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Ever since the credits rolled at the end of The Dark Knight anticipation for Christopher Nolan’s third (and ultimately final) Batman film has been huge. 2010’s Inception whetted appetites with its intricate story telling and Nolanesque effects whilst the steady leak of on-set photos have driven people wild with questions.

TDKR Snow

Whilst the film won’t feature The Dark Knight’s best character (the decision to not replace Heath Ledger’s Joker being thankfully made) it will feature rising star Tom Hardy, who is set to play Bruce Wayne’s new nemesis Bane. In preparation for the film’s 20th July release, we look at everything we know…

Batman Begins

Released way back in 2005, Batman Begins introduced us to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne / Batman combo. Still reeling from the loss of his parents, Wayne is forced toward the suit to protect Gotham’s innocent. Along the way we’re introduced to butler Alfred (Michael Caine), love interest Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) and baddies The Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul. Friends and allies are made along the way, mainly in the shape of Gary Oldman’s Detective Gordon and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox…

The Dark Knight

The series grew darker with Nolan’s second instalment. Introducing us to Heath Ledger’s wonderfully crazy Joker, The Dark Knight pits Batman against Gotham as he’s painted as a vigilante. Whilst the Joker makes a name for himself, Wayne is struggling to fight the good fight. His problems increase as Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent sways from goodie to two faced baddie (arf). When Batman stands to lose everything he loves he must decide between protecting Gotham or himself…

The Cast

Much can be made from a film’s casting decisions. Sparking rumours and gossip like wildfire, the inclusion of Anne Hathaway in TDKR’s rosta intensified the anticipation for the movie. Now known to playing the part of Cat Woman, Hathaway seems like a good addition to Nolan’s Batman universe and images have already leaked of her in THAT outfit.

In the world’s worst-kept secret, Tom Hardy will appear as Bane, a bulk of a man intent on causing chaos. Special IMAX screenings of MI: Ghost Protocol gave lucky viewers a glimpse of Bane’s murderous attitude and his chilling hostility whilst on board a plane with a CIA operative. The upshot? He’s not going to be very nice. In much the same vein as the opening of The Dark Knight (in which we were introduced to a maniacal Joker), the preview presents us with a man (humbled by excruciating pain, only alleviated by that iconic mask) who knows no limits and shows no pity.

Batman staples are set to reappear, with Gary Oldman and Michael Caine returning but it is the inclusion of Inception’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt that has set tongues wagging. Starring as John Blake will his name quash rumours of the Riddler appearing for good? Rounding off the set Inception’s Marion Cotillard also appears.

The Trailer

Sending film fans into a frenzy, the release of the first full TDKR trailer gave us a lot to look forward to. Hidden symbols (did you spot the Robin reference?), epic special effects (Bane’s blowing apart of a football pitch being a stand-out moment) and the promise of a show-down between the caped crusader and his new nemesis all offer excitement. In true Nolan style, the music reinforces the theatricality of the story with a young boy’s singing being replaced by a thundering orchestra. The trailer also promises vehicles galore.

The Storyline – What We Know

TDKR will be set eight years on from The Dark Knight. Gotham is supposedly at peace now, having recovered from the mayhem caused by the Joker. Batman, having taken the rap for Harvey Dent’s crimes, is thought to return to Gotham to save it from the destructive forces of Bane, a character Nolan has described as being a mental and physical test for Batman. Although penned by Nolan, it is thought the story may echo the Knightfall comic storyline.

With Bane telling Batman ‘when Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die’ in the trailer, there’s a finality about TDKR that promises an epic battle between good and evil. Will Batman prevail? We’ve been warned, rather ominously, that the legend ends with this last instalment – will Batman make it out alive?

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