The Climbing Scenes in The Dark Knight Rises Make No Sense

Slate's Culture Blog
July 30 2012 8:30 AM

The Real Problem with The Dark Knight Rises? The Climbing Scenes Make No Sense

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises.

Photo by Ron Phillips © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures.

The following assessment first appeared on social media. When we spotted the author’s astute analysis, we asked her if we could repost it on Brow Beat.

I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises in a tiny Wyoming town an hour from where I'm currently camped for rock climbing. Since most of the pedantic critiques of the film have already been voiced, let me offer a potentially new one: The climbing in this movie makes no goddamn sense.


1) 95 percent of the climb Bruce Wayne makes out of the prison pit is on top-rope, meaning that he's connected to a rope that is already run through an anchor system near the top of the pit. This is perhaps the safest type of climbing, and means both that there should be virtually no danger as he climbs to the anchor, and that he should be able to climb the rope itself at any time if he gets stuck–assuming of course that he has a competent belayer who is not a complete sociopath (see No. 3).

2) Once he climbs to the anchor, which is very, very near the mouth of the pit, there are three ledges above him he could easily climb like a ladder to safety. Bruce instead decides to ignore them, and make a totally insane horizontal jump between two distant platforms.

Why do we fall? Because we make terrible, terrible decisions when attempting to read very simple climbing routes.

3) What is going on with his belayer when he jumps? Clearly whoever is holding the rope pulls some of the slack in as Bruce climbs since Bruce doesn't hit the ground when he falls, but I guess at some point like halfway up the dude arbitrarily decides to stop belaying and leave an insane amount of rope out so Bruce will take a 100+ foot lead fall and smash into the side of the pit. Suck it, Bruce Wayne! That's what your fellow prisoners think you deserve for flying too close to the sun! Despite being a total dick, however, random prison belayer is astonishingly able to catch a maaaassive fall on hip belay without getting pulled into the air and totally losing control of the rope.

Also, Bruce somehow absorbs the force of the fall on a hemp rope tied around his waist without sustaining massive internal injuries, not once but twice.

4) Finally and most obviously, the wall that runs between the two huge platforms is covered in holds that Bruce could have easily use to traverse from one to the other, instead of jumping into thin air like a maniac and almost certainly taking a massive whipper into a stone wall. Truly, the world's greatest detective.

Laura Hudson is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter.


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