Nolan screens "The Dark Knight Rises" Prologue in Los Angeles

Thursday evening, Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and director Christopher Nolan screened about eight minutes of footage from "The Dark Knight Rises" for a group of journalists at an IMAX theater in Los Angeles. The sequence included a six-minute prologue and additional scenes that will be shown in select IMAX theaters with "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."

Without getting too spoiler-heavy, the sequence begins with Commissioner Jim Gordon speaking at the funeral of Harvey Dent, then quickly switches to an elaborate heist sequence that introduces audiences to Bane. As it's a film directed by Nolan, you might expect this isn't your typical heist, and indeed it's not - it takes place at 30,000 feet in a spectacular scene reflecting the increasingly dangerous world in which Batman lives.

The sequence serves to establish Bane as a very credible nemesis and threat - possibly Batman's greatest foe yet. Based at least on this scene, he's a tactician who rivals Batman himself. Actor Tom Hardy inhabits the role with composed, yet menacing strength. It was difficult to understand Hardy's Bane at times, but a Warner Bros. spokesperson told CBR News the audio mix isn't final.

Overall, the sequence establishes that Nolan and his team aim to continue the wild ride they began with "Batman Begins." Where "The Dark Knight" was a step up from the already excellent "Batman Begins," it appears "The Dark Knight Rises" takes the tension, action and story to another level. If "The Dark Knight" reinvented the superhero film, could "The Dark Knight Rises" do it again? Don't bet against Nolan.

Following the sequence, a series of quick flashes from the rest of the film was shown, with a lot of great teases, many of which are notable. However, we'll limit it to just two: Bane casually throwing a broken Batman cowl to the ground and a massive action sequence that saw more than just one Batmobile.

Nolan himself was in attendance, noting in his introduction he filmed much of "The Dark Knight Rises" using the oversized IMAX format because it's "far and away the best imaging format that's ever been created." He spoke about being wowed as a child by the size and scope of films, and how he wants to bring a bit of that magic back using IMAX. Nolan's hope is that moviegoers who see the preview before "Mission: Impossible" will be convinced to seek out the finished film in the IMAX format.

He concluded his introduction saying, "We've barely started editing the film, so don't ask me how it ends."

"The Dark Knight Rises" can be seen in theaters and IMAX July 20, 2012.

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