Concept: Civil War
The immediate impression that the new banners for The Dark Knight Rises give me is of the American Civil War. Lines of men, facing each other, rifles in hand, smoke thick inbetween. This will be a battle of cloth and lead, wood and leather, close up and brutal. No one will gets away unbloodied. The Dark Knight presented a stuggle for the soul of the city. Rises looks to be a battle.
To be sure, Batman has sworn off firearms, and Bane does not seem to be Gotham’s son. Also, the machine guns and bandanas could be inspired by Middle Eastern conflicts, the coats could be from Europe or even Russia, and the smoke could be from missiles and bombs instead of muskets and cannons. Still, Gotham seems to be a city at war and a city as an analogy for a wider civil order, a vehicle with a wider tenor (Latin for city: civis).
Concept: The Legend Ends
Director Christopher Nolan has said that the legend that began in Batman Begins and continued in The Dark Knight will end in The Dark Knight Rises. This marks an unprecedented move in the industry, and certainly an impressive one, for a property that does global business, affects mainstream culture, and, what holds more interest for me, flows from a certain complex of sensibilities. As a master in his art, Nolan belongs to the culture of the artistic-intellectual elite, and he speaks to topics as timely and as timeless as any philosopher. But in this case, as an artist, he tells tales of heroes from a certain popular subculture, superhero comics, which have been published in the social margins since our boys came home from World War II. Why superheroes had their origin in Midwest America in the 1930’s is a good question that will have to get its own post. The same for why sales were in the millions during WWII and are now in the hundred thousands. And for why superheroes are not called heroes, which are already lofty ideals for humanity, but something that is loftier (super) still.
We all know the legend that Nolan means–well, perhaps not all of us are familiar with Wagner’s Siegfried–but the legend goes something like this: Batman is a man who took for himself the symbol of a bat and fights crime against rather broad villains. “As a man,” Bruce Wayne rightly says about himself in Batman Begins, “I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored, destroyed. But as a symbol…as a symbol, I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.” Batman begins when Bruce Wayne becomes a symbol, when he becomes when he becomes in Ra’s al Ghul’s words “more than just a man,” or in Homer’s, “like something more than mortal” (Greek: daimoni isos). How will the post-Civil War, WWII-era American legend end? Will the man meet his end or will the symbol?