Dark Knight Rises: fancy a capitalist caped crusader as your superhero?
Batman, the bad-ass billionaire who inherited his wealth, takes on bad boy Bane and the anarchist masses. Mitt Romney would be thrilled
by Catherine Shoard guardian.co.uk
All superheroes are black sheep. But the Dark Knight has always been murkier than most. His superpowers are not an accident of birth, or of stumbling into the wrong lab at the wrong time. They're not powers at all, simply a simulation made possible by good fortune and the leisure that accompanies it. Bruce Wayne can splurge on the kit and cars to set himself up as a crime-fighting Christ substitute, plus power and glitter enough to hide his hobby. He's always been a curious idol: within aspiration because he's flesh and blood; beyond it because he's the lucky recipient of inherited wealth.
So it should be no surprise that The Dark Knight Rises so firmly upholds the financial status quo. Christopher Nolan's film indulges in much guttural talk of the gap between the 99% and the 1%, but it is the former who are demonised, whose revolting actions require curbing and mutinous squeals muting. Your average Joe, it turns out, requires a benevolent, bad-ass billionaire to set him straight, to knock him sideways, if necessary.The Occupy Gotham movement
, as organised by gargly terrorist Bane, is populated by anarchists without a cause, whose actions are fuelled by a lust for destruction, not as a corrective to an unjust world. Such self-made characters as we meet in the film are, by and large, fishy – power-grabbers hiding behind a fig-leaf of philanthropism. Even someone who earns their crust nicking other people's stuff looks agog when the masses storm posh apartments to try and redistribute a bit of bubbly.
Batman's butler-crush and bells and whistles feudalism is swallowable – it's a cartoon, right! Likewise the free pass that Wayne's Rowntree-ish gestures, disapproval of criminals and general tortured grizzling seems to allow him. But The Dark Knight Rises is a quite audaciously capitalist vision, radically conservative, radically vigilante, that advances a serious, stirring proposal that the wish-fulfilment of the wealthy is to be championed if they say they want to do good. Mitt Romney will be thrilled. What's strange is that quite so many of the rest of us seem to want to buy into it.