I saw The Dark Knight Rises. I am aghast at the events of the last few days, and at what I saw on-screen, so I’m wiped out, unable to respond adequately to the issues your correspondents have brought up. But may I offer the following:
First, to the reader who compared Bruce Wayne to Gautama, that is totally false. That may be true of the original 1939 Bob Kane creation, but it isn’t true of the Nolan “reboot.” (Forgive me for using industry talk. I don’t usually write or speak this way but no other terms suffice.)
One of Christian Bale’s bragging points is that he wasn’t a comic book reader and he didn’t want to play a comic book character. He had to be convinced to play the character because it was based upon a series of 1980s comics that cast Batman in an altogether darker light. In these comics, Batman was primarily motivated not by the desire to do good, but by rage at seeing his parents murdered in front of his eyes. So, what was implicit in the 1939 creation became explicit in the 1980s, and was further turned into the primary motivator in the “franchise.”
You can see Bale talking about this in any number of interviews.
Second, Nolan’s cheap, lawyered up talk of “innocence and joy” is total hypocrisy.
Third, anyone who says these films have a conservative core message is a gullible fool. True, Nolan is not enamored of revolutionary violence, but only because he’s a complete nihilist and misanthrope. He hates everyone and everything. His villain Bane has no real reason for destroying capitalism, except that capitalists are in power.
Fourth, the villain Bane, in the comics, wears a San Francisco Bondage Festival mask that administers a drip of a steroid called “Venom” into his system, which makes him hulking and monstrous. I think this was a devilishly clever idea: to turn something natural, that makes a man a man, into a poison, when it is taken unnaturally. It is a perversion of nature.
In the movie, the mask administers an antibiotic. I’m not sure why. But in addition to being lame, it’s a change of something very important from the source material, which worked on its own terms.
Now, what makes this appalling is that Tom Hardy, the actor who plays Bane, undoubtedly took steroids to achieve the size and bulk of the character. There are pictures of him all over the Internet with the back acne characteristic of the steroid abuser. A picture of Tom Hardy, before and after.
True, he looked like a dumb tattooed “chav” before, but of normal dimensions. After, he’s a freak. The Internet is full of garbage sites with names like “Tom Hardy workout.” You have to be a real gullible fool to believe that a workout will effect that change.
Isn’t it wrong to change an important plot device from the source material and employ an actor who has in fact used what the source material’s author warned about, while covering up the truth?
Last but not least, the film was preceded by 45 minutes of mind-numbing, ear-shattering, soul-destroying previews. What’s important about them is this: Every one of the previewed films but one (something about aliens) featured gore, perversity, and ghoulish violence. One of the movies was named, if memory serves, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. And yes, we saw the gangster film where Grauman’s Chinese theater gets shot up. This stars Sean Penn. He was never a handsome man, but over the years his face has become the ugliest mask of Hollywood perversion imaginable. I could be wrong, but I got the feeling from the trailer that the cops were as bad as the bad guys—the typical latter-day nihilism.
Ben M. writes:
Diana M. writes: