Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thoughts on the New Batman

I watched Dark Knight 3 in a theatre in Munich with a group of high school students. It wasn't as well recieved as the 2nd film. I have some strong thoughts on why that is.

In the 2nd film the villain, Joker, steals the show. It's nice to have a strong interesting villain in a superhero movie.

More importantly, the villain in Dark Knight 3, Bane, has a convulated motivation related to Dark Knight 1. He needed an interesting, thematic motivation. I'll expand on that later. MOST IMPORTANTLY, the film falls flat because Bane's evil plan involves trapping the entire police force underground and Batman rescues them. This, I will explain, made the movie unsatifying for the collective psyche of the audience.

I really loved Bane, his voice, and presence. Well done direction (making him look massive), editing, and character crafting -the intonation, the collar grab -all very nice to me. But in the end his motivation was something to do with the "League of Shadows" which is a silly name. Joker was interesting 'cause he dropped a few lines about the chaos that lies beneath everything and how Batman is trying to keep a thin layer of order. I propose Bane needed a similar philosophical motivation and I propose it be an obsession with strength.

Might makes right.

The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. This is a theme as ancient as Thucydides History of the Pelopennesian War. It's also Nietzsche's understanding of the cool Romans, the ones who ruled by power and will. That could have been Bane. If you're strong enough to exert your will on others then you should rule. Not some rich ploof who inherited it. The movie could have been pretty much the same. But Bane needs to make it clear that his plan is to start a revolution in Gotham where he invites the strong to rule. So any bully in the city starts looting and beating up the rich. Perfect. Batman, as a symbol, represents using one's strength to protect the weak.

This is where the police come in. They play an important role in the film. First, they are trapped underground. Then, Batman frees them to turn the tide. What a bizarre twist that must have unsettled American audiences. Since when do people need the government's troops to do what is right? Yes, the police are good guys but where are the Americans who arm themselves, form militias, and stand up for themselves when the shit hits the fan? That was what was cool when the Joker tried to show that people are garbage. In the end they chose not to kill one another. Slam, Joker. That's satisfying to our psyche. It's not satisfying to see the cops save us.

What I wanted to happen was Gotham at civil war. The bullies, those ruling through strength, led by General Bane meeting General Batman and his underdog of army of those who use their strength to protect the weak. That would have allowed audiences to put themselves in the film and stand up against evil instead of watch the police save us.

Also, it was kind of awkward for Batman to fake his own death in front of his friends. He lied about the autopilot to them, which was weird, and then let them all know he was fine. It's not like he deceived the public at large. He only told the few people that were there that he was going to kill himself for Gotham and then later revealed to them that he was fine. Sort of a weird thing to do to your friends but also he dresses up with cute pointy ears and hits people he doesn't really know.

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