I don’t like to talk about movies before they come out, but since The Dark Knight Rises is a sequel to a movie that I did see and that had the same political interpretations attached to it, let’s go for it.
Was The Dark Knight a commentary on the War on Terror? Obviously. But was it a commentary on the War on Terror? No.
Wait what? Exactly.
The Dark Knight was a commentary on the war of ideas, not just the obvious ones, like can I rendition a guy from another country or eavesdrop on cell phones. Like all the Nolan movies it was about the tug of war between those who are trying to destroy the city and those trying to hold it together.
The Dark Knight Rises is about the same thing.
I have seen essays pushing The Dark Knight as Bush boosterism. Bullshit. The Joker got to make his case and make a convincing case. His case, like Ra’s al Ghul’s case, like Bane’s case, is that Gotham didn’t deserve to survive. That Gotham was too rotten and didn’t have a single good thing in it. The only way to fix it was to destroy it.
Batman never denied Gotham’s problems. He denied that it was hopeless and he rejected the extremist solution of blowing it up. And he was willing to do anything to stop it. That’s what a vigilante does. He breaks the law for a greater good.
How does that line up with Democrats and Republicans? That’s subjective. Batman = Bush looks silly now that Bush is gone and we’re raiding other countries and killing terrorists with remote drones every month.
Remember Two Face? The great politician. The bridge between Batman and the Joker. Batman thought Dent would do his work, but Dent became like the Joker instead.
The twist is that Batman and the Joker are the same person. Batman has to break the rules to stop the Joker who doesn’t believe in rules. But break enough rules and there are fewer differences between Batman and the Joker except character. And the Joker kept trying to prove that character doesn’t matter. That one big decision and one bad day can break anyone.
Chaos and order.
Bane is Batman. He’s more Batman than Ra’s al Ghul and the Joker who wanted to clean up Gotham by destroying it. Bane wants to make Gotham a better place. He’s a vigilante like Batman. He’s making Gotham a better place by beating the hell out of the people he thinks make it a worse place. But like Ra’s al Ghul and the Joker he has the wrong prescription.
Bane, the Joker and Ra’s al Ghul are all one step over the line. They show what Batman can become.
Is Batman a Republican? Sure. He’s also a Democrat. And he’s none of those things. He’s the guy at the top who sees a problem and breaks the rules trying to fix it. He wants to bring back hope, but he does it by punching people in the face.
He’s a superhero.
In the Nolan movies Batman is always fighting villains who have a big picture. They have a vision of life and the world. But he doesn’t have those things. All he’s trying to do is hold on to one city.
Batman has no politics. He doesn’t care about abortion, oil drilling or gay marriage. He has no opinion on 99 out of 100 issues. When Ra’s al Ghul talks history or the Joker talks about foreign wars or Bane talks economic justice, Batman doesn’t care. Those things mean nothing to him. The Nolan Batman movies are about ideas, but Batman is a helpless player in their wars of ideas. He knows that he has to become larger than life, but unlike Ra’s al Ghul, the Joker or Bane, he doesn’t want to be more than human. He has to be more than human for the sake of his mission.
Gotham is Batman’s political agenda. It’s his only political agenda. And he’s fighting to protect it from men with big ideas who would tear it apart over those ideas.