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The Greatest Conservative Films: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Posted: May 17, 2017 at 3:40 pm   /   by

“Let’s not stand on ceremony here…Mr. Wayne.”

 

When Andrew Klavan wrote his groundbreaking review for The Dark Knight, it was met with a lot of mockery.  “Come on.  Batman and Bush?  Really?”  But when Christopher Nolan brought out this follow-up…suddenly those Leftists weren’t laughing so much.  Much as they still struggled to deny it (looking for every laughable excuse in the book)…well, Nolan all but came out of the closet, with The Dark Knight Rises.  He hasn’t “crossed the line”, though.  Not quite.

I will say this: Rush got targeted for mockery himself, over this film—having only heard bits and pieces about it before its release, he expressed concern that the villain’s name “Bane” would be used by the Left in conjunction with Mitt Romney’s old Wall Street firm, Bain Capital.

Of course…as he pointed out post-release, some Lefties actually did exactly that—so in the end, he was dead-on right.  (He did make sure to note the Conservatism of the film, by the way.)  Still, it does serve as an object lesson for Conservatives—especially if they ever want to comment in any way about pop culture.  Namely, know everything there is to know about the piece of pop culture you’re discussing.  It’s the Culture War, folks—as Ra’s Al Ghul taught Bruce, “Always mind your surroundings.”

For the record, the comic book writers who’d first created Bane publically endorsed Mitt Romney as America’s real-life Bruce Wayne.  Even in hindsight, they may not have been far wrong.  I sincerely doubt Bruce, with that public persona of his, would’ve won the election—everyone seeing him as “privileged”, “out-of-touch”, and “unlikable.”

But I digress.

So is the modern Hitchcock a closeted Tory?  Perhaps even…a Friend Of Abe?

Oh, who knows?  All we know is, as Glenn Beck noted, Nolan either does see the world the same way we do…or at the very least, “[He’s] read The Coming Insurrection”.

Before I go on, there are MAJOR SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen the film.  You’ve been warned.

Now

WHY IT’S A CONSERVATIVE FILM:

This time, it was the great Ben Shapiro (“Thug Life™!”) who broke down the Conservatism of The Dark Knight Rises.  Being Ben Shapiro, it was a quick and rapid-fire rundown.

I’m no Ben Shapiro, of course.  My analysis tends to be a bit more, well, drawn out.  So…here we go:

The Dent Act:

As The Dark Knight ended, it seemed as if Batman would continue his crime-fighting efforts as a rogue—on the run from the cops, but still doing what had to be done.  As this movie begins, Batman’s last confirmed sighting was…the night of the Joker’s defeat and Harvey Dent’s tragic fall.

It seems Bats hasn’t needed to continue his fight, in the interim—thanks in large part to an Act passed in Dent’s name.  Nothing’s specified, but we’re meant to get the idea that it’s a kind of PATRIOT Act for the police, something akin to Rudy Giuliani’s policies that allowed the NYPD under his governorship to clean up New York City.

And Gotham has been cleaned up, and it’s enjoyed a period of peace without arch-criminals…except for a certain classy cat burglar.  That’s about to change, of course.  But in the meantime, Gotham just hasn’t needed Batman, one way or another.

And despite how Bane deconstructs the actions necessary to lead to the Dent Act…events prove that the ends did indeed justify the means, as the criminals he releases go out to terrorize the city.  As Commissioner Gordon explains to his protege, Detective John Blake:

“There’s a point, far out there, when the structures fail you—when the rules aren’t weapons anymore—they’re shackles, letting the bad guy get ahead.  One day, you may face such a moment of crisis—and in that moment, I hope you have a friend like I did!  To plunge their hands into the filth, so that you can keep yours clean!”

While Blake doesn’t buy it at first…he comes to realize that Gordon’s right, after all.

Catwoman’s “Robin Hood” Complex:

Just to get this out of the way: popular phraseology notwithstanding, none of the versions of the “Robin Hood” legend (at least not that I’m aware of) have him “robbing the rich to feed the poor”—at least, not “the rich” per se.  Technically, the arrow-shooting outlaw “robs” the tyrannical government, to feed the overtaxed populace whose money it was in the first place.  Still, as Ayn Rand noted in Atlas Shrugged, that’s not how people tend to remember it.  And so, we had Jesse James rationalizing his crimes in the Old West with his Robin Hood image.  We have do-gooders on the Left, of course.  We have self-proclaimed “big Lefty” Green Arrow dressing up like Robin for obvious reasons.  And here, we have Catwoman—as Bruce amusedly notes to her.

“I take what I need from those who have more than enough.  I don’t stand on the shoulders of people with less.”

“Robin Hood?”

“I think I’d do more to help someone than most of the people in this room.  Than you.”

“…You think maybe you’re assuming a little too much?”

Indeed, Selina.  Class envy at work…and class warfare isn’t far behind….

“You think all this can last?  There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne.  You and your friends better batten down the hatches, ‘cause when it hits—you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us.”

Bruce notes that Selina seems eager for it—and indeed, she is…at first.

In Defense Of Wall Street:

Bane reveals himself to Gotham through what was, at the time (2012, remember) the ultimate Leftist fantasy: An attack on the Stock Exchange.  He does it at once to make a statement that We Are Coming…and (as it turns out) to cause Bruce to become (temporarily, before the fraud’s proven) broke, to manipulate him into desperately handing over his company to Miranda Tate.  More on that, later.

Foley, the officer apparently in charge while Gordon’s hospitalized, isn’t too eager to fight this battle.  Cue the following exchange with a stock trader.

“I’m not risking my men for your money.”

“It’s not our money—it’s everybody’s.”

“Really?  Mine’s in my mattress.”

“You don’t put these guys down, that stuffing in your mattress might be worth a whole h—l of a lot less.”

Exactly.  Most of the people who hate Wall Street don’t have a clue what it really is, what it does, and how valuable it really is for creating jobs, developing societies, and lifting whole countries out of poverty.  (Just look at those old “We Agree” commercials for Chevron, especially the “Angola” one.)

Or worse, as Batman might say: “They know.  They just don’t care.”

(Incidentally, Foley’s pretty much obsessed with the wrong priorities throughout the film—like going after Batman instead of Bane.  The unlikable cop, by sheer coincidence, is the Lefty of the group.  A little heavy-handed, perhaps…but I love it, myself.  He does redeem himself, in the end…sort of.)

For Selina’s part, we do see the roots of a change in her attitude….

“Mr. Wayne…?  I’m sorry they took all your money.”

“…No you’re not.”

In Bruce’s defense, it’s exactly what Miss Kyle needed to hear.  She still has a lot to learn…as she discovers when she learns just who Bruce Wayne is….

Occupy Gotham:

Here’s the biggest one.  The villains’ master stroke involves bringing about “the next era of Western Civilization”…couched with precisely the rhetoric of those self-proclaimed advocates of “the 99%”: the Occupy Movement.

I don’t blame you if it’s a little difficult to remember just how disturbing it all was.  When Obama got reelected, the movement quietly disappeared, their service complete in rallying people against the rich just enough for a vast majority of Americans to believe Obama just cared about them more than Romney.

But as the movie came out, the Occupiers were at the height of their chaos.  Nolan himself apparently gave Very Serious Thought to filming some footage of said “protests” to put in Rises.  Ultimately, he didn’t…but his consideration does mean something.  Christian Bale himself apparently seemed quite surprised at just how eerily reality paralleled the film.

For the record, the actual plot point was thought up before the movement really exploded too much—apparently it was inspired by the French Revolution.  This, however, just makes it all the more powerful.  Bane proclaims a false “freedom” and “power to the people”, railing specifically against the rich and “myths of opportunity”…and with them, the institutions of law and order, as he frees the “oppressed” criminals arrested under the Dent Act.

“Spoils will be enjoyed!”—mansions are trashed, the well-off are thrown out into the streets, and the beautiful becomes decimated.  And Selina Kyle can only look on, crushed at what her ideals have brought about.  And lest Selina excuse herself with “Bane’s doing it wrong!”…her sidekick—Holly Robinson in the comics, “Jen” in the movie subtitles—doesn’t see it that way:

“This was someone’s home.”

“And now?  It’s everyone’s home!  ‘There’s a storm coming’, remember?—This is what you wanted.”

Selina can only shake her head in disgust.

Strength In “Privilege”:

When Bruce first tries—and fails—to escape the prison pit, the explanation a fellow prisoner gives is that “the child” who did escape was “no ordinary child: A child born in hell.  Forged from suffering.  Hardened by pain.  Not a man from privilege.”

Indeed, Mirada has a similar perspective, the frankly Marxist notion that there’s something inherently strengthening—and noble—about poverty, and weakening (physically and morally) about being born into wealth.  Bane, for his part, is flabbergasted at the thought that Bruce could possibly escape as “the child” did.

Of course, Bruce did suffer as a child, losing his parents as he did.  But recall how Falcone taunted him in Batman Begins to the effect that that’s nothing compared to life on the streets.

And yet, as Ra’s taught Bruce, that’s all nonsense: “The will is everything!  The will to act.”

Bruce is weakened for much of Rises, only because he’s lost that will he once had.  But once he gets it back, he does escape—tossing a rope down for the other prisoners.  And then, he turns the tables on Bane, beating him to a pulp.  Poverty and privilege has nothing to do with it.  And as Shapiro pointed out:

“[I]n The Dark Knight Rises…those who grow up poor are held to the same moral standard as those who grow up rich.  …Wealth is not an automatic moral failing in TDKR.  It’s a tool to be used for good or evil.  And Batman uses it for good.”

The True “Evil Rich”:

At some point, between movies, Miranda Tate came to Wayne Enterprises for investments in her new reactor technology—a “clean-energy project”.  Bruce had eagerly invested much of the company’s funds into the project…until he read a study on how the reactor could easily become dangerous, in the wrong hands.  Over the course of the film’s events, his fears are realized.

Speaking of Miranda…note carefully her lines at the costume ball.  When Bruce explains that he has no patience for virtue-signaling people who want to excuse their wealth by donating to false charity (Clinton Foundation, anyone?), Tate makes clear that the ball’s proceeds would go “where they should”, as she covered the expenses.  Her reasoning?  “You have to invest, if you want to restore balance to the world.”

A nice bit of foreshadowing, in many ways.  Obviously, it links to Ra’s Al Ghul’s philosophy for the League Of Shadows.  But beyond that…it ties into Rand’s warning (again in Atlas) to beware those who proclaim the hardest how “altruistic” they are, and/or much they “don’t care about” money—the do-gooders who “justify” their wealth by being “selfless”, “humanitarians” advocating for “equality” and so forth.  That tends to be a cover for something far more sinister.  Hello, George Soros…hello, Lex Luthor…and hello, Miranda Tate.

Meanwhile, Roland John Daggett, Bruce Wayne’s business-world nemesis (originally introduced in the legendary animated series) is a contractor for city infrastructure projects.  Aside from “hiring” Bane, he’s also guilty of hiring kids abandoned by orphanages to work underground on his projects.  Of course, Bane’s making the projects structurally unsound, so as to seal off Gotham from the world….

Shapiro contends this is a swipe against corporatism.  I’m not too sure—it’s not particularly overt…but it’s hinted at enough to be worth considering, at least.

For Bonus Points:

Bruce is an idealist…but notice a little detail in his own charity.  The funds of the Wayne Foundation supporting Gotham’s orphanages are linked to…the profits of Wayne Enterprises.  As Alfred notes, there have to be profits for that to work out.  Bruce’s charity, then, isn’t a “selfless sacrifice”—he’s an orphan himself, so he has an emotional vested interest; and further, he knows darn well that charity is meaningless (at best) without a robust Capitalist engine to finance it.

After Wayne’s effectively robbed by Bane and left broke, a reporter calls out, “How does it feel to be one of the people, Wayne?”  No…no bias at all.

Eventually, the U.S. President sends in some special forces disguised as relief workers to join up with Gordon and company…with the intention of securing the bomb, and then essentially waiting it out because they can’t risk the villains pushing the trigger.  After Fox and Tate explain to the crew how the bomb’s instability means it will blow up anyway, trigger or no trigger, if they wait too long, Detective Blake adds, “So your appeasement plan might not be as practical as you thought.”

Later said appeasement leads right to an inability to evacuate the city—much to the rage of Detective Blake.

Catwoman repeatedly chides Batman for his vehement refusal to use guns.  She gives one last dig right after stopping Bane—by gunning him down.

There’s something deeply…meaningful in Bane’s famous monologue to Bruce about the torment of false hope—and how he intends to break all of Gotham through the promise of “hope”.  A stretch?  Well…who knows?  It’s pretty much the kind of dark joke I would’ve made, on a certain then-president….

WHY IT’S A GREAT FILM:

The Dark Knight Rises had the unfortunate scenario of following up perhaps the greatest superhero movie of all time.  As such, like Return Of The Jedi following up The Empire Strikes Back, the only way it could’ve possibly avoided any label of “disappointing” would’ve been to somehow…top that!  And like Return Of The Jed, such a tall order was…pretty much impossible.

The truth is, Rises nonetheless deserves status as a truly great film.  Maybe not as great as The Dark Knight, but be honest: that’s a very…VERY high standard.  Not every movie’s Casablanca—they don’t have to be, to still be great.

Maybe it has to do with the politics of Rises being the most “open” and overt of the whole trilogy: Batman Begins is Conservative-friendlyThe Dark Knight is Conservative via parable…and The Dark Knight Rises is utterly, completely, you-have-to-be-blind­-in-order-to-miss-it Conservative, with no real “excuse”.  It’s the film every Conservative “message movie” wants to be.  And that’s both a blessing and a curse.

Meanwhile…it can’t be overemphasized how important an opening shot is—and for Rises, it’s a powerful image of Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon in what seems to be an “anniversary” memorial of Harvey Dent—immediately putting us in the right sort of mood, as the memories of the tragedy of The Dark Knight come flooding in.  And then…fade to black—and open on the introduction of the new threat to Gotham City….

The Magnificent Tom Hardy As Bane:

At the risk of sounding like a hipster, I’ve admired Tom Hardy long before he was “cool”—I’m one of the apparent few who loved the criminally underrated Star Trek: Nemesis, in which Hardy masterfully played a young counterpart to The Magnificent Sir Patrick Stewart.  (Interestingly, Hardy’s “renaissance” seems to have caused people to go back and re-evaluate Nemesis.  Better late than never…I suppose….)

Here, he plays the single worthiest opponent Batman has ever faced—straight from the comics, the one villain who actually did defeat Batman (temporarily, of course).  And in the process, he and Nolan wipe away the memory of the “dumb muscle” Bane of Batman & RobinThis Bane is the master strategist comic fans know and love, carefully planning bit-by-bit his conquest and destruction of Gotham—anticipating just about everything…much like Batman himself.

At once massive and burly, and affably eloquent—he intimidates and manipulates, all at the same time.  His monologues are both chilling and charismatic, and very quotable.  And we can believe he inspires loyalty in his men—to the point of martyrdom.

In the meantime, mask or no, he’s quite expressive, if his eyes are any indication.  My favorite example immediately follows a powerful demonstration of Hardy’s sheer presence…through merely resting the side of his hand on Daggett’s shoulder.  When Daggett mutters out, “I’ve paid you a small fortune,” Bane’s eyes gives a look of honest bewilderment as he replies, “And this gives you…power over me…?”

Anne Hathaway As Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman:

There was a time when we only knew Anne Hathaway as Princess Mia—diaries and all.  Yeah, she did some other stuff, but Brokeback Mountain wasn’t exactly “wide audience”.  And Nolan used this “image” issue to great effect.  For much of Selina’s introduction, she seems every bit the sweet and innocent “girlish” type…until Bruce Wayne deduces to her face that she’s just stolen his mother’s necklace.  And then, in a split second, we see something subtly change in her face…and with a single word, Ms. Hathaway showed us all just why she was so perfect for the role, after all:

“…Oops.”

And then she catches him off guard—trips him, and elegantly climbs up into the window, bids him au revoir…and leaps out.  Just like a cat.

As I’ve said before, Nolan is a devoted aficionado of Film Noir…and as such, this Catwoman is every bit the old-school femme fatale.  Beautiful, classy, sexy, confident, and cool…at once a man’s fantasy and nightmare.  And in the end, she does have a heart of gold…and she’s vulnerable to hurt.  What she really wants, more than anything, is to clear herself of her past—and when Daggett “reveals” that what she wants doesn’t exist, her voice fills with tears as she cries out “YOU’RE LYING!”

As her arc goes on, she discovers that she wants to be good—what she’s really after isn’t escape, but redemption.  Just like, in his own way, Bruce Wayne.

Maybe that’s why they’re so perfect for each other—they understand each other, in a way Bruce and Rachel never could.  Bruce and Selina walk the line…and here, they rescue each other from the brink.

And thusly, Selina gains what she truly desire.  This princess has a happy ending, after all.

She even gets to keep the pearls.

Christian Bale As Bruce Wayne AKA Batman—One Last Time:

Batman hasn’t been needed for eight long years.  And Rachel’s death has left Bruce Wayne deeply scarred, believing there’s no life left for him post-Batman.  Such leads him into conflict with Alfred…and arguably it’s what keeps him from taking Bane’s strengths—and his own weaknesses—as seriously as he should.

This is Bruce’s final arc—to get rid of what Rocky Balboa would call “the stuff in the basement”.  Whatever’s keeping him from moving on with his life, he needs to uncover it, and overcome it.  And as his fellow prisoners in the pit make clear, it’s simply the fact that he’s lost the desire to stay alive.

And we feel along with him.  We cringe at the breaking of his back—and at his struggle to recover.  And when he finally does…and when the bats come out once more, symbolically restoring to him the will of Batman—it’s right before he makes the jump, and escapes the pit.  As the fellow prisoners cheer, we cheer with them.

And we really cheer when Batman leads the charge to restore order, and beats the living crap out of Bane.  I can still remember the catharsis I felt at that moment, watching the film for the first time—just how satisfying it was as Bane now found himself broken:

“TELL ME WHERE THE TRIGGER IS—then…you have my permission to die!”

We’re with Bruce, because we connect with him.  And we’re happy for him, when he gets his happy ending.  He’s earned it.

And Gotham gets its happy ending, too—and at last, they once again know who to honor and thank for it.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt As John Blake AKA Robin Richard “Dick” Grayson

Yeah, he’s Dick Grayson.  The “reveal” in the end that his legal name was “Robin” is a clue to it, of course—and there’s also the issue that he’s a cop, which the comics establish as Dick’s “day job” for a time.  There’s also him being a young adult, as opposed to a kid.  And his seeming chemistry with Selina, in their one actual scene together.  (Catwoman’s flirted with Dick, on occasion.)

That being said, his heart-to-heart when he introduces himself to Bruce gives a nod to the other two “main” Robins, as well—for Jason Todd, his line about bottling up his anger; for Tim Drake, the fact that Blake was able to reason out Batman’s identity.

JGL brings a “ruthless innocence” (as Rand would put it) to his role—at once tough, dry-witted, and hard-boiled…and highly idealistic and black-and-white in his worldview.  (Meaningfully, when a gun of Blake’s accidentally kills a bad guy, he throws it away in disgust.)  Blake’s a bit of a hero-worshipper, for both Bruce Wayne (“billionaire orphan”) and Batman…and he makes it clear, in the aforementioned exchange, that he knows darn well what Bruce is going through, right now.  And so, it is he who sounds the call, challenging Bruce, to his face, to return.

A friendship soon forms, with Bruce—and Batman—mentoring Blake a bit on what it means to wear a mask, and fight crime solo.  Bit by bit, we see Blake molded into someone worthy to take the torch, once it’s passed.

He doesn’t become Robin, per se—both Bale and Nolan made it clear they’d no interest in going there.  Rather, Blake/Grayson becomes Batman II…or Nightwing, if you like.  And as he inherits the cave…the bats swarm around him, accepting him into this fate.

The Twist Of Talia:

Marion Cotillard has an interesting turn as Miranda Tate—aka Talia Al Ghul.  It’s the kind of twist one would see coming a mile away—a new character thrust in front of us with no seeming comic counterpart.  Except, of course, we’ve just had two movies with Rachel Dawes—who turned out to be…Rachel Dawes.  And Nolan carefully disguises “Miranda’s” role, with her struggling and fighting alongside Fox and Gordon and other heroes—to the point where a first-time viewer might wonder if she’s being set up for a pairing with Fox….

Still, like any good twist, pay close attention to the rewatch.  Take note of all the lines about Bane’s past—and the story of the child…and you’ll notice just how much doesn’t add up.  Perhaps, those of you who had been paying close attention would’ve found yourself wondering if the screenwriters had missed several continuity bugs…or maybe it’s just that we’re seeing Bruce revising his picturing of the stories’ events as he learns more…or something….

The Rest Of The Cast:

Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return with full gravitas as Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox.  Fox has quite a few great moments, like showing Bruce the Bat-plane “anyway” (as if seeing right through that “retirement” talk), or teasing him about his new girlfriend, Catwoman.  And foreshadowing Bruce’s trials to come, we see Gordon recovering from his own injuries—both outside and in.  As Batman let him know, for their last goodbye:

“A hero can be anyone.  Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders, to let him know the world hadn’t ended.”

And with that revelation to Gordon, of who Batman is—I admit to getting a little misty-eyed in the theater.

Michael Cain is also excellent in his last turn as Alfred—here driven to a breaking point.  I must admit, though: a major thing I took issue with, in this movie, is the fact that Al disappears after quitting in protest—and then doesn’t show up until the very end of the film.  Where is he, during the occupation?  Does he help Bruce get back to Gotham, like in Batman Begins?  Why don’t we see any of this?  Oh, well….

Ben Mendelsohn—Director Krennic of Rogue One—plays Daggett.  Safe to say, Daggett choked on his aspirations….  Jokes aside, people have complained about the character’s constant “hammy” antics.  I think it’s perfectly fine, myself.  I’d say the “annoying” element is part of the point—he’s a pawn in over his head, and refuses to admit it.

Oh, and Cillian Murphy returns as The Scarecrow…serving as Bane’s Chief Justice.

Hans Zimmer’s Music:

Nolan’s favorite composer returns with two new key pieces.  One—Catwoman’s theme—perfectly conveys Hathaway’s incarnation of Selina: Mysterious, stylish, and somewhat off-beat…the perfect theme for a sneaky femme fatale with the motif of a cat.

The other, for Bane, has a primal drum beat with a constant chant, supposedly Moroccan Arabic for “He—he—rises!—rises!”  “Brutal” yet powerful, driving…powering the tension of many a scene.

The “Return” Of Ra’s Al Ghul:

“Did you not think I would return, Bruce…?  I told you I was immortal….”

It’s a very weird scene, frankly—and the whole “Lazarus Pit” issue in the comics really doesn’t help any.

For those not in the know, Ra’s Al Ghul does cheat death in the comics, where the League brings his dead body to that pit, and he’s resuscitated.  Such is comics—no one’s “killed off for good”, if they’re popular enough.  But this is the Nolanverse—everything’s “grounded” in reality.  And we’re pretty sure we saw Ra’s Al Ghul die.  Or…did we?  Look at the scene in Batman Begins, frame-by-frame.  Maybe…?

Look, at the very least, it’s highly improbable that he could’ve possibly survived that.  So, when Liam Neeson pops up in Rises, to rub Bane’s victories and Bruce’s failures in Bruce’s face (and as it turns out, to goad him into a false assumption)…what are we to make of it?  Is it really Ra’s Al Ghul, back from the dead—and communicating telepathically to Bruce in a vision?  Or is it all a hallucination, with Bruce just figuring things out in his head?

Well, I guess it all depends on what we want to believe.  And if Ra’s does have those abilities, it does open the door for “superpowers” existing in the Nolanverse, after all…which begs for other questions.  It’s fun to speculate about, regardless—and talk about as we leave the theater.

Which brings me to…

Closure For The Nolanverse:

Before the scenario for Batman v. Superman was revealed, there was a small amount of speculation that Man of Steel—and the DCEU with it—was connected in some way to the Dark Knight Trilogy.  After all, Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel…and rumors abounded that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would don the Batman cowl for the inevitable Justice League.

Alas, that may have been the plan, if we believe the story that the original drafts of what became BvS had been written with the “idea” that Christian Bale would return as Bruce Wayne…but in the end, Bale turned it down, feeling that he was all done with the character.  His Batman’s story was over.  Let him enjoy his happily-ever-after with Selina…and maybe raise a girl, destined to become The Huntress….

At any rate, this “grounded in reality” take on Batman frankly wouldn’t “work” in a universe where superpowers exist.  Only once does the suggestion of the superhuman pop up—Ra’s Al-Ghul’s “return”, and again, that’s open to interpretation….

And of course, you’d think Bane’s occupation of Gotham would’ve attracted the attention of a superhero or two.

But most importantly, Rises makes clear that Bruce has come to the end of this journey.  He’s finally saved Gotham, at long last—and the city’s redeemed itself, too.  Batman’s good name is cleared…and meanwhile, Bruce has found someone to settle down with.  He has, at last, found peace.

Still, just in case a hero’s needed again…Bruce has also found someone he can pass the mantle to—Blake aka Grayson aka Robin.  And he’s given his proper goodbyes to Fox…Gordon…and Alfred.  But Bruce’s story is over, in this universe.  Were he to “return”, it would’ve invalidated his emotional arc, here.

(This leads to an interesting theory of mine about BvS.  But that’s for another time….)

Alternate Risings:

Rumors have long circulated on exactly what Nolan’s third Batman film would’ve been like, had the great Heath Ledger not met his untimely demise.  A common story has it that the Joker would’ve returned in a Hannibal-Lector-type role, where Batman needs his twisted help in finding and stopping the Riddler.  Fan speculation pointed to Leonardo DeCaprio or Johnny Depp or even Robin Williams playing Riddler—who apparently was to be a Zodiac-type, or a hacker, or maybe both.

Other theories involved Phillip Seymour Hoffman showing up as the Penguin, filling in the void as the new boss of the Gotham mob.  Finally, some have suggested that Joker would’ve just had a brief cameo, where Bane makes it a point to not release him….

But in the end, who knows?  We got what we got, and I personally love it.

By The Way…

Nolan himself has said he’d have loved to have seen a Catwoman-centric prequel spin-off starring the lovely Miss Hathaway…but Anne said she’d only do it if Nolan would direct.  Shame, though.  It would’ve been another opportunity to wipe away a bad memory.  Sorry, Halle Berry.

Speaking of which…“Anne Hathaway” was the name of William Shakespeare’s wife.  And “our” Anne’s parents knew it.

There’s no real effort at all to cover up Manhattan standing in for Gotham.  There’s even a half-constructed Freedom Tower (aka One World Trade Center) in the wide shots.

Bane’s most prominent henchman, who’s good with rifles, is apparently Deadshot, pre-Will-Smith.

Just as Batman initiates his return, an elder cop, recognizing the signs, eagerly tells a youngster, “Boy, you are in for a show tonight, son!”  He’s quoting Frank Miller’s monumental graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, where a cop says the same thing in the same kind of context.

Mr. Fredericks—the noblest Wayne Enterprises executive besides Fox—is John Nolan, Christopher’s uncle.

 

Buy/rent the movie here.  And stay film-friendly, my friends.

Any recommendations for films to make this series?  Read the rules, here, and let us know!

Eric Blake

Eric Blake

Team Writer at Western Free Press
Eric M. Blake is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida, with a Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Film Studies.  As that implies, he is very passionate about political theory and filmmaking--and the connections between the two.  Inspired by Andrew Breitbart's axiom that "Politics is downstream from culture", he is deeply fascinated by the great influence that popular culture has on public opinion, and is a firm believer in the power of storytelling.  He proudly owns his second copy of Ben Shapiro's Primetime Propaganda...his first copy having been worn out though intense re-reading.

Eric was raised by Conservative Christian parents, but first became especially passionate about politics in high school, through reading up on economic theory.  He also first read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged around this time, for the ARI's essay contests.  He now owns a great deal of Ayn Rand's work.  Also included in his library are the collected works of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, etc.

Eric is no stranger to writing commentary, as the writer of the Conservative Considerations column on CampCampaign.com, and as a film critic and commentator on FlickRev.com.  He has also carried on the Conservative tradition of talk radio commentary, as the host of "Avengers of America" for the USF student radio station, Bulls Radio.  In the meantime, he is practicing what he preaches: Striving to enter the professional realm of Hollywood, he has already written and directed short films for the Campus MovieFest, which can be found on his YouTube channel, Hard Boiled Entertainment.
Eric Blake

The Greatest Conservative Films: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)