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Gun debate figures into storyline of 'The Dark Knight Rises'

By JD Cargill, CNN
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Tue July 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A gun debate figures into the storyline of "The Dark Knight Rises" itelf
  • Friday's shooting rampage took place while the movie was showing at a Colorado theater
  • Warner Brothers studios says it will not cancel any screenings of the film

(CNN) -- Editor's note: This story may contain spoilers

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.

Shooting casts pall over 'Dark Knight Rises' blockbuster weekend

The public gets its first glimpse of James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting during his initial court appearance Monday, July 23. With his hair dyed reddish-orange, Holmes, here with public defender Tamara Brady, showed little emotion. He is accused of opening fire in a movie theater Friday, July 20, in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. More photos: Mourning the victims of the Colorado theater massacre The public gets its first glimpse of James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting during his initial court appearance Monday, July 23. With his hair dyed reddish-orange, Holmes, here with public defender Tamara Brady, showed little emotion. He is accused of opening fire in a movie theater Friday, July 20, in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. More photos: Mourning the victims of the Colorado theater massacre
Colorado movie theater shooting
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Tragedy during 'Dark Knight Rises'

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.

Theater shooting unfolds in real time on social media

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.

Theater offers 'perfect killing' zone

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.

In light of the shooting, how do you feel about gun control and public safety? Let us know on CNN iReport.

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