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Nearing the climax of The Dark Knight Rises we see Bruce return to Gotham while Miranda Tate gets captured together with Gordon's men. While the latter gets sentenced to "death by exile", the former becomes Bane's hostage. But then in the next scene we see Bruce getting brought into Wayne Tower, meeting up with Lucious and Miranda. In subsequent scenes she's then again hostage of Bane.

Now of course as it turns out Miranda isn't actually anyone's hostage, but at this point we as well as everyone else still ought to believe that and she can't just switch places without effort or suspicion. So this scene in Wayne Tower apparently has to happen before she helps Gordon, which is supported by the fact that the scene doesn't impose any other continuity requirements on its surrounding narration and could as well have been placed before that. Now it's also a given that Christopher Nolan has a penchant for both flashbacks as well as superposing simultaneously happening scenes and cross-cutting between them, so I wouldn't downright call this out as a continuity error. Yet it still is a bit of a curious case as this is the only incident in this movie (or the whole trilogy for that matter) where a scene appears in slightly but directly contradicting chronology to its surrounding scenes and causes a bit of confusion in an otherwise chronologically coherent narration (in contrast to complete flashbacks of much longer time, whose chronological disconnectedness is immediately clear from the scene), and this for no reason, or none I can see yet.

So I was wondering why this scene was apparently "misplaced" in its chronology. Was this a concious decision or really an actual editing error? In the former case (and I'd really doubt something like this could just "slip through") I'd like to know why this was done, seeing that it is the apparently only time this has been employed in the whole movie. Is there any word from the filmmakers that sheds some light on this or did I just miss some other explanation that either demands this scene's exact place in the narrative or maybe even dispels the continuity problem I happen to see here?

  • I used to believe that it was a deliberate decision to "misplace" this particular scene but IMDB marks this scene as a continuity goof. Which concludes that it was indeed a mistake. – Faizan Rabbani Jun 12 '15 at 5:21
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+100

You were right to feel that something is off: The scenes were in a different (and maybe more logical) order in the original script. However, I'll try to prove that the chain of events that's depicted in the film is, at the very least, plausible, and that some of the problem stems from a few misconceptions you had.

What was the scene order in the script?

1. Wayne returns to Gotham and talks to Selina.
2. Gordon and Miranda are apprehended by Bane's mercenaries.
3. Wayne's brought in as a prisoner and meets with Fox and Miranda; Catwoman appears and helps Fox and Wayne escape while Miranda stays behind.
4. Crane sentences Gordon and Bane orders that Miranda is brought to him.
5. Fox and Wayne work on the Bat.
6. Batman saves Gordon on the ice (but doesn't ask where Miranda is).

What was the scene order in the film?

1 (Wayne's return) and 2 (Gordon & Miranda's capture) are rather followed by 4 (Gordon's trial and Bane summoning Miranda) and then a separate scene we'll call 4b (Blake contacts the trapped cops), then scene 3 with Wayne, Fox and Miranda and finally 5 & 6 with a few minor changes.

Why would that still make sense?

First, a few corrections that might make things clearer:

  • The scenes you mentioned do not take place in Wayne Tower but rather in the abandoned Stock Exchange; this is verified by the script and by going over the Stock Exchange heist scenes earlier in the film. Remember that Bane's men control an entire city, after all.

  • Fox and Miranda are prisoners in scene 3. It's not for nothing that a captured Wayne is brought there. This is basically a prison yard: The prisoners can walk about but are guarded by armed men and the halls are barricaded.

  • The scenes don't happen in real time and don't necessarily follow in immediate succession. Note, for example, that scenes 4 and 3 in the movie are rather separated by scene 4b which would suggest a passage of time.

Bearing these in mind could lead to a more or less plausible chain of events: Miranda and Gordon are captured and Gordon is sentenced to death. Bane asks for Miranda (probably just to check with her or talk strategy, since they're in cahoots) and Gordon awaits his execution. Miranda is presumably then released to continue her role as a mole, this time as a hostage imprisoned with Fox. A little while later, Wayne arrives and, with Catwoman's help, escapes with Fox, promising Miranda he'll be back for her. He gets his Batman gear and comes back to save Gordon. Miranda is seen back with Bane later after he orders to keep her close, knowing that Wayne will go after her.

But why would Batman ask Gordon where Miranda is?

Because he couldn't find her. Since both Miranda and Gordon were held in the Stock Exchange, Wayne figured Gordon would know, but he's mistaken and between them, Wayne saw her last.

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    The scene never struck me as odd, perhaps because I wasn't paying close enough attention, but I think I naturally went with your explanation for the plausibility of what was going on. – Jason Jul 8 '15 at 18:13
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According to IMDB (on their "Goofs" page for Dark Knight Rises), comicbook.com, and chaoshour.com, this was an actual mistake, and not just a clumsily attempted time jump/flashback. And I haven't found anywhere that explicitly explains why the scene wouldn't be a continuity error. That said, there are plenty of articles & videos out there dedicated to pointing out the movie's mistakes that didn't seem to notice the discrepancy. Still, I'm personally inclined to say it was a mistake, especially given that I can't seem to find an explanation anywhere.

3

Poor editing or a continuity mistake... Seems like opinions differ. I guess depending on what happens in the off-screen moments... both are possible. That being said, there's several continuity mistakes in the movie, so it may very well be the case with this as well.


Firstly: Continuity mistake. IMDB has this under their 'Goofs' section.

Goofs

Continuity

When Gordon is taken by Bane's men and put on 'trial', it is shown that Bane takes Miranda hostage. However, a later scene shows Bruce meeting Miranda and Fox, neither are hostages. Later still, when he first appears before Gordon, Batman asks where Miranda is, despite seeing her as Bruce Wayne in a previous scene.

IMDB page can be found here.


Or secondly: Poor editing

From the user Vadersville on the empireonline website:

"Bruce sees Miranda when he is brought before Lucius and tells her he'll come back for her. He and Lucius are then taken away with Selina. Lucius and Bruce go off to get him armed up whilst Miranda and Gordon and his men are taken before Crane in the court and sentenced to death by exile. Bane tells the guards to bring Miranda to him and leaves with her. Bruce then rescues Gordon but Miranda isn't there so he asks where she is. Where is the error?"

Page can be found here.

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