Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick diversion about Christopher Nolan's Batman Universe

So a friend wrote me yesterday with this long diatribe that two friends of hers had about Nolan's Batman movies and what I'm putting below is my response. What are other people's opinions on these movies?

Jesus Christ... okay, I don't even know where to begin with all this. Nolan's films are all set in a world where people have unlimited time, power, money and resources to accomplish goals (save for Memento and Insomnia). Inception... seriously who has time to do all that shit except the wealthy?
So to whit Batman is a noble hero out to save the city he loves only because he's really a billionaire with the time, money and resources to do it. So who he is really trying to save?
Yes he hates corruption and hates that there is a justice system in place that allows murderers to walk free, but the economic inequality caused by people like Thomas and Martha Wayne is the reason there are criminals like Joe Chill walking the streets of Gotham in the first place. Yes, Joe Chill is an extreme example as he is a murderer, but he started out just intending to rob Bruce's parents. He saw rich people and tried to make them pay.
Bruce Wayne is driven by his unfailing penchant for criminal justice and totally blind to his direct causing of societal ills and prevention of social justice. He's the ultimate dichotomy, and it's clear that they're introducing Catwoman as the Robin Hood character in the new film, the idealized version of what a superhero should be. But Batman's not a superhero, he's a crime fighter. He's a dude who picks up where the police can't and/or won't.
So that brings me to the most interesting point that I guess is unaddressed by these films... would Gotham be a safer place if Bruce Wayne took all the money he spends being Batman and poured it into an uncorruptable security task force headed by a guy like Jim Gordon? Clearly though this social inequality makes for a much less interesting villain as you need a guy who's blowing shit up and needs to be stopped.
I love the Nolan Batman movies because they're great escapist fair that masquerade as intellectual movies. They're the kind of movie that a moron can go watch and feel like they really got because they're able to follow a story that goes deeper than just good vs evil. Are they good movies? Yeah, kinda. Are they good comic book movies? Absolutely, they're some of the best. X2 is the best comic book movie ever made though because it deals with a real issue in a heightened way (being who you are in spite of overwhelming opposition). So yeah, I don't know if that answers your question. I am really looking forward to DKR because I love spectacle that has at least a little more going on below the surface, but I do agree with your complaints that The Dark Knight betrays the fundamental structure of the superhero set up in Batman Begins (he goes from stopping an elitist terrorist to essentially becoming one), but Batman was blinded by The Joker killing the love of his life and was determined to stop him by any means necessary. It made it an even bigger Bush metaphor because the grudge was personal, just like Bush's grudge against Saddam.

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