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Batman Is Romney

Benoit Renaud

July 22, 2012

The latest installment of Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy makes one last desperate effort to make us care for a brooding billionaire with the emotional range of a teaspoon (to borrow Hermione’s expression), in other words: Mitt Romney. The Dark Knight seems like a fantasy for the current Republican Party in more ways than its uninspiring billionaire leader.

The whole story revolves around an idealization of cops, prisons and the law and order agenda. First, Bruce Wayne should be justified in dedicating the resources of his mega corporation into his vigilante obsession because his parents were killed by criminals. In this world, victims have all the rights and criminals have none. Then, the plot of this third movie (spoiler alert from this point on!) revolves around the cops of Gotham being trapped underground while the big baddie (Bane) releases the criminals from prison and launches a caricature of a revolution, with popular tribunals led by psychopaths, looting by the angry masses and a middle class hiding in fear.

With no explanation but revenge against Wayne based on the byzantine morals of the “League of Shadows”—equally unconvincing in Batman Begins—we find out that Bane, after taking over the city, just wants to nuke it after a few months of terror. What would be the point of that? Supposedly, this should restore some kind of balance to civilization. At least the Joker in the second movie was explicitly engaged in creating chaos for its own sake and seemed to be enjoying it in his own twisted way. But this time, the order that Batman has to restore is the one where the one percent can enjoy the respect of their property, where cops rule the streets and the prisons are full and growing.

The only redeeming quality of The Dark Knight Rises is the character of Catwoman, brilliantly played by Ann Hathaway. Her character could be a hero to cheer for. This kick-ass jewel thief has a working class background, a girlfriend, and she doesn’t let herself be intimidated by the cops, by the rich, or by other criminals. Hathaway’s performance is the only one with some depth and complexity. She is constantly torn between her instinct for self-preservation, her sense of right and wrong (which is not a Republican one) and her emotional connection with Wayne. Unfortunately, the fairy tale ending doesn’t live up to the rest of Catwoman’s story arc.

It is only a question of time before this lucrative franchise brings us another reboot or sequel. Though it seems far from necessary, let us hope that they figure out a way to make this dark hero more interesting. Why not make him a rebel against his own class? A symbol of honesty in a city plagued by corruption? But maybe that is too much to ask.

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