Category Archive '“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)'

20 Dec 2011

Next Summer, the Dark Knight Takes on Occupy Wall Street (Led By Catwoman)

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“The Dark Knight” (2008) was widely taken as heavily freighted with political metaphors sympathetic to the perspective of the political right.

Andrew Bolt was one of several commentators explaining that Batman was really a metaphor for George W. Bush.

[D]irector Christopher Nolan had to disguise it a little, so journalists wouldn’t freak and the film’s more fashionable stars wouldn’t walk.

So he hides Bush in a cape. He even sticks a mask on him, with pointy ears for some reason.

Sure, when the terrified citizens of Gotham City scream for Bush to come save them, Nolan has them shine a great W in the night sky, but he blurs it so it looks more like a bird.

Or a bat, perhaps.

And he has them call their hero not Mr Bush, of course, or even “Mr President”, but . . . Batman.

And what do you know.

Bush may be one of the most despised presidents in American history, but this movie of his struggle is now smashing all box-office records. …

Critics weep, audiences swoon – and suddenly the world sees Bush’s agonising dilemma and sympathises with what it had been taught so long to despise.

Well, “taught” isn’t actually the exact word.

As this superb Batman retelling, The Dark Knight, makes clear, its subject is a weakness that runs instinctively through us – to hate a hero who, in saving us, exposes our fears, prods our weaknesses, calls from us more than we want to give, or can.

And how we resent a hero who must shake our world in order to save it, or brings alive that maxim of George Orwell that so implicates us in our preening piety: “Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

And the next year, an anonymous segment of the public signaled its agreement as Photoshopped posters depicting Barack Obama as the film’s villain The Joker, bearing the motto “Socialism” began appearing first in Los Angeles and Atlanta and later across the country.

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Ace has seen the preview for “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), the sequel opening next Summer, and takes the High Church of Nerdiness position that director Nolan appears to be sinning by meddling with the comic book’s canon.

Based on what I see here, Catwoman is being shoehorned into the role of Economic Anarchist, someone who has a philosophical objection to private property. She says to Wayne, “When it’s all over, you’ll wonder how you all could have thought you could live so large while leaving so little for everyone else.”

Catwoman has never, AFAIK, been depicted as a revolutionary, or as having some philosophical commitment to bringing down the capitalist system. What she is is a thief who, while she’s not stealing from the very rich, likes mixing socially with the very rich.

She’s always been a bit comical in her larceny — she’s shameless about it. She just likes stealing. Maybe she actually considers herself an elite capitalist with the skill set of “taking the capital of others.”

But I never got the vibe that she wanted to end private property, or lead the poor in a revolution against the rich. She likes the rich. (And, she likes stealing their money.) Without the rich, she wouldn’t be rich herself.

This is what annoys me about Nolan– jamming square-peg human beings into the round holes of his pretty scheme of dialectical inquiry.

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Allahpundit, on the other hand, evidently does not frequent the comics stores. He simply shrugs off the purist’s objections and relishes the real world metaphors (along with the explosions and fight scenes).

Anne Hathaway gets one line but it’s a neon sign for the subtext: Apparently, Catwoman is the 99 percent. Ace is weary of heavy-handed messages in “Batman” movies, but that’s actually the only reason I might see this. If, like me, you don’t know the whole mythology and you tend to find superhero flicks tedious in a been-there-done-that way (rich criticism coming from a zombie-flick fan, I know), a little topical allegory goes a long way. Besides, from what I understand, the interrogation scenes in “The Dark Knight” were more morally ambiguous than you’d expect from a Hollywood production addressing torture in the age of terror. If Nolan ends up teasing out the occupiers’ more anarchic impulses, which seems like a safe bet considering Catwoman is one of the villains (isn’t she?), I suspect the movie’s more dialectic aspects will go down pretty smoothly.

Looks like there are plenty of explosions and fight scenes, too. What’s not to like?

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Jim Geraughty, in his emailed Morning Jolt,

Okay, call me crazy, but I’m getting a very Occupy Wall Street vibe from Bane (the bad guy) and Catwoman in the new trailer for the next Batman movie.

At one point, Catwoman explicitly says to Bruce Wayne, “A storm is coming. When it’s all over, you’ll wonder how you all could have thought you could live so large while leaving so little for everyone else.” The trailer shows only glimpses of scenes, but it looks as if a mob ransacks some luxurious location. (Does Wayne Manor get trashed again?) …

The comic fan in me would prefer a more traditional approach to the character — Catwoman was meant to be played by Catherine Zeta Zones — but tell me you can’t see the cultural upside of a movie in which the bad guys’ motives not-so-subtly mimic those of the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Obviously, the trailer only gives us about two minutes’ worth of material to examine, but there’s no sign of any misguided idealism or discernable Robin Hood heroism on the part of the villains: It appears Bane blows up the field at a football stadium, killing the Gotham Rogues (played by the real-life Pittsburgh Steelers). They’re motivated by envy and greed and resentment and rage. Bane’s nihilism extends to the point where he wants to reduce Gotham to “ashes.” Tell me a better way to communicate to the great apolitical mass of America that the Occupiers are villains. …

By the way, I pity the villain who tries to poop on the Batmobile.


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