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Dark Knight Rises Viral Videos: What Do They Mean? (And Are They Even Real?)

Has the Dark Knight Rises‘ viral campaign risen on YouTube?

Warners Bros. isn’t saying (and isn’t denying).

Let’s take a look at the channel that’s got Christopher Nolan watchers buzzing—and Conspiracy Corner scouring police codes in Bane, er, sorry, in vain:

First things first, the channel, TheFireRises, originated on May 21, one day after the release of the first Dark Knight Rises still (of Tom Hardy baddie Bane, natch), and one day after the Hollywood Reporter noted Warners had launched a Bat-related Twitter account known as (wait for it) @thefirerises.

Over the next week, TheFireRises, ostensibly a 20-year-old from the United Kingdom, posted five videos:

TheFireRises” is a sound-only clip of a chant that, per Conspiracy Corner’s favorite YouTube theory, is “This is Arkham! Arkham!” (Sorry, we’re not not buying “This is Sparta! Sparta!” Why would Batman tred into 300 territory? Unless, of course, it’s a nod to Zack Snyder, who’s helming the new Superman movie for Nolan… Nah. We’re putting our money on Arkham—and you’ll see why below.)

Outbreak” marries the disembodied chant to shots of hooded, jumpsuit-clad inmates (think our post-9/11 world…or Gotham City’s own Arkham Asylum, comic-book home of Joker, Two-Face and, yes, Bane).

419.” (for the police code for a “dead human body?”) begins with a burning taxi cab, and then works its way back to the chant.

424.” (for the police code for we have no idea what) is dark and chant-y, and probably the one that most leads Netizens to think TheFireRises teasers are fan-made (read: fake). After all, who couldn’t make a dark and chant-y YouTube video, and then try to pass it off as a preview of the new Batman movie? It’s not like there’s (discernible) footage in it. It’s not like there’s a known Nolan actor in it. It’s not like there’s a link to a Facebook page in it.

GCN.” (for Gotham City News) has discernible footage (of burning buildings), a known Nolan actor, Anthony Michael Hall, who played GCN newscaster Mike Engel in The Dark Knight, a blink-and-you-missed-it link to a Facebook page (featuring a picture of rumored Bat-villain Matthew Modine) and, as an added bonus, a potential plot point. (“Arkham Breakout?” asks the on-screen GCN graphic.)

Doubters may argue that the Hall footage is nothing more than old Hall footage, culled either from The Dark Knight or its (ahem) studio-backed viral campaign , but Conspiracy Corner is not inclined to agree. Hall’s hair looks slightly sharper, slicker and, dare we say?, newer in “GCN.” than it does in the 2008 viral videos.

So, what does all this mean?

If the videos are to be trusted, the now-shooting Dark Knight Rises will feature a violent prison uprising, loads of arson and enough political symbolism to make Dick Cheney proud or ticked (we can’t yet tell which).

If the videos aren’t to be trusted, then kudos are in order anyway to the middle-schooler who made ’em.

That’s one catchy chant.


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