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Movie Math: Here’s How Long it Took Batman to Set Up The Flaming Bat Symbol on the Bridge in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

March 10, 2019

My naive original goal for this piece was to only focus on how long it took Batman to create the bat fire on the bridge in The Dark Knight Rises. I thought it wouldn’t be difficult due to the countless maps of Gotham, and insane amount of nit-picky articles (here is another one) to help me make an educated guess. However, unlike It Follows, which makes sense geographically, Nolan’s Gotham is all over the place, and I learned I’d have to expand my scope to establish a timeline for the bridge fire because of the multiple filming locations (NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, London) and evolution of Gotham (two Wayne enterprises etc..) throughout the Dark Knight trilogy. So, I used Eliot R. Brown’s maps, and the one used in the movie, then, I mostly relied on visual cues based on my repeat viewings of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. These visual cues helped me piece together the timeline for the 12 hours Batman needed to stop Bane’s bomb from destroying Gotham, which in turn, helped me figure out how long it took to create the massive bat signal on the bridge.

Bane can see the fire from City Hall. City Hall is in Downtown Gotham.

Quicknote: There is no correct answer. As always, I’ve made my best educated guess which is most likely wrong. Also, to answer your questions in advance:

  1. I know it’s just a movie
  2. I don’t have THAT much free time
  3. Yes, Deep Blue Sea is underrated
  4. No, I’m not Batman
  5. Yes, If I had the chance I would be Batman
  6. Yes, I looked at the official map
  7. Jack Burton by a landslide
  8. Who?

Here are some assumptions before I get into the timeline:

  1. The action at the end takes place in the Downtown area of Gotham. Why? Based on the location of the bridges, and proximity to City Hall (which is downtown) I feel safe saying it’s downtown Gotham. This is important because it helps narrow down the action.

Map from

I’m 97.3% certain that I picked the correct bridge. It is the only one with another bridge nearby, and it leads into downtown. Also, the “strikezone” map infers that everything takes place downtown as well.

  1. There are only 8 hours of actual night during winter in Gotham. Why? Due to the 12-hour ticking clock, I learned the events started unfolding around 7:00 PM.
  2. The 12 hour ticking clock is exact. I trust Fox, and there is a handy countdown clock which helps out later on.
  3. The random daylight patterns prove the fictional Gotham has some weird things going on. This helps explain why darkness happens so quickly in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. 
  4. I don’t think Batman used gasoline to create the bat fire. He most likely used a special flammable “yada yada yada” substance developed by Lucius Fox.
  5. The locations that the characters walk to aren’t far apart. If they were, the amount of walking would be insane.

7:00 PM  – Wayne arrives at city hall – Downtown – (AKA Bane’s headquarters) – Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle meet up with Lucius Fox and Miranda Tate around 7:00PM. We learn the bomb will be going off in exactly 12 hours. How do I know it’s Bane’s HQ? Later on at the bridge, Gordon says “Bane is holed up at city hall.” So, I’m assuming this is where they’re having the kangaroo court as well. It also makes sense that it is close to the water because they walk the unlucky exiled folks to their icy death from city hall.

Unlucky Gotham citizens are walked up the stairs and into Scarecrow’s court.

8:15 PM – Wayne arrives at the underground bunker located at the Gotham docks (introduced in Dark Knight) – Wayne grabs his batsuit and gear needed to battle Bane. I’m thinking it took 45 minutes because of the location to the docks.  It took them longer than usual, because they are wanted men, and they had to sneak around the city instead of brazenly walking around Gotham.


9:30 PM – Wayne arrives at the top of a random building in downtown Gotham (STILL NOT DARK) – It probably took 30 minutes to bag all the gear and bat suit.  I feel safe saying The Bat location is close to the docks (it’s somewhat near the water). Also, it is walking distance to the tunnels which Bane inhabited under the downtown area. I’d love to see their journey to the top of the building (also the water in the background isn’t frozen, Gotham is a weird place).

I’ve read online that this is Wayne Enterprises. The buildings don’t match. So I’m thinking it’s another building.  The picture below proves it isn’t Wayne Enterprises.

This is Wayne Enterprises.


10:30 PM – Wayne takes The Bat to the bridge – Wayne and Fox are in no hurry (despite Gordon being found guilty hours earlier) while they are at The Bat, Fox grabs the gear for the micro-burst while Wayne says “there is no autopilot.” I’m guessing Fox goes immediately back to the docks, while Wayne waits for dark, gets into his suit and parks near the tunnel where the cops are trapped. He hides The Bat, this makes sense because Bane’s soldiers walk by and don’t see it.

He parked The Bat close to this bridge. It’s wild that Bane’s henchmen didn’t see it.

11:00 PM – Wayne Scouts the Bridge, and Gets to Work on the Bat Signal – Before working on the bat fire, he had to make sure there were no guards around. I’m thinking Wayne also set up a camera so he’d know if Gordon was being brought to the ice while he was working on the bridge. This may sound crazy, but I’m 100% certain he set up some kind of automated weapon that expertly darts the henchmen (you’ll understand later). Then, he uses his incredibly accurate grappling hooks (think catching The Joker during his fall in The Dark Knight) to pull himself up to the top of the bridge. He doesn’t use gasoline because there is no spillover, and the liquid does not spill down the bridge. I’m thinking he uses multiple cans of some kind of flammable spray to cover the 85-feet (Width of the bridge). This makes the job difficult because he has to cover every inch of the symbol with the spray. Also, since it’s so cold, he most likely has to go heavy with the flammable substance. Then, he has to spray a perfectly straight line down the bridge and onto the ice below.

The bat isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad at all.

3:00 AM – Waits for Gordon to be brought out onto the ice, knocks out the bad guys, and has Gordon light the bat fire – It’s worth noting that the villains waited over 10 hours to bring Gordon and crew out to the ice. Did they get a final meal? What I love the most about this scene is how Wayne placed a flair in a perfect spot on the ice for Gordon to see.  The biggest question mark for me during the research is how Wayne was able to knock out the henchmen from behind, then, magically appear in front of Gordon seconds later. That is why I think he set up the automated dart machine. It’s a controversial opinion but I don’t see another option.

After saving Gordon, Wayne explains the plan and gives him the piece of machinery that Fox pulled from The Bat.


4:30 AM – Wayne saves Blake at the nearby bridge – In another weird occurrence, we learn the armed guards have been interrogating Blake for several hours. I believe Wayne had no clue that Blake would be there, and luckily appeared just before Blake was shot. Wayne knocks out the guards, then blows a hole in the blockage with The Bat. He waits until all the cops come out of the tunnel, which would take at least 25 minutes because there are several thousand of them. After they are all out of the tunnel, he informs them of the plan, and gets them going towards battle.

He is about to make a great speech to these cops.

6:15 AMWayne arrives at the cargo container holding the Bat Pod.

After all the cops head towards city hall, Batman moves The Bat to a location closer to the battle. After hiding The Bat, he meets up with Kyle and they walk towards the docks again towards a storage container.  While he gets her setup with the Bat pod, Wayne conveniently says “there are 45 minutes left,” to Kyle.


7:00AM – Kablooey.


There you have it! Batman needed around three hours to prepare the bat symbol on the bridge. I know the answer isn’t exact, but, due to the timeline and width of the bridge, I’m thinking the number is correct.

If you like this data make sure to check out my other stuff!

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