After the first Iron Man movie, I gave up on all superhero flicks. I was tired of the long gear montages, the glossy special effects sequences, the painful dialogue, the “witty” asides, the secret identities. And yet this year I’ve allowed myself to be suckered back twice–first by the craptacular Avengers flick, and now by the latest installment of the Dark Knight series.
I think Christopher Nolan and friends have made the most interesting series in the genre’s history. I thought The Dark Knight was the best film of its kind, and still think so. The Dark Knight Rises fails to rise to the level of its predecessor, but I don’t regret seeing it. I think it taps into several strands which strain to yank America apart right now in this moment: terrorism, confusion, vigilantism, intolerance, celebrity, scandal, complacency, militarized police, Tea Party v. OWS, corruption, individualism, blah-blah.
Like the inhabitants of Gotham, Americans find ourselves on an island, cut off from the outside world. We’re isolated within our communities, and vulnerable to bullshit manipulation by marketing and public relations specialists. Our truths have all crumbled around us, the sturdy underpinnings are worn away like so much depleted infrastructure. Even our skeletons have skeletons in the closet (note how I use as many cliches and idiomatic expressions as possible, Mr. Orwell?). When terrible things happen (like mass shootings) they are merely media events which flare up and die down quickly, replaced by commercial distraction; there’s no closure, no analysis, no change. Back to voting for some shithead warbling a 70s pop song on TV! Or choosing between the guy who wants to totally hand the US over to corporations or the one who will allow them to continue mostly running the show. Given our situation, is it that tough to figure out what motivates people to shoot up movie theaters or Sikh temples or congressional events? What does Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego teach us about ourselves, about late-phase capitalism, about dysfunctional government and a lack of civic pride or duty? What does Bain teach us?
I’d answer these questions if I gave a shit anymore, if I could summon any thoughts beyond mere connections. It’s only another goddam superhero movie, after all. Isn’t it? Who cares? There’s porn to watch, and Angry Birds to shoot at megapixel pigs. Man, Anne Hathaway–I never knew she was sporting a back end of that caliber. Probably CGI booty.