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Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Review of The Dark Knight Rises: The Baneful Threat of Occupy

So last night I went to see The Dark Knight Rises.  I’ll keep things spoiler-free above the fold.

First, did I like it?  Yes.  Look with a lot of these things, you have to manage expectations.  A thing can be so big in your mind that nothing that follows can be appreciated.  So, for instance, I loved the hell out of The Dark Knight and if you are not going to be happy unless Rises tops that, you are going to have a problem.  But if you can say, “it’s not as good as The Dark Knight, but I will appreciate it for what it is,” then you will walk away happy.

So is Rises better than The Dark Knight?  No.  To me this “Nolan Batman” trilogy has a trajectory similar to the original Star Wars trilogy: the first one was great, and benefitted from being the “first kiss,” the second was the high point of the series and the third wasn’t as good, but it was a fitting conclusion.

And I will say that any person who thinks that Bane is a knock on Mitt Romney, is delusional.  No, Bane is a dark prediction of the danger posed by the left in America.

And we all know Obama is the Joker.

And that is all I can say before I say SPOILER ALERT.


Now of course I am joking, what the Joker really was in The Dark Knight was a stand in for the threat of international terrorism.  He was not Obama so much as Osama, that is Osama bin Laden mixed with a heavy dose of his beheading Neanderthal underlings.  Seriously, who saw the scene when the Joker killed the Batman imitator and didn’t think of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?

And all that talk by Alfred about how some people don’t have a purpose, they just want to watch the world burn?  Sounds like exactly bin Laden.

Now this obvious parallel led some people to think that The Dark Knight was secretly a defense of George W. Bush.  I’ll leave item #2 on this list to explain their argument (with more respectable links at the link), but I think maybe it is wrong, but really close.  What I am about to share is admittedly very dubious sourcing, but it makes so much sense that it lends it credibility.  According to IGN: “There's an anecdote attributed to Gary Oldman that claims director Christopher Nolan once explained to him that Superman is how America sees itself, while Batman is how the rest of the world sees America.”  Like I said, very poor sourcing, but doesn’t that make it all click into place?  He’s not defending George W. Bush, he’s defending America, even when we are so bad ass it is a little scary to the other Superfriends our allies.

But if the Joker was a stand in for Terrorism, Bane is a stand in for the Occupy movement or at least the threat of what it could become.  In this I respectfully disagree with John Nolte who saw this as a slap at Obama.  I get the feeling that Nolan would never want to make something as transitory as an attack on a specific person (or the defense of one).

Like in the comics, Bane breaks Batman’s back and then leaves him penniless and trapped in a prison called “the pit” that is at the bottom of a giant hole in a very obvious throwback to the well that Bruce fell into in the beginning of Begins.  I mean there is no debating whether Nolan is drawing a parallel there, he fairly hits you over the head with it.

And then you get to see what happens to Gotham once the villain wins for once, and it is not pretty.  You see the Joker just wanted to trash everything and show you things about the human condition.  Bane wanted to completely destroy Gotham, physically and spiritually.  So he doesn’t just blow lots of crap up, he leads a revolution of the people against the rich.

At this point the movie becomes almost allegorical to what happens when any supposedly communist regime takes over.  Seriously, I felt like I was watching an adaptation of Animal Farm at times.  Bane keeps talking about the people but in fact he is really talking about his will and his desires.  But that is typical.  Mao, Lenin, Stalin, they all talk about power to the people, but it is about their desire for their own power that drives them.  They weren’t really socialists; they were just dictators in waiting who saw communism as the surest way to get power.  But it’s not really an allegory, but rather a dark prediction what will happen if America gives in to that socialist impulse, rooted in the cold facts of history.  “Don’t be fooled,” Nolan is telling the naïve occupier who don’t see the wolves among them, “their revolution will not get you what you hoped for.”

You aren’t convinced that this is a swipe at Occupy?  Well, consider this.  When the Catwoman first crosses the Batman, she steals his mother’s pearls... and Wayne’s fingerprints.  That is she literally uses some mechanism to get a copy of Wayne’s fingerprints so that they could trick a fingerprint scanner.  So then she gives that to a rival of Wayne’s and in turn Bane gest it and uses that to basically destroy Wayne’s wealth as part of his plan to destroy Batman (yes, he knows Bruce’s secret).  And how does he do this?  He walks into the middle of the trading floor in Gotham’s stock exchange, takes the whole room hostage and runs some kind of computer program.  That is for a little while he almost literally occupies Wall Street!

(And the only reason why I don’t say he “literally” does so, is because given that it is Gotham’s stock exchange it is unlikely to be called Wall Street—but it is plainly standing in for the real thing.)

And it actually creates a plot hole.  Bruce is told he can’t prove fraud for years, but isn’t the fact that this guy openly and notoriously had a hostage situation there going to go a long way toward fixing that?  Doesn’t it endanger his plan?  Yes, so why did Nolan have his character do it, except to make a point?

Now despite the fact I have spoiled much of the movie, there is still much more left to be surprised by in the movie.  It doesn’t end in any way I thought it might going in, and some character arcs take surprising turns right at the end, but in a way that ultimately makes sense.

For instance, one thing that I noted was the way that The Dark Knight  took one character that Burton previously did a fine job with (the Joker) while taking a character that Schumacher screwed the pooch on (Two-Face), and redeemed him.  And I was hoping to see a similar pattern here.  That is first Nolan took a character that Burton did a perfectly fine job with, Catwoman, but at the same time Nolan chose to redeem the character of Bane, who was criminally mismanaged in Batman and Robin...

And I thought that would be it: redo Catwoman, redeem Bane.  But in fact Nolan was out to redeem and ground in reality one other character...  won’t say who, but there you go.

Still, The Dark Knight Rises is a good movie and anyone who thinks it is anything but a warning against a socialist revolution is missing much of the point.


  1. Permit me to disagree.

    Bane removed the police and any form of legitimate government from Gotham.

    Socialism is the intrusion of government into the private sector.

    The complete removal of government is anarchy. This is libertarianism.
    The opposite of libertarianism is not free market capitalism, it is fascism.
    If you look at a political compass, you are claiming Bane's revolution as the far west when it is the far north.

    Socialism provides services to the people. How can Bane's revolution be socialist when there is no government left to provide services?

    1. A fair objection, except to note that socialism (or communism) hasn't promised "services" -- the shining City At The End of History where all are equal -- since the middle of the 20th century. By then Sidney Hooks had destroyed the myth of the dialectic; and, for example, Mary McCarthy horrified traditional socialists by proving there was a post-socialism politics which was NOT idealistic. Irving Howe recalls being appalled, startled, and upset.

      That left The Left an empty shell, only a faux politics, and yet still intent on ruling through the ruthless application of a 200 year old playbook tuned to perfection in post-war Europe. These passe slogans and posturings still had resonance with an American public who didn't know these terms are no longer plugged into the ultimate mindset of those who so suavely mouth them.

      Marx, in short, was incomplete in his famous quip, in the sense that history does not happen twice, once as tragedy and again as comedy, but also returns yet a third time. As Chicagoland post-humanist mega-crime on a scale undreamt of before George Soros and his ilk arose from the ashes.

  2. No services? They had courts (of a sort), police (strongmen), provided food and supplies (did you note the bread lines?). It was insane, screwed up government, but it was government. And like socialism it spread misery equally save for the new ruling class, and also like socialism it had to use the threat of force to prevent its subjects from voting with their feet.

  3. The last individual redeemed is not who you think it is. The throwaway line at the end was just that... a tribute to fanboys. In no way is that character who you think he is, but merely a combination of various attributes of the different people that played the role.