Christian

Christian Bale reprises his role as Batman in the The Dark Knight Rises, out July 20, 2012. (PHOTO: Screen Capture / Warner Bros.)

Christopher Nolan and company sure know how to tease fans, unleashing the latest trailer for The Dark Knight Rises seven months before the film arrives in theaters.

Since Monday's grand unveiling of the new trailer, courtesy of Warner Bros., movie blogs, Twitter and other social media outlets have been buzzing with plot talk and guesses about possible characters not shown in the new footage (Robin, are you there?).

Fans have also been drooling over the 6-minute prologue that has started to play ahead of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol in select IMAX theaters. Early reports of the prologue indicate that the film opens with a lengthy introduction to Bane, the masked villain played by Tom Hardy.

The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after The Dark Knight, which Nolan delivered to the big screen in 2008. In the new trailer, viewers are told that Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is on is way out, while Alfred (Michael Caine) admits he can no longer watch out for Batman (Christian Bale).

You are as precious to me as you were to your own mother and father. I swore to them that I would protect you, and I haven't, a tearful Alfred says to his longtime boss.

From the summer film set in Pittsburgh to the two-week stay in New York City's financial district, The Dark Knight Rises production has been one of the most talked about projects of the year. Numerous photos and footage from Nolan's high-budget set have kept anxious fans busy. When the first photo of Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) emerged in August, all Batman hell broke loose.

As the wait continues for another seven months, here are five things to know about The Dark Knight Rises trailer.

The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final installment of the Christopher Nolan/Batman film series, opens in theaters on July 20, 2012.

Steeler Nation
Yes, that's really Ben Roethlisberger and company donning uniforms and running across Heinz Field in those football scenes in The Dark Knight Rises. Blink and you'll miss other members of the Pittsburgh Steelers (including Hines Ward and Willie Colon), who were cast in the film over the summer, when Nolan brought production to Steeler Nation. For 18 days, Pittsburgh was known as Batburgh, as the city transformed into the winter wonderland of Gotham City.

Occupy Catwoman?
While no real protesters from Occupy Wall Street were used in the final cut of The Dark Knight Rises (as far as we know), the New York set in November was only blocks away from Zuccotti Park, otherwise known as OWS central.

But let's turn to Catwoman (Hathaway), who says some very telling things to Bruce Wayne (Bale) in the new trailer:

You think this can last? There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. And you and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

Anne

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. (PHOTO: Screen Capture / Warner Bros.)

Is Catwoman -- Selina Kyle -- in another circle? And how come we don't get to see her in full Catwoman gear in the trailer? And where's her equivalent of the Batmobile we saw Hathaway driving around on set this summer?

Robin, are you there?
For the last 24 hours or so, fans and critics have been picking on every little detail of the new trailer. But none has been more riveting than the letter R -- for Robin. As first pointed out by ShockTillYouDropNews on Twitter (@STYDNews), the familiar R appears some 12 seconds into the trailer, in the form of a sign held by a fan at the football stadium.

Nice Robin 'R' font in the Dark Knight Rises trailer, Nolan, wrote STYDNews.

More hints have pointed to all things Robin, including the casting of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (Burt Ward played Robin in the Adam West Batman series).

The Bane show
Whether it's from watching the 6-minute prologue or repeating the new trailer from Monday, let's face it: Bane is really scary. While Joker (Heath Ledger) beat Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) by a landslide in terms of the scare factor, Tom Hardy's Bane is stacking up to be a pretty good villain in The Dark Knight Rises.

Just listen to his voice (and his words for our dear caped crusader): When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die.

With a good villain you need an archetype, you know, you need the extreme of some type of villainy. The Joker is obviously a particular archetype of diabolical, chaotic anarchy and has a devilish sense of humor, Nolan told Hero Complex this month.

Bane, to me, is something we haven't dealt with in the films. We wanted to do something very different in this film. He's a primarily physical villain, he's a classic movie monster in a way -- but with a terrific brain. I think he's a fascinating character. I think people are going to get a kick out of what we've done with him, he added.

And let's not forget -- one of the first posters from the film has Bane walking off in victory, as half of Batman's mask remains on the ground.

The minors
Just like the Pittsburgh Steelers players, blink and you'll miss glimpses of the minors of The Dark Knight Rises, namely Marion Cotillard (who reportedly plays a Wayne Enterprises board member), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who works under Commissioner Gordon). Since casting the two, Nolan has remained mum on the purpose and backstory of these characters. Other minor players include newcomer Juno Temple (Dirty Girl), Josh Pence (The Social Network), Matthew Modine and Brett Cullen.

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The Dark Knight Rises movie poster shows Bane walking off in victory as Batman is nowhere to be found (except for the remains of his famous mask). (PHOTO: Warner Bros.)