‘The Dark Knight Rises’ poster a grim one

The geek universe was vibrating today with the release of the new teaser poster for “The Dark Knight Rises,” next summer’s finale for director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

The poster is admittedly pretty vibe-worthy, even in the realm of comic book movie hype, because of what it implies.

For those who aren’t devotees of “Batman” in either comic or movie form, Nolan’s movies — starring Christian Bale as a growly, serious Batman — have taken the box office by storm. The last one, featuring Heath Ledger as a truly repulsive, homicidal Joker, made a bazillion dollars and earned credibility with critics.

The third movie — both Nolan and Bale say it will be their last — carries with it a lot of expectation, in part because of the quality of the first two movies and in part because when word got out that actor Tom Hardy was playing Batman villain Bane, comics fans knew what might happen.

Bane appeared, as a big goofy strong guy, in an earlier “Batman” movie. But the Bane from the comic books is a real dangerous character, so much so that he did what none of the hero’s other foes have been able to do: He defeated Batman. Bane, smart as he is strong, engineered a series of challenges meant to sap Batman’s strength, then he literally broke Batman’s back. The injury put Batman out of commission for months while other heroes filled in.

Here’s what happened:

The poster released today implies that something equally bad is going to happen to Batman. To say the least.

As an illustration, it’s not that much of a departure from the hyped-up, apocalyptic drawings of many comic books. How many times have comic books teased us that it was all over for our hero? Heck, Superman has even been killed.

But considering that Nolan intends to make the new movie his final word on Batman, and that neither he nor Bale reportedly want their interpretation to be carried over into a “Justice League” movie … who’s to say that Nolan doesn’t intend to take the ultimate step with the character? What if, when the “Batman” franchise is rebooted in the future — and Warner Bros. has already announced that will happen — we see an entirely different Batman?

That might also explain the “rises” part of the title. The poster released today sure doesn’t imply Batman is going to be doing any rising anytime soon. Maybe a new Batman will be rising from the ashes of the old?

Barring any Internet spoilers, we’ll know next summer.

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