5. "... I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there's no one there to save it." "Then make the climb."
The Dark Knight Rises is Christopher Nolan's flawed followup to arguably the best Batman film. But one of the better parts of it involves seeing a broken Batman for the first time on screen. In The Dark Knight, the Joker had all but succeeded in breaking his spirit and led the way to living a terrible lie for years. And then Bane broke his body. Left in some third world hell of a hole in the ground, Bruce rots and stews over what's been done to his city and to himself. After facing his failures, he finally moves to make it all right and begins the long climb back to the light and to Gotham City. Hans Zimmer's score blares as we circle back to answer the question that began Nolan's trilogy of films: "Why do we fall? "
4. "Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed like Batman?"
A common thread running through the cinematic Batman is that he admits he doesn't want to do this forever. He's willing to quit mere months into his crusade for Andre Beaumont in Mask of the Phantasm, he names a successor in The Dark Knight Rises, and he's willing to walk away from all of this craziness in Batman Returns if Selina Kyle will join him. But his pleas with her to leave it all behind is interrupted by an incredulous Christopher Walken dropping an amazing line: "Bruce Wayne, why are you dressed like Batman?"
3. "What about escalation?"
It is bonkers to think that it took five films to get a proper Batman/Gordon rooftop scene. But this more than makes up for it with the ending exchange of Batman Begins. From the introduction to the bat signal, to Gordon laying out a core argument of the Batman mythos that the Dark Knight's presence alone leads to an escalation to the Year One nod to the Joker. But Gordon trying to thank Batman only for Batman to insist that he'll never have to seals the moment.
2. "My God!"
The Warner Bros. animation team nail an important factor in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm that hasn't been a factor in any other film with the Caped Crusader: Intimidation. Flashing back to the early days of crimefighting before the cowl, Bruce has all the means to bring war to criminals but realizes that they aren't afraid of a mere man. Down in the cave, he dons his gloves and his cape. But when he puts on the cowl, even the man who raised him and knows him best is taken aback. As Batman's eyes narrow, Alfred can only let out a "My God!"
1. "You have nothing to threaten me. Nothing to do with all your strength."
The Dark Knight serves as a showcase for Heath Ledger's Joker. But when he has a sit down with Batman and proceeds to spout off his philosophy, the stakes are raised. Batman is able to keep his rage in check until the Joker succeeds at getting under his skin and we see abject brutality coming from Batman while Gordon and his crew look on in impotent horror. And the Joker's response is to merely laugh as he's seemingly cracked what makes The Dark Knight tick.