The Dark Knight Rises Climax: Has The JLA Movie Already Begun?


With Christopher Nolan’s tenure as caretaker of the Batman franchise officially over, the big question is: what next for Gotham’s Dark Knight? This particular query has been further complicated by the announcement that Warner Bros plan to proceed with a JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA movie, DC Comics’ answer to the hugely successful AVENGERS. It makes sense that Warner Bros would want a slice of the billion-dollar superhero pie, especially now Marvel Studios have proved the elusive ‘crossover’ movie works. But assuming Batman will have to be completely rebooted and Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL is the first step toward making JLA happen, there’s a huge amount of work to do before all the essential characters are established and ready to join forces in an AVNEGERS-style ensemble. But is there something we’ve missed? Could it not be that Warner Bros has already put the wheels in motion without us realizing? And will the studio not follow Marvel after all, but approach their big superhero smackdown in an entirely different way…?

What REALLY Happened At The End Of The Dark Knight Rises?

The climax of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES has provoked a great deal of controversy, including some hot debate right here on THN. ‘Did Nolan cheat?’ the fanboys have been asking. After all, even if Bruce Wayne had leapt from The Bat, would the atomic blast not have killed him anyway (from all accounts, they’re pretty powerful bombs). It seems strange that a filmmakers like Nolan, whose scripts are thoughtful and wound tightly, would leave such a huge issue of plausibility lingering over his epic Batman trilogy. But perhaps he meant to cheat; perhaps there’s more to come; perhaps, despite the fact Nolan himself has stepped away from THE DARK KNIGHT, that doesn’t mean the story is finished. Is it possible Bruce Wayne was actually saved seconds before the bomb detonated? And there’s only man fast, string, and… erm, flighty enough to do such a thing. Yes (let’s all sing it), SUP-ER-MAN.

Superman In Nolan’s Bat-Verse… Really?

Admittedly it would be a slight change of tone for Nolan’s story world. His Batman trilogy features absolutely nothing supernatural or fantastical – it’s a comic book story very much rooted in the real world. This is, of course, the reason for assuming Batman will need rebooting before he can enter into the JLA: the Christian Bale Bruce Wayne could never enter into a film that featured aliens, intergalactic evil, and mystical Amazonian princesses. But may we have it all wrong. From the MAN OF STEEL teasers (see them here), we see that Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot looks far grittier than we might have imagined. In fact, it looks very much ‘real world’ (as much as a Superman movie possibly can), and from the alternate voiceovers from Supes’ two fathers, it seems the new Clark Kent is a conflicted character, wrestling with the reality of his immense powers. In other words, real human emotion. That sounds plenty like Nolan’s Bruce Wayne, and let’s not forget, MAN OF STEEL is produced by Christopher Nolan and his Legendary Pictures – would it not make sense it would been tonally like THE DARK KNIGHT films? If Superman were handled in this more grounded manner, it’s entirely possible he could exist in Nolan’s Bat-verse.

So what does this mean MAN OF STEEL?

OK, time for some bold theories: Superman has saved Bruce Wayne (let’s assume THE DARK KNIGHT takes place before MAN OF STEEL and Superman’s ‘outing’, explaining why the media is wrapped up in the siege of Gotham and not the appearance of a flying man in Metropolis), and at some point in MAN OF STEEL – most likely at the very end – Superman reunites with Batman to face an impending threat. This would, of course, be Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new incarnation of Batman. The beauty of this is anyone who chooses to disregard the JLA-themed continuation of Nolan’s Bat-verse can; his endings are always so open to interpretation anyway, and with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES he has potentially pulled the greatest trick of his career, both closing off his Batman films and opening up something new altogether. Whether you choose to accept DARK KNIGHT and JLA as separate entities or one continuous narrative is entirely up to you. But either way, MAN OF STEEL was always going to have Nolan’s fingerprints on it.

But What About the Justice League of America?

We can just about accept Superman in Nolan’s expanded Bat-verse (his powers could be explained by – admittedly fictitious – science at a stretch), but there’s a limit to how far we’re willing to suspend our disbelief. If JLA is already underway and firmly placed in this grittier, more realistic world then we can count out most of the team members – Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Martian Manhunter (another alien, sure – but let’s be serious) are all gone. But then, whoever said Warner Bros wanted to follow Marvel’s formula? It took Marvel five films before AVENGERS was ready – perhaps Warner Bros is looking for a tighter, more focused approach, eliminating all the potential problems that lingered over THE AVENGERS (too many characters, too unwieldy etc). Would it not be easier to use the three characters best known by the general public – Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman? That means JLA could only be two or three movies away. And whilst I hear you scream that Wonder Woman could never exist in Nolan’s story world, what with all her mystical powers, it’s plausible the character could be completely reinterpreted as a straight-up double-hard bastard. After all, that’s all Batman is… right? Just to reiterate they could cast real-life toughie Gina Carano, who would suit Wonder Woman perfectly.

Going with a minimalist team would immediately fix all the problems Warner Bros face with their proposed JLA ensemble. And it would be far more interesting to see an expanded comic movie universe in a real-world setting, rather than a carbon copy of Marvel’s. Besides, do we really want Nolan’s comic book vision to actually end? Really? Of course not… all we need is proof that Superman did indeed save Bruce Wayne’s life. Come on, MAN OF STEEL, show us that Warner Bros has known what it’s doing all along, and that the comic book movie has life outside of Marvel Studios…

For updated news on JLA click here



  1. Dan Bullock

    August 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Although I’m really unsure about a Superman in Nolan’s Batman universe, I love the theory.

    I also say:

    Gina Carano = Wonder Woman = Yes.

  2. Clint Veil

    August 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Not to ruin your theory or anything but at the end of The Dark Knigh Rises, Bruce Wayne talks about how he fixed the auto-pilot of The Bat. So Batman wasn’t anywhere close to The Bat when it blew up.
    It would be cool to see Superman in The Dark Knight Trilogy, but sadly its not going to happen.

  3. Josh

    August 11, 2012 at 6:17 am

    No! If you explain Superman and Wonder Womam as science then you are following Marvels formula (if you don’t believe me then watch Thor and Captain America and listen they talk of Asguard.) Second if Superman and Wonder Woman can be gritty then Flash definetly can be. Besides he makes more sense in the Nolan -verse. Also how does Bale/Wayne kmow superman and devise such an escape.?

  4. Mr. Long Ears

    August 11, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Even though I like The Dark Knight Rises exactly as it is. The ending does work for an eventual lead in to a Batman-Superman team up along with the Justice League. Nolan’s Batman is meant to live in reality because Batman is human. That doesn’t mean you can’t create a world that can combine the real world Batman style with the adventure and fantasy of Superman and the other heroes. The whole Justice League story can be a perfect balance, even in the comics Batman has a place in the Justice League stories even though he is just a man that relentlessly fights crime in one city. Unless the bad guys are hundred foot long alien snake creatures or some other special effects creation, they have the potential for a great story. If Warner Bros. really wants to make JL work, they would do what Nolan did with Batman, take good material from the comics and make it fit into our current world.

  5. John Sharp

    August 11, 2012 at 10:14 am

    This is the first time I’ve read a convincing argument for Superman existing in the Dark Knight universe. Maybe the JLA movie should just consist of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman. They’re three iconic superheroes who could carry a movie among them, then let Flash et al in the sequel once they’ve had their own movies. Best leave out Green Lantern though eh?

  6. Luke Ryan Baldock

    August 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Warner Bros. should just let Justice League go. I love DC so much and I don’t want them to do a Justice League based on their current form. Green Lantern should have been the first step towards a Justice League movie, with the introduction of Amanda Waller being the obvious DC Nick Fury. However, they completely messed that film up. Warner Bros. just don’t have the sense to do what Marvel is doing. Let’s not forget they allowed Bryan Singer to make a sort-of-sequel to Superman 1 and 2 instead of rebooting the franchise. They need to write up a 10 year plan, which is something they will never do, because with Harry Potter and The Dark Knight franchises gone, they are desperate for something.

    At least it can’t be worse than The Justice League TV movie/pilot from 1997. That was trying to be a superhero version of Friends.

  7. Javier Venegas

    November 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    What a lovely theory. I want nothing more than something like this to happen! I know that Bruce fixed the auto pilot but anyway…who knows…it’s a bold theory as you put it.

    All I hope so, and I’m sure that all DC fans hope as well, is that Warner will surprise us with their new movie and franchices, because, let’s face it, besides Nolan’s Batman Universe, the other stuff simply are…

    I hace faith in this and I want nothing more than a Justice League Movie to happen and soon!

  8. mrpinkeye

    November 28, 2012 at 12:44 am

    yes…sign me up

    read this somewhere ages ago and think its an awesome idea. we’ll see superman take bale to saftey, bale will tell superman someone will be in touch… in steps JGL :)

  9. jimmy fang

    November 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    well, somebody has to look again at the trailer and notice that for sometime there, clark is in a boat. well, just a theory.

  10. skeptic

    November 30, 2012 at 12:12 am

    For the last time, NO. “Rises” WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FUTURE FILMS. As it should not.

  11. Steve

    November 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    How is Batman living in a realistic movie world but also crossing over with the fantastical elements of the rest of DC any different than what happens in the comics with him, Punisher, or any number of other “street-level” heroes?

    Batman has stories where Gotham is crumbling to pieces in an Earthquake, and his buddy Superman doesn’t jsut fly in and stop the fault with super-friction… but, a week later, Batman will travel to an alien plane tbecause he recognizes the taste of a certain dirt only found on that world, and that will lead the Justice League to defeat a rogue Guardian who is planning to plunge the universe into open warfare. The entire plot of DKR could have been resolved in five minutes by Superman, but it still would have played out the same way in the comics, despite issues on the stands the same week that would have Batman having a sword fight with Mordred while Wonder Woman and Supes tries to escape Morganna Le Fey’s mystic shackles in a 2nd century haunted forrest.

    One thing I do agree with is just doing three movies–Superman, Wonder Woman, and another Batman–but, much like Marvel did with having Black Widow and Hawkeye introduced via cameos in bigger character’s films, you have Barry Allen as a forensics weinie looking at some crime stuff for one of them; Superman or Wonder Woman prevent a test plane crash at Ferris Aerospace and meet Hal Jordan, who would have slapped on his ring to stop the crash if it they hadn’t arrived so quickly; then you can hav ethe JLA movie start with an Atlantean Invasion or an explosion at Star Labs that results in a young athlete needing cybernetic parts, or whatever, and you’ve got a six-person team. Shit, you can make it an alien invasion, and have one of them slap on a flight pack with little vestigal wings and an odd shaped helmet, and there’s Hawkman; have the White Martians attack, and one of their green slaves helps the heroes, and it can be J’onn or M’Ghan depending on if they think they need another female…

    Long story short, shoehorning Superman into DKR after Nolan already sacrificed integrity to handhold us through what happened there is a little silly, but if they want to rush to Justice League, it still only needs a handful of films to get there, especially if they’re willing to go the Marvel route of cross-polination and abbreviated/modified backstories for the lesser Leaguers.

  12. Mrs.Mxy

    December 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    This is a terrible idea. First of all, while Nolan’s Gotham is realistically gritty and could possibly be forcefully shoehorned into a larger JLA universe, there should have been signs of this outside world elsewhere. Gotham was ripe for the taking, so in a world full of villains, some of the more outlandish and fantasy-based ones would have made their move. If Nolan’s Gotham is forced into a Justice League universe, it will look and feel like a hackneyed patch job.

    Also, for your theory to be correct, that means that every other hero in the world just sat back and watched as Gotham became a total hellhole. Where was Flash to zip through the streets and help people? Martian Manhunter to transform into someone else and sneak in to help undetected? (He’s often depicted as a cop, after all. Surely he’d be sympathetic.) Green Lantern to dig out the police? Wonder Woman offering to work as a non-partisan foreign intermediary? Aquaman to help save the people sent out onto the ice? Superman to just fly down, use his x-ray vision to find the bomb, and then just lob it into the sun? Even if they decided to stay away after Bane warned about outside interference, where were they when he first attacked?

    In order for your theory to be true, that means that every other hero in the world just twiddled their thumbs while Gotham went to Hell. That would make them all colossal assholes, and no one wants to see that happen to DC’s iconic characters.

    And yes, I know that Rises was somewhat based on No Man’s Land, but there were some major differences. Gotham wasn’t taken hostage in NML, it was abandoned after an earthquake and a plague. The government cut all ties, evacuated everyone that was willing to leave, and told everyone else “you’re on your own”. Most of those left behind chose to stay there–they weren’t forced to. Having a choice actually makes a big difference since you could argue that the otehr heroes were just respecting that choice. And even still, other heroes and characters were present to help. Several members of the Batclan were there. Superman showed up at least once. Many cops stayed behind. Even the villains had a presence, with Penguin smuggling in goods and Poison Ivy caring for abandoned children and providing the city with fruits and vegetables. While the Justice League might not be able to help a city that was abandoned by its own country, they can sure as hell take on one masked man with a bomb.

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