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Film / The Dark Knight Trilogy

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Henri Ducard: A vigilante is just a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification; he can be destroyed, or locked up. But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely...
Bruce Wayne: Which is?
Ducard: A legend, Mr. Wayne.

In 2005, eight years after Batman & Robin put the Batman film franchise on deep freeze, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer rebooted the franchise with the first entry of a series called The Dark Knight Trilogy.

A Darker and Grittier retelling of the classic Batman mythos, the trilogy follows billionaire Bruce Wayne, haunted from witnessing his parents murdered as a child, in his quest to making himself a formidable vigilante crimefighter to save Gotham City from becoming a Wretched Hive of rampant crime and corruption. Along the way, he meets the familiar allies and foes, and realizes the unintended consequences his presence brings upon the citizens of Gotham.

The series consists of:

All three films star Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/The Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. Other stars in the saga include Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) as Rachel Dawes, Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane, Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard, Heath Ledger as The Joker, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Tom Hardy as Bane, Marion Cotillard as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as GCPD officer John Blake.

A direct-to-DVD animesque anthology, Batman: Gotham Knight, helped to bridge the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, though Christopher Nolan had no involvement in its production. A promotional Alternate Reality Game, Why So Serious?, similarly served as a bridge between the two films and can be found here.

Batman Begins had a tie-in video game with full participation of the film's cast aside from Gary Oldman and helped inspire the Batman: Arkham Series.

While the films feature original storylines, they borrow scenes and themes from multiple Batman comic book miniseries such as Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, Jeph Loeb's The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, and Frank Miller's Batman: Year One and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, as well as maxi-series like Knightfall and No Man's Land. Further, the films borrow heavily from Batman: The Animated Series in terms of style and character. And despite all the liberties taken by the trilogy to combine these disparate elements into a unified vision — or perhaps because of themBatman fans widely consider the films some of the best adaptations of the franchise to date. Viewers outside the comic book fandom agreed, and the series has been known widely for its critical and commercial success.

See also the DC Extended Universe, which introduced new separate versions of the Dark Knight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Joker in Suicide Squad respectively; much of this trilogy's team was involved in the newer franchise's first film, and Nolan has executive producer credits on its direct sequels.

The series as a whole provides examples of:

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  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Used frequently and to great effect throughout.
  • Action Prologue: Batman Begins starts off with Bruce Wayne beating up prisoners in Asia. The Dark Knight starts with the Joker robbing a bank and picking off his accomplices one at a time. The Dark Knight Rises begins with Bane conducting a mid-air kidnapping.
  • Adaptation Distillation: All three movies combine multiple stories:
    • Begins - Batman: Year One (Bruce's origin mirrors that particular version, Commissioner Loeb, Carmine Falcone, Detective Flass, a Sequel Hook alluding to The Joker), The Long Halloween (the idea of Batman, the police, and the DA's office presenting a united front; Scarecrow's appearance; Carmine Falcone's downfall), and Contagion (Ra's al Ghul tries to spread a plague across Gotham). The Man Who Falls was also cited as an influence.
    • Dark Knight - The Killing Joke (Joker tries to make someone go crazy, Joker's multiple origins), The Long Halloween (Dent gets disfigured and goes on a rampage, supervillains begin to take over the mob's place), Dark Victory (Commissioner Loeb dies, Gordon replaces him), Batman: Year One (Gordon's family put at risk in the end), Batman and Robin Adventures #1 & 2 (Joker instigates Two-Face to go on an insane rampage) and Joker's original story from Batman #1/The Man Who Laughs (Joker arrives in Gotham and starts killing people). According to Steve Englehart, Nolan also cannibalized elements of Dark Detective and its unpublished sequel.
    • Rises - Vengeance of Bane (Bane's origin, King Snake is substituted for Ra's) Knightfall (Bane shows up and breaks Batman's back), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (an older Batman comes back to fight crime, Gotham is under a nuclear threat, Batman fakes his death), Son of the Demon (Batman gets involved with Talia al Ghul), No Man's Land (Gotham gets blocked off from the rest of the US and declared a disaster area), Legacy (Bane and Talia working together), The Cult (An underground group of criminals take over Gotham, Gordon is put in the hospital as a result of trying to confront them), again, Batman: Year One (Catwoman's origins) and Gotham Adventures #15 (Bane robs financial district, recruits orphans, claims to be helping the poor while using them for his own ends. Nuclear weapons, Gotham's football team and Bane having a serious medical condition are also mentioned, but only in Robin's speculations about what Bane might be doing with the money he stole). There might also be a subtle inclusion of Batman Beyond (A younger man prepped to take Batman's mantle after he resigns towards the end).
  • Adapted Out: The Lazarus pit does not exist in this universe. Instead, Ra’s al Ghul achieves immortality by virtue of being a Legacy Character.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Bruce Wayne has bad luck when it comes to his homes. The League of Shadows burn Wayne Manor to the ground in the first film, the Joker and his henchmen invade his penthouse in the second, and in the third Bane steals all Batman's equipment inside Wayne Enterprises R&D. Wayne Manor, though, survives the third one.
  • Animated Adaptation: Batman: Gotham Knight, a direct-to-DVD Animesque anthology that bridges the gap between the first two films.
  • The Apprentice: Batman and to a lesser extent, Bane, were both apprentices of Ra's al Ghul.
  • Appropriated Title: Batman Begins has two sequels, both under the Dark Knight name, in what has become known as The Dark Knight Saga.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Microwaves do not work that way! And neither do cell phones! Or fusion reactors!! Or sonar for that matter!
  • Author Usurpation: Whenever people think of Christopher Nolan movies, they always think of this trilogy first. Even if they think of Inception first instead, they'll always think about this trilogy second with no exceptions.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most of the cutting-edge technology Batman uses comes from military projects that were fantastic but prohibitively expensive.
    • The Batmobile is the Tumbler, a gap-leaping armored vehicle meant to lay bridges, which they could never get working right.
    • The cape that allows Batman to glide is memory cloth that takes a rigid shape when an electrical current is applied from his gloves. It was intended for tents.
    • The Batsuit (other than the cowl, which is custom made from parts ordered through shell companies in various countries to disguise its origin) is an extremely advanced set of Kevlar armor....which cost $300,000 per person.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • In Begins, Ducard can always been seen in a tailored suit when on an assignment and Scarecrow always wears a suit along with his mask until he gets a dose of his own fear gas and begins rampaging in his straitjacket; he returns to the suit (and a little regained sanity) in the sequels.
    • Joker in The Dark Knight also qualifies as an extremely warped version. He even lampshades the suit's quality as he mocks the assembled gangsters.
      "Oh, and by the way, the suit? It wasn't cheap. You oughta know, you bought it."
  • Badass Cape: Not only is it stylish, but when an electric current is run through it, the shape-memory fibers it's made from can transform the entire cape into a hang glider, or fold it up into a form fitting backpack.
    • Also, while not used in the movie, supplemental materials state that the gloves, which are used to apply the electrical current to the cape to allow it to become rigid, can also be used to administer high-voltage, non-lethal shocks.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Joker, Jim Gordon, and Bane. Bruce also sports one in Begins.
  • Bald of Authority: Commissioner Loeb, Police Commissioner of Gotham City in the first two movies.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Joker uses numerous Batman Gambits in The Dark Knight. This is perhaps the most obvious when he is in prison and goads one police officer to try and beat him up, overpowers the officer, and uses him as leverage to get his phone call. The call he makes is to the cell phone that blows up the station. If, at any point along the line, the police had acted differently than he'd anticipated, none of this would have worked. Justified due to police frequently using such phone calls to obtain more incriminating evidence from criminals, or just allowing them to contact their attorneys.
    • Bane's plan to trap the police force in the sewers after he takes over Gotham City is entirely dependent on Commissioner Gordon reacting in the manner he does.
  • Big Applesauce:
    • While Gotham City is usually considered to be more of a Chicago than a New York, Manhattan is used for many establishing shots in The Dark Knight Rises, including an aerial view with an under-construction One World Trade Center and some digitally inserted bridges on the Hudson River side.
    • Garbage trucks appear to have logos based on New York's garbage trucks.
    • The GCPD takes many visual cues from the NYPD. Police cars in the trilogy are painted blue with a white roof and pillars, based on the paint scheme used by the NYPD in 1990s (the difference being that the NYPD used baby blue, while the GCPD uses Navy blue). In the opening flashbacks to the deaths of Bruce Wayne's parents in Batman Begins, Gordon and other uniformed officers are shown wearing powder blue uniforms, much like were worn by the NYPD from the 1970s up through the mid-1990s. In the present day shots in Batman Begins and in the entirety of the other two movies, GCPD officers wear black uniforms.
  • Big Bad/Big Bad Ensemble: Ra's al Ghul a.k.a Henri Ducard in Batman Begins, The Joker in The Dark Knight, Bane and Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: All three movies, to varying degrees, as shown on the composite poster above. Split between Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul in Begins, The Joker and Two-Face in The Dark Knight, and Bane and Talia Al Ghul in Rises. Scarecrow is the only villain to appear in more than one movie (aside from Bruce hallucinating Ra's), showing up in all three.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both end with Batman triumphant, but at an extreme cost to both himself and Gotham. Dark Knight Rises has a more uplifting ending but not without its own bitterness.
  • Body Motifs: All three films put an emphasis on both faces and masks.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Comes with the PG-13 territory. The trope itself gets some Sequel Escalation; in Rises we barely know that Gordon got shot by Bane's mooks until he's seen still in the hospital weeks later..
  • Book Ends: Bruce Wayne both begins and ends the trilogy out of Gotham and presumed dead, although his prospects at the end are considerably better.
  • Break Them by Talking:
    • Ra's al Ghul delivers a genocidal Knight Templar harangue that leaves Bruce a complete mess in Begins.
    • The Joker's favorite tactic, using nearly every anecdote as an opportunity to get in someone's head.
    • Bane attempts this, but it seems it didn't work as well.
  • Call-Back: A rather dark one combined with Freeze-Frame Bonus. In The Dark Knight, the Joker claiming that humans will eat each other if they have to may be referencing the destruction of the Narrows. After the fear toxin was released, someone was seen savagely biting another person's face.
  • Canon Foreigner: Rachel Dawes for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Ramirez, Wuertz, Lau and all of the mobsters other than Sal Maroni for The Dark Knight.
    • Officer John Blake and Wayne executive Miranda Tate in The Dark Knight Rises are subversions — Miranda Tate is actually Talia al Ghul, while John Blake is a Composite Character combining Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake.
  • Cape Wings: Batman's hang glider cape, thanks to 'memory cloth', a special type of fabric that has bundled sections designed to take a specific shape when an electrical charge is applied. The Wayne Enterprise's version of memory cloth was originally designed to use in quick-pitch tents for soldiers, before Bruce repurposes the material to jump off rooftops.
  • Central Theme: According to Nolan; Fear, Chaos, and Pain, respectively. Note that these are all additive themes; each film includes the previous theme(s) in addition to its central one. A more detailed examination is on the trope page.
  • Chekhov's Armory
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bruce's gauntlet blades play a role in the defeat of each Big Bad. With them, he breaks Ra's sword in the train fight, prevents the Joker from blowing up the two ferries, and slices open Bane's mask to defeat him. Pretty good for a costume design that Christopher Nolan felt needed an explanation.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ra's Al Ghul's wife.
  • Closed Circle: Twice (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises), both times involving explosives with the Big Bad holing up most of the city's police department, civilians, and inmates of nearby prison out of the way so that the entire area will be driven to chaos. The former was Arkham, the latter was the entire city.
  • Close on Title: All three films end by showing their title.
  • Clueless Boss: Bruce is perceived to be this after he takes over Wayne Industries, in part because of himself playing up the rich idiot stereotype, and in part because his nights as Batman lead to things like him falling asleep in meetings. It becomes the truth when he becomes a recluse during the time skip in between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, as by the start of the third film the company is rapidly falling apart and Bruce has no idea that it's happening.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Batman's fighting style for the movies, the Keysi Fighting Method, is set entirely around being as simple and damaging as possible.
    • Joker is by far the least reserved fighter of the cast. One fight has him shove a mook at Batman and then try to kick the Dark Knight in the groin with a knife strapped to his shoe. In another, Joker sets three mad dogs on Batman and then attacks Batman with a crowbar.
    • The Scarecrow in Begins is no slouch either. In his first confrontation with Batman, he hits the vigilante with a dose of fear gas from behind, splashes him with kerosene, and then lights him on fire. Yes, that's right; he brought experimental chemical weapons to a fistfight.
      The Scarecrow: You look like a man who takes himself too seriously. Do you want my opinion? You need to lighten up.
    • Bane, oh so very much. The man's forehead should be considered a lethal weapon. He also trashes some security guards with little more his motorcycle helmet.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: The movies play with this trope.
    • Selina never gets called Catwoman in the movie proper even though there are a lot of cat motifs surrounding her. Promotional material, novelization and the original script all use the codename, though.
    • Dent briefly discusses the nickname he had during his Internal Affairs days ("Harvey Two-Face") but he never goes by that name in either film.
    • Crane goes by his real name through three movies except for one scene towards the end of Begins when he, hopped up on his own fear gas, calls himself Scarecrow.
    • Bane, interestingly enough, never has his real name mentioned, averting this trope. In the comics, Bane did not have a real name, given his origins.
    • Ra's Al Ghul is a real name and sort of a title in both the comics and the movies, so its usage makes sense.
    • Joker's real name was never revealed in this franchise, nor the original comics.
    • This version of the Batmobile is never actually called "The Batmobile". Its official name is "The Tumbler".
      • Averted with the Batpod, and, to a lesser extent, the Bat (Given Batman's aircraft is usually called the Batwing)
  • Composite Character:
    • The movies' Flass resembled the dark-haired, unshaven, overweight Harvey Bullock more than the comics version of Flass, who was blonde, clean-shaven, and muscular, though movie Flass did retain his comic counterpart's corruption.
    • Likewise, the movies' Loeb only shares the name of the comics' character, resembling Michael Akins in both looks and personality (African-American, young, and honest) more than the comics' Loeb (Caucasian, old, and extremely corrupt).
    • Henri Ducard has become an alias for Ra's al Ghul in this continuity.
    • John Blake in Rises is a composite of the first three Robins, having Jason Todd's back story, deducing Batman's true identity like Tim Drake, and like Dick Grayson has a brief stint as a police officer and in the end takes up the mantle of Gotham's protector.
    • Talia al Ghul combines elements of comic's Talia and her sister Nyssa Raatko, along with a bit of Bane's comic backstory.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Scarecrow's appearance in the first act of The Dark Knight and his appearance in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • In Dark Knight, Bruce at one point tries to contextualize the Joker using the same lessons Ducard taught him in Batman Begins.
      Bruce Wayne: Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred.
    • Harvey Dent mentions Carmine Falcone's continuing incarceration in Arkham during Sal Maroni's trial.
    • Ra's appears in Rises in a hallucination, and his daughter is the Big Bad.
    • During Rises, Bruce remembers his father saving him from a well as a child along with the phrase, "Why do we fall?".
    • Gordon gets a brief flashback to comforting Bruce as a child and Dent's actions as Two-Face.
    • Also in Rises, we get to see Bruce's makeshift Batcave from Dark Knight in one scene which also includes the gear he used to get Lau out of Hong Kong.
    • Bane and his men steal Tumblers from Wayne Enterprise. Also, in Dark Knight, we see the first Tumbler's blueprint at the same company.
    • When seeing "The Bat", Lucius Fox remarks that "Yes, it does come in black", mirroring a similar question Bruce asked in Begins.
  • Cool Bike: The Batpod, baby, oh yes.
  • Cool Car: Bruce's Lamborghini Murciélago LP 640, bonus is the fact that Murciélago is Spanish for "Bat".
    • The Tumbler, of course.
  • Cool Plane: "The Bat".
  • Cop Killer Manhunt:
    • The Joker is a cop killer in The Dark Knight. He uses the anger this causes among the police force to his advantage.
    • Batman himself becomes the subject of such a manhunt at the end of The Dark Knight, having (willingly) taken the blame for both Harvey Dent's murder and for the cop killings Dent committed as Two-Face. He's still the Gotham PD's most wanted criminal as of The Dark Knight Rises, with Deputy Commissioner Foley immediately leading a citywide chase the instant Batman reappears after his long hiatus from vigilantism.
  • Corrupt Politician: The trilogy isn't as bad as the comics. In addition to Gordon and Dent, there's an honest judge and an honest mayor, and the Commissioner before Gordon was honest as well, if incompetent. All the above but Gordon bite the dust before the series is over, though.
  • Crapsack World: Gotham is on the brink of economic collapse when Bruce is a child, under the thumb of the mob by the main events of Begins, being terrorized by psychopaths and increasingly desperate gangsters by The Dark Knight, and becomes a city without law and then a total war zone in Rises. However, by the end of Rises, Gotham shows steps towards becoming A World Half Full.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Batman, as always. These films especially place a HUGE emphasis on how dark the character is, but also on how heroic and selfless he is.
  • Darker and Edgier: The films in The Dark Knight Saga are arguably the darkest film adaptations of Batman to date.
  • Deconstruction: Nolan's Batman films could arguably be seen as a deconstruction of Batman, by showing the shortcomings and downsides to the kind of mentality one would have to have in order to become Batman. It is definitely NOT a romantic or romanticized view of Batman's lifestyle.
    • In a time when the comics have made the supposedly human Batman, actually superhuman (for example, in the Batgirl comics where Stephanie Brown was the Batgirl, it was stated that Batman only needed 1-2 hours of sleep), the Dark Knight trilogy brought him back to normal. When he tried to fight a handful of panicked people in the first movie, he got mobbed and beaten up despite his armor. As well he's a Jack of All Trades and an expert fighter, rather than being a Master of All, (for example, he couldn't understand the Joker - something that any trained psychologist could do, even Alfred and the beat cop in the interrogation room knew what the clown was about and instead of building his high-tech equipment from scratch, he just pocketed overly-expensive Wayne Enterprise prototypes).
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Crane goes from a major antagonist to a One-Scene Wonder between the first, second, and third films.
    • Alfred has very little screen time in The Dark Knight Rises. Though he does at least make the most of what he has, providing his usual insight, wisdom, and poignancy.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The wording on the sides of police cars in the movies reads "GPD POLICE", or "Gotham Police Department Police".
  • Depending on the Writer: Who became acting DA between Carl Finch's assassination in Batman Begins and the election of Harvey Dent prior to the events of The Dark Knight? Rachel Dawes (as mentioned by the Batman Begins novelization), or Roger Garcetti (as mentioned by Gotham Tonight)?
  • Discretion Shot: It's a rule. Anytime someone (e.g. Rachel or Mayor Garcia) is incinerated by explosives, the viewer only gets to see the first explosion go off almost right behind the victim and his/her hair being blown forward before the picture cuts away from the all-consuming conflagration.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The movies discard many supernatural and unrealistic elements of the comics, offering plausible pseudo-scientific explanations instead. For example:
    • Batman's equipment is re-purposed prototypes for the Department of Defense, and based on technology that given current research will likely be available within a decade or so (although the comics were sort of already going in this direction).
    • Ra's al Ghul's apparent immortality comes from a simple Body Double trick instead of a supernatural pit of primordial goo.
      • In the third film, he shows up as a hallucination, and points out that there are many types of "immortality". Such as having a child willing to carry out his legacy.
    • The Joker's deformed smile is just a Glasgow Grin, and his white skin is just face paint to unnerve opponents.
      • Similarly, instead of Joker Venom leaving his victims with deformed smiles and other Joker-like features, he instead carves Glasgow Grins and then paints their faces himself. In general, this Joker uses traditional modern weapons instead of joke-themed gadgets and death traps.
    • Bane only uses an anesthetic gas to help him cope with a severe injury, instead of a Super Serum that lets him Hulk out to enormous size.
  • The Don: Carmine Falcone and his successor Salvatore Maroni are old-school Italian mafiosi who are slowly put out of business both by The Caped Crusader and his psychotic enemies.
  • Dramatic High Perching: At least once each film, Batman observes the city like this. Combines with Cue the Sun across the films: Batman Begins is at night, The Dark Knight is at dawn, and The Dark Knight Rises is in morning twilight.
  • Dramatic Irony: Between the second and third films. In Dark Knight, Rachel believed Bruce was incapable of living without Batman. And yet, Rises opens with Bruce having given up the cowl for 8 whole years, making her choice of Harvey over Bruce and her sudden death because of it all the more tragic.
    • Technically Rachel was right, because although Bruce gives up being Batman, he also gives up being Bruce Wayne as well and is content to live in mental torment as a recluse.
      • That, and the fact that at the first major sign of trouble, he suits up again without a second thought.
      • Batman wasn't so much "given up" (indeed, Rises make a point about Bruce's inability to give the identity up), as forced into retirement due to a lack of organised crime in Gotham.
  • The Dreaded: Each of the major villains to their own degree.
    • Carmine Falcone is terrified by Ra's al Ghul, to the point where the mention he'll be in Gotham puts the mobster on edge.
    • The Joker is feared by everyone from mob bosses to civilians to cops, and for good reasons. Even after being dropped off a building and having both his legs fractured, Maroni is still too scared of the Joker to give up any information about him to Batman.
    • Everyone from CIA agents to Catwoman is afraid of Bane. Given what he does to Gotham, they're right to be.
    • Batman's MO is to become this to the city's criminals: in most cases of crimefighting, he pulls off moves that seem designed to cause the maximum amount of fear in those he's chasing. In Dark Knight, it's shown to be working, as the presence of the bat symbol in the night sky discourages a would-be thief from going out. However, he is eventually overshadowed by The Joker here.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Whether or not you liked Rachel, her death is quite ruthless.

  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Batcave.
    • In the first movie, it's an underground cave network originally re-purposed by Bruce's ancestors for use in the Underground Railroad.
    • In the second film, the Batcave is one big concrete room underneath an empty Wayne Enterprises lot with the Tumbler, an incinerator, some computer monitors and a massive collection of secondary equipment that pops out as needed from the floor and the walls.
      • In something of a Shout-Out to the Neil Adams-era Batman comics, Bruce's Wayne Tower penthouse also sports secret passages leading to spare costumes and equipment.
    • In the third film, the Batcave has been expanded into an even more elaborate underground base that combines the giant cave of the first film with the simple geometric designs of the second.
  • Emergency Authority: Discussed and applied to Batman's vigilante actions. The crisis is the mob families' control of Gotham City, and the corruption that prevents the police and the courts from opposing the mob. Bruce Wayne justifies his illegal and unethical acts (snooping, beating up criminals, etc.) by insisting that they're temporary measures to help the police do their jobs—once Gotham is able to protect itself, he'll retire the Batman persona. District Attorney Harvey Dent, initially one of Batman's biggest fans, favorably compares Batman to the first Roman dictators.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The League of Shadows is multiracial in Begins. Sal Maroni also employs gangsters of any nationality in The Dark Knight. It's Truth in Television for Maroni: It's possible for anyone to work for the "mafia" (they don't actually call themselves that) and become quite influential. The limitation is that only Italians (or half Italians) can become Made Men.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises open with a short prologue introducing the viewer to the Big Bad, showing him doing something badass, and teaching us something about how he operates (e.g., the Joker manipulates his men into backstabbing each other, while Bane inspires such loyalty that his men would die for him).
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: The GCPD fleet that we do see, at least as far as patrol cars are concerned, is made primarily of Ford Crown Victorias, plus some Ford Excursion and Ford Explorer SUVs. There's no indication the GCPD owns any non-Ford patrol vehicles.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Joker tries to defy this, but it turns into a Double Subversion when he plants bombs on ferries and says both will blow up unless one boat uses a detonator on the other. One boat has convicts, and the other has innocent people. Neither can bring themselves to do it. For extra irony points, it's the convicted murderers, thieves, and rapists who take the moral route and actually discard their detonator.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: If Gotham truly was beyond saving as Ra's al Ghul believed, would Bruce Wayne even be trying to save it from the machinations of the League of Shadows?
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • The Joker in The Dark Knight.
    • Cillian Murphy also starts chewing scenery after being poisoned by his own fear toxin.
    • Bane isn't afraid to chew the scenery, either.
  • Evil Plan:
    • In Begins, The League of Shadows' plot to destroy Gotham by covering the city in fear gas.
    • Subverted in Dark Knight, as the Joker has no real Evil Plan, just the thesis that all Humans Are Bastards, and lots of increasingly complicated "experiments" to prove his point.
    • In Rises, Bane wants to break Batman, body and spirit, and completely destroy Gotham, as Talia Al Ghul's right hand man, and co-leader of the League of Shadows, fulfilling her estranged father's plan and simultaneously avenging him on Batman.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Reversed: Bruce switches to a very hoarse rasp as Batman—probably for some combination of hiding his identity and making him more frightening to bad guys.
  • Exiled from Continuity: Word of God states that there are no other DC superheroes existing in this universe. In fact, there may not even be any comic books in this universe
  • Expansion Pack Past: Alfred's past in the British military and later as a freelance mercenary is often mentioned in anecedotes, but never fully explained.
  • The Faceless: In The Dark Knight, Gordon's daughter Barbara appears, but her face is never seen (she was on-screen briefly in Begins, as well, but doesn't even get credited as her real name).
  • Film Adaptation (Live-Action): An adaptation of the Batman comics, starting with an Origin Story and ending with the implication of Passing the Torch to a new Batman.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: Throughout the series, Batman himself does this when he's swatting aside the firearms of mooks. That is, when he's not twisting the barrel irreparably with a hand brace or stripping a shotgun apart in his plain clothes guise. His rationale is to safely discharge the weapon and avoid lethal injuries for everyone involved in a situation.
  • Foil: Many characters serve as this for Batman.
  • Foreshadowing: In The Dark Knight, Lucius Fox makes a rather pointless comment about Batman's new costume resisting cat scratches. This was immediately recognised by fans as a broad hint that Catwoman would be appearing in the next movie.
  • Genius Bruiser: Bane, as is tradition. However this is actually one of the few times where he's been portrayed as such outside of the comics, or at least emphasized as one.
  • Genre Shift: Batman Begins is equal parts crime drama and adventure film, with elements of mysticism figuring heavily into the plot. The Dark Knight abandons the mysticism in favor of a more straightforward crime thriller set completely in an urban environment. The Dark Knight Rises then largely drops the crime drama and becomes more of a large-scale action epic, featuring a plot that wouldn't seem out of place in a James Bond film.
  • Good Policing, Evil Policing: The Trilogy shows a morally grey approach to moral contrasts regarding police.
  • Handy Remote Control: A villain wields one in both the second and third films.
  • Heel–Face Town: In Batman Begins, Gotham City was already struggling in its recovery from economic depression and had only started to improve shortly before Bruce's parents were murdered. The city did try to continue improving in years after, but by the time Bruce returns from his years of training under the League of Shadows, Gotham was drowning in high crime rates and corruption. So much so, in fact, that Ra's al Ghul admits to Bruce just incredibly easy it was for the League to infiltrate the city's entire infrastructure to renew their assault on Gotham. But, by the time The Dark Knight starts, Bruce's war on crime as Batman, and his alliance within Jim Gordon and Gotham PD, have very nearly rid the city of the Mafia's grip, dealing a massive blow to the city's crime rate in the process. As such, Gotham has not only visibly improved, but it's citizens have a renewed sense of hope and faith, the first they've felt in years. That is until a certain clown shows up.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Both Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation:
    • Batman Begins features the title character dangling and dropping Det. Flass almost as if he were bungee jumping until Batman is satisfied with what information he's given.
    • Subverted and lampshaded in The Dark Knight. Batman wasn't threatening to kill Maroni to get his information but to use the situation in a novel way that would actually make this Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. However, Maroni doesn't tell him anything anyway, because he's not going to rat out The Joker for anyone, least of all Batman. "We're on to you," he says. "You've got rules. The Joker has no rules."
    • The Dark Knight Rises double subverts and lampshades this in the opening scenes of the film. A CIA team has captured a group of Bane's minions and is trying to get Bane's location out of them on a plane; they have them all in hoods, bring one to the open door of the plane, and stick the mook's head out of it. The suspect refuses to talk, and the CIA interrogator pretends to have him killed (shooting his gun into open air before claiming to have thrown the mook from the plane) before moving him out of the way.
    Interrogator: Lot of loyalty for a hired gun.
    Bane: Or perhaps he's wondering why someone would shoot a man before throwing him out of a plane.
  • Honor Before Reason: Bruce turning on The League of Shadows. Also everyone in Gotham who takes on the mob.
  • Horrifying Hero: Invoked by Batman, who actively tries to cultivate the image of terrifying, elemental, and incorruptable symbol. Those unlucky enough to be exposed to fear toxins also see him as a giant demonic bat.

  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: A reoccurring theme in the series.
    • Discussed in Begins. Bruce Wayne gives this as his reason for refusing to kill defenseless criminals.
      Bruce: I'm no executioner.
      Ducard: Your compassion is a weakness your enemies will not share.
      Bruce: That's why it's important. It separates us from them.
    • Later subverted, as while Batman doesn't decide to kill Ra's, he still leaves the villain to die in a train crash.
    • Also Inverted in Dark Knight by Joker, who tries to get both Batman and Harvey Dent to kill him so they'll go just as insane.
      Joker: Come on, come on, come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. Come on, hit me. Come on, hit me! HIT ME!
  • Interquel: Batman: Gotham Knight is an Animated Anthology film consisting of six-interlocked short episodes that is (theoretically) set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight
  • I Own This Town: In each of the movies:
    • Carmine Falcone in the typical mob lord sense.
    • The Joker has a more disturbing version of it: Come nightfall this city is mine, and anyone left in it plays by my rules.
    • Taken to the extreme with Bane, with isolates Gotham and establishes himself as the warlord of it.
  • Jerkass: Bruce Wayne combines invoking the Jerkass with Obfuscating Stupidity to protect his Batman identity.
  • Kill It with Fire: Attempted by Crane, on Batman, and done successfully by Joker, on mob accountant Lau. It's horrifying both times.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Jim Gordon, who's trying to be a good cop in what continues to be a very corrupt town.
  • Limited Special Ultimate Collector's Edition: A year after the bare-bones set of the trilogy was released on DVD and Blu-ray, Warner Home Video put out an "Ultimate Collector's Edition," featuring all three movies on Blu-ray, the special features discs from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and a bonus disc containing a 77-minute documentary about the development of the trilogy, a conversation between Christopher Nolan and Richard Donner, and all of the IMAX sequences from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. It also comes with six villain prints from Mondo, a book featuring promo shots and artwork, a letter from Nolan himself, and recreation models of the Tumbler, the Batpod and the B.A.T.
  • Logo Joke: Each film in the trilogy puts the vanity plates under different colors:
    • Batman Begins turns the WB and DC logos grayscale with a subtle glow effect.
    • The Dark Knight colors the logos in a very dark blue, dark enough that the Warner shield is barely visible.
    • The Dark Knight Rises combines the previous two variants into an icy-blue shade.
  • Loving a Shadow: The entire basis for Bruce's infatuation with Rachel Dawes - he sees her as the only woman in the world who could possibly understand him and his angst and the most perfectly pure woman imaginable, even though they have very little in common beyond being childhood friends who would like to see Gotham become a better place. Fortunately Selina Kyle eventually comes along and straightens him out.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Rachel Dawes. She'll talk about how she admired Bruce when he was young and then rebuke him, or give Bruce a gift of a childhood memory and then rebuke him, or kiss him and then rebuke him.
  • Meaningful Echo: Aside from the echoes within the films, there's a number between them. We hear the following conversation between Batman and Gordon towards the end of Begins:
    Gordon: I never did say thank you.
    • And then there is this, towards the end of Dark Knight:
      Gordon: Thank you.
      Gordon: ... yes, I do.
      • Again in Dark Knight Rises:
        Batman: Don't thank me yet.
        Blake: I might not get the chance later.
    • There's also this quote Ducard says in Begins to his then-student Wayne:
      Ducard: You've traveled the world to understand the criminal mind and conquer your fears. But the criminal is not complicated.
    • Wayne, having apparently internalized this lesson, paraphrases this in The Dark Knight:
      Wayne: Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he's after.
    • In The Dark Knight, the scene between Alfred and Bruce following Rachel's death mirrors the scene in Begins between Alfred and the child Bruce after the death of Bruce's parents.
    • The Dark Knight has Harvey Dent's slogan, "I Believe In Harvey Dent", said by Bruce Wayne genuinely. Later, in the opening of The Dark Knight Rises, Commissioner Gordon speaks reluctantly and wearily at the eighth annual Harvey Dent day: "I Believed In Harvey Dent".
  • Messianic Archetype:
    • The unselfish Bruce Wayne of this universe. Somehow, this doesn't stop him from maintaining the mean front of being an Upper-Class Twit at the same time.
    • Harvey Dent at first seems to be this, as everyone in Gotham seems to view him as a living saint. Ends up a subversion by the end of the film.
  • Mythology Gag: Several, mainly referencing the comics:
    • Batman using a sonic device and summoning a swarm of bats to escape a police SWAT team is taken directly from Batman: Year One.
    • Mob hitman Zsasz carving marks into his arm with a knife during the climax of Batman Begins.
    • In The Dark Knight, Bruce asks Mr. Fox if his new suit can withstand large dog attacks. Fox jokingly responds that it should do fine against cats.
    • The Joker's constantly changing backstory is inspired by a similar mythology gag from Alan Moore's The Killing Joke:
      Joker: If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!
      • Joker's monologue about having an abusive, alcoholic father is taken from a story Joker tells Dr. Harleen Qunizel in The Batman Adventures comic and later Batman: The Animated Series episode titled Mad Love.
      • His third anecdote that was interrupted by Batman flinging blades in his face is a nod to Lovers and Madmen, which shows the Joker getting his trademark smile from havinghis face cut open by batarangs.
    • Joker's disappearing pencil trick is inspired by a conversation between Batman and Joker in Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
    • Many scenes in The Dark Knight are adapted from The Long Halloween, though with very different contexts and outcomes:
      • Harvey Dent being attacked in court by his own witness (although this particular incident was not original to The Long Halloween, it is the best known recent version of it).
      • The campaign slogan "I Believe in Harvey Dent".
      • The ploy of transporting a target in police custody to draw out a would-be killer.
      • The mob's savings going up in flames.
    • The sonar lenses Batman uses in the finale of Dark Knight were designed to mirror the white slits for eyes seen in most comics depictions of the character.
      • Co-writer Jonathan Nolan confirmed in 2008 that the sonar technology used to assist Batman in capturing The Joker was based on Brother Eye, Batman's spy satellite, which was featured in The OMAC Project, one of the build-up series to Infinite Crisis.
    • The Tumbler was inspired by the hulked-out tank of a Batmobile featured in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
      • The copycat Batmen in the opening of Dark Knight are also a direct reference to the The Dark Knight Returns' vigilante group the 'Sons of the Batman'.
    • The name of Gordon's new division, the Major Crimes Unit, is taken from Gotham Central.
    • After giving a toast to Harvey at the fundraiser in Dark Knight, we see Bruce throwing all the champagne in his glass out over the balcony.
    • Lucius Fox summing up Bruce's complaints about his original Batsuit with "You'd like to be able to turn your head". None of the Batsuits since Batman (1989) had allowed the actor wearing them to do this. Christian Bale was probably the first actor to make note of this issue.
    • During the press interview where Harvey Dent claims he is Batman, you can see a microphone for "News 26", the channel for all Gotham news in Batman: The Animated Series.
    • When Batman returns to the streets in The Dark Knight Rises, he chases down crooks who are fleeing from an Old Cop, Young Cop pair in a police cruiser, much like he did in The Dark Knight Returns. Even the dialogue is very similar:
      Old Cop: You're in for a hell of a show tonight, kid.
    • The Bat Cave being used by Wayne's ancestors in the Underground Railroad is from an old issue of Shadow of the Bat.
    • Bane hiring orphans for his operations in Gotham's sewer system is reminiscent of the "Sewer King" episode of BTAS.
    • The motorcycle deliveryman disguise Bane uses when robbing the stock exchange is a realistic take on Jason Todd's Red Hood costume.
    • Batman's first fight with Bane mirrors their battle in Knightfall in many ways, but most of all, Bane's finishing blow. The back break.
    • Bane cuts off Gotham from the world, its bridges are blown up, and its citizens left to fend for themselves on the streets, just in No Man's Land.
    • When the League of Shadows gives Bruce a chance to evacuate his birthday party, he does it by calling all his guests Two-Faced sycophants.
    • A joke is made about alligators in the sewer after John Blake tries to start an investigation on Bane in the sewer.
    • In Rises, when Catwoman pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye on Batman, his quip of "So that's what that feels like" is from Kingdom Come.
    • The clown mask the Joker wears at the beginning of The Dark Knight is identical to a clown mask Cesar Romero's Joker wore in the classic '66 Batman (1966) story "The Joker Is Wild/Batman is Riled".
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Happens at least once per movie. Bruce saving Ducard, Batman saving Harvey, and Bane saving young Talia.
    • The "rewards" for the above good deeds, respectively are Ducard coming back and revealing he is Ra's al Ghul, and then burning down Bruce's home and trying to destroy Gotham, Harvey's botched rescue burns off half his face, which combined with the loss of Rachel Dawes, his Love Interest, drives him into insanity and villainy as Two-Face, and Bane is heavily beaten by the other prisoners of the Pit, forcing him to don his mask to feed himself anesthetic to dull his pain from the injuries.
  • Not His Sled: If we're to believe the subtle nods Christopher Nolan gave concerning not-too-obvious members of the traditional Rogues Gallery, Coleman Reesenote  manages to gain a sufficient sense of humility and avoids becoming the Nolanverse Riddler, and Lau never becomes the Nolanverse Calculator.

  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Just like in the comics, Bruce Wayne downplays his intellect and behaves like a stereotypical eccentric billionaire so that no one would suspect he is really Batman.
    • After Bruce puts his Lamborghini in between the big truck and the police SUV, he acts like this to Gordon.
      Bruce Wayne: You think I should go to the hospital?
      Jim Gordon: You don't watch a whole lot of news, do you, Mr. Wayne?
    • Played with in The Dark Knight Rises: John Blake figures out Batman's true identity upon recognizing the persona that Bruce often wears in public, as Blake himself has learnt to do the same to bottle his anger.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Lucius Fox appears to be an expert in toxicology, ballistics, computer technology, sonar, radio communications, and personal protective equipment, to name a few.
    • Justified in that he used to be the head of a highly prolific multi-national corporation's R&D department. A working knowledge of the science behind most projects is generally required in such positions.
  • Once A Movie: There are multiple uses of this trope:
    • Batman's signature interrogation tactic, screaming 'WHERE?' while beating people up, used on Flass, The Joker, and Bane in each film respectively. It only really worked the way he expected it to in the first one, but either way he did get the information, although the second and third times did not end as well for him, with The Joker manipulating him and tricking him into saving Harvey not Rachel and later, Bruce found out his new Love Interest was Evil All Along and that she had the trigger for the nuclear bomb that he was looking for.
    • Batman surveys the city from high up every movie, each time at a different time of day.
    • There is a party in each movie as well; Bruce's birthday party, Harvey Dent's fundraiser, and a masquerade ball held by Miranda Tate.
      • In each of these movies, when Bruce hosts a party, a villain crashes it. Ras al Ghul in Begins, the Joker in The Dark Knight, and Catwoman in Rises.
    • Batman's bladed gauntlets help him defeat Ducard, Joker and Bane.
    • Batman's vanishing act. First, Batman manages to startle Gordon with it during some of their initial meetings. Then, Batman pulls the same thing on Harvey during their first encounter, and Gordon, who by this point is used to Batman doing that to him after six months of it, simply tells Harvey, "He does that." Finally, Batman himself is on the receiving end courtesy of Catwoman. "So that's what it feels like..."
    • Each movie has a line about thanking Batman (the first two times from Gordon and the last time from John Blake).
    • There is a different location from Gotham in each movie (a prison in Bhutan and the nearby League of Shadows base in Batman Begins), Hong Kong in The Dark Knight and the Pit some unidentified place far from Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • The only villain to appear in every movie in the trilogy is Doctor Jonathan Crane, AKA Scarecrow.
    • There is a funeral in every movie. First Bruce's parents, then Commissioner Loeb's and finally, Bruce Wayne's own funeral, though he is Faking the Dead.
  • Police Are Useless: All of them, save Jim Gordon. The Gotham police can't stop the League of Shadows in Begins and get regularly played by The Joker in Dark Knight, to the point Batman has to take out a SWAT team to stop them from killing hostages due to misdirection.
    • The police in Hong Kong are little better. Though quick on the scene, they just watch in stunned confusion as Lau is taken away by Batman.
    • Deconstructed with their inability to do their job in the beginning and reconstructed with their willingness when given the chance in the third film. The police did not have the equipment, ability, or number to take on Bane and his army since the majority of the force gets trapped underground for three months in Bane's trap, becoming malnourished on the little food and water they could get, and thus could only do recon on Bane's movements. Reconstructed after Batman blows open a way for the trapped cops to leave the underground and Batman gives the hesitant ones the hope to actually make a difference, as they are shown that given the right chance and equipment they WILL do their best to protect society, even with low odds. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the police were shown to be huge heroes, especially with the impact of Foley being too afraid to act during Bane's reign of terror, but deciding to fight after Batman comes back, and then being killed during the war against Bane's army.
  • Porn Stache: Sported by Jim Gordon.
  • Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: With the titular Dark Knight representing order and justice and practically every major villain of the trilogy representing sectarian fanaticism, large scale terrorism, or chaos, it's practically impossible not to find parallels to the War on Terror.
  • Race Lift:
    • Commissioner Loeb goes from being a Caucasian man to being an African-American.
    • Bane was originally of mixed Hispanic and English heritage (the former part being more obvious). Tom Hardy portrays Bane as white and English in The Dark Knight Rises, but isn't mentioned to identify with any race.
    • Ra's al Ghul looks Arab in the comics while he is Japanese in Batman Begins. It turns out the real Ra's is played by Liam Neeson, who is Irish. His daughter is played by French actress Marion Cotillard.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Nolan's penchant for having special effects done in-camera tends to garner this reaction. The Tumbler and the Batpod were both thought to be too unwieldy to operate in real life, when each has at least one model that can be driven. In The Dark Knight, the eighteen-wheeler truck flipping over was at first deemed CGI or a scale model. It was a real semi in a real street.
    • Batman's cape was designed to fold into a backpack for The Dark Knight because the costume designers thought it would get caught in the Batpod's wheel. After a test run in which nothing actually happened, Nolan was happy to let it billow dramatically in the wind (though people still complained).
    • The police force is not obligated to provide a phone call for anyone and tend to comply if the suspect is being cooperative. However, this is such a pervasive occurrence in media that people brought it up.
      • That said, as the above link states, police are usually more than happy to let criminals call someone so they can tape the potentially incriminating conversation. Not to mention the necessity of providing some means to contact the suspect's attorney.
    • After the initial snipe on the clowns failed, some reviewers were confused as to why the SWAT team would state their identities and refrain from opening fire for so long during close combat. As mentioned on the page for The Dark Knight, this is actual operating procedure.
    • As well, people questioned why the Hong Kong police wouldn't just shoot Batman, when basic gun safety informs people that you shouldn't shoot when your view is obstructed by low lighting or a hostage being used as a human shield.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The villains deliver some of the best ones ever. Like the one that Carmine Falcone gives to Bruce at the beginning of Batman Begins. Bruce realizes that Falcone is 100% right about him, and his efforts to remedy that eventually enable him to become Batman.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Gordon in both films. Also Commissioner Loeb, Mayor Garcia, and Harvey Dent before he loses it.
  • Reconstruction: The trilogy takes apart and then puts back together many of the unrealistic and potentially negative elements of the Batman mythos while staying true to the character’s identity as the quintessential Cowl. For example, the second movie is the darkest Batman movie since Batman Returns, but it is placed right on the Idealist side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. "What are you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone is as ugly as you? You're ALONE!"
  • Ret-Canon:
  • Rule of Cool: Hang gliding, microwave weapons, ninjas, sonar mapping, fingerprints, fourth degree burns, and anesthesia, among other things, do not work that way. But it all looks awesome, so who cares?
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • All over the place. One of the core points in this iteration of Batman is the idea of Batman, the very being transcending something physical and becoming a symbol of justice against those for whom the normal means are not enough.
    • In a more basic sense, Bats. In the beginning they are one of the sources of Bruce's greatest phobias, but over time he copes with them and eventually in a sense, becomes one of them- a creature of the night. By the final leg of his journey, they are seen again when he symbolically has to feel fear once more to make the jump needed to escape the Pit as opposed to simply welcoming it, and when Blake accepts his place as Bruce's successor and receive the same swarming he did, akin to a test.
    • The logo for Batman Begins is raw and unfinished metal. The logo for The Dark Knight is burned into the side of a building. The teaser poster for Rises has the logo as a gaping hole in the sky.
  • Save the Day, Turn Away:
    • Inverted Type 1 at the end of Begins. Rachel tells Bruce the man she loved is gone, and for now, only the Batman remains.
    • Followed by a straight Type 2 at the end of Dark Knight. Batman's stopped the Joker and saved Gordon's family, but instead takes the blame for Dent's murder spree to protect Harvey's legacy.
  • Save the Villain: Played straight with Ducard, then subverted. Played straight with The Joker. Later subverted again with Two-Face.
  • Science Hero: Nolan's version of Batman relies on his company's cutting-edge technology to create his superhero persona, provide himself with useful gadgets and find criminals. Also applies to the Omnidisciplinary Scientist responsible for creating Batman's gizmos, Lucius Fox.
  • Secret Identity: Deconstructed; although Bruce has a Secret Identity, it’s practically impossible for him to hide it from everyone else, even when they are not Secret Chasers actively looking to know who the Batman is. The ones who find out all decide to be Secret Keepers, or even Secret Secret Keepers:
  • Sequel Hook: Joker's calling card at the end of Batman Begins, Batman riding off into the night as a wanted criminal at the end of The Dark Knight, and while Bruce and Selina live the rest of their lives together, with the rest of Gotham believing that Bruce Wayne died during Bane's occupation, the last shot of the trilogy has John Blake, or rather, Robin John Blake discovering the Batcave, and, like Bruce before him, bats begin to circle him as he prepares himself to become the newest Batman.
    • Alas, DC have announced that they plan to reboot the Batman franchise to allow it to fit into the greater multiverse, with a particular eye towards the Justice League movie.
  • Sequel Logo in Ruins: The Bat logo seen on posters and promo material starts off pristine for Batman Begins. It starts having pieces flaking off and gets surrounded by cracks for the later two films.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gary Oldman's whole look in the films is a Shout-Out to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.
    • The series also contains shout-outs to The Long Halloween like he rooftop scene where Dent, Gordon, and Batman meet to discuss the mob problem, especially Batman's Stealth Hi/Bye.
    • The color tones for the movie posters are all based on Batman's color palette in the comics:
      • Batman Begins used a sepia tone (his belt and occasionally chest logo)
      • The Dark Knight used blue (occasionally his cape, cowl, boots and gloves)
      • The Dark Knight Rises used grey (his body glove)
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The whole trilogy is a poster child for swinging from one end to the other and back again.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Arguably the most serious superhero movies.
  • So Last Season: The batsuit from Begins quickly proves inadequate for Bruce's needs in The Dark Knight. At least now he can move his neck for the first time in twenty years. Averted in Rises, as even though 8 years pass in the story, he uses the same suit that debuted in The Dark Knight.
    • Played straight with the vehicles, however. Each film has the previous film's vehicle show up and then be discarded for something better, with the only possible exception being the Batpod.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Crane, one of the main villains from Batman Begins, was reassigned in the sequel to the head Mook of the Batman Cold Open. The Joker meanwhile ends up being worse than the entire mob put together. To top that off, Bane takes over Gotham as a warlord for months and holds the city hostage with a nuclear bomb.
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted with Wayne Manor. After being burnt to the ground in Begins, the new mansion is still years away from completion in The Dark Knight, leaving Bruce and Batman to set up in a penthouse at Wayne Tower.
  • Stealing from the Till: A sympathetic example. Lucius and Bruce are technically embezzling assets from Wayne Enterprises, and they are discovered by an auditor (technically again), but it is limited to failed experimental gear collecting dust in the archives rather than things which people actually need on a daily basis.
    Lucius Fox: Mr. Wayne, the way I see it, all this stuff is yours anyway.
  • Stealth Expert: Batman.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Used regularly
    • Played with in Begins, where Bruce's first attempt to do the iconic move on Gordon results in an epic failure.
    • Also used regularly and lampshaded in The Dark Knight
      Gordon: He does that.
    • And again in Rises when Catwoman is the one doing that to him.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Batman greets Sergeant Gordon with this line after appearing suddenly on his back porch in Begins. Selina Kyle warns Bruce of this while they dance at the Masquerade Ball in Rises.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Loeb and Garcia didn't last very long, did they? But the latter lasted a bit longer.
  • Superhero Paradox: Subtly applied throughout the series, as it isn't often talked about. Ra's al Ghul would have destroyed Gotham if Bruce hadn't become Batman, but The Joker seems to find Batman an inspiration and tells him how he changed things. Bruce does discuss with Alfred how Batman was supposed to inspire good, not madness and evil; something that The Joker goes on to inspire in Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. On top of that, Batman saved Harvey Dent from certain death but didn't manage to save half his face and more importantly, his Love Interest who also happened to be Bruce's, which let The Joker visit him and convince him to give into insanity. Dr. Jonathan Crane was already evil before Batman came around, but it probably didn't help that Batman drove Crane insane with Crane's own fear toxin. Finally, if Batman did not leave Ra's to die; Bane and Talia would not have sought revenge on Bruce by torturing Bruce and Gotham, then nuking Gotham. Pretty much every main villain in the series with the exception of Ra's al Ghul is somehow linked to Batman in relation to why they're insane and/or evil and why they want to torment others or Gotham.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: It's the order of the day in this trilogy. In fact, the trilogy goes so far as to pay attention to even the most minute and the most ludicrous details about how things work in real life.

  • Terror Hero: Largely averted, throughout the movies it's shown that hardened criminals AREN'T cowardly and superstitious. The Batman's shock and awe tactics fail to impress especially against the non-mook villains. Justified as Maroni in The Dark Knight says that Batman ain't that scary if he's not willing to go all the way and kill especially in comparison to the Joker's atrocities. Even when the boss gets dropped from high up and breaks a leg, he's more angry than scared.
  • The Teetotaler: Bruce is never seen drinking any alcoholic beverage during the series, save for the scene in Begins where he kicks all his party guests out of Wayne Manor. In The Dark Knight, he's even shown emptying the glass of champagne he took for his toast to Harvey off the balcony of his penthouse. In such situations in the comics, where Bruce had to be seen drinking, he usually switched champagne for ginger beer or some other variant, and in the former situation Bruce had plenty of chances to switch his drink.
  • Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The Dark Knight has the logo backlit, with the poster featuring a version burned onto a skyscraper representing Joker's reign of chaos. The Dark Knight Rises features the logo shattering apart, representing the fracture that occurs within Gotham.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Consistent with the character's meta portrayal. It's handled somewhat realistically in that, while Batman makes it clear he's completely against straight-up executing criminals under his power, and goes out of his way to use non-lethal takedown methods, he's shown to be willing to use potentially lethal force in a crisis situation (throwing Maroni off a three story ledge (dude could have landed on his head), leaving Ra's al Ghul to die when the monorail crashes, doing the same to Dent (who did land on his head), and shooting at Talia al Ghul with an anti-tank gun to stop her from blowing up Gotham, and virtually anyone he beat up could have died from internal bleeding, concussion, etc.).
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • The first half of Begins chronicles Bruce Wayne's transformation from frightened child to badass vigilante over the course of 20 odd years.
    • Jim Gordon goes from being Batman's sidekick in Batman Begins to being a force of his own in The Dark Knight.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Double subverted. The second movie is a standalone adventure, and the first and third are closely tied together.
  • Ultimate Universe: Nolan's movies are a classic example of this specific kind of revision:
    • It applies Arc Welding to mix disparate parts of Batman's Rogues Gallery for better Adaptation Distillation. Ra's Al Ghul was unconnected to both Scarecrow and Bane in the early stories, and he likewise had no involvement with Batman's training. But here he is provided that function to better explain and connect Batman's McNinja training, Scarecrow's fear gas, and Bane is likewise one of his students, until he was, as Bruce puts it, "thrown out by a gang of psychopaths".
    • It also significantly dials down the supernatural and pulp science element of the original comics by Doing In the Wizard. Ra's Al Ghul isn't Really 700 Years Old but rather an Artifact Title for an Ancient Conspiracy secret society. Joker likewise doesn't have his showbiz gimmick and chemistry based gadgets (featured in Tim Burton's film) but is instead a violent, manipulative, quasi-anarchic terrorist.
  • Underestimating Badassery: A recurring theme throughout the series - Falcone underestimates Bruce (who comes back and trashes him years later), Batman underestimates pretty much all his villains and then his villains in turn underestimate him, Gordon is underestimated a few times, Catwoman is underestimated once or twice, etc.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend:
    • Rachel Dawes in Begins.
    • Bruce Wayne himself in The Dark Knight.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Every Big Bad has his/her pawns.
    • To Ra's al Ghul: Jonathan Cranenote , William Earle, Rachel Dawes, Mrs. Delane, Carl Finch, and even the Batman himself.
    • To The Joker: Harvey Dent, James Gordon, Rachel Dawes, Sal Maroninote , the Chechen, Mike Engel, Anna Ramirez, Coleman Reese, Grumpy, Chuckles, Happy, Dopey, the bus driver, the Gotham National Bank manager... and the Batman again.
    • To Bane and Talia al Ghul: James Gordon, John Daggett, Phillip Stryver, Lucius Fox, Peter Foley, Simon Jansen, Dr. Leonid Pavel, Agent Bill Wilson, Catwoman, and... you guessed it.
  • Vice City: Gotham, especially in Begins. As Gordon puts it to Flass:
    Gordon: In a town this bent, who's there to rat to anyway?
  • Vanilla Edition: While not completely bare-bones, the first trilogy box set had this to a degree. To coincide the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Dark Knight Rises, a "limited edition giftset" of the entire trilogy was put out on DVD and Blu-ray for those who couldn't wait for get their hands on the entire series. What did it come with? The movies, the special features discs from the original releases The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises (Blu-ray only), and an excerpt of a book showcasing the trilogy's promo shots and art. No exclusive bonus discs, collectibles, or anything else. That's it. Even worse, the digital codes that came with the set flat-out announced that an "ultimate collector's edition" set on Blu-ray would be put out in 2013, which was Warner basically saying "Ha-ha! We played you all for suckers! Now you'll have to buy the movies again!" to those who wanted it for Christmas of 2012. And even worse, the DVD release of the set did not bring the special features discs over.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises have an opening action sequence centered around Joker and Bane respectively.
  • Villainous Legacy: Ra's al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows, is killed after he tries to annihilate Gotham and all its citizens to rid the world of its corruption. In The Dark Knight Rises his influence continues to be felt since the League was not actually destroyed, and Ra's student Bane sets out to fulfill his dead master's plans along with al Ghul's daughter, Talia, but wants Gotham to suffer first.
  • Villain Team-Up: Each of the three films has two major Batman villains cooperating in some way or another. With Batman Begins it was Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow. In The Dark Knight, The Joker shares the movie with Two-Face, but while Two-Face is pushing the Joker's plans forward, he doesn't team up with him, making it a Big Bad Ensemble rather than a Big Bad Duumvirate. This was seemingly subverted with The Dark Knight Rises as Bane appeared be the singular Big Bad right up until The Reveal where it turns out he's part of a Big Bad Duumvirate with Talia al Ghul.
  • Warrior Poet: Alfred, though his warrior days are past.
  • Weaponized Car: The Batmobile and the Batpod.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The League Of Shadows, which genuinely wants to make the world a better place... by burning it to the ground and building a new one over the ashes of corruption.
  • Western Terrorists: Played with. Ra's al Ghul is played by Liam Neeson, though his group is fairly multi-cultural. The Joker and his group are all Americans from Gotham. Finally, Bane is played by Tom Hardy, though like Ra's he has an organization consisting of mercenaries from all over the world.
  • What You Are in the Dark: A recurring theme in the series.
    • Bruce always believes the people of Gotham are inherently good when freed from consequences, and his enemies always think the people are inherently evil.
    • Ra's al Ghul and The League of Shadows believe the entirety of Gotham is corrupt, and it must be destroyed to allow the rest of the world to regain some semblance of balance.
    • Joker believes all humans are nothing but animals that will eat each other the second society breaks down. But only Harvey Dent gives in to his base desires, with Batman and those on the ferries showing they're not so ugly on the inside as Joker is.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Bruce appropriates most of his equipment from Wayne Enterprises R&D.
  • World of Snark: So very, very much. You could make a drinking game out of it, if you feel like drinking yourself into a coma.
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Played with. Batman will attack police officers with swarms of bats and endanger their lives in high speed chases, but all to try and avoid direct confrontation. It's only when he has to stop a Disguised Hostage Gambit that he's willing to take them head-on.
  • Wuxia: Albeit a very modern (and western) take on a traditionally Chinese genre of Martial Arts story. Begins in particular is filled with an extended Training Montage in Asia, Quickly-Demoted Leader, mystical initiations and philosophical introspection. The whole series, American setting notwithstanding, asks the classic Wuxia question; "What does it mean to be a Martial Artist?" and "What is a Warrior's duty to society?"
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: A rare example of the protagonist reassuring his colleagues. Batman reminds Catwoman that she is less selfish than she lets on, and tells Gordon that heroes don't need to dress up like giant bats.

Alternative Title(s): The Dark Knight Saga


Batman Begins

Batman introduces himself to the criminals of Gotham.

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