Brutal Batman Theory Makes The Dark Knight Trilogy’s Ending Way Sadder


  • John Blake’s backstory and skills earned him the role of Batman’s successor in The Dark Knight Rises, but he lacks the necessary training, experience, and support to succeed as Gotham’s protector.
  • Batman’s success was not solely due to his own abilities, but also the help of allies like Alfred, Lucius Fox, James Gordon, and the League of Shadows. Without them, John Blake is more vulnerable to defeat or even death.
  • John Blake’s lack of preparation, combined with the challenges and dangers of being Batman, make it likely that he would fail or face dire consequences soon after suiting up for the first time.

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The Dark Knight Rises set up a hopeful future for Gotham after Batman’s alleged death, but the likelihood of Bruce Wayne’s final plan actually working doesn’t seem too high after the events of Christopher Nolan’s third DC movie. Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy follows Bruce Wayne’s short but grueling stint as Batman, from his training with the League of Shadows to his retirement after defeating Bane. Unlike most other Batman iterations, Christian Bale’s Batman chooses to hang up the cape and pass on the torch to a new hero without supervision at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.

Although Christian Bale’s Batman doesn’t coexist with other DC heroes outside Gotham, the Dark Knight trilogy taps into Batman’s comic book lore to present various famous DC characters in supporting roles, including Catwoman, Lucius Fox, and Victor Zsaz. One supporting character with an unexpected role is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake, who apparently doesn’t have a comic book counterpart at first, but who’s later revealed to be the Nolanverse version of Batman’s main sidekick, Robin. But despite the fact that The Dark Knight pays homage to Robin, not only through easter eggs but also by setting up John Blake as Batman’s successor, the Dark Knight universe doesn’t do the character any favors due to Blake’s backstory and skills — or lack thereof.

John Blake Is Set Up To Be The Next Batman In The Dark Knight Rises

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises

In The Dark Knight Rises, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake is introduced as a rookie police officer who refuses to follow orders blindly. Blake’s deductions about Bane’s plan are discarded at first by his colleagues, but they soon earn him a promotion to detective. John Blake’s backstory also helps him decipher Batman’s real identity, as he explains to Bruce Wayne that he taught himself to smile through the pain after his parents died, “like putting on a mask”, just like Wayne did. Apart from his smarts, John Blake also showcases some impressive combat skills, though he avoids lethal force, which he regrets using accidentally against one of Bane’s followers.

Related: Why Is It So Difficult For Batman Movies To Get Robin Right?

The fact that John Blake shares these characteristics with comic book Robins like Dick Grayson and Tim Drake is no coincidence. After Batman defeats Bane and seemingly sacrifices himself to save Gotham from a nuclear bomb, John Blake resigns from the police force and retrieves GPS coordinates left for him by Bruce Wayne, revealing his middle name along the way: “Robin”. Once he arrives to the destination, he realizes that Wayne gave him access to the Batcave. What John Blake does afterward is left to the audience’s imagination, but the most likely scenario is that Blake accepts his responsibility as Gotham’s protector, either under the Batman moniker or as a new vigilante with an identity of his own.

Blake Is Not Prepared To Be The Next Batman

Bruce Wayne and John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises

While The Dark Knight Rises ends Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy on a hopeful note, John Blake likely has a tough time living up to Batman. John Blake has the right intentions, the right morals, and the appropriate lack of personal ties that allow him to be a vigilante like Batman. Unfortunately, though, he doesn’t have the training, the experience, the connections, or the generational wealth, either. Without the League of Shadows to guide him, John Blake never learns to weaponize fear and darkness. Without Lucius Fox, John Blake can’t maintain or update Batman’s gear and weaponry. And without Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth, John Blake has zero support in his crusade for justice.

Gotham may see Batman as a lone-wolf hero, but the Dark Knight is far from being a one-man army. Bruce Wayne could have died multiple times across the Dark Knight trilogy if it weren’t for Alfred, Lucius Fox, James Gordon, and other unlikely allies, and he almost gave up even more often. John Blake has all the odds against him if he faces a threat like Scarecrow, the Joker, or Bane soon after first entering the Batcave. It could only take one defeat against a similar villain to take him out of the game — or worse, to cause his death or put many innocent lives in danger.

Blake Would Likely Die Or Simply Fail As Batman

Retired Bruce Wayne and John Blake Robin in The Dark Knight Rises

Even with all his preparation, skills, wealth, and support, Bruce Wayne barely survived being Batman for around a decade. Batman’s peaceful retirement after The Dark Knight Rises is a miracle considering his injured knee and broken back, which could have prevented him from fighting Bane and saving Gotham if it weren’t for his prior physical and psychological training, as well as his resources and connections. Living a double life is also easy for someone who could disappear from the public eye at any time and for as long as he wanted.

On the contrary, John Blake could be facing permanent injuries, or even death, should anything go wrong in one of his missions. If adapting to Batman’s lifestyle is a challenge for John Blake, then feats like climbing out of the Pit, neutralizing Scarecrow’s fear gas toxin, or fighting the Joker’s SWAT impersonators may be simply impossible for him. And if Bruce Wayne’s resources is all John Blake inherited from Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, his stint as a vigilante may have ended tragically shortly after, leaving Gotham more disheartened than if Batman’s successor never appeared.

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