I've been very hard on terrible movie Skyfall here on the website, and as a consequence, a question has been asked of me: how is it that I'm so critical of terrible movie Skyfall, while I'm happy ignoring the many plot holes and stupid contrivances of wonderful movie The Dark Knight Rises? A fair question, one which I'll answer in the form of a picto-illustratory article.
The short version - The Dark Knight Rises doesn't actually have many plot holes or stupid character decisions. What people have incorrectly regarded as such are largely examples of them not paying close enough attention to the film, or misinterpreting things (willfully or not) out of a biased intent to claim that the film isn't actually any good. I'm not going to attempt to engage their motivations for doing this, but rather just explain where their reasoning is flawed.
So, let's start at the beginning, shall we?
WHY DIDN'T THE CIA CHECK WHO THEY HAD?
|He's right there! Next to Josh Stewart!|
A popular complaint has to do with the film's opening sequence, wherein people wonder why the CIA would take a group of masked and bound men into their plane without checking their identity. It's debatable whether this is really far-fetched - after all, they have no reason to doubt Josh Stewart's word that the captives are Bane's men, since he's the mercenary they paid to bring them doctor Pavel. More importantly, though, Bane's plan doesn't require the masks to stay on until they get on the plane.
If Littlefinger had taken the hoods off of the captives they would have discovered that they had Bane in custody, and he would have been brought onto the plane. Same result. Is it a lucky break for Bane that they didn't check who he was first? Yes, but the only downside to being uncovered would have been Josh Stewart and Bane's other two goons possibly getting shot. Not the best outcome, but still a strategic win for Bane.
Compare this to the Joker's plan from the opening of Dark Knight - a plan whose every step was ludicrous, and couldn't have worked in a million years - and right off the bat, Bane is proving the superior villain.
HOW DID BANE'S PLANE SNEAK UP ON THE CIA PLANE?
In the world of The Dark Knight, technology obviously exists to mask planes from Radar. There is no reason to believe that Bane would not have access to said technology.
WHY WOULD THEY HIRE CATWOMAN TO CATER A FANCY POLITICAL PARTY?
This always seems like a strange complaint to me. Again, fake IDs exist in the world of Batman. Are they fake IDs that Batman-level investigative skills couldn't see through? Probably not - but never forget, at this point in the story, Batman doesn't care about anything in his life, especially not who's bringing him his dinner.
IT WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE TO DESTROY ALL OF BRUCE WAYNE'S MONEY!
That's absolutely right. It wouldn't be possible - which is why Bane and company never had 'bankrupting Bruce Wayne' as one of their goals. It's explicitly stated in the film that it won't be too difficult to prove that all of 'Bruce Wayne's' trades were fraudulent, and get him all of his money back - but it will take months to accomplish. The goal was never to deprive Bruce Wayne of money, but rather to briefly cost him his seat on the Wayne Industries board, so that he would be forced to turn to Talia and reveal where the fusion reactor was. The plan worked exactly as they'd hoped it would.
COULDN'T BANE HAVE GOTTEN A NUCLEAR BOMB WAY MORE EASILY?
No, Bane didn't have to run through all these hoops to use the fusion reactor as a bomb, but it was chosen as a symbol to further punish Bruce Wayne for his betrayal of the League of Shadows. He wouldn't help them destroy Gotham, so they're going to destroy Gotham using the device he created to save it. It's an ironic and completely shattering punishment that Bane is going for, just like when Liam Neeson was going to use Thomas Wayne's supertrain to deliver the bomb that destroyed Gotham.
WHY DIDN'T BATMAN JUST USE SOME BAT-GADGETS ON BANE INSTEAD OF FIGHTING HIM?
First off, there's no reason to think that Batman brought knock-out-a-rangs with him in his assault on Bane's lair - he certainly doesn't use them on any of Bane's goons. More importantly, why would anyone believe that Batman's weapons would be effective on Bane? Batarangs can be knocked aside or dodged if you see them coming, and Batman's stealth tricks never worked on Bane. As we see when the lights go out, Bane's a better ninja than Batman ever was, never losing awareness of Batman for even a moment.
Batman was full of hubris and unafraid of dying when he went to fight Bane - losing never occurred to him as a possibility, which is what led to his downfall.
HOW DID BANE KNOW WHERE BATMAN'S ARMORY WAS?
How is this even a question? It was in the basement of the Wayne Industries building. If you know that Bruce Wayne is Batman that would be the absolute first place you would look.
NO, I'M PRETTY SURE THAT LUCIUS FOX SAID IT WAS 'OFF THE BOOKS', SO TALIA AND BANE COULDN'T HAVE KNOWN WHERE IT WAS.
Yes, Lucius did say that, but it was only 'off the books' in the sense that there were no records of it left, so that lawyers won't accidentally stumble on batmobile paperwork and try to blackmail Bruce Wayne like they did that other time. The tanks weren't hidden in a pocket dimension, they were in the basement of Bruce Wayne's corporate headquarters. Not actually that hard a place to find when you've got months to dig and prepare.
WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH SENDING ALL THE COPS INTO THE SEWERS? THAT WAS PRETTY STUPID!
Was it, though? He's the situation - you're pretty sure a paramilitary army is holed up in the huge and labyrinthine Gotham undercity. They've previously held the nation's stock exchange hostage, and now they've grabbed three of the richest and most powerful people in Gotham and dragged them into the sewers. You don't know how many of them there are or where they're based. Can you come up with a better plan than 'flood the subways and sewers with cops to scour every square inch of the place'?
If so, I'd love to hear it.
Let's not forget - they didn't send all the cops, either: it's just the smaller number who were left were no match for an army of ninjas and well-armed convicts.
HOW DID BRUCE WAYNE HEAL A BROKEN BACK IN JUST FIVE MONTHS?
Are you sure his back was broken? You might be thinking of the comic, where Batman was crippled in his fight with Bane. In The Dark Knight Rises Batman winds up with a misaligned vertebra, but he's never depicted as not able to move his legs, it's just extremely painful to do so. Once his spine is popped back into alignment he starts the healing process, and two weeks later he's ready to stand and start the Batman-style training regimen to get into Bane-fighting shape.
BATMAN DIDN'T HAVE ANYTHING BUT CLOTHES AND FOOD, HOW DID HE GET FROM AFGHANISTAN TO GOTHAM AT THE END OF THE MOVIE?
Really? You do realize this is a movie about Batman, don't you? When he escapes the pit he's got something like 20 days left before the bomb goes off. Bruce Wayne is a guy who already survived for years in the worst places on Earth before he had unlimited resources and ninja training. Does it honestly seem at all possible that he wouldn't have imagined the need to flee Gotham and take on another identity at some point?
Bruce Wayne doesn't have to hitchhike back to America - all he has to do is find a phone and dial a Swiss phone number. "Hello, Switzerland? This is Steve Malone, and here is bank account access code and security information. Please send me a lot of money." Then it's just a matter of chartering a plane to take him back to America, where he can get to Stately Wayne Manor with little difficulty and more than enough time to prepare for his attack on Bane.
HOW COME BANE DIDN'T FIND BATMAN'S BATWING? IT WAS JUST SITTING ON A ROOF WITH A TARP ON IT!
Seriously? Is that even a real question? Why didn't Bane find the airship that he had no way of knowing was in Gotham and had no reason to go looking for? I'm guessing for the two reasons I laid out in that last rhetorical question.
ON SUCH A TIGHT TIMELINE, WHY WOULD BATMAN SPEND HOURS MAKING A FLAMING BAT SIGNAL ON THE BRIDGE?
First off, it wasn't hours. That probably took him like fifteen minutes. More importantly, do you actually not know why he did that? With a simple investment of fifteen minutes and some gelled gasoline, Batman let the whole city know he was back, which served the threefold purpose of-
A) Letting the cops know to get ready, it was going to be time to move.
B) Telling the people of Gotham to stay out of the streets, a fight is coming.
3) Psychological warfare on Bane.
That's an incredibly efficient use of 15 minutes.
WHY DID ALL THE COPS JUST RUN AT BANE'S HEADQUARTERS? THAT'S A PRETTY STUPID ATTACK PLAN, ISN'T IT?
I'm just going to sigh for a second. Here are the relative positions - there are thousands of cops with body armour and clubs, but almost no guns versus a few hundred Bane Goons with assault rifles. Literally their only strategic option was to get so close so fast that they overwhelmed Bane's advantage by forcing hand-to-hand combat.
WAIT, WHY ARE YOU SAYING THE COPS DIDN'T HAVE GUNS? THEY HAD GUNS GOING INTO THE SEWER, DIDN'T THEY?
And the over the next half-a-year Bane disarmed them in exchange for food and fresh water. Does the film need to literally spell out every single tiny little detail to be comprehensible?
UM, WHEN EXACTLY DID BATMAN CHANGE HIS WILL TO PUT ROBIN IN IT? DIDN'T THEY ONLY MEET LIKE A DAY BEFORE BATMAN GOT SHIPPED OFF TO AFGHANISTAN?
You know Batman didn't die at the end of the movie, right? You were paying attention to that part? After Bane's death it would have taken months to return normalcy to Gotham. At some point during that time - probably within the first week post-Bane - Batman broke into his lawyer's office and put in a fake will. This would not be difficult for Batman to accomplish.
OKAY, MAYBE, BUT WASN'T IT STUPID OF BRUCE WAYNE TO APPEAR IN PUBLIC IN EUROPE? PEOPLE ARE GOING TO RECOGNIZE HIM IMMEDIATELY!
Will they? Do you know what Warren Buffet looks like? The Koch Brothers? Eric Prince? If Prince Rainier of Monaco walked into your Starbucks and ordered some tea would you have the slightest idea who he was? Beyond being a zombie, I mean. The general public only knows about billionaires if they're also fame-obsessed like Richard Branson and the various Apple and Microsoft guys. In the world of The Dark Knight, however, Bruce Wayne was never presented as anything other than a local celebrity - instantly recognizable in the Gotham social scene, but not internationally famous. At this point in the film he's been in seclusion for nearly a decade, so even if anyone ever cared about what he looked like, they've long since forgotten about him.
More importantly, what's the worst case scenario if someone recognizes him? No one in the world of The Dark Knight has any proof that Bruce Wayne is dead - he's just one of the many people who disappeared during Bane's rule of the city. If he turned up in a British tabloid one day alive and well all he'd have to say was 'After most of my money was stolen I decided to go on a European vacation - which turned out to be great timing, since Bane took over Gotham one day later. Also, my life wasn't great at the time, so when people seemed to think I was dead, I never bothered correcting them'. There's zero risk in gallivanting around Europe with Catwoman.
WHOA THERE ONE MINUTE - PEOPLE SAW HIM IN GOTHAM! HE WAS GOING TO BE JUDGED BY THE SCARECROW BEFORE HE ESCAPED!
That's true - two Bane goons 'captured' Bruce Wayne, and probably told another few goons about it. Then the next day all of them were killed in the fighting - and even if a couple of them survived, who would believe their claims? Why would anyone be wasting time trying to prove Bruce Wayne had survived the Banepocalype, rather than avoiding it, like he claimed? Could anything be gained by doing so?
OKAY, MAYBE THE MOVIE DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE ANY BIG PLOT PROBLEMS, BUT I STILL COULDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT BANE WAS SAYING.
Oh, shut up.