'The Dark Knight Rises' left us in shock, amazed, and puzzled and it's because at the end, we felt like there were too many questions left unanswered. Now let’s dig into some of the nagging questions that still get to us, whether they were answered elsewhere in the film or are left as complete mysteries. For some of them we’ve come up with what seem like pretty reasonable answers, but for others, your guess is as good as ours. And if you have questions we didn't tackle already, let us know in the comments and we may add them. Let's get this movie figured out!
Why did Gordon still have his speech about Harvey Dent in his jacket?
In defense of Commissioner Gordon, we’ve all put things in our jacket pockets and only rediscovered them months later. But his careless mistake is one with huge consequences-- Bane finds it when he apprehends Gordon a day later, then uses the speech to bring Gotham to its knees, aiding in his total takeover of the city. That’s a pretty huge consequence for a piece of paper that someone as savvy as Gordon should have known to burn the minute he stepped away from that podium on Harvey Dent Day.
Why did ALL of Gotham’s cops go underground to investigate Bane’s plot?
Gordon's directive clearly had enough sense not to throw every single member of the police force underground, leaving a skeleton crew to handle the day-to-day cop duties in Gotham. Some of these included top brass like Gordon and Foley, who form a resistance movement with "hot head" newly promoted Detective John "Robin" Blake. But there were more than just these few. Some presumably went into hiding as Foley attempted before Gordon risked his own neck in his quest to get him to join the charge.
How did Batman have time to escape the nuclear blast when we saw him in the Bat’s cockpit with 5 seconds to go on the clock?
There aren’t even any hints to how this works in the movie, so the best we can do is just guess. Maybe he ejected into the water, soared down with the Bat-suit cape and landed in safety. Maybe he had one of the Wayne Industries submarines waiting for him, and that’s how he managed to travel the many miles through water back to Gotham to pick up Selina. Or it might be that the edit is a cheat, that Batman is nowhere near the cockpit of the Bat when there are 5 seconds let on the clock, and Nolan bent the rules a bit to give us a real shock when the Bat blew up. Basically the only answer that sticks is “He’s fucking Batman. He figured it out.”
How did both Batman and Bruce Wayne go missing for so long with nobody connecting them?
While some might argue that Lucius Fox, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, was dealing with the business end of things with Tate, it’s clear from the beginning that Miranda and Bruce are close. The people of Gotham believe that Wayne went into hiding and became a Howard Hughes-esque figure because of this failed project and don’t see any correlation between the two disappearances. If anything, people should have found it strange that Bruce Wayne returned to town in Batman Begins at the same time as Batman’s first appearance. You can’t ask one question without the other.
How did Bruce Wayne get from the prison back to Gotham?
But as someone else has suggested, an entire Planes, Trains and Automobiles-style movie about Bruce’s journey from Albania to Gotham would be pretty great, especially if he had to team up with a slobby John Candy-type to get there (maybe it was the Penguin!) But the only answer to this question, really, is “He’s Batman. He figured it out.” That’s kind of disappointing given the rigorous realism of Nolan’s Batman universe, but this kind of grey area is where fan fiction flourishes, so get ready for tons of theories on this very question for years to come.
How does John Blake know Bruce Wayne is Batman?
He just does, OK? This is a particularly clunky bit of exposition. Blake explains to Wayne that they met once, when the young cop was a simple orphan … much like Bruce was at one point. His exact quotes escape me, but basically, he just knew Wayne was Batman. No explanation. It’s the equivalent of Metropolis citizens not recognizing Clark Kent as Superman because he wears glasses! Only Blake’s smart enough to see through this ruse. That’s why he’s such a good cop.
What happened to The Joker?
The easiest answer is that The Joker is dead. Whether it happened while he was hanging in front of the heavily-armed SWAT team at the end of The Dark Knight (maybe one of the cops didn’t feel he deserved the judicial system) or while he was locked up with the other homicidal loonies in Arkham, if the clown prince is dead it would easily explain why nobody thinks to ask about him in The Dark Knight Rises.
What does Bane’s mask actually do?
You mean, “Besides making him sound ridiculous?” It’s a good question, and one Tommy Carcetti … um, Aidan Gillen asks Bane in the middle of the airplane heist. But Bane’s answer is vague. Much like his motivations throughout the rest of the film. From what we can tell, his mask helps him cope with pain that stems from the beatings he took in the pit. But how? Even though it looks like a mask one would wear in a hospital, there’s no tube leading from a gas tank to Bane’s mask.
The answer to this one is, we don't know.