The Dark Knight Rises: A conservative review

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.

The Dark Knight Rises: Catwoman “Occupies” Wayne Manor?

The Dark Knight Rises trailer is out. John Nolte and Hotair may have beaten me to the coverage, but anyone who’s read this blog regularly knows that I’ve covered the Christopher Nolan conservative question and Batman at length. And, given Cat Woman’s “Occupy Wall Street” flavored whisper into Bruce Wayne’s ear, there are still plenty of angles to explore:

You think this is going to last… There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends had better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

Fans of the comic know that Batman and Catwoman’s relationship is “complex”, to say the least…but she’s still a villain. Given Nolan’s first two installments, it would be odd if the philosophical elements at play weren’t treated with intellectual honesty.  Odds are good that Nolan will provide a rich tapestry for us to sit around and discuss, and in an industry where conservatism rarely gets a fair shake, that’s something to smile at.

As I said back in July:

Is Christopher Nolan a closet conservative? I don’t know. But no matter what he does—no matter what he says from this day forward—he can never take back this trilogy (thank God). It’s a gold mine of conservative values waiting to be explored. It’s a series of movies that fathers can talk about with their sons and daughters for generations. Those “silly” comic books can sometimes serve as a springboard for much deeper discussions, and when it’s all said and done Christopher Nolan will have gone three-for-three.

The interesting thing about Christopher Nolan is that his success (thus far) has been so consistent and so large that studios will have almost no choice but to grant him carte blanche. If he is conservative, it’s a coup d’état for the worldview that almost always gets the short end of the stick in Hollywood. How sweet would it be that if by the time it’s over political junkies will hear Bane say, “When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die,” and wonder if Nolan is making a veiled dig at Keynesian economics (or the envious goons clamoring for it down at your local “occupy” encampment)?

July 20th can’t come soon enough.

The Dark Knight Rises: The Bane of Liberal Moviegoers’ Existence?


The Dark Knight Rises can’t come out soon enough. 2008’s installment was one of the most timely movies in recent years, in that the metaphors that resonated with so many people were exactly what they needed to hear—so much so that the Wall Street Journal was linking Batman with a certain war-time president. The idea that some men want to “just watch the world burn” is one that doesn’t sit well with liberals, because it immediately destroys the charade that you can solve global threats through “dialogue” alone. Dialogue doesn’t always work, particularly when you’re dealing with irrational people. It also most certainly doesn’t work when it’s not backed up by the very real threat of force.

And that’s where The Dark Knight Rises comes in. In the new trailer, one can’t help but think of the phrase, “All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” Or, if you’re a fan of Edmund Burke, you might think, “”When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Either way, Commissioner Gordon spells it out quite clearly for Bruce:

Commissioner Gordon: “We were in this together and then you were gone. Now this evil rises. The Batman has to come back.”

Bruce Wayne: “What if he doesn’t exist anymore?”

Commissioner Gordon: “He must. He must…”

Bruce Wayne, like all of us, is fallible. Like many Americans, he doesn’t want to believe that The Batman has to exist, but “he must.” He must because there are evil men. He must because we don’t live in the morally relativistic world liberal professors try and inculcate their freshman students to believe in.

What makes the character even more convincing is that he can be hurt. Badly (see Batman Begins for Exhibit A). Just like the real world, confronting evil means that you just might die if you take on the challenge. Take a look at Batman’s face as Bane closes in on him in the teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises—there’s some serious fear in his eyes. Fans of the comic know why…

Is Christopher Nolan a closet conservative? I don’t know. But no matter what he does—no matter what he says from this day forward—he can never take back this trilogy (thank God). It’s a gold mine of conservative values waiting to be explored. It’s a series of movies that fathers can talk about with their sons and daughters for generations. Those “silly” comic books can sometimes serve as a springboard for much deeper discussions, and when it’s all said and done Christopher Nolan will have gone three-for-three.

Not bad for a kid from London. Mark your calendars for July 20th, 2012. It’s going to be a great night to head to the theaters.

Bane. It takes a steel spine to take on pure evil. Unfortunately, we don't have steel spines, which makes our heroes that much more worth cherishing. They break their backs to keep us safe, while the useful idiots whine about their tactics.