Monday, December 31, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Well, I finally got around to seeing the last of Nolan's Batman films. This isn't particularly a review of the film, which I'm sure has been done elsewhere very well. As far as I was concerned: Pretty good. Not bad. Can't complain.

Spoilers follow. Though frankly, I anticipated the big reveal from very near the beginning of the movie. (And I am not so attuned to Batman lore to have known it in advance).

What really interests me is the odd paranoia on the Right that the villain was named Bane, a homonym for Bain Capital, and that somehow this was a Hollywood liberal slam against Mitt Romney. Neither the difference in the spelling, nor the fact that Bane has been part of the Batman mythos since long before Mitt Romney was actively running for the presidency caused them to doubt for a minute that this was a conspiracy, an unfair conspiracy, against them.

But you might think that the nature of the plot would have given them pause, suggested, just perhaps, this wasn't an attack on the values of the Right. The movie is really quite conservative in its thrust. The police are noble, self-sacrificing, and in this film completely incorruptible. The acting commissioner, who has a moment of temporizing doubt, pays for it in the end, willingly, by sacrificing his life in a charge against an armed throng of anarchists. Bane, who seems at first the chief bad guy, is anti-capitalist and resentful of wealth and privilege in a way that's clearly disapproved of by the story. If that weren't bad enough we learn that his anti-capitalism and anarchy are just a cover for the nihilism he learned from R'as al Ghul and The League of Shadows. And finally Miranda Tate, a possible love interest for Batman, at first appears to be a liberal do-gooder who takes Bruce Wayne to task for not doing enough to help the poor, but then turns out to be the chief proponent of R'as al Ghul's nihilism (and also his daughter).

There's more, of course. Bruce Wayne's de haut en bas philanthropy is, of course, effective and only inadequate when he doesn't pay sufficient attention to making money. That's been true of all the Batman movies. There's the whole notion that vigilanteism works, and the future Robin leaves the force at the end of the movie because he, too, now knows that taking the law into his own hands is the only effective approach. Batman says no guns, but Selina Kyle, the Catwoman, has a pretty effective retort to that.

The movie, despite showing Gotham as an almost unmitigated hellhole, does retain some fondness for the city. Only in its (pretty slight) urbanism is the movie in any way opposed to contemporary conservative values. And I have to imagine that seeing the Lord of the Flies chaos that ensues when Gotham/Manhattan is isolated (islanded) is perfectly reassuring to the small-town idealism of the modern conservative.

If anything, the movie should be an offense to my urban, liberal politics. And it is, though, I can't take it that seriously. But the fact that it sends the Fox News crowd round the bend is worth a laugh at least.