THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:
I’d like to clarify before I begin: This blog is about sci-fi, disability, and culture. It has never been a movie blog, and I hope to cover more themes than disability rights in superhero movies. But, the moment you saw Superhero Week, you knew that I had to write about the third Nolan Batman epic. That is my disclaimer. That said, it is a great movie with themes of rising above one’s physical body to help others as one‘s duty. I will attempt to keep it spoiler free.
I can say that there is a lot of action, and a lot of it is relevant to modern issues from terrorism to The Patriot Act and grassroots movements like Occupy Wall Street. Like any good parable though, the movie’s symbols will show you actually what you seek in them, so I can’t really say with any certainty other than the symbols do a good job capturing the modern era, and with that a need for a modern hero, one that encourages others to move beyond concern for themselves as a symbol of righteous law and order. I will say that I think every character represents a part of Batman, and Batman, a part of me, which I have already said; it is a good character study and parable.
I will paint the character study broadly, so as not to give spoilers, but it is a tale meant for the modern world; and as such will have many different, complex meanings. But, we can all agree now, I think, that Batman is possible in the modern world. He fits in our world. We need him now more than ever. He addresses our time.
I think it’s not a surprise to anyone to say that Batman fights Bane. Bruce Wayne himself meanwhile, must decide whether or not to come out of seclusion to save millions from Bane’s plans, even though he is regarded the Batman persona is regarded to be a villain, and Bane is widely regarded as a hero. Tom Hardy as Bane seemed to be channeling Hannibal Lecter with Sean Connery; it was a very commanding presence, very effective. He’s not uncivilized just wants a new order, and power under the guise of a leader.
I could write a whole other post on what this movie meant to me, specifically. But, right now, all I can say is the title is appropriate. Bane is physically stronger, but Batman rises to defend the city. The city hates him, and he rises. He rises from seclusion in the Batcave. He rises to become the idea that anyone can be a superhero, if their heart is in it. It doesn’t matter whether the world fears or hates you or thinks you’re broken. You are in charge of your destiny, and there is a social order. Life can make sense through the pain.
Bane doesn’t believe in the social order or that life is up to anyone else but him; he sort of holds a mirror up to Batman, and his concept of justice. He seems to live in pain and darkness, and is strong, but offers no solutions. Beyond his own pain and selfish motives of vengeance.
I really can’t say a whole lot more (without ruining it.) than Batman is the representation of the Heroes’ Journey in the modern era; and his solution seems to be to rise above himself, and for others to follow his example. I’ve seen a lot of fun movies this year, but probably none as socially and psychologically potent as this film. Avengers was fun. Spider-Man was fun. While action-packed and fun in a darker way, this movie actually seems to instruct the person watching to find the inner hero, whatever that is.
And then, as the end credits roll, you realize that Batman is the hero of our Zeitgeist, in our place, with solutions to our problems. Will machines, death, pain, and mass movements overtake our souls? Not if we rise…and make them serve humane purposes. In conclusion: Go see it. Let it speak to you, as it undoubtedly was meant to do for us heroes. I can’t really say how many stars, because I’m still thinking on it. Go see it.