character so far.

First came Batman Begins in 2005, introducing the audience to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne, who came across Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). The sequel, The Dark Knight, arrived in 2008 and brought a new version of Batman’s most famous and popular enemy: the Joker, played by Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight is considered one of the best superhero movies ever made, and it was followed by The Dark Knight Rises, the closing chapter in Nolan’s trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises introduced Bane (Tom Hardy), Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), and Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard), but it failed to repeat the success of its predecessor, and it also ended up undoing Batman’s biggest sacrifice.

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At the end of The Dark Knight, and after getting rid of the Joker, Batman and James Gordon (Gary Oldman) arrived at the building where Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) was killed earlier on and encountered Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who by then had already become Two-Face. With Gordon’s family as hostages, Two-Face shot Batman and threatened to kill Gordon’s son, but before he could flip the coin to decide his fate, Batman tackled him off the building to his death. After that, Batman convinced Gordon to hold him responsible for Two-Face’s murders in order to preserve Dent’s heroic public image, as the citizens of Gotham didn’t know he was Two-Face. Dent continued to be hailed as a hero and Batman became the bad guy, prompting Bruce to leave his role of vigilante behind.

The Dark Knight Rises Bruce Batman

However, The Dark Knight Rises, which takes place eight years after The Dark Knight, saw Bruce Wayne putting on the Batman suit again to fight crime, specifically Bane and his henchmen. While this was obviously going to happen as there couldn’t be a Batman movie without Bruce Wayne taking on the role, this ended up undoing his greatest sacrifice as seen in The Dark Knight, in which he traded his morality and role as Gotham’s vigilante for the greater good of the city and its residents. This resulted in the Dent Act, which eradicated organized crime in Gotham while Harvey Dent kept his good image and Batman was labeled as the real villain. Bruce realized that sacrifice is sometimes more important than the truth, but this was all gone to waste in The Dark Knight Rises as soon as he returned.

Although The Dark Knight Rises got mostly positive reviews, fans have criticized it for years as some elements don’t make sense (such as how Bruce returned to Gotham so quickly and how Batman survived the explosion), but the undoing of his sacrifice from The Dark Knight is often overlooked. His decision to be labeled as the responsible one of all those deaths in order to keep Dent’s image and thus keep Gotham safe (and sane) is one of the most important moments in the arc of this version of Bruce Wayne/Batman, but it was completely invalidated once the final Dark Knight movie came out.

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