A Commentary on the Modern World


What does the Bat insignia tell us about The Dark Knight Rises?

There is  a lot of smack being talked about the new poster for The Dark Knight rises suggesting it is a half-hearted effort of Nolan to keep interest in the film alive.  I believe otherwise.

Did Nolan just botch this together or is it consistent with an overall theme?

If you notice the use of the white light in the shape of the bat that supersedes the only escape from the demolition – it is very clear that the poster’s intent is to illustrate that the fall of Gotham will, inevitably, require the rise of the dark knight.

Additionally – the use of the wings in the skylight are placed strategically to the back of Batman’s back, as if they were his white wings. All other images of the Bat insignia have been dark or blazing – but this one is clearly white.

In Batman Begins – the symbol is clearly tangible. You can see it and touch it. This illustrated the metaphysical presence of Batman as a real figure engaging Gotham.  The entire film is about that literal presence moving into Gotham.  Look at the posters and notice how the  insignia is tangible.  Notice, Batman is pictured as moving into Gotham where night is about to fall, and notice the use of white light that illustrates hope of a new morning to be out of Batman’s reach.

Tangible insignia, white light is shining upon Batman.

Tangible Insignia. White light of hope far off in the distance – still focused on Batman – who is about to enter a dark Gotham City.

Tangible insignia. Batman enters city. White light of hope above him.

In The Dark Knight – the symbol is consumed in flames – being burned. This is a purging fire to illustrate how the Joker would destroy his image – where as Harvey’s image which had been destroyed would prevail to ensure hope. The sacrifice of Batman to allow his image to be burned – to allow Harvey’s to prevail illustrates well why Nolan chose to use the Bat symbol consumed by fire to tease the audience.  Also compare how the earlier posters showed the night falling upon Gotham – these show Gotham in the midst of that dark night – hence, the title of the film.

Notice the insignia is being consumed in fire and light – both in the picture and the logo. Night has also fallen on Gotham in these posters – where BB posters were at dusk.

Tangible insignia – again – is being consumed by light. The presence of Joker within Gotham is hinted to overcome Batman.

Both the image of the insignia and Batman have been marred by the Joker. This illustrates the character arc that takes place in the film. To protect Harvey’s image of hope in Gotham, Batman allows the Joker to destroy his image. Hence, the image and insignia of Batman as a symbol of hope are put to death in Dark Knight. To preserve the hope of Gotham in Harvey Dent – Batman allows his image to be destroyed. The posters illustrate that well.

In The Dark Knight Rises – the symbol that has been purged of fire is now a shining light – not within the city – but above it. It’s a resurrection of Batman as the hope of Gotham.  Whereas in Batman Begins, Batman  sought to inspire hope within Gotham and in Dark Knight, he sought to preserve hope in Gotham, this poster suggests that he will become the hope of Gotham.

The Insignia is now being consumed in light . The source of light for the poster is the insignia of the Bat symbol – which illustrates well that Batman is the light of Gotham. This is in contrast to the destructive fire and light that consumed the insignia in the posters for Dark Knight.

So – in Batman Begins, the insignia is a tangible symbol to inspire hope in Gotham (dusk). In Dark Knight, the insignia is purged in the fire of Joker’s anarchy to preserve hope in Gotham (night). In Dark Knight Rises, the insignia has become a light above the destruction of the city that inspires hope (morning).

Notice the transition of the bat image. The image is a tangible force within Gotham in BB at dusk. The image is consumed in fire within Gotham in the DK at night. Finally, the image is no longer within Gotham as a tangible force but exists above Gotham as a source of light in DKR at morning. The posters illustrate a dusk, night, and morning phase of Gotham all related to the sacrifices of Batman to save it.

So it is important to emphasize how well thought out the designs for the posters and the character arc of Batman’s role to Gotham.  The suggestion that the posters  are not thought out is ignorant of how the insignia was used in past marketing. There is a clear character arch to how the insignia in the posters represents what Bruce will do to inspire Gotham to save itself – just as Ras Al Ghul said the death of Bruce’s father – Thomas – had done.