Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, the Gotham City Police Department has nearly eradicated organized crime with powers granted by the Dent Act, legislation inspired by Dent. Batman has disappeared, with Bruce Wayne becoming a recluse. Feeling guilty over his role in the cover-up of Dent's crimes, Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech confessing the truth, but decides that the city is not ready to hear it. While pursuing criminals in the sewers, Gordon is captured and his speech is taken by a terrorist named Bane. Gordon escapes and is found by John Blake, a patrol officer who has deduced Batman's true identity.
Wayne Enterprises is nearly bankrupt after Bruce invested in board member Miranda Tate's nuclear fusion project, only to shut it down after discovering the reactor core could be weaponized. Alfred Pennyworth, concerned that Bruce has not moved on from being Batman, reveals to Bruce that Rachel Dawes had intended to marry Dent before she died. Upon learning this, Bruce angrily dismisses Alfred. Meanwhile, Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange and bankrupts Bruce using fingerprints obtained by cat burglar Selina Kyle. Fearing that his business rival John Daggett, who employed Bane to aid in a hostile takeover, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Tate to take control of Wayne Enterprises.
Batman asks Selina to lead him to Bane, but Selina double-crosses him, leading him into a trap. Bane reveals that he knows Batman's true identity and intends to fulfill Ra's al Ghul's mission to destroy Gotham. Bane then cripples Batman and sends him to a foreign prison where escape is virtually impossible, telling him that he will torture the entire city of Gotham. While there, the inmates relate to Bruce the story of Ra's al Ghul's child, who was born in the prison and is the only person known to have escaped; Bruce deduces that the child is Bane. Meanwhile, using explosive concrete laid by Daggett's construction crews, Bane traps most of Gotham's police force underground an
d cuts Gotham off from the rest of the world, using the now weaponized reactor core to hold the city hostage. Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent's crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary under the pretense of starting a revolution. The wealthy and powerful are dragged from their homes and given show trials, presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane, where the "convicted" die no matter the sentence.
'Bruce spends months recuperating and retraining himself. He escapes from the prison and enlists Selina, Blake, Tate, Gordon and Lucius Fox to help liberate Gotham and stop the bomb from detonating. During a confrontation between the police and Bane's forces, Batman fights and subdues Bane by damaging his mask. Tate comes to Bane's aid and stabs Batman, revealing herself to be Ra's al Ghul's daughter Talia. It was she who escaped the prison as a child, aided by fellow prisoner Bane. She plans to complete her father's work by detonating the bomb and destroying Gotham. After Talia leaves, Bane is killed by Selina on the Batpod, while Gordon blocks the bomb's ability to be remotely detonated. Batman gives chase, attempting to force Talia to drive the bomb to the reactor where it can be stabili'zed. Talia's truck crashes, and she remotely floods the reactor chamber, before succumbing to her wounds. Batman realizes that the only way to stop it is to use The Bat, an aircraft developed by Fox, to haul the bomb away from Gotham. He flies the bomb out over the bay, where it detonates. In the aftermath, Batman is praised as a hero, while Bruce is assumed dead after the revolution. After Bruce's funeral, Wayne Manor is left to the city to become an orphanage, and Bruce's remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had previously fixed the Bat's on-board autopilot system, and Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurnished. Alfred witnesses Bruce and Selina together in Florence. Blake, who resigns from the police force, inherits the Batcave.
- A billionaire socialite dedicated to protecting Gotham City from the c
- riminal underworld. Nolan has stated that, due to the eight-year gap between the events of The Dark Knight and those of The Dark Knight Rises, "he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state." Bale employed a mixed martial arts discipline called the Keysi Fighting Method, but due to Bruce's current state and Bane's style, the method had to be modified. Bale has stated that The Dark Knight Rises will be the final film in which he plays Batman, Bale describes the character's arc as finally confronting the pain of loss that he has deferred for years by fighting criminals balanced against the need to internalise that pain lest he give into his emotions and become the killer the city already believes him to be. Bale also acknowledged that Batman is not a flawless individual, stating that "he's not a healthy individual, this is somebody that is doing good, but he's right on the verge of doing bad. He's got that killer within him that he's desperately not trying to let off his leash. And that's what I always return to." Bale clarifies that "He doesn't want to forget [his parents [sic] deaths]. He wants to maintain that anger he felt at that injustice. But equally he wants to present this very vacuous, soulless persona to Gotham, so that hopefully no-one will suspect him but
- will just think he's a spoiled bastard." Bale felt bittersweet about leaving the franchise, clarifying that it was like "saying goodbye to an old friend."
- Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, and one of the city's few honest police officers. Gary Oldman described the character's work in cleaning up Gotham City as having left him world-weary and slightly bored, likening Gordon to a soldier who leaps at the chance to be on the front lines. Gordon feels guilty over his role in covering up the death of Harvey Dent to the point where he is prepared to resign from his position as Commissioner over it, but refrains from doing so when he senses that Gotham is about to come under threat.
- A terrorist leader intent on destroying Gotham City. He was originally a me
- mber of the League of Shadows, before being excommunicated. The character was chosen by Christopher Nolan, even though he was unfamiliar with Bane's back-story, because of his desire to see Batman tested on both a physical and mental level. According to costume designer Lindy Hemming, the character wears a mask that supplies him with an analgesic gas to relieve pain he suffers from an injury sustained "early in his story". Bane has been described as "a terrorist in both thought and action" and is "florid in his speech, [with] the physicality of a gorilla". Hardy stated that he intended to portray the character as "more menacing" than Robert Swenson's version of the character in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin and that in order to do so, his portrayal entailed creating a contradiction between the voice and the body. Hardy gained 30 pounds (14 kg) for the role, increasing his weight to 198 pounds (90 kg). Hardy based the character's voice on several influences, which include his intellect, Caribbean heritage, and Bartley Gorman. Hardy describes Bane's fighting style as "[...] brutal. Brutal. He's a big dude who's incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and oriented fighting style. It's not about fighting. It's about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it's nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action."
- A young police officer whose instincts lead him to believe that there is trouble on the horizon. Seeing something of himself in Blake, Commissioner Gordon promotes him
- to detective. Blake represents the idealism that Gordon and Bruce Wayne once held, but soon lost in their battle against crime in the city. The film reveals his legal name to be Robin John Blake, a reference to Batman's sidekick in the comics, Robin.
- Selina Kyle is a cat burglar described as "an associate" of Bane who establishes a relationship with Batman that "takes some of the somberness away from his character." Kyle is pursuing a "clean slate", a computer program rumoured to be able to erase a person's criminal history, when she crosses paths with Bruce Wayne. Hathaway auditioned not knowing what role she was being considered for, admitting that she had one character in mind, but only learned that the role was Selina Kyle after talking with Christopher Nolan for an hour. Hathaway described the role as being the most physically demanding she had ever played, and confessed that while she thought of herself as being fit she had to redouble her efforts in the gym to keep up with the demands of the role. Hathaway worked out five days a week for the role, including rigorous exercise and stunt training followed by an hour and a half of dance. She explained, "I've always thought that skinny was the goal, but with this job I also have to be strong." Hathaway trained extensively in martial arts for the role, and looked to Hedy Lamarr—who was the inspiration for the Catwoman character—in developing her performance.
- A member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board who encourages a still-g
- rieving Bruce Wayne to rejoin with society and continue his father's philanthropic works. Cotillard denied speculation that she would be playing a dual role as Miranda and Talia al Ghul, stating that her character is a completely original creation, though the final cut of the film revealed this to be misdirection. Tate was described as providing Bruce with a much-needed sense of hope at the behest of Alfred and Lucius Fox. Child actress Joey King portrays a young Talia in flashbacks.
- Fox runs Wayne Enterprises on behalf of Bruce Wayne and serves as his armorer, providing him with high-tech equipment. His position as President of Wayne Enterprises allows him to discreetly develop cutting-edge technology and weaponry, even as Wayne Enterprises starts losing money.
- Bruce's trusted butler and confidant. Alfred has acted as a father figure to Bruce, and continues to aid Bruce on his missions as well as supplying him with useful advice. Alfred is unable to accept Bruce's desire to revive his Batman persona, even going so far as to resign from his position to impress the seriousness of Bruce's position upon him. Christopher Nolan emphasised the emotional bond between Alfred and Bruce, stressing its importance in the previous films and predicting that the relationship will be strained as it never has before.
Cillian Murphy reprises his role as Dr. Jonathan Crane from the previous films. Josh Pence and Liam Neeson both appear as Ra's al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows; Pence plays a younger version of the character in scenes set thirty years before the events of Batman Begins, while Neeson reprises his Batman Begins role in a cameo appearance. Neeson stated that he was unaware of his role or if he would actually be in the movie, due to its secrecy. Other cast members include Nestor Carbonell reprising his role as Mayor Anthony Garcia; Alon Abutbul as Dr. Leonid Pavel, a Russian nuclear physicist; Juno Temple as Jen, friend and accomplice of Selina Kyle; Matthew Modine as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley; Ben Mendelsohn as Bruce Wayne's business rival John Daggett withBurn Gorman playing his assistant Richard Stryver; Brett Cullen as a congressman; Chris Ellis as a priest; Aidan Gillen as the CIA agent; Rob Brown as a GCPD officer; Josh Stewart as Bane's right-hand man Barsad, and Christopher Judge as a Bane henchman. William Devane portrays the President of the United States. Tom Conti plays a prisoner. Desmond Harrington makes a cameo as another police officer in the film. Aaron Eckhart expressed enthusiasm in returning for a sequel if asked, although he later stated Nolan verified that his character, Harvey Dent, is dead, and only archive footage of Eckhart from The Dark Knight appears in the film.
Several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers make cameo appearances as members of the fictional Gotham Rogues football team in the film, including Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Wallace, Heath Miller, Aaron Smith, Ryan Clark, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, and Casey Hampton, and former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher as the head coach of the Rogues. Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl, a kicker in college, appears as the kicker for the Rogues' opponents, the Rapid City Monuments. In 2008, the Rooney family sold a minority stake in the team to Thomas Tull, the CEO and president of Legendary Pictures, which is producing The Dark Knight Rises. United States Senator Patrick Leahy, who also made a cameo appearance in The Dark Knight, returned for another cameo appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, as a Wayne Enterprises board member. Thomas Lennon, who had a cameo as a doctor in Memento, once again has a cameo as a doctor. India Wadsworth plays the wife of Ra's al Ghul and the mother of Talia.