The Story: Last week, Keaton and Pfeiffer from 1992. This week, twenty years later with Bale and Hathaway in 2012. A lot has changed in 20 years from Batman Returns to The Dark Knight Rises. But so much stays the same.
First, the dance itself, although Christopher Nolan shoots it with more sustained "takes" and fewer cuts than Tim Burton did. Second, we're at another costume ball, although the emphasis is less on costumes than formal wear with masks. Third, Bruce Wayne (who wears a mask professionally, although it's debatable which role he plays is the mask) shows up for the soiree...as himself...mask-less (although, again, that's debatable). Fourth, some one comments on it: in Burton's, Max Shreck calls the costume "trust-fund goody-goody;" With Nolan, Wayne identifies it as "Bruce Wayne: Eccentric Billionaire." Fifth, Selina Kyle and Wayne exchange a kiss, but this one is not so romantic as challenging. Sixth, Selina comments on Wayne's privates in both films, it's an odd comic moment in the first film, but it's oddly unnecessary, especially in the latter film where the comment is generated completely out of context from the previous remark.
Two completely different scenes, though, even though the characters are both masked, both divided, and in transition. In Burton, they're romantic, potential partners; in Nolan, they're wary combatants, although non-threatening for now...even Selina's "storm" warning has a beneficial aspect to it. The dance is suggestive of the alliance/antagonism relationship Bruce and Selina have always "enjoyed" in the comics, two people caught in the middle of themselves and each other, capable of tipping to either side, given circumstances.
Seeing it in the theater, it was eerie to see it unfolding, with memories of the first dance.
The Set-Up: Years after the death of "White Knight" D.A. Harvey Dent, "The Batman" accused of his death has gone into hiding, and so has his alter-ego Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), whose only achievement has been to develop a cold fusion reactor that he quickly scrapped, losing half of his family's fortune. A robbery at stately (and recently rebuilt) Wayne Manor by a mysterious cat-burglar (Anne Hathaway) has brought Wayne out of hiding to a charity function thrown by Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), where he spies the thief—Selina Kyle—who stole only his mother's pearls...and his fingerprints.
Wayne watches Miranda glide away. Then turns to Selina.
WAYNE Mind if I cut in?
Wayne hands him his cane.
Takes Selina by the waist. She glares at him.
WAYNE You don’t seem very happy to see me.
SELINA You were supposed to be a shut-in.
WAYNE Felt like some fresh air.
SELINA Why didn’t you call the police?
WAYNE I have a powerful friend who deals with this kind of thing.
(Admires her cat ears.) Brazen costume for a cat burglar.
Yeah? Who are you pretending to be?
WAYNE Bruce Wayne, eccentric billionaire. Who’s your date?
His wife’s in Ibiza. She left her diamonds behind, though. Worried they’d get stolen.
It’s pronounced ’Ibeetha’. You wouldn’t want these folks realizing you’re a crook not a social climber.
(flash of anger) You think I care what anyone in this room thinks about me?
WAYNE I doubt you care what anyone in this room thinks about you.
Don’t condescend, Mr. Wayne. You don’t know a thing about me.
WAYNE Well, Selina Kyle, I know you came here from your walk-up in Old Town - modest place for a master jewel thief. Which means either you’re saving for your retirement - or you’re in deep with the wrong people.
You don’t get to judge me because you were born in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor.
Actually, I was born in the Regency Room.
I started off doing what I had to. Once you’ve done what you had to they’ll never let you do what you want to.
SELINA There’s no fresh start in today’s world. Any twelve-year-old with a cell phone could find out what you did. Everything we do is collated and quantified. Everything sticks. We are the sum of our mistakes.
WAYNE Or our achievements.
SELINA The mistakes stick better. Trust me.
You think that justifies stealing?
I take what I need to from those who have more than enough. I don’t stand on the shoulders of people with less.
WAYNE Robin Hood?
I’d do more to help someone than most of the people in this room. Than you.
WAYNE Maybe you’re assuming too much.
SSELINA Or maybe you’re being unrealistic about what’s really in your pants other than your wallet.
SELINA You think all this can last?
Wayne glances around at the sumptuous party.
There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits...
...you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large...
...and leave so little to the rest of us.
Sounds like you’re looking forward to it.
These pearls do look better on you then they did in my safe...
Wayne rolls her into his shoulder - reaches up to the back of her neck, unclasps the necklace.
...But I still can’t let you keep them.
The pearls slide off her neck into his other hand. Selina looks at him. Angry.
Then kisses him, hard,
...and disappears into the crowd.
Wayne’s cane reappears.
RICH TWIT(annoyed) You scared her off.
EXT. MUSEUM - MOMENTS LATER
Wayne approaches the Valet. Pats down his pockets.
I must have lost my ticket -
VALET Your wife said you were taking a cab home, sir.
INT./EXT. LAMBORGHINI RACING DOWN STREETS - CONTINUOUS
Selina permits herself a little smile as she guns the engine.
The Dark Knight Rises
Words by Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan
Pictures by Wally Pfister and Christopher Nolan
The Dark Knight Rises is available on DVD from Warner Home Entertainment