Christopher Nolan has set the bar mighty high for whomever follows him on the Batman franchise. The Dark Knight Rises might not be the perfect movie, but it’s a superhero film that transcends almost all other superhero films. It succeeds much more often than it fails, and for that Nolan should be proud of what he’s accomplished.

Where was Christopher Nolan supposed to go after the success of The Dark Knight? How could he have possibly topped the second installment of his Batman trilogy? There really weren’t many options, except to make a superhero movie that was more than a superhero movie — and for that Nolan apparently turned to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. The director went for something truly epic — he shot for the moon — and while we can debate whether or not he actually hit his target, it seems pretty obvious that he made it to the stars.

After the second trailer for The Dark Knight Rises came out on May Day, I hoped that years from now political junkies would hear Bane say, “When Gotham burns, you have my permission to die,” and immediately associate him with Keynesian economics and the totalitarian tendencies that spring forth from it. The movie didn’t disappoint, as Bane displays classical training in the rhetoric of leftist dictator-goons throughout history. And if Bane comes across as a Marxist revolutionary, then Selena Kyle is the useless idiot who buys into his snake oil.

Take note of Catwoman, as she displays jealousy, greed, envy and a sense of entitlement all in one minute conversation with Bruce.

Selena Kyle: You don’t get to judge me just because you were born in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor. … I started out doing what I had to. When you’ve done what you’ve had to they’ll never let you do what you want to.

Bruce Wayne: Start fresh.

Selena Kyle: There is no fresh start in today’s world. Any 12 year old with a cell phone can find out what you did. … Everything sticks.

Bruce: Is that how you justify stealing?

Selena Kyle: I take what I need from those who have more than enough. I don’t stand on the shoulders of people with less. … I think I do more to help someone than most of the people in this room — than you.

Bruce Wayne: Do you think maybe you’re assuming a little too much? …

Selena Kyle: You think all of this can last? There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it does you and your friends are going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

Ms. Kyle wants to live in a world where she doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of her actions. She made mistakes, and instead of owning up to them she doubles down on a path of deceit. It is only when Ms. Kyle moves in the ideological direction of Mr. Wayne that her fortunes begin to change. Revolutionaries like Bane only bring misery and terror, while men like Wayne offer order, true hope, redemption and selflessness.

Perhaps no better part sums up the difference between Bruce Wayne and his leftist adversaries than the rising climax. The cynical, class-warfare spewing Catwoman intellectually aligned with Bane throughout most of the movie, a man who sought to destroy an entire city to realize his goals. Bruce, on the other hand, proves that he is willing to sacrifice himself for an entire city.

Selena Kyle: Sorry to keep letting you down. Come with me. Save yourself. You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.

Bruce: Not everything. Not yet.

Within minutes, Kyle knows that Bruce is the better man, and she falls for him. By the end of The Dark Knight Rises, the man she accused of “living so large” and leaving “so little for the rest of us” has proven himself her superior mentally, physically and spiritually, and she shows her epiphany in dramatic fashion.

As I said before, The Dark Knight trilogy will be, on many levels, the Bane of liberal moviegoers’ existence. No matter what Christopher Nolan does—no matter what he says from this day forward—he can never take back these films (thank God). It’s a gold mine of conservative values waiting to be explored. And, while Nolan’s personal politics might not be conservative, he at least gave the worldview a fair shake. In Hollywood, that’s all conservatism needs to starts winning hearts and minds. Besides, when The Village Voice hates a movie, I know I have something to work with.

If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, check it out while it’s in theaters. Love it or hate it, it’s a movie that’s going to be talked about for a long time.

27 comments

    1. Like I said, there are moments where it doesn’t quite click … and I think some of the political commentary was a bit too spelled out, but overall I think it was a fitting conclusion. The bar was set so high with the last film that I think some people are being a bit unfair with their reviews.

    1. I never said “A Tale of Two Cities” was the sole source he pulled from, and it would be pretty silly to make that claim (sort of like your anonymous post).

  1. Wooo Bravo!! Encore!! This is a great piece Douglas. I especially loved this line, “The director went for something truly epic — he shot for the moon — and while we can debate whether or not he actually hit his target, it seems pretty obvious that he made it to the stars.” Poetry. You have no idea how much I struggled trying to write something similar. God blessed you with an amazing gift.

    1. Thanks! I really do appreciate that. Sometimes, as it’s getting late and I’m getting tired … I just reach a point where I can’t judge the quality and just press “post” — hoping for the best. 🙂

    1. What do I think? I think you’ve created a really solid review there for yourself! Crisp writing, cogent and well thought out — hence, why I’m now following you. 🙂

      If you like posts on Iran, I have a feeling that events will unfold in the near future that will require I cover it extensively…

    2. Thank you! Your approval is truly appreciated.

      Regarding Iran, the situation is too delicate and scary (on so many levels) for me to comment on here. Besides, as a film blogger I am going well outside of my boundaries lol. I look forward to reading your posts on (come what may) in the future.

    3. Well, perhaps I can learn a thing or two about film from you and maybe if I’ll be able to provoke a few good conversations on Iran. Thanks again for the follow.

  2. Just saw Dark Knight Rises tonight… it has been a busy week, so I was a little late seeing it, but my lovely wife let me get out of the house to see it. She is a great woman and wife.
    The movie was outstanding… I must admit it got to me at about 3/4’s of the way through it. I can not explain how but it did. It truly makes me concerned for our future, especially the future for my daughter. I think we have lost long view of life and not just our lives but the lives of future generations. The ethic in this country used to be “work hard to make a better life for our children” has been replaced with “I want it all and I want it right now and I am entitled to it.”
    The movie also showed that you must fight for the future. I am having a hard time putting this in words, but I don’t want to be a spectator to our collapse. I am sure other generations have felt the end was nigh, but our leaders seem to be hitting the accelerator.
    Ok enough for now… Douglas great blog… and Dark Knight Rises is a great movie.

    1. I think you put it into words that were spot on, Scot! I’m sure you won’t be a spectator to collapse, and years from now your grandchildren will come of age and realize that at a pivotal point in history men like you stood up and fought for our founding principles.

    2. The way to not be a spectator to our collapse is to vote for Mitt Romney this November, period. Barack Obama is destroying our country in a premeditated, systematic way. This is not a matter of opinion at this point: we have had nearly four years of his regime’s actions and inactions and this is the only conclusion one can reach. He must be defeated if the dark vision you fear is to be held at bay.

      I say “held at bay” instead of “vanquished” because the human tendency towards sloth and entitlement and beggar-thy-neighbor will never be extinguished entirely: it is part of the human animal and has caused mass starvation, war, misery, and genocide for thousands of years. The Founding Fathers knew all of this intimately and designed a system of government and political philosophy that in its very essence was a bulwark against the darker forces of our nature.

      Barack Obama is tearing at these foundations in every way, including direct means (socialized medicine, unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants, refusal to curb Wall Street abuses,and so many others) and indirect means (fomenting class warfare, envy, and hatred of wealth of all kinds). The 2010 election, in which Republicans took control of the House, was the first electoral war cry against the destruction of our nation; the next must be the November presidential election.

      This is it.

  3. Am I the only person that paid attention?

    “The movie didn’t disappoint, as Bane displays classical training in the rhetoric of leftist dictator-goons throughout history. And if Bane comes across as a Marxist revolutionary, then Selena Kyle is the useless idiot who buys into his snake oil.”

    What. The. Hell?

    Did you actually follow the plot or did you like what the scary man and hot girl said and somehow twisted them to your viewpoint?

    Bane was a catspaw of Talia. Talia was continuing her father’s mission of destroying a corrupt Gotham. His speeches were just a means of invoking fear and keeping the city under control until the bomb went off… destroying it. The plan was to destroy Gotham not just to allow the poor to eat the rich. And the poor looting the rich? People don’t loot in the ghetto, they loot places with money.

    “The cynical, class-warfare spewing Catwoman intellectually aligned with Bane throughout most of the movie, a man who sought to destroy an entire city to realize his goals.”

    His goals of what? Class warfare? Leftist takeovers? How does blowing up the city at the behest of his mistress fulfill leftist goals?

    Selina was forced by Bane to be aligned with him (she clearly says this), but instead of leaving the doomed city like she planned, helped Batman fight Bane and his cause. She stopped being selfish and pitched in.

    Dude, that movie sucked. It had a few good moments, but… Batman retires to Spain to live with Selina and let’s Robin take the mantle? F you Nolan. According to his timeline, Batman was Batman for a few years (mostly between movies 1 and 2), semi-retired for eight years, came out of retirement to fight Bane, then retired again. Lame.

    1. Nice straw man you propped up there. No, I don’t prefer Schumacher’s campy Batman to Nolan’s.

      I’ll let Tony Stark himself make my case:

      “My whole thing is that that I saw ‘The Dark Knight’. I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved ‘The Prestige’ but didn’t understand ‘The Dark Knight’. Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so f–king smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? F-ck DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from.”

      Granted, that’s about the last movie, but the premise rings true. Nolan has a great track record with original stuff, but his Batman trilogy was so-so. How you can defend a movie whose premise is that Batman retired due to a bum knee and low crime rate only to come back to get beat up, thrown in a hole, do a couple of push-ups and pull-ups, climb out, eventually beat up the villain in a Lord of the Rings-style street battle, only to get stabbed once and fall over, then fly a plane over the sea and bail out (not sacrificing anything but his toy), only to retire again to Spain and outsource his future crime-fighting to a cop named Robin is beyond me.

  4. DE, I am surprised to hear that the movie has Conservative themes shown in a positive light. I have not seen the movie yet, for reasons you are familiar with (it is difficult for me to force myself to watch a fake hero indulge vicious mass murderers instead of beating them down), but my father led me to believe that the movie is sympathetic to the class warfare that the Manchurian Impostor in the White House has been promoting for five years now.

    If it isn’t, then I just might make it through the movie (what a relief).

    Just one question though: does Batman deliver the kill shot to Bane, with conviction?

    If he does, then the Nolan legacy might have a chance at redemption. If he does not, then the Nolan trilogy unfortunately will have to be consigned to the category of “surrender porn”.

    1. Hmmm, I’d have to disagree with your dad on that one. Check out the Weekly Standard piece I posted above. I think the Telegraph has a good review, too. To me, there are plenty of conservative principles to tease out in this film. I don’t know Nolan’s personal politics, but I think the whole series gives the conservative worldview a pretty fair shake, even if there are specific points we’ll argue about.

      Bane does meet his demise, but it isn’t at the hands of Batman. With that said, the character who does kill him immediately points out how ridiculous it is that Batman won’t use guns (I always forgive him for that, though, given the way his parents died). Just as a gun can be used for evil, it can be used for great good. I’m not sure how that escapes someone as smart as Bruce, but whatever.

      Even if there are aspects that drive you up the wall, I still think it’s worth seeing. My mom called me and loved the flick, but wasn’t happy with the ending. I’d have to agree on many levels.

  5. So now I have finally seen this final installment of Nolan anti-hero movie (“No Guns. No Killing” says, Batman’s vajayjay, while murderous psychopaths shoot to kill in every direction) and I can only say that I endured another several hours of having to watch impotence in the face of evil.

    Where else but the Nolan Batman franchise can one see a purported hero beaten to a bloody pulp, without the satisfaction of a WWE-table-turn by the end? Nowhere, that’s where.
    Nolan has cornered the market on the hero-as-doormat narrative arc, and polished it to exquisite extremes. Exquisite, that is, if you are a megalomaniac lusting to be the next Hitler.

    And I now understand how all my friends were unable to answer my simple question at the time the movie came out: does Batman kill Bane in the end? In every other action hero movie, the answer would be YES, and the moment of triumph would be easily recalled. But in Dark Knight Rises, people can’t quite muster a convincing answer…
    Maybe this is because after two hours of super-villain, the movie reveals the true villain-behind-the-villain and one almost misses the fact that Cat Woman stuns Bane with a Star Trek style phaser in order to get him off of Batman (who had become his punching bag once again, of course), but does not necessarily kill him. We are therefore deprived of the “hero” delivering the Bane kill shot, and also the Bane kill shot itself (does he die?), and are distracted by the fate of the “real” villain to such an extent that we mostly lose sight of Bane’s fate.

    This scene is the perfect summation of why I loathe these films– actually hate them: we, the audience, are fed hours and hours of bad guys killing and destroying civilization, including countless innocents along the way, only to have the chief perpetrator (1) evoke sympathy (Bane was the protector! Now he’s…..crying!! He saves little girls in caves and means well!!!), and then (2) receive barely a scratch from Batman, and certainly not receive death.

    No, Cat Woman is the one to push Bane back (did he die?) while Batman bleeds out from a stab wound delivered by his female love interest.

    So we have, in the Nolan world of Gotham, a Joker whose near-fatal fall off a building was interrupted by Batman himself in a moment of compassion , and a Bane, who likely got up and dusted himself off before returning to the catacombs for future world destruction.

    I understand that this perversion is rooted in the comic book back story of Batman: the tortured hero who is ambivalent about violence. But I don’t care. Since the real world is mostly a carnival of injustice, I expect justice in my movie fantasies. The hero doesn’t have to have an easy time — in fact if he or she gets knocked around a bit, it makes the extermination of evil that much more satisfying at the end.

    But that extermination, by the hand of the hero, is essential, and Nolan’s excess of artistry around depriving us of it is cruel and unusual moviegoing. Thank god he’s finished with this character.

    1. As always, you do not disappoint with your commentary. I will not argue with what you’ve masterfully pointed out about the film, but I stand by my assertion that conservatism does get a fair shake in this movie and it gives guys like us plenty to talk about.

      If you haven’t seen ‘Man of Steel’ I think you’ll like that. Christopher Nolan was the producer, but … he was apparently NOT happy with the ending. (I was quite happy, and I think you will be, too.)

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