The Specter of Revolution in “The Dark Knight Rises”

Tropics of Meta

The twenty-first century has not given humanity a lot to smile about between 9/11 and Iraq, Katrina and Snooki.  One of its more unexpected joys, though, has been the brutally dark Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan.  Where to begin?  That the films redeemed the Dark Knight after the cinematic abortions of the 1990s, which plugged big name actors like Tommy Lee Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger into comic book roles in a depressing, madlib fashion?  That a talented indie filmmaker did not just put an eccentric gloss on a major studio franchise, but actually took the opportunity to address the urgent issues of the day on an epic scale?  That summer blockbusters could embrace a bleak worldview unmatched since the 1970s?  The Dark Knight Rises is lighter than Apocalypse Now, but not by a lot.

Hollywood tends to insist that its moron audiences just want buttery escapism in the…

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