Like many filmgoers, I was a big, big fan of Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman film franchise, giving us wonderful dramas like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. However, the third installment, The Dark Knight Rises, still leaves me with fuzzy memories and a bad taste in my mouth. Compared to the first two films, Rises had little to no impact for me.
Think about that. A live-action movie starring Bane, Catwoman, and the goddamn Batman failed to have an impact for me. What went wrong?
I think the problem was that Nolan and Co. didn’t pick up enough inspiration from the Jeph Loeb trilogy of graphic novels like they did with the first two Batman films. They put more energy into big-budget explosions than they did into a compelling and emotional story, which they did perfectly well the first two times and still had box office success.
So I’d like to try my hand at my own rewrite of The Dark Knight Rises, taking inspiration from such comic books as the Knightfall arc and Batman: Dark Victory.
Act I: Shadows
We begin over a year after the events of The Dark Knight. The last of the classic mob families are gathered in secret under one roof for an emergency meeting. However, masked supervillains assault the meeting, including the Scarecrow and Victor Zsasz. Their leader emerges once the last bodies hit the floor: a masked man known only as Bane, who declares his complete control over Gotham City.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s social life has deteriorated since the deaths of Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent. He’s become distant from his current girlfriend—the socialite Andrea Beaumont—and he shows up less at work, devoting more time and energy as Batman to fighting criminals like Bane and other costumed villains taken over after the collapse of the old gangs.
Elsewhere, Jim Gordon and the police investigate a series of murders, in which it appears that Batman brutally killed several gangsters and corrupt cops. However, Gordon knows better and puts a young officer named John Blake on point in locating the Dark Knight—not to arrest him, but to ask for help in stopping this new killer.
When Bane learns about these murders, he decides to end the Dark Knight once and for all. He breaks out prisoners from Blackgate and Arkham Asylum, flooding the streets with maniacs. Batman spends weeks prowling the Narrows, even taking on a deputy: a charming thief named Selina Kyle, also known as “The Cat.” Because she figured out Batman’s true identity (as a mission for Bane), Bruce drops the act with Selina and straight up hires her to be his ally, using his wealth to secure her loyalty and steal her away from Bane’s side.
Act II: Broken
While rounding up criminals left and right, Batman finds himself running into Officer John Blake, who becomes his lone ally on the police force. Blake begins to pick up some tips from the Dark Knight, including stealth and brute force moves. He’s also one of the first to see how the crime wave is taking its toll on Batman. As Bruce Wayne, he feels regret for alienating his fellow board members at Wayne Enterprises and losing touch with Andrea Beaumont. Even Lucius Fox asks Bruce to reconsider his mission, telling him point-blank: “Your life shouldn’t be spent standing over someone else’s grave.” Alfred hears this and sees that Bruce is, in fact, still motivated to avenge the single crime that took his parents from him.
With Selina’s help, Batman tracks down Bane’s headquarters and infiltrates it with ease. However, Bane’s waiting for him. Having figured out his true identity, Bane proceeds to beat Batman in a fistfight, overwhelming him with raw strength. We learn that Bane was the last true leader of the League of Shadows and that he wants revenge for the death of Ra’s al-Ghûl. After breaking Batman’s back, Bane stands triumphant, only for Selina Kyle to intervene and steal Bruce away.
Meanwhile, a new figure emerges. Gordon confronts the mysterious killer in the act, giving us our first glimpse of the Phantasm, a cowled assassin with a metal mask that resembles the Dark Knight’s own. The Phantasm nearly kills Gordon, but Blake saves his life using Batman’s tactics. Once news of this gets out, Bane redirects all his efforts into finding and killing the Phantasm to secure his control of the city.
Act III: Dawn
Now crippled, Bruce retreats to the Batcave and sends out a call to John Blake. He tells the young man that he needs a successor, someone with the will and stamina to be a living symbol of justice. Over the course of three weeks, Blake trains hard under Bruce and Selina’s direction, mirroring the progress Bruce made while training with Ra’s al-Ghûl.
Meanwhile, Gordon can barely contain the violence spreading through Gotham City as Bane’s men hunt down the Phantasm. It culminates in Bane launching a direct attack on City Hall and killing the mayor. He sends an open challenge to either Batman or the Phantasm.
Blake, now taking over as the Batman, appears at City Hall and takes down several of Bane’s man. He challenges Bane himself, surprising him with his youthful stamina and ferocity. Of course, after his defeat, Bane reveals a deadman’s switch on his body linked to a series of bombs underneath the city. Blake leaves to disarm half the bombs, while the city’s SWAT Teams disarming the rest—all but two. While being led into police custody, a weakened Bane dies at the Phantasm’s hand, activating the penultimate bomb and destroying a nearby football stadium.
Bruce finds the last bomb underneath Wayne Tower. With Lucius’s help, Bruce is able to regain some mobility through an experimental series of nerve-linked medical braces. He leaves to disarm it, donning a Batsuit one last time for protection, but encounters the Phantasm, who leaves the bomb in place. After a brief fight, we learn the Phantasm’s true identity: Andrea Beaumont, who wanted revenge on the mob and the corrupt police for the cruel murder of her father. Bruce reveals his own identity to her, pleading for mercy. He echoes a line from Lucius: “Your life shouldn’t be spent standing over someone else’s grave.”
Andrea refuses to apologize for the lives she’s taken, but allows Bruce to disarm the bomb. Then she disappears into the shadows, never to be seen again.
Months later, Bruce has retired as the Dark Knight, leaving it in the hands of John Blake, who resigned from the police force with Gordon’s blessing. Bruce has finally taken full control at Wayne Enterprises and pursued a meaningful romance with Selina, finally committed to being Bruce Wayne and the secret sponsor of the legendary Batman.
If my readers have any thoughts or suggestions of their own about how the Dark Knight Trilogy should’ve ended, by all means leave a comment.