Menzoid Essay: Dark Knight Rises

When The Menzoid first heard that The Dark Knight Rises -which will be released on DVD on December 3rd – would have an Occupy theme, he gasped: Surely director/screenwriter Christopher Nolan wouldn’t re-imagine Batman as the “spokes-hero” for the human flotsam who comprise the odious Occupy movement?

After all, Hollywood is such a “progressive” kind of town. One can almost imagine a narrative unfolding in which the Occupiers are the oppressed underdogs while a newly-enlightened Caped Crusader helps remake Gotham City as a new-age socialist collective.

It would be a jaw-dropping left turn, to be sure: Batman is a crime-fighter and his alias, Bruce Wayne, is a billionaire 1-percenter, whereas Occupiers tend to be a collection of law-breakers, loogans and losers. Certainly, the trailer looked ominous:

But thankfully, The Menzoid’s fears were unfounded and Nolan does not disappoint. In fact, The Dark Knight Rises makes for an astonishing film. Aside from boasting a stellar cast and being a visual spectacle, it is the most unapologetically pro-right wing movie to come out of  inseltown in recent memory.

Indeed, who would’ve thought that a Batman film would serve as an allegory for demonizing collectivism and irresponsibility while championing the power of capitalism and the will of the individual to rise above dire circumstances?

Case in point: Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway. She ominously asks Bruce Wayne, “How long do you think all this can last?” in regard to the opulence on display at a chi-chi charity ball. She then warns that, “There’s a storm coming” – and it is uttered with a certain measure of glee. She will later make a U-turn from this position – more on that later.

In the meantime, the psychopathic killer Bane isolates Gotham City from the rest of the world via savage acts of terrorism. He then promises the
city’s ne’er-do-wells that “tomorrow, you claim what is rightfully yours.”

It’s Occupy 101. And Bane’s strategy of pursuing death and destruction is surely the sort of anarchy actual Occupiers would embrace if they, too, possessed Bane’s manpower and firepower… and had access to a weapon of mass destruction.

And yet, Bane’s bravado about returning Gotham to “the people” and liberating the city from its so-called “oppressors” rings hollow. His followers have no rightful claim on the bounty they savagely pillage. And once in charge, they conduct farcical kangaroo court sessions in which guilt is pre-determined and the choice of sentence is death or exile (which is actually no choice at all given that exile is an elaborate death
sentence.)

At the conclusion of the second film in the trilogy, The Dark Knight, Batman takes the fall in order to preserve the reputation of Harvey Dent and to ensure the passage of a legislative act that will allow police to mop up Gotham’s criminal element. But The Dark Knight Rises is about redemption and the choices people make. Some choose to overcome a bad hand dealt to them; others revel in their grief and want to spread misery to others. For example, Selina Kyle, who warned of the upcoming storm and planned to benefit from the ensuing societal apocalypse, has an 11th hour epiphany. She eventually comes to the realization that the rule of law and the power of capitalism – despite all the inherent imperfections – are still far superior compared to outright anarchy.

Bane, on the other hand, chooses to hang on to his misery. And he makes a conscious decision to foist his unique brand of suffering upon an entire city’s populace. While he sees himself as “Gotham’s reckoning”, all he really desires is nihilism.

Finally, there is the titular Dark Knight himself. Bruce Wayne is indeed a member of the so-called 1%, and true enough, he has the mansion and all the toys. But far from being a symbol of greedy excess, he is an agent of change – not through death and destruction, but by being a philanthropist and a self-sacrificing vigilante.

Indeed, toward the end, it’s clear it would be so easy for Bruce Wayne to save himself by fleeing the hellhole Gotham has become under Bane’s rule. Instead, in what is perhaps the film’s most profound moment, he infers that he’ll pay the ultimate price to try and save his city and its
citizens:

Bottom line: The Dark Knight Rises is a scathing indictment of the Occupy Movement as well as an unapologetic banner-waver for the power of
capitalism and individual exceptionalism. Whereas Occupiers believe in the forcible redistribution of property via theft and anarchy, the forces of
good in The Dark Knight Rises demonstrate there is another way. and it is indeed a better way.