Following up Henry’s post, my Dark Knight Rises take is this. The Nolan brothers are determined to make some kind of serious, dark, brooding, non-fascistic moral sense of Batman, and that’s just flat-out impossible. Can’t tell it that way without the basic story logic boxing you into a place you don’t want to be (as Henry says, there’s too much baked in the cake). If what the world needs is masked vigilantes behaving in this crazy way, then fascism needs a serious look-in as a political philosophy. But what we should really conclude is not that the moral sense of the film is fascist – or even aristocratic. Rather, we should conclude that the film makes no moral sense whatsoever. It conveys no moral message. It’s morally illegible. Lots of explosions and fighting. That’s it.
You just can’t call a film fascist – or even aristocratic – when the makers are at such evident pains not to have that be the moral of the story. A related point: lots of complaints about swipes at the Occupy folks. But surely the Nolans are trying to be evenhanded, to an almost pathetic degree: you could say that the film makes a point of showing that it’s evil 1%-ers – the finance guys trying to take over Wayne Enterprises – who let Bane get control of Gotham. They think they are using him, for their dishonest stock market rigging shenanigans, but he’s using them. Bane brings out the worst in the 1% and the 99%. Not that this makes it the case that the movie has anything minimally sensible to say about 1%/99% relations – we all need to unite against nihilism!
The whole thing makes no more moral sense than that 100-foot tall Voldemort I just saw fight with a bunch of Mary Poppinses. What did you think of that? I thought it was extremely bizarre and I didn’t like it. I enjoyed Dark Knight Rises a lot more. I enjoyed it a lot, actually. But it’s no Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. Superhero stories should only ever be about the fact that superhero stories make no sense – if they have to be about something. The Avengers wasn’t really about anything, for example. That was an appropriate message for a film like that.