One of the greatest trilogies in the history of cinema is Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Without question, those three movies about the Cape and the Cowl will be near the top of any cinephile or geckaphile list ranking trilogies.
Nolan is one of the most esoteric and cerebral directors of this generation. From Inception to Interstellar, and all points in-between, this is the Peter Cottontail of directors. Dude makes hiding easter eggs in his films a science. There’s always a method to his madness. Ours too.
We reviewed all three films in The Dark Knight trilogy to determine what were the most pricey of Nolan’s Cadburys littered in all three films. The guy is a real DC Comics and Batman enthusiast, so you can be sure the Easter Eggs are no yolk.
(Okay. Okay. I’m sorry for that one.) There are however some real doozies in there, even in promotional collateral.
Here are 15 of the best Easter Eggs in The Dark Knight trilogy.
- (BB) Batman Begins
- (TDK) The Dark Knight
- (TDKR) The Dark Knight Rises
15. Cat Got Your Tongue (TDK)
One of the most obvious Easter Eggs in The Dark Knight trilogy, but if you blinked, this egg got scrambled on the wall behind you flying over head. There’s Batman in the parking garage when some nasty Rottweilers get on his case and takes a chunk from his arm. Following the tourniquet, we find Lucius Fox and Bruce talking about improvements to the suit.
To wit, “It should do fine against cats.” Most of the geckaphiles watching knew what that meant, and we were right. Here comes Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Returns portrayed well by Anne Hathaway. Very well, actually. C’mon trolls. Bring it.
14. The Calling Card (BB)
Now before you exclaim your knowledge of this Easter Egg at the end of Batman Begins, this isn’t about the card. As soon as Batman was given the card by Jim Gordon, everyone was giddy. Christopher Nolan was bringing us The Joker. If only we knew the greatness that was to come…
Yet, this great Easter Egg in The Dark Knight trilogy is about the bag holding the new criminal calling card. Zoom in and you’ll see the name on the label “J. Kerr.” In DC Comics, and well before Todd Phillips gave him the name Arthur Fleck, Joker had an alias of “Joseph Kerr“.
Get it? Joe…Kerr?!
13. The Real Batmobile? (TDK)
Bruce Wayne and his sundry assortment of toys. In The Dark Knight we see Christian Bale driving up to a hotel with two dates riding shotgun. Before he purchases the hotel and that lovely fishbowl/swimming pool, we see Bruce drive up in a fabulous Lamborghini Murciélago.
Many people who saw this thought: “Rich guy. Expensive car. Makes sense.” Only one thing: Murciélago means “Bat” in Castilian Spanish. Hence, the most suitable vehicle for the Batman.
12. Joker on Candid Camera (TDK)
There’s Jim Gordon, leading his task force in an empty vestibule of Gotham Bank. He’s sharing a picture of one of the quickest Easter Eggs in The Dark Knight trilogy. Zoom into Joker’s picture and the “Your mama” pose…see the date? July 18, 2008. That was the theatrical release of The Dark Knight. Nolan just wanted to etch that date in stone, or actually in print. He did much more than just that.
11. The Force is with Heath Ledger (TDK)
Gotham’s finest captured the Joker. Well, more like “captured” since that was part of his diabolical plan. And even though he has some clown shoes on, there he is sitting like Charlie Chaplin stands. Only, it was on purpose to create a fantastic Easter Egg in The Dark Knight trilogy.
It seems both he and Christopher Nolan were fans of who many consider the greatest Joker, Mark Hamill. One Joker is sitting like the other, first seen in the DCAU classic, The Killing Joke.
10. “All That Glitters Is Not Gold” (TDKR)
Who knew William Shakespeare would have such influence in DC Comics. If you are a fan of the classic Adam West Batman, then you know the key to the Batcave was thrust in the throat of a Shakespeare bust in Bruce Wayne’s library.
Fast forward to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and we find the young John Blake meeting with Bruce Wayne. Then, off in the distance while sitting in a library, some red doohickey and the obligatory Shakespeare bust. Well done.
9. That’s a Croc (TDKR)
Closer to the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, Commissioner Gordon is traipsing through the Gotham sewage system searching for some Congressional representative. That’s where he falls down and goes boom to meet Bane. Once Gordon is back in safe hands of officer John Blake from the flushed end of a pipe, he devises a plan.
Then the chuckles come through with cohorts asking Blake about “giant alligators in the sewer system.” If that sounded familiar, and may have nudged you seeing Suicide Squad, that was a delightful reference to Killer Croc, another DC baddie. The sewers is where that eight-foot crocodile lives.
8. Claymation (TDKR)
There was an obscure reference to a Batman baddie in The Dark Knight Rises, but since this was Bane’s movie, all we got was the allusion. Weirder still, it was inspired by Batman: The Animated Series. If you’re familiar with the ’90s cartoon, Roland Daggett creates this face cream called Renuyu. That is gifted to some ne’er-do-well failed actor named Matt Hagen.
Matt used the cream to hide his face and rob businesses. We don’t get any of that in Bane’s masterpiece, but a “John” Daggett is a corporate rival of Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Mendelsohn). While the guy was up to no good, it is appealing to use your imagination to envision what could have been in fourth installment in the Nolanverse.
7. Getting Zsasz-y (BB)
Although you wouldn’t get that impression from Birds of Prey, Victor Zsasz was a terrifying villain. He was a ruthless serial killer who took out notches in his skin for those he killed like an adolescent douchebag would in his bedposts for evening conquests. Nolan could have created an entire movie on him, but instead, we only see him in Arkham Asylum.
We never see his name, but if you look at his neck, those are clearly notches signifying at least 15 dead at his hands. Chris Messina was good as Zsasz, but the way that allusion was in Batman Begins, it would have been great.
6. The Boy Who Would Be Robin (TDKR)
As we are gawking at the spectacle of The Dark Knight Rises, we can’t help but notice the character arc of this John Blake kid who takes such a liking to Batman. As we hear a letter written for Blake from Commissioner Gordon, we learn a few interesting things.
- His name isn’t John…it’s Robin
- He was given the keys to the Bat kingdom and goes spelunking
- As he steps up in the Batcave, the movie fades…as if we could get a trilogy about this
Whether he was to become Robin the Boy Wonder or Nightwing, who knows. However, can you imagine what Nolan could do with another trilogy about him? A sublime Easter Egg for sure.
5. The More Things Change… (BB, TDK)
There are a few analogous threads throughout The Dark Knight trilogy but there are probably no more cool to behold as the constant paternal support of Michael Caine’s Alfred and both young and older Bruce Wayne.
On the left, Batman Begins and the right is The Dark Knight. Both featuring a confrontation between Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. Bruce is hurling some self-pity in Alfred’s direction and both times, there’s Alfred taking on a fatherly role. Really cool how Nolan mirrors those scenes.
4. Homage to the OG Joker (TDK)
This is definitely one of the finest crafted Easter Eggs of The Dark Knight trilogy. Heath Ledger’s mask before the mask was beautiful to watch in The Dark Knight. Only, if you were familiar with the original TV series, you would know how familiar that face was. It belonged to Cesar Romero. See the resemblance? It’s an amazing tip of the cap to the OG of Jokers.
3. Robin Rises (TDKR)
Bane is blowing up the football stadium in downtown Gotham and Hines Ward (yeah, that’s the Hall-of-Fame Steeler) is running for the endzone. As he turns to see the stadium cratering, we are left with a name — Ward.
For anyone who knows Batman, did you think of Burt Ward? As in the Boy Wonder from the ’60s? Nice little nudge, but if you don’t believe this scene had anything to do with Robin, watch this:
The “Rogues” are the home team and the stadium is full of fans (remember those days anyone). Yet, that “R” sure look familiar. Well, if you remember the logo of the Boy Wonder, that’s it. Amazing how The Dark Knight trilogy can focus on devastation but still have enough thoughtfulness to give us the warm fuzzies.
2. Light It Up (TDKR)
One of the most meaningful, and self-gratuitously, Easter Eggs in all of The Dark Knight trilogy is Batman’s command to Commissioner Gordon to “light it up.” See what happens? The flare sparks the kerosene trail to place the Bat signal high in the air. Kinda’ like something else…
The homage was easily one of the best promotional movie posters in history from The Dark Knight four years earlier. In this scene, we learn Bane failed and the Bat is here to stay. Standing ovations should have happened everywhere.
1. Childhood Lost (BB, TDKR)
Christopher Nolan is many things. Above all else, he’s a fan of DC Comics. He understands the emotions that not only deserve but need to be conveyed. His storylines help us all down the path where Bruce will go and who Batman would become. The Easter Egg in this part of The Dark Knight trilogy is not in what we see, but what we hear.
The score to these movies are among the most riveting symphony in film. Hans Zimmer is on his A-game and even he helped create the most precious Cadbury Easter Egg here.
Listen to “Barbastella” on the Batman Begins score. This was, of course, the heart-wrenching scene where young Bruce loses his parents outside the theater. Zimmer has shared that voice was electronic, but what’s important is the beautiful symbolism here. His childhood is lost, and it wouldn’t be until the end of the trilogy where he captures it again.
This was the sunsetting on the man of the night, the Bat of Gotham. That same boy’s voice is heard as that same man–now fully older and fulfilling his call–flies into a sunrise on what seems to be a one-way trip of martyrdom. The song on the score of The Dark Knight Rises is aptly called “Rise.“ (You can hear him at the tail end of the score.) Here, Bruce Wayne is finally allowing the sun to set on his pain as he looks to a horizon of peace.
A master stroke of Easter Eggs indeed.