Film critics have rightly picked up on a disturbing message in the latest instalment of Christopher Nolanís hugely popular Dark Knight series of Batman movies. Fascism, the film suggests, is just great...
Bruce Wayne, Batmanís billionaire alter ego, spends his time managing his declining health and the anxieties of retirement, until he is coaxed back into his batsuit by a violent group of anti-capitalist crusaders. The activists, led by an enormous, incomprehensible masked mercenary named Bane, expose the stateís lies and foment a successful popular uprising with rhetoric ripped directly from the Occupy Wall Street movement. (At one point, the villains literally occupy the stock exchange.)
Left to its citizens and their vicious, hypocritical leaders, Gotham succumbs to chaos and brutality ó an updated version of the French Revolutionís Reign of Terror, with Bane a muscle-bound Robespierre. Kangaroo courts, political murders and looting ó this is what we get, the film tells us, when the people win power.
The cityís only chance for salvation: a crackdown by police and Batman, a charter member of the 1 per cent. In Nolanís world, rows of armed, marching police are a symbol of hope, a Warren Buffett with martial arts training is Gothamís only possible saviour, and a populist movement, which in many ways resembles the one still playing out in the real world, is shown to be fraudulent and evil.