Note by Noah: Eric posted a brief review of Dark Knight and other recent superhero films in comments. It seemed a shame to let his thoughts languish at the bottom of an old threat, so I’m highlighting them here.
I liked DKR way more than the previous two Nolan Batman movies. It does seem pretty conservative in some ways…though…as it turns out…the “Bad Guys” are not really 99%’ers at all and are just manipulating political unrest and class division to take revenge. In some ways this is a copout (just another madman/madwoman bent on revenge or world domination), but in other ways it mitigates the conservatism of the film (which initially seems to take the side of the rich/status quo vs. the “crazy” poor and downtrodden). In some ways, one could read the film to suggest that it’s the mistreatment of the poor and mishandling of the economy that “primes” that (large) section of society to be manipulated by “evil.” That is, there is some suggestion that if we had a more egalitarian society, revolution/anarchy wouldn’t be necessary (or on the verge of happening). (Just as criticizing the results of the French Revolution in the short term doesn’t necessarily mean one is in favor of the ancien regime). For all those reasons, it’s an interesting film, that (to me, anyway) made more sense plot-wise than Batman Begins or Dark Knight…and had enough fun mindless superheroing and explosions to make it enjoyable. Anne Hathaway was also surprisingly good as Catwoman.
I also liked the new Spider-Man movie quite a bit. That one had almost no ambitions that I could see… I liked the return to Gwen Stacy, though, since I read about her in Ben’s book. Both DKR and ASM were better than Avengers, to my mind (which really made almost no logical sense…never mind the ideology).
Also…the fact that Bruce Wayne loses all of his money is meant to make him a more ambiguous figure (not clearly on the side of the rich). Instead he ends up in the same place as Bane—stripped of everything…at the bottom of a well…etc. I don’t think this really works to make Batman a “working-class hero” (it’s something to be, I here)… but that’s clearly the intent…and it adds an extra layer to any kind of ideological reading. To some degree, I agree that “it’s a mess”—but at least it’s an interesting mess…which is more than can be said for something like Avengers…which is both a mess…and completely mindless.