We’re opening this feature on something most die-hard Bat-fans will have seen – the IMAX intro that came before Mission Impossible 4 . But be warned, there are some HUGE spoilers to follow.
These 50 Best Moment features are designed to go in-depth on the experience of watching the best films of the year – to remind you of bits you enjoyed, or highlight stuff you might have missed first time out, to encourage you to see it a second time.
But these features are not for the uninitiated, so if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, turn away now!
Still here? Good. We adored The Dark Knight Rises , and we’re looking forward to discussing the best bits with you.
And of those best bits, the plane heist sequence is by far one of the most impressive.
It’s all the more awe-inspiring when you realise it was shot using real stuntmen, by Chris Nolan circling the scene in a helicopter.
The scene combines intense spectacle, key plot detail - the kidnapping of Dr. Leonid Pavel - and even a neat bit of foreshadowing (when Bane leaves his henchman to die) that we’ll come back to later in this feature.
It’s arguably one of the best sequences of the series, with the plane’s hull dropping out to reveal Bane and Pavel hanging in the air easily the equal to The Dark Knight ’s truck flip for spectacle.
And now we’re diving straight into spoiler territory, so consider this your final warning!
One of the great mysteries of The Dark Knight Rises publicity campaign was what role Matthew Modine’s Deputy Commissioner Foley would play in proceedings.
In the trailers, he’s depicted as being a political manoeuvrer, slyly talking behind Gordon’s back. He’s also shown as leading the charge of the army of police officers.
But his journey from careerist Deputy Commissioner back to dedicated cop is one of the delights of the film, with Nolan giving what’s essentially a supporting character a very defined and elegant character arc.
Modine goes from boasting about Gordon’s imminent ‘retirement,’ to being a cowardly counterpoint to John Blake’s brave decency (Foley’s fear during the sewer attack “We don’t know what’s down there.” sets up Blake’s beautifully heroic “The police commissioner's down there.” line), to making a significant mistake during the pursuit of Bane’s stock market crew, shifting focus of the chase onto Batman for personal career gain.
Then, when Bane takes over the city, he hides away – even letting his wife answer the door to Gordon during a violent occupation.
Gordon points this out, reminds Foley of their time on the streets together, and asks him “Have you buried your uniform?”
This confrontation with Gordon is a turning point for Foley, and the next time we see him, he’s leading a seemingly hopeless charge against Bane’s army – in full police uniform. It's far from buried. It's gleaming.
The moment is indicative of Gordon’s power to inspire, and mirrors the franchise’s general theme of the power of good to overwhelm corruption and fear.
Through the majority of Batman Begins , we were led to believe that Liam Neeson was playing a character named Henri Ducard.
The use of that name was particularly brilliant misdirection on Nolan's part.
Ducard is a character that exists in the comics, and, just as he is in Begins , was part of Bruce's early training during the period he was travelling around the world learning to be Batman.
In the comics, the character even has a similar facial hair to the comic-book incarnation of Ra's, making him the perfect - and possibly only - comic-referencing double in the book's long history.
If they had used any other name, Bat-fans in the crowd might have guessed that Liam Neeson was Ghul hiding in plain sight.
The fact that they used Ducard ensured that the bigger the Batman fan you were, the more likely you were to be shocked by the reveal.
Sadly, Talia's identity was a little harder to keep under wraps, and even if you hadn't seen her in costume in those (deeply annoying) pap shots, if you were aware of the character's existence, you were probably one step ahead of TDKR big reveal.
But that didn't stop it from having impact. Talia's hissing hatred of Batman is made tragic by the realisation that, like Bruce, she is grieving for her dead parent.
"I could not forgive my father until you murdered him," she says, and we realise that Bruce is her very own Joe Chill.
But she has a coldness that would make Mr Freeze shiver - just as Bane left his henchman to perish on the plane, Talia orders her oldest ally to stay behind and guard Batman, so her enemy can feel the heat of the bomb blast's flames.
Bane has cared for her since she was a child. It's essentially the equivalent of Bruce leaving Alfred to die. And, ultimately, her disloyalty leads to her undoing.
Bruce vs the paparazzi
Forget Batman going missing from Gotham’s streets, Bruce Wayne has also taken a hiatus from the City party circuit.
So, it comes as no surprise that the man who once made the front pages by spiriting away a Russian ballet troupe is a bit of a draw for the waiting paps when he makes his return to the champagne scene.
But like so much else in this film, there’s a lovely twist.
The paps raise their cameras at Bruce, but before they’ve had a chance to take his picture, he’s reached into his pocket for a portable version of Batman’s EMP device, instantly rendering the photographers’ digital cameras useless.
They should have taken a tip from Nolan, and shot on film.
It was one of the stand-out moments of the trailer campaign.
"You've given them everything!"
"Not everything, not yet."
In the context of the film, it has even greater weight. It's edited slightly differently, for a start - outside of the trailer format, it's slightly extended, with more room to breathe.
And its place in the narrative means that after everything we've experienced up until this point, we can't help but agree with Catwoman.
We want Batman to turn and run, because what's around the corner feels too difficult to bear. Both for him, and for us.
When Josh Pence was cast as a young Ra's al Ghul, we didn't think he was the closest match for Liam Neeson.
But through simple styling, Pence turned out to be every bit Ghul's double, in what ends up being a fantastic flashback.
After his work as one of the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network , it appears Pence is the go-to actor for lookalike work. Let's hope he gets his own defining character soon.
Wayne's underground prison is full of visual echoes with key locations in Batman Begins.
First and foremost, the escape shaft obviously looks like the well into which a young Bruce Wayne dropped and first developed his Bat-phobia.
But with its endless balconies, it also reminds us of The League Of Shadows' base of operations.
To get there, Bruce was set a challenge - pick the blue flower and climb. Here, the challenge is to climb and survive.
Both are key steps on the road to becoming a legend.
Football pitch explosion
We'd already seen it in the trailers, but the full scene - complete with a beautiful arial shot of bombs going off across Gotham city - was truly a sight to behold on the big screen.
It's one of the moments that simply has to be seen on IMAX.
If you haven't bought your ticket for a second viewing yet, we sincerely advise that you go and see it again on the biggest screen possible.
Bruce and Miranda meet
It’s a scene that’s packed with allusions to the franchise; Miranda talks about “bringing balance” to Gotham (just like her dad), and she asks - in reference to an energy project - how Bruce justifies pouring so much money into saving Gotham, only to abandon it, which is an accusation that could also be put to Batman.
But what’s most fascinating is the chemistry between Bruce and Miranda – there’s a real energy to this moment, with both actors on charismatic form.
Some of these moments are in here not because they serve the plot, or because they provide subtle references to events throughout the trilogy.
No, some moments are on this list simply because they're awesome.
And there aren't many things more awesome than the sight of Batman shooting out the back of a truck so he can use it as an improvised ramp, to enable him to fly through the sky.
There's several small moments in The Dark Knight Rises that we can't wait to see again as soon as possible - this is just one of them.