In real life, there is no Batman. Many evil men plague our world, as we saw today in Colorado. These villains try to make up for their lack of good purpose by becoming something bigger through an evil, twisted act at their point of maximum exposure. But there is no Batman to stop them.
The third and final episode of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy landed today, and I had planned for two weeks to see it on opening day and write a review for this space. Lunatics should get no veto on the rights or activities of the innocent, nor should their acts be used to justify restrictions on anyone else. The Dark Knight Rises’s opening day comes only once.
This film springs from the same comic book world that powered the first two and the whole Batman universe before them, but lands in a real world of political subtext and drama. Most notable is the so-called struggle between the 99% and the 1% and the occupations of various city parks associated with it. For a time that movement animated the political left in this country, before eventually turning into an urban Lord of the Flies and then petering out to irrelevance.
Mercenary Bane steps into the Batman world with this real world context behind him, announcing that he is liberating Gotham City from the 1%. Bruce Wayne is the .000000001 % which makes him the natural target. Catwoman is the amoral, opportunistic independent, only looking out for herself while warning Wayne that a storm is coming for him and Gotham’s other wealthy citizens.
But The Dark Knight Rises is not primarily a political film.
It is a moral and historical film, drawing most of its true inspiration from the French Revolution. It stands on the side of civilization against the rabble and those who would bring down Freedom either through intent or neglect. Though, in a nod to the Occupy movement, Bane does literally occupy the stock market to launch one of his schemes. The tattered American flags drooping in Bane’s Gotham attest to where he takes his “liberation.” Postmodern Hollywood may no longer believe in patriotism or even objective right and wrong, but it does know how to use them all to tell a good story.