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This first part of the question regards the flight at the end of The Dark Knight Rises:

At the end of The Dark Night Rises, Batman appears to be flying away in his "bat" with the A-Bomb attached to it. The bomb has a blast radius of 6 miles, yet he managed to fly it so far away from the shore it looked like a little cloud of smoke. However, when he was carrying the bomb he was having trouble getting "The Bat" up and out of the city. How could he have possibly gotten it that far away from the shore in such as short amount of time?

This second part of the question regards the fate of certain characters in the film.

The other question that I am sure will be asked all over for the next few weeks: what actually happened to the Batman? As we learned, the autopilot was installed - did Batman jump out of the "bat" before it blew? Or did he really make the ultimate sacrifice?

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The answer is spoiler too...... –  lamwaiman1988 Jul 20 '12 at 14:11
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@gunbuster363 If someone clicks on a question titled "Clarification about the conclusion of Dark Knight Rises" and then proceeds to read the answer, I think it's safe to say they sought to spoil themselves. –  Keen Jul 20 '12 at 23:31
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I don't see how you could ask that second question if you had actually seen the movie. Did you stand up and walk out before the credits started rolling? –  Plutor Jul 23 '12 at 11:41
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If you are so worried as to how he got so far away in such a short period of time, you should also ask yourself about the effects of an A-Bomb blowing up on top of the ocean surface... I think a tsunami was in order. –  JNat Dec 4 '12 at 15:23

14 Answers 14

up vote 20 down vote accepted

IMPORTANT TWIST

Batman: I can get it over the bridge!
Catwoman: Set it to fly out over the water, then eject?
Batman: No autopilot!

This is the twist! You can either view Batman's last line as "No autopilot, I'm screwed!" or "No, autopilot" as in "No, I'm not going to set it to fly over the water and eject, I'm going to use the autopilot"

It's the difference between "No autopilot!" and "No, autopilot!"

Nolan is a genius. Just saying.

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That second one, "No, autopilot!", also looks like he may be scorning his autopilot. –  Nathan Sabruka Feb 22 '13 at 13:48
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"No, bad, get off the table autopilot!" –  Rob Nov 25 '13 at 15:51

For the former, it could be shrugged off as just part of the movie. However, it would take someone going at about 50% of Mach 1 to travel six miles in a minute. Given the Bat is a defence project, it's not unreasonable that it had sufficient acceleration capabilities to get up to speed and travel that far, especially since

as I mention below, the autopilot is installed so acceleration does not necessarily need to cater for a human being seen. Batman could have ejected before we even see the Bat come out of the city centre and pass the bridge.

Having just seen this, the answer to the second was pretty explicit in the movie:

The autopilot was fixed by Bruce Wayne, as Lucian Fox was told. We then see Alfred enjoying his drink in the sun, before spotting Bruce and Selina enjoying themselves on another table, as Alfred had mentioned he'd like to see earlier in the movie.

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It is so unrealistic, no one enjoys Fernet Branca. –  Blem Jul 26 '12 at 7:35
    
How is THIS not an accepted answer? –  DVK Jun 21 '13 at 3:36

For the answer of the first question, I think only the director can explain, and I think it is just the stupidity and contrary of the plot.

As for the second one:

Batman does not die. Period. No director dare to kill Batman and make a stop to the series. The autopilot system was installed. What Batman told the Catwoman that there is no autopilot is just a lie. He surely did jump out of the Bat I think. And the reason of lying is probably he would like to take a holiday and make a fresh start so that he can get out of the thinking of his dead girlfriend.

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He also did have the "fresh start" software. –  kjmccarx Jul 20 '12 at 14:22
    
He didn't want to erase Bruce Wayne "from every database in the world". That would be crazy. –  Plutor Jul 23 '12 at 11:43
    
Why would he lie to Catwoman and then run away with her the next second? –  Jakob Nov 25 '13 at 15:49

It was subtle and probably understated, I think Nolan wanted the audience to piece it together from little things & then have a big "Oh, NOW I get it! Very clever!" moment, but most people didn't. I had to re-watch it twice to get it all, trying to make sense of it, b/c I had the exact same reaction the first time.

Bruce isn't in that Bat when the bomb detonates. Lucius tells him earlier in the movie that "a better mind" (like Bruce's) would be needed to get the remote-control function for The Bat operational. It isn't shown explicitly, but clearly Bruce does this, there's a scene where a puzzled Lucius mentions Bat prototypes (proving there are other Bats, even if some are more advanced than others) being programmed with auto-pilot tech, by Bruce. In the final scene, he is remote-controlling the nuke-carrying Bat, while he's in a second Bat.

He is shown entering the Bat that carries the nuke, yes. I don't see nearly enough people noticing/mentioning this next part, though: A short while into his flight (long enough to get out of visual range of any witnesses), he pushes a button on his flight controller, and that launches a missile at a building. That isn't so that he can clear the building: That is his smokescreen, that is when he exits the Bat, and begins operating it remotely. "Theatricality and deception," & all that. You then see him in the cockpit of a Bat that is flying, and the editing cuts lead you to assume it's the same Bat that's carrying the nuke. But it isn't. The proof is flimsy, and I'm not arguing that it's well done, but it is what Nolan wanted us to piece together:

If you watch his face when he's in the cockpit after that explosion, look at the light & shadow playing across his face. The Bat carrying the nuke emerges from the smoke of the expIosion, passes over Blake & the schoolbus on the bridge, and then goes out to sea. If Batman were in that Bat, his face should be evenly lit from that point on - the only light source is the sun, no buildings on either side of him, no explosions, no lightning. But then the camera cuts from the Bat & nuke, to him in a moving cockpit, and instead of even lighting, you see surges and flickers of light on his face... Because the Bat that he's actually in, is flying back through the city, between buildings (some of which are on fire).

I didn't get it the first time, either. Nobody in the group I saw it with could figure it out. And if I weren't OCD about trying to piece it together, I sure wouldn't have. I thought Nolan was a better filmmaker than that, and it turns out he is... he's just too subtle for his own good sometimes. I actually think the whole reason Batman does the silly smoke-bomb trick in his first fight with Bane (I get it - he was desperate & losing, but those were some lame smoke-bombs!), is so that the concept of smokescreens & misdirection is put into our head. It also obviously gives Bane an excuse to reiterate "theatricality and deception," so that it's in the back of our minds for the Bat finale.

My 2 cents, anyway

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Hello and welcome to Scifi.SE. Your answer is based on a single detail. But it's well argumented, which makes it good. However, where would that second Bat come from? It just happened to be on the bridge? –  Kalissar Aug 29 '13 at 9:22
    
Very interesting answer, I'm eager to watch it again and see how this plays out. So, you've intrigued me! –  FoxMan2099 Aug 30 '13 at 4:40

Obviously, the autopilot played a huge role in Wayne's final disappearing act. I think the answer to how he got rid of the bomb AND lived is revealed earlier, when Fox first shows him The Bat. About the plane, Fox says, "Yes, it also comes in black."

There were multiple tumblers sitting around in Wayne Enterprises, and I think there was a second Bat down there as well. Either that, or the cockpit of The Bat ejected as an escape pod, leaving the rest of the plane to carry the bomb as far away as possible.

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The ending is genius but didn't become 100 percent clear to me until my third viewing. Bruce Wayne is Definitly alive and well living with Selena in Europe and it was made clear to everyone in their own unique way, Gordon-Finding the New Batsymbol, Fox- Autopilot, Blake- (Obvious!!), and Alfred -Seeing them in the cafe plus Selena was wearin the pearls with the tracking device in it as mentioned as missing by the lawyer. As for Blake I think he'll be in the new JL movie somehow

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“As for Blake I think he'll be in the new JL movie somehow” — I’m really looking forward to Joseph Gordon-Levitt attempting a Batman voice. –  Paul D. Waite Dec 12 '12 at 13:08

The first part was clearly not well thought out. My only thought on this is that the Bat did look like it had some kind of turbines on the side that might be able to bring it up to the insane speed it would need to get over 6 miles outside of the city, as it looked like he was.

As for jumping out, it had to occur at some point after he passed the bridge, since there was a cut to his face in the cockpit after he passed the bridge. As for how he got out, he's the Batman. As for why, he needed to fake his death in order to fulfill Alfred's wishes. He clearly regretted making Alfred leave, because he only made Alfred leave for telling the truth and expressing his care for Bruce. Everything in the movie led up to him continuing life without being the Batman. Making Alfred leave, his cautious yet obvious attraction to Selina, and finally him reestablishing a fear of death. It was a brilliantly crafted movie, despite the unexplained speed problem with the Bat.

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In movie making there is a plot device called a MacGuffin. Here's the article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin

In TDKR, the bomb is a MacGuffin.

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Alfred seeing Bruce in the cafe was only his hope (and always has) of Bruce Wayne's fate. Lucius Fox being informed of the autopilot fix was his "hope" that Wayne survived. Even Gordon is given hope when he sees the the bat signal is whole once more. Gotham will only come to remember The Batman, but the hope Bruce Wayne has is that Blake will take on the mantle as protector of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne died in the explosion. The auto-pilot was broken. He told Selina as much; why would he lie and and at such a time? That's my interpretation of the ending.

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THE BATWING

So while the batwing did initially have trouble lifting the bomb; as it got some momentum, lifting it would be less of a problem. Check it. Any plane over weight will take off slower, but as the speed picks up the difference in air pressure that creates lift is amplified by the speed. So as it accelerates the difficulty holding up the bomb dissipates......however this is only to the extent that the engines CAN actually accelerate the total mass. The depiction in the film appears very consistent from the strength of the engines from take off to explosion. While that's a ridiculously strong jet, he is Batman & the CEO of ridiculously awesome ......everything.

ALTERNATE INTERPRETATION

(just for fun)

Despite the last scene with Bruce and Cat Women in the café, the question posed is still valid. He asked: The other question that I am sure will be asked all over for the next few weeks: what actually happened to the Batman? As we learned, the autopilot was installed - did Batman jump out of the "bat" before it blew? Or did he really make the ultimate sacrifice? And while the easiest and therefore most likely interpretation of this scene is too assume that Bruce has made it out and his close friend and butler, Alfred, is seeing him there in the café just like he always wanted.

OR…………

A completely viable but less likely interpretation would be that Alfred is not REALLY seeing Bruce at all! Just like all the years before, he is entertaining his favorite fantasy IN HIS HEAD. I really don’t think this is so. But it’s plausible and would present a possibility that Bruce Wayne, not knowing the autopilot was installed, did make the ultimate sacrifice. Boom. Mind=Blown.

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Just re-watched the movie, there are a few strong indicators that Bruce survived.

One is the missing string of pearls. At the big charity event, we clearly see that he takes them from Selina. But at the end, the lawyer with the will says they are missing. This could very strongly hint at the fact that Bruce survived and gave them back to Selina before they left Gotham and started over.

Secondly is the obvious autopilot software patch which had Bruce's ID. I mean, why wouldn't he use it if he went through all the trouble of fixing it.

Thirdly, that explosion the kids see from the bridge. I know it looked like the Bat was having a bit of a tough time getting over that last building, but I believe it made it over it. Bruce turns on the autopilot and ejects. After he ejects, maybe the Bat takes a moment to adjust its course hits a building top or something and then flies over the bay.

The only problems are the shot of him flying over the bay in the cockpit which someone said could've been after the blast the kids saw from the bridge, after which he ejected (smokescreen).

The second problem is less about the "death" and more about the story, the bomb had 1:36 minutes left before the big Batman-Catwoman kiss + the speech about who a hero really is. I think it's fair to assume that he had less than a minute (50 seconds give or take) to get over the building and so far into the bay. It just doesn't seem logical.

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I think the most suitable answer for your question is that Batman ejected the Bat boarding a different vehicle (kinda like the Bat-pod which was ejected from the Tumbler). To back that up, here are some of my speculations:

  1. Before Batman comes out in the open with the bomb, he causes a huge explosion. Moments before it we can see him extremely anxious, even terrified. Well, it could very well that be because he was in a hurry to carry the bomb out over the bay but it could also be because he was about to decide to drop his two identities for good (Batman and Bruce Wayne) and choose a third one, that of faking his death and living all over the world into hiding, but as Alfred once told him: being happy. Bruce knows that it's not an easy choice but he must decide in a few seconds. Subsequently, the explosion would cover the ejection of this secondary vehicle. Batman continued his travel away from Gotham, while the Bat continued its travel over the bay (using the fixed autopilot system).
  2. After the explosion Batman is again seen to be calm. That may proves my aforementioned comment. The secondary vehicle has successfully been ejected, the Bat's autopilot system was working properly and the Bat was traveling to the correct destination.
  3. In addition, let us hear the sounds of the engines of the Bat prior and after the first explosion (and the alleged ejection) as they sounded from the interior of the Bat. Prior to the explosion we can clearly hear the propellers of the Bat. After the explosion we only hear an electrical buzz; in the exterior shots, though, the sound of the propellers of the Bat continues to be heard. That may indicates that Batman boards a different vehicle thus proving that he had indeed ejected.
  4. The interior shots after the explosion don't let us stare the background exteriors of the Bat, although prior to the explosion we can see skyscrapers and other buildings that the Bat passes by.
  5. After the first explosion we can't see if there is anyone in the cockpit of the Bat.
  6. Batman turns around and looks Gotham for the last time; he could very well do that because he had decided to fake his death and not because he welcomes his incoming death.

Taking the above statements into account, Batman obviously had a large amount of time to escape the blast radius of the bomb. He had ejected by the time of the explosion near the skyscrapers; he then turned his vehicle away from the bay and flied over to the opposite direction. The explosion of the bomb found Batman miles away from Gotham.

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Mach 1 is about 700mph at sea level. It's also a pretty good assumption that modern military fixed wing craft can fly that fast or a bit faster. At that speed, you can fly 12 miles in a single minute. I have not seen the show in question, but it's not too far fetched that he could remove it to the distance you describe unless they waited until there was 10 seconds left on the timer. Now, there are some problems... namely it can take a bit to get up to speed. But if he had even 4 or 5 minutes, this is more than adequate.

On the other hand, this is just bad strategy. Nuclear weapons are very fragile in the sense that they're not powder kegs waiting to go off. If they are damaged even slightly, they'll fizzle yield or even fail to detonate entirely. Even if you did manage to detonate the high explosives used to compress the core, if they are detonate in a way that is even slightly uneven, the nuclear component will fail to go off. Rather than letting it detonate, merely crashing the nuke into the ground in such a way that it was damaged should do the trick. It would necessitate some hazardous waste cleanup, but you wouldn't have a mushroom cloud and a radioactive crater.

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I would still go with the stupidity of the plot. And I think he didn't have 4 or minutes...... –  lamwaiman1988 Jul 20 '12 at 15:10
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The second paragraph isn't relevant to this film. They go to great lengths to establish that it's not a conventional nuclear bomb. –  Keen Jul 20 '12 at 23:33
    
Then it's not a nuke at all. Nukes are devices in which a core of fissile material is compressed into super criticality. There are only many ways to do that. –  John O Jul 21 '12 at 3:38
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If only Cat Woman hadn't wasted so much of his precious time with that last kiss... –  Ivo Flipse Jul 21 '12 at 12:53
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The A bombs dropped on Japan were both fission. The Ulam-Teller fusion (H bomb) bombs weren't developed until the early 1950s. They too are primarily fission devices, but the fission detonation is hot enough to fuse some deuterium present in the device. Even then, calling them fusion weapons is generous, the primaries are large enough that in many cases they provide 90% of the oomph. –  John O Jul 23 '12 at 18:39

Blast radius of six miles means he didn't have to go six miles, just three (six miles is the radius, the center of which is three). He had time.

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You're getting radius and diameter mixed up. –  kjmccarx Feb 22 '13 at 5:00

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