Warner Brothers studios confirmed Friday that it will not cancel any screenings of "The Dark Knight Rises," squashing any rumors that it might dial back the release following the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, theater.
The shooting rampage that left at least 12 movie patrons dead and dozens more injured reignited the gun debate in the United States -- a debate that actually figures into the movie itself.
The film kicks off in a violence-free Gotham. But soon the bad guys emerge and so, too, does a retired Batman, to deal with them.
In one scene the hero (once again played by Christian Bale) jumps into a fight already in progress between Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and about half a dozen villains. When the two masked characters seize the upper hand, Catwoman grabs a gun to finish the job. But Batman stops her, telling her he doesn't use guns. She grudgingly concedes and the two make their escape. The good guys win this battle without killing anyone and without the use of guns.
But this singular anti-gun moment is soon turned on its head.
About an hour and countless acts of violence later, Batman is about to be killed by the film's antagonist, Bane. During what is arguably the film's most pivotal scene, Catwoman repays Batman's earlier life-saving favor. However, she does it her way, by blasting Bane away, killing him with a piece of artillery attached to the "Batpod" -- the film's motorcycle-like vehicle.
Then Catwoman, in a made-for-the-big-screen moment, reminds Batman that she doesn't agree with that whole "no guns" thing. The cinematographic message is clear: small battles are one thing, but to win the war, the use of guns is not only acceptable, it's probably required.
As the film continues to play on 4,400 screens around the country, audiences may be struck by the mixed message in "The Dark Knight Rises." Batman neutralizes his opponents with fisticuffs and other means, but he never applies deadly force. And his plea against using guns may ring hollow when, presumably for the sake of entertainment, filmmakers pack the movie with plenty of violence from guns, bombs and other heavy weaponry.