This post contains spoilers. Major spoilers. If you have not seen The Dark Knight Rises and you plan to, stop reading now. Add this post to your favorite read-later service, and come back after you’ve seen the movie. I’m not going anywhere.
© Warner Bros.
Now that all of the uninitiated have fled (or are foolishly foraging ahead despite the warnings), let’s talk about the conclusion of John Blake’s story arc in The Dark Knight Rises. Initially, I thought the ending of the movie pointed to him becoming Robin or Nightwing – despite his name appearing nowhere else in Batman canon.
Now I’m sure that initial idea was wrong, and here’s why:
- Ducard in Batman Begins: “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal and if they can’t stop you. Then you become something else entirely…A legend.” Later, Bruce Wayne: “…As a man I’m flesh and blood I can be ignored I can be destroyed but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.” From the beginning, the film makers lay out the simple fact that Batman is bigger than Bruce Wayne and that Batman can outlive Bruce.
- Bruce Wayne/Batman makes a couple of references to the fact that “anyone can be a hero” in The Dark Knight Rises, and he repeatedly tries to convince Blake of the importance of the mask. This leads to the logical conclusion that John Blake will become something more, that he will fit into the DC universe as a recognizable character.
- At the very end, after he leaves the police force, John Blake receives a GPS that helps him locate the Bat Cave. Here, he finds all of the equipment used by the Dark Knight as well as his suit. When he enters the cave, Nolan very deliberately replicates an abbreviated form of Bruce Wayne’s first exploration of the Bat Cave, including a shot of him being encircled by a colony of bats.
- Finally, as Batman’s command center begins to rise from the water, with John Blake standing atop it, rising as it does, the title of the film appears for the first time: The Dark Knight Rises.
Put simply, John Blake is not going to be Robin. He’s not Nightwing. He’s Batman. He will carry the mantle left behind by Bruce Wayne. The revelation that John Blake’s first name is Robin is nothing more than a red herring or perhaps a nod to the role he plays throughout the film as a near-equal to Batman. It does not reveal his future. (And think about it: why would he use his legal first name as his alter ego?) His future is to be the next Dark Knight.