Well it didn’t take long for those Empire magazine exclusive images to make the rounds online! Eager subscribers who got the new issue today have provided the snaps for us which include a jaw-dropping subscriber only cover featuring Tom Hardy’s Bane in an iconic pose! It’s easily my favourite promotional shot of the new movie so far. Just stunning.

You can take a look at the images below but before that, there’s actually a bombshell revealing quote from director Chris Nolan we should get to first. In the issue he reveals that the story for The Dark Knight Rises actually picks up EIGHT YEARS after the culmination of The Dark Knight, which climaxed with Batman on the run because he took the blame for Harvey Dent’s murderous spree to keep the image of Gotham’s White Knight and last hope alive.

Or in other words, quite typical of Nolan, just as he reveals something major for one of his movies, he actually raises more questions than answers. Such as;

1) How long has Batman been away from Gotham as a fugitive from the law after the finale of The Dark Knight? When Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordan asks him to pick up the cowl again and Bruce Wayne answers ‘what if he doesn’t exist anymore?’, is it actually true? Has Wayne given up Batman for all these years?

2) Will a fractured time narrative be used here? We all know that Nolan likes to tell stories in his own unique way and movies like Memento (which was told backwards) and his films like Batman Begins, The Prestige and Inception use frequent flashbacks and narrative jumps to tell their tales.

3) Is Nolan really giving us the ‘end of Batman’ here? Is this is final battle? If nothing else the time-jump of eight years makes it feel like a definitive ending.

So much to talk about but here’s the images first for you to gander at;

Nolan also confirms the existence of the prologue that will be attached to prints of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in IMAX and that it will depict “basically the first six, seven minutes of the film. It’s the introduction to Bane and a taste of the rest of the film. With Bane we are looking to give Batman a physical challenge that he hasn’t had before.”

Costume designer Lindy Hemming also talks about Bane’s mask in the movie;

“He was injured early in his story. He’s suffering from pain and he needs gas to survive. He cannot survive the pain without the mask. The pipes from the mask go back along his jawline and feed into the thing at the back where there are two canisters of what ever it is… the anesthetic.”

What do you make of the eight years later revelation and how much are you dying to see the prologue after seeing these new images?

In about a month we’ll start to get a huge indicator of just what Tom Hardy is doing with Bane, just like we did The Joker tease of the first few minutes of The Dark Knight bank heist prologue. Remember the prologue will be attached to IMAX ONLY prints of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol from December 16th and the first full length trailer will be attached to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on the same day.

I suggest on the Dec. 16th weekend you spend your time at the movies!

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This article was first posted on November 21, 2011