Batman: From Comic, To Farce, To Nasty

Posted by on Aug 03, 2012 | 2 Comments

Two observations came from my journey into central Auckland last night to see the latest Batman film with a couple of old friends; 1: how awful central Auckland is at night, 2: how awful the latest Batman film is.

First, the Batman film.

Batflap,The Black Knight’s Pliers or whatever it’s called, is awful. For most of the time, it trips along as just another action film, albeit with the earnest intention of trying to make you believe that a Batman-type character is plausible.

But then it takes a somewhat clumsy turn. It gets to the point where “the people” have the opportunity to vent their fury on the super rich; the corrupt bankers, the 1%, or, according to recent research, the 100,000-odd people with somewhere around $30 trillion locked up in tax free offshore accounts.

Robin's appearance at the end of the film provided some comic relief

And here we are presented with a stern lesson. The film changes tack, and bombards us with scenes of beneficent, silver haired ladies in furs being roughed up by people looking suspiciously like OWS (Occupy Wall St) supporters, who literally at one point in the film, occupy Wall St. Just in case you didn’t get it. To be fair, this scene does have the best line though; one of the yuppie stockbrokers says to arch-villain Bane “There’s no money for you to steal here” and Bane snarls back “What are YOU doing here then.”

The nadir comes in the middle of one of these scenes, where an old man is depicted amid the chaos in the street. With close cropped hair, a large nose and a grey overcoat he is marched off with his hands in the air. It is an archetypal scene we have seen a hundred times from the grotesque footage of the Holocaust, deliberately choreographed in this film to trigger our revulsion.

To employ such an odd and jarring tactic in what was ostensibly an action film about comic goodies and baddies stinks of manipulation for a specific agenda. Indeed, Gotham (read Manhattan Island) is cut off from the outside world in a way reminiscent of the Jewish ghettoes in WW2, and in which those who were trapped faced an almost certain death.

These paranoid parallels were further deployed in a later scene, where, in a ludicrous reversal of everyday reality, the entire police force of Gotham is portrayed as an army of freedom fighting revolutionaries. Having been held captive underground, they escape – to charge heroically into the well-organised and heavily armed ranks of a bunch of OWS-esque bad guys (sporting armoured cars). It’s the kind of plucky frontal assault one sees frequently on the news, albeit with the roles exactly reversed. The sub-text? Our cops are not there to enforce the will of those in charge, they are there to fight for democracy! WTF?!

One of the extraordinary omissions of the current mass media coverage of the OWS protests, is well, firstly, the lack of coverage, but more specifically, the absence of reporting on the Police’s fairly brutal approach in dealing with them.

There then follows more odd scenes, in which random everyday people are sentenced to death without trial in a “People’s Court” with the evil Bane looking on, although again, the hoards of bloodthirsty masses are not made up of the man in the street freed from society’s strictures and gone mad, but those ever-present OWS-esque guys again.

This is all set against a background of imminent nuclear destruction, societal breakdown and Armageddon, which of course, are always the outcomes when “the people’s” eyes move from the crumbs to the cake.

Interestingly, the vast majority of “the people” were not depicted as running riot in the streets, looting, killing and stealing in scenes of apocalyptic chaos. No, it was just those OWS-kind of guys trooping around with rough-looking clothes and guns, rounding up cops by smashing down the doors to their homes in perhaps another sinister historical reference.

If ever there was a film that seemed desperate to send a paranoid message, it is this one. Or as Mark Fisher of The Guardian put it; “The … film demonises collective action against capital while asking us to put our hope and faith in a chastened rich.”

Unfortunately, I suspect $30 trillion in the bank does an awful lot to reduce the hurt from a little chastening.

Full Mark Fisher article at the link below.

Coming Soon: Auckland central; let’s rename it Zombieland..


  1. GB says:

    The movie is too long and crappy, no emotional hook in it for me, first one was the best by a long shot, we saw TDKR opening day in the city, well before the shooting in Colorado.

  2. Martin says:

    The missus and I staged our own collective protest during this (incredibly long) movie: We had a bit of a doze.

    We did see it at The Vic, so I guess some good came of it…

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