Holy twiddling thumbs, Batman! It’s been a hell of a long wait, but the closing chapter of Christopher Nolan’s superlative Batman trilogy is finally upon us, and from this Friday it seems a fair bet that we’re in for a prolonged period of Caped Crusader-shaped cinematic dominance. Good.
With such a dense back story spread across the previous two films we thought it’d be a good idea to have a bit of a recap so that we’re all up to speed when we’re queuing in the rain outside the cinema at 5am on Friday morning (you’re doing that too, right?) To this end, here’s a handy A-Z guide to the major players and events that have led us up to this point.
Alfred is the sturdy rock of morality and guidance on which Bruce relies, and the two previous films have given no indication that his faith in the boy he effectively raised has been noticeably weakened. He does bear the weight of knowing that Rachel had no intention of leaving Harvey for Bruce (at the end of The Dark Knight Alfred opted to withhold the note that Rachel left, telling him this), and now Alfred must support Bruce in his new role as the apparent villain of Gotham. Alfred remains a constant and reliable ally.
The naturally occurring – and more than a little convenient – chasm below Bruce’s pad, which served as both a clandestine base of operations and a handily-concealed garage, was buried beneath the rubble of Bruce’s home during the events of Batman Begins. Absent during The Dark Knight, the improvements that Bruce and Alfred suggested at the end of the first film should see a welcome return of the battiest of caves – one that, inexplicably, contains no bat shit whatsoever.
This was the mob boss who explained the power of instilling fear in your enemies to Bruce, which prompted the young man to hit the road and later return as The Batman. When we left him in Batman Begins, Falcone had received a couple of sinuses full of hallucinogenic mental-powder, and was cordially committed to the funny farm. He remained there throughout The Dark Knight – mental state: unknown.
Bruce will still be smarting from his childhood beau pegging it in The Dark Knight thanks to a cheeky sleight-of-barrel by The Joker. Grief manifests itself in many ways; in Bruce’s case it appears to have left him unsure of whether the potential Mrs Wayne actually looked more like Katie Holmes or Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Still keeping enough moolah rolling in to facilitate production of Bruce Wayne’s extensive toy collection, and also enough to allow these activities to slip beneath the radars of most of the company’s inept finance department (except for one, below). Probably because the family business is still run by his friend and ally…
Fox was ready to walk from the company at the end of The Dark Knight (because of moral reservations about the use of sonar surveillance equipment) but his faith in Bruce was restored with the destruction of the technologically unlikely snooping device. Fox is still the company’s CEO, and remains one third of the triumvirate of semi-father figures Bruce has, along with Alfred and…
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One of Gotham’s honest cops, now promoted to Commissioner, who is forced, for the greater good, to publicly denounce Batman to preserve Gotham’s faith in its law enforcement. Bruce – and so, now, must Gordon – thought it was better for Gotham to believe that Batman was the villain, and not DEA poster-boy…
Engaged to Rachel in The Dark Knight, Harvey spearheaded the war on the mafia that drove them to align themselves with The Joker. Only, in his words, Harvey lived long enough to see himself become the villain: Rachel was taken from him, he was brutally disfigured and manipulated by The Joker, and he become Two-Face. Yet, as far as Gotham knows, he died a hero, and this is the sacrifice Batman made to preserve the city’s faith in good.
Of those that know of Bruce’s nocturnal activities, Rachel is toast while Alfred, Lucius and Gordon preserve the mystery, knowing how much Bruce has had to sacrifice and his noble reasons for doing so. There is, however, another person who knows his secret…(see Coleman Reese).
Last seen dangling by an ankle from the side of a skyscraper, The Joker was, ostensibly, beaten. And yet, his actions had brought the city to its knees, warped the mind of Harvey Dent and forced Batman into the status of pariah. So, by all accounts (including his own), he won. Now, presumably, incarcerated.
The springboard for Bruce’s transformation from billionaire heir to rubber-clad hero. It was the murder of his parents, right in front of him when he was a boy, which gave Bruce his hatred of criminality and his desire to fight it.
League of Shadows
The ancient order that trained Bruce in Batman Begins which, throughout history, has exacted brutal vengeance on those societies whose levels of criminality have, by their reckoning, put them beyond saving. The drug-induced riots at the end of Batman Begins were their attempt to do the same to Gotham, and Bruce’s thwarting of their masterplan left the city open to the criminal rampage of The Joker in The Dark Knight.
Mr Reese, Coleman
The jobsworth lawyer who discovered plans for The Batmobile within Wayne Enterprises’ books. Reese then sought to bribe the company, only declining to do so when (a) Fox suggested he might get a batty whooping for his troubles, and (b) when The Joker made it clear he wanted Reese dead, and soon. What’s interesting with Reese is, not only does he know the truth about Wayne, but Mr Reese sounds a little bit like an alias of a certain question mark-enamoured individual…
Arkham Asylum is home to all those fine folk who take up whooping, a spot of murder and the hurling of faeces, and it was also the workplace of Cillian Murphy’s Dr Jonathan Crane. In the first film, the prisoners escaped (after Arkham was used by The League of Shadows as the place the mind-twatting toxin was introduced to Gotham’s water supply) and in The Dark Knight its psychotic residents were still being rounded up.
Falcone ran the show in Batman Begins, but following his unfortunate descent into madness Eric Roberts’ Boss Maroni took over the organisation. At the end of The Dark Knight Maroni’s fate was left unclear, after Two-Face caused him to be involved in a fairly serious-looking car crash that looked like it didn’t exactly tickle. There was also crime boss Gambol who, after making the error of putting a price on The Joker’s head, ended up getting deadded right in the face. The other mob bosses are still operational, if a little lighter on cash (The Joker and the police relieved them of quite a lot of it), but the mob still has a distinct presence in Gotham.
Police, Fuck The
It seems like most of Gotham’s rozzers are more bent than a cokehead’s nine-bob note. Two of the biggest offenders were the falafel-inhaling Detective Flass, who in Batman Begins worked for Falcone, and was last seen going off his teets after inhaling the trip-toxin, (a pre-Dark Knight viral said he spent a bit of time in Arkham before being ejected from the Force), and Ramirez, who sold out Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes to The Joker. She was left alive, if severely chastened, at the end of the second film, and may reappear.
Bruce hopes that one day the city won’t need him, and he’d put his own life with Rachel on hiatus until this dream became reality. He’d hoped Harvey could become Gotham’s hero, only to see him fall to The Joker’s ethos of chaos, and now Batman is the hero Gotham needs him to be: he is their enemy. With no Rachel, does he even have a life to go back to?
Ra’s al Ghul
Liam Neeson played The League of Shadows’ enigmatic leader and seemingly came a cropper at the end of Batman Begins in an unfortunate accident involving a monorail, lots of speed, and then a sudden and explosive lack of speed. But, as they say, unless you see the corpse…
Dr Jonathan Crane, under the employ of The League of Shadows, enjoyed nothing more than freaking the unthrown shit out of Arkham Asylum’s inmates by donning his scarecrow mask and administering a whopping dose of halluno-bugle. He was then shot in the face with a taser and then captured by Batman at the beginning of The Dark Knight. Down, but by no means out.
The Batmobile was totalled in the excellent underpass chase sequence in The Dark Knight (before it shed its exterior panels and turned into a motorbike so cool it made grown adults do a funtime-wee), but Lucius Fox could always build another. In fact, he definitely will.
Under the Influence
The hallucinogenic toxin that formed the basis of The League of Shadows’ plans in Batman Begins was extracted from the blue flower that Bruce had to retrieve as a test during his training. It makes the fears of the taker appear real, causing panic, terror, and, eventually, madness. Gnarly shit.
Villain or Hero?
So the Gotham populace thinks Batman was responsible for the murders committed by Harvey Dent, after he’d turned from the path of righteousness in The Dark Knight. Batman, then, will be hated by the very people he protects, and will now have to contend with the effects of this epic PR fail.
Bruce ousted Lotto-lout Michael Carroll as owner of the most fucked mansion in the world, after Ra’s Al Ghul conflagrated Wayne Manor in Batman Begins. It was seemingly still under reconstruction during the second film and, as The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years afterwards, it will surely now be complete. Either this, or Bruce’s contractors are the same firm responsible for handling London’s perennially miserable Tube upgrade plan.
Has nothing whatsoever to do with the film, but he is jolly smashing and he might end up going to see it. Errr…Next!
The Dark Knight saw Bruce use a playboy lifestyle as a smokescreen for his cosplay vigilantism, but the events at the end of the film left him battered, exhausted and hunted, so it seems unlikely the yachts, floosies, Lambos and champers will carry over to The Dark Knight Rises. Shame.
Yes, we’ve been seriously scraping the barrel with X, Y and Z (because they’re shit, ugly letters with no mates), but Z seemed like a good opportunity to slip in a bit of useless Batman trivia. Did you know: Victor Zsasz, the psychopath in the comics who etches five-bar gates on his skin to document all the people he’s killed, had a brief, non-speaking role in Batman Begins, played by James frontman Tim Booth? Well, now you do.