JVL has extended thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises

by Sonny Bunch on August 7, 2012

First: some spoilery thoughts at his blog. Second, his nerd opus on what Nolan’s Batman has to say about the liberal order’s ability, or lack thereof, to deal with a crisis that threatens its very existence. Both should be read. One quick thought of my own after the jump, as it has spoilers.

So, I disagree with JVL’s argument that we needed some sort of extended sequence in which Batman escapes from Bane’s pit and wanders his way back to Gotham. The flick was already 2.75 hours long; was another five or 10 minutes of him wandering through the middle east/Europe/America-outside-of-Gotham really necessary? I think not. However. It’s a complaint I’ve heard several times, which suggest many people think it’s a problem. Here’s how I would’ve solved it:

Wayne, needing a way to get back to the city, goes to the one man he can trust: Alfred Pennyworth, who he finds at the cafe he had mentioned earlier in the film (Alfred, of course, has left the city but sees what’s going on and understands that Bruce must re-assume the mantle even if he knows it could cost Bruce his life). This a.) sets up that Wayne knows where the cafe is and better grounds the film’s final shot in reality and b.) allows greater emotional resonance for Alfred at the grave site while c.) giving us a plausible explanation of how an impoverished, broken Batman could make his way back to Gotham.

My first script-doctoring solution is free; the next one costs you.

Anyway, I absolutely agree with JVL’s take on Bane, who has grown on me in each subsequent viewing. I think I actually annoyed someone during my third viewing by laughing out loud during Bane’s speech, but I wasn’t laughing at the absurdity of it—I was laughing at Bane’s hamming up the absurdity of it. He knows he’s playing a game. He’s just shocked that these simps will go along with his revolutionary rhetoric. I don’t know why he’s shocked. Simps always do.

As for the nerd opus, I have a bunch of quibbles but haven’t had time to put together coherent thoughts. My main problem might be with his description of Batman Begins as “disposable entertainment.” Taken on its own, it might be. Considered within the context of TDK and TDKR, however, its essential to set up the economic conflict that JVL feels is at the heart of TDKR. Remember, Bruce Wayne’s parents were do-gooding philanthropists who thought they could simply provide infrastructure and improve everyone’s lives. How are they repaid for their good works? By being gunned down in the streets by the very scum they were trying to save. What Batman Begins teaches us is that it’s not enough to think we can create order by improving economic circumstances or providing social works. The stick must often replace the carrot; order must be maintained, sometimes harshly.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Even Jeff Wells! August 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I agree with everything you say here.

Regarding Last’s complaint about not knowing how Wayne got back to Gotham: If you accept the premise laid out in Batman Begins – that Bruce Wayne is sufficiently smart and crafty as to be able to disappear for seven years in order to travel to Asia and learn about the criminal underworld by ostensibly becoming a part of it, all without ever being found out – then it shouldn’t be that hard to accept the idea that Wayne is able to make his way back to Gotham after escaping the pit. I don’t actually need to see Wayne find his way aboard a cargo plane, then sneak into Gotham with the supply shipments that were being delivered to the city in order to know that Wayne was fully capable of getting back that way. In fact, I prefer the way Nolan went about things.

And I totally agree with you about Batman Begins not being “disposable entertainment.”

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