Moreover, thanks to corporate intrigue he’s been marginalized at his company and he’s being hassled by a philanthropist (Marion Cotillard) who wants him to pour more resources into a failed clean-energy project involving a “fusion” reactor that is not only not working but can be converted into a nuclear weapon. With Gotham City at peace, Batman isn’t needed anymore, and thanks in part to the efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), he is regarded as a terrorist psychopath anyway.

Instead, the city reveres the memory of the wicked D.A. Harvey Dent, who died in the last movie but who is credited with saving the city by a population that knows nothing of his collaboration with the Joker. Unloved and forgotten, Bruce Wayne lives in Howard Hughes-like isolation, until an idealistic young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who knows his real identity urges him to get back in the game. A hulking, masked villain named Bane (Tom Hardy) who is so unstable he was excommunicated from the centuries-old anarchist brotherhood the League of Shadows captures Commissioner Gordon and is also working with Selina Kyle to eliminate Bruce Wayne as a potential threat as he plots destruction.

That’s the short version of the story. Nolan, who wrote the script with his brother Jonathan, is sitting at a different table than the makers of the other super-hero movies: He isn’t playing down to the adolescents (like the Spider-Man films) and he is much more interested in getting his audience genuinely disturbed than the Iron Man or Avengers movies. When Batman hits bottom, he really hits bottom.