I am no comic book manic fan, nor am I a superhero worshiper. Superman, Spiderman, why even Shaktimaan passed me by without a whisper or a rhyme.
I don’t get excited by men saving the world from impending doom, and definitely not with strange costumes and stranger gadgets. Although, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and the really old television series Night Rider did manage to give me the tingles and vague dreams of assisting the world with brilliant decisions. They however completely failed in making me want to watch more movies like the same. I like my heroes ordinary.
I am not completely averse to such movies, but this kind of imagined reality, this level of falseness simply fails to excite me. This demands an absurd level of suspension of disbelief.
After the movie I thought, so this then is American philosophy in a nut shell. Money, power, control. Everybody is fighting for it, some people are saving the world from it (technically they shouldn’t be Americans, but well). So this then is the world view of the most powerful nation on earth. I came out thinking, what an extremely short sighted vision does this movie have! All the dilemmas are of the here and now, which often time solves. The problems are ordinary. This is not a superhero movie but a training manual for the police force for every country. The very basic of good and evil. Fighting Crime 101.
Christopher Nolan is attributed to changing the face of Batman, with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and the third and the final installment (I think) The Dark Knight Rises. If one watches as many Korean 16 episode dramas as I do, one realizes very early on the problems of structure involved in an installment series. Where do you begin, where do you end, what happens in the middle, where do the story arcs of characters go, how do you always make it about life and death epic moral battles… many hows wheres and hows. So therefore, as it happens in K dramas, there are always birth secrets, coming back from certain deaths, miraculous soul swaps, past list of traumas and even regular time travel. Because, finally what do you do for the time given to you? You make the characters hash and re-hash, live and die, fight and rejoice. But it does get oh so tiring.
Batman always does what Batman is wont to do. i.e save the world. This time from impending nuclear doom by mercenary terrorists who hijack a completely bland and complacent city with maybe one or two morally upright individuals, which to the large part is a silent spectator in this fight between evil and a tortured good. Actually the city is mass fodder, either to rejoice or to fight. Whatever anyone tells them to believe they believe. So they are fine that way. Consistent. I imagine if my existence could be charted on to the Gotham City chart, I would be that person who ran away when the good and the evil fought, but still however managed to come right in front of a tank and get his/her head blown apart. Such is a common man/woman’s fate. And these movies precisely target us I feel, because we would all love to be Batman/Catwoman instead. But really, who are we kidding.
Christian Bale, is one of those actors whose early characterization of a role has stayed so consistently in my mind that I will always see him as being slightly hungry, trapped and looking for escape. Anne Hathaway is an actress who always seems to do exactly what is required of her. Never going beyond. Marion Cotillard is such a presence on screen but sadly doesn’t get enough screen time to establish anything. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in a forever time wrap, a case of the Benjamin Button. So for me, even the movie was miscast. Damn.
Let me also dive into the politics of the movie. As far as I could discern it is essentially a white man’s tale. A boring one at that, but let’s set that aside for a bit. All the primary characters are white. But the underworld is filled with East, black and mexicanish looking people. East is of course humming with spiritual deepness even in pits of depravity. There are some empty gesture kind of characterizations towards the black american. I know I would have enjoyed the movie better if it was completely white with no allusions towards any kind of multi cultural presence in Gotham city. At least then, I could pretend in peace. Gender equation is balanced with Catwoman who is an empowered woman but also morally dodgy. But very capable. Everything aside, this is about a white man’s city and the tortured white man himself who is the only beacon of right and wrong. But maybe its my fault to expect anything really from a kitsch stylized super hero movie.
The movie apparently touches upon issues of capitalism, terrorism, anarchy etc. But I couldn’t see any valid interest in any of these. It was more about Batman’s tortured existence than anything else. His re-entry into the game. More about the wrongs that were done to certain individuals and how they then want to kill a whole lot of people because of those wrongs. Is it then nihilist? Maybe not because nihilism is hardly based on revenge. Or is it? And the un-necessary violence. Oh my dear god. Where is that country heading! If this is the content of its epic super hero movies!
A morally, historically, philosophically, humanically bankrupt story of individualism. I can sympathise a bit more with Ra.One. He was working within his super hero limitations.