It's official: The Bat is back. We just watched the epic conclusion to director Christopher Nolan's comic-book trilogy. While there are a lot of twists and turns we could spoil, we won't. Instead here are a few of our favorite cool, weird and shocking things about The Dark Knight Rises.
1. Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle Is Rises MVP, Just Don't Call Her Catwoman: Although the casting of Hathaway was met with plenty of skepticism, Selina Kyle is by far the best new addition. (Remember that Heath Ledger's casting as Joker was met with similar doubt before anyone had actually seen The Dark Knight.) Hathaway is fantastic. Beyond her razor sharp line deliveries, her quick fast personality shifts from shrewd cat burglar to seemingly helpless damsel. Her banter with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is genuinely funny. Plus, Catwoman's—although she's never called that in the film—dazzling maneuvering of the Batcycle lightens the mood. Don't worry there's plenty of darkness, provided by...
2. Bane's Cleaned-Up Voice Is Still Hard to Understand: When The Dark Knight Rises was first previewed before Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, audiences complained that the face muzzle Bane (Tom Hardy) wore made his dialogue too hard to decipher. Now he's much clearer, but the voice takes over every scene—sounding like Darth Vader's thuggish sibling—but never really sounding like he's actually in the scene. More like a weird ADR mix amped to 11. And yet, it's occasionally a challenge to hear what the baddie is saying.
3. Rises Is Like Batman Begins and...Rocky III: With many callbacks to the first film (like the League of Shadows' comeback) Rises has a lot more in common with Begins than The Dark Knight. But way more fun is spotting all the similarities Rises shares with the Italian Stallion's third outing. First there's Bane's headgear—when viewed from the back, we can't help but be reminded of the Mohawk sported by Clubber Lang (Mr. T). Next up? Batman first loses a boxing match to Bane, and then comes out on top of their next bout. And finally, like Philly, Gotham pays tribute to its native son with a statue. So then, why no "Eye of the Tiger" during Bruce Wayne's training montage? Why so serious?
4. Ra's al Ghul Is Back, but No One Mentions The Joker: The return of the League of Shadow's leader Ra's al Ghul isn't a huge surprise—Liam Neeson is listed on the film's IMDb page—but just how much is he in the film? Not a whole lot. All we'll say is that Wayne sees Ra's as a kind of inspiration. Still, at least Bruce sees Ra's, albeit briefly. After Ledger's passing, Nolan made the decision to not have the Joker's character appear at all. We can respect that.
5. Even on Holiday, Alfred Worries About Master Wayne: The heart of the series—heck, the heart of all Batman stories—is Alfred the butler. We were happy to see a moment where Alfred (Michael Caine) gets out of Wayne Manor/Bat Cave for much needed R&R. Admit it, that old guy deserves it. And yet, even while he's vacationing in some gorgeous Italian villa, all he hopes to see is Bruce and a loving gal at his side. We want that for him, too. But come on, Alfred. Order the good wine and relax!