We are officially two weeks away from the most anticipated superhero movie of the summer (sorry, The Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers, but c'mon!). Of course we're talking about Batman's next big screen romp, The Dark Knight Rises.
Maybe you've been a lifelong fan of the Caped Crusader or maybe you're new to the franchise and haven't even seen Christian Bale's last two turns as the titular Dark Knight. Well fear not, Gotham citizen, we've got everything you need to know going into the flick:
Why Fight Crime? Like every superhero worth his cape, Bruce Wayne's vigilante nature stems from a need to avenge his folks' death. In Batman Begins—the first in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy—young Bruce witnesses a mugger named Joe Chill murder his parents. Years later, Joe gets a shot at freedom if he testifies against another villain, crime lord Carmine Falcone.
Chill is killed (not by Bruce, who wanted to do it, but by Falcone) and Bruce joins the League of Shadows, an underground group of villains. Bruce trains with them to learn how to be bad...in order to use it against those same bad guys and make Gotham a crime-free city.
Bruce turns to the family business—Wayne Enterprises—to fund and create his superhero tools. So why the bat persona? Also as a boy, Bruce fell into a bat-filled well that terrified him. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?!
Gotham: America's Unluckiest City? If we were citizens of Gotham, we'd look into relocating ASAP. Because it seems like every bad dude (or dame) in the world is hell bent on destroying the NYC-like city. In Begins, there was Scarecrow (played by Cillian Murphy), who was infecting the water supply with a hallucinogenic drug. Then we find out that the real villainy going down is that Ra's al Ghul of the League (that'd be Liam Neeson) wants to destroy the city's water supply and create chaos.
And that's just the beginning. In The Dark Knight, it's the Joker (played to perfection by Academy Award winner Heath Ledger) who wants to destroy Gotham, killing off the citizens and creating chaos. He even convinces former standup citizen Harvey Dent turned villain Two Face (Aaron Eckhart) to give in to his dark side and wreak havoc on the city.
As for The Dark Knight Rises? Well it looks like Bane (Tom Hardy) will get his turn to try and destroy good old Gotham.
The Fall of Batman: Faced with that kind of danger, you'd think the people of Gotham would be thankful for their friendly neighborhood playboy turned vigilante. But that's hardly the case...at least, anymore. The city once loved Batman, but Harvey Dent proved to be his downfall.
In The Dark Knight, the Joker threatens to kill new people each day until Batman is unmasked. To stop the mayhem, Harvey outs himself as the caped crusader. Unfortunately for him (and Gotham, too), after his girlfriend is killed, he turns evil and, after Batman kills him, Bruce must take public responsibility for the "murder."
Why? Because while Gotham loved Batman, they were obsessed with Dent. And knowing that he'd gone all, well, Two Face would have crushed their little hearts.
A Loser in Love: Not only did Batman lose his hero status in The Dark Knight, but he lost his true love. Batman Begins introduced us to Rachel Dawes (then played by Katie Holmes), a tough talkin' chick who couldn't find a way to love both Bruce and Batman (she's all about justice by the books, not by one masked man). In the sequel, Rachel (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) falls for Harvey Dent but eventually dies in a fiery explosion orchestrated by the Joker.
So what's a heartbroken superhero to do? Wait on super babes like Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) or the mysterious Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), both of whom join the gang in The Dark Knight Rises. And we think they might have what it takes to take Batman from single to ready to mingle.