'The Dark Knight Rises' Is Anti-Revolutionary Corporate Propaganda
As a comic character, Batman seemingly teeters on the line of fascism. He breaks the law regularly, but when he sees other people doing the same thing, he suddenly takes the moral high ground. His nearly solipsistic worldview falls in line with some troubling ideologies. The secret meaning behind The Dark Knight Rises is one of Camus-meets-Nietzsche nihilism where the status quo becomes prized over a world where everyone lives as equals.
This messaging in The Dark Knight Rises is hard to miss - it lies in the dialogue, and especially in the actions of Batman. Many viewers feel this is the worst of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, and while plenty of plot holes and overall odd moments exist in the nearly three-hour film, the most overt negativity comes from all the pro-capitalist Dark Knight Rises propaganda.
This isn't to say Christopher Nolan agrees with this line of thought, of course. Regardless, in The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan casts the anti-corporate revolutionaries as sneering, mustache-twirling villains, while the bureaucratic members of the local government and the wealthiest of Gotham are portrayed as heroes for simply existing. Thematically, The Dark Knight Rises is a complete mess.
Nolan Based The Film On 'A Tale Of Two Cities,' But Switched The Revolutionaries To Villains
It’s no secret that Christopher Nolan based The Dark Knight Rises on A Tale of Two Cities, the Charles Dickens story that follows the lives of citizens in Paris and London leading up to the French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror.
Dickens references turn up all over the place, but the most striking nod to the book occurs when Gordon reads Sydney Carton’s final quote:
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton begins as a cynic who eventually switches places with his doppelgänger, the revolutionary Charles Darnay, and gives up his life for the revolution. By having Gordon read Carton’s quote at the grave of Bruce Wayne, the film essentially says Wayne gives his life for a noble cause. To put Bruce Wayne/Batman in the role of Carton/the revolutionaries/the protagonists of the book is to put Bane and his revolutionaries into the role of the French monarchy/the antagonists. It’s an incredibly messy metaphor.
The 'Heroic' Billionaire Uses His Wealth To Suppress An Uprising
Batman’s superpower has always been his uncanny ability to spend money. If he needs a new Batcave, he buys one; if he needs to create a 3D system to track all the cell phones in Gotham, he makes one. There’s no problem too expensive for Batman to solve.
Case in point, his fight with Bane, Talia, and their army is one of attrition. After escaping confinement and returning to Gotham, Wayne boasts an excess of expensive toys that keep him in the game for as long as he needs.
Bane may be whip-smart and a brute, but he’s no match for someone who can keep throwing money at a problem until it relents. And this is the hero of the movie, someone who has enough resources to never really be in trouble, who knows the solution to any problem he has is money.
It Conflates Terror And Revolution
By saying The Dark Knight Rises is a direct reference to A Tale of Two Cities but making Bane carry out an Occupy-style protest before decimating a football stadium, the film lays out a particular ideology.
When watching Bane spout lines about the evils of capitalism and ripping the powerful “from their decadent nests” while committing horrific acts, the audience begins to intertwine these two things in their minds.
The Military-Industrial Complex Is Necessary To Squash The Revolution
Whatever version of Batman you prefer, in every timeline, universe, or alternate dimension he runs Wayne Enterprises, a major part of the military-industrial complex. The reason Batman owns so many gadgets, gizmos, and toys that help him "save" Gotham comes from Bruce Wayne's position as the CEO of a multi-national corporation that builds such tools.
In The Dark Knight Rises, there is no defeating Bane without the use of the Batplane, an experimental aircraft that was likely in testing to be sold to the government. In the end, Batman saves Gotham without words, or even hand-to-hand fighting, but by dipping into his collection of experimental gear paid for by government contracts.
Batman Fights To Preserve The Status Quo
Throughout Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, Bruce Wayne operates as a neo-con hero. He consistently fights to keep the status quo of Gotham in place rather than let the city be flushed by the revolutionaries, anarchists, and Legion of Shadows attempting to open the eyes of the city’s working class.
Shouldn’t Batman, a character who exists outside the law, welcome a change in the city? Doesn’t he want someone to come in and shake things up and do away with the moral degradation that exists in the highest echelons of power? Of course not - those are the people who allow Batman to do what he does. Batman patrols the shadows to make sure Gotham stays safe from things that could change his way of life.
The Film Suggests That Anyone Who Is Anti-Police Is A Bad Guy
When Bane clears out the inmates of Blackgate prison, a full-on uprising breaks out, with the police fighting people in the streets during scenes that look eerily similar to protests that would occur across American only a few years after the film was released.
Bane, the anti-corporate bad guy, does everything he can to end the Gotham police force. He traps them underground and sentences their leaders to walk across the ice - this is decidedly not good guy behavior.
Despite knowing that problems exist in every crevice of Gotham, the filmmakers paint with broad strokes in these scenes: all of the cops are good; therefore Bane and his people need to act very bad.