Today marks the opening of one of the most anticipated action films of the year, The Dark Knight Rises! In case you are one of the three people on the planet unaware of this, Dark Knight Rises is part 3 in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy that revived Batman as an American icon and major money maker.
With an all-star cast headed by Academy Award winner Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the story began in 2005 with Batman Begins and hit its stride in 2008 with The Dark Knight. Dark Knight gained instant international acclaim when Heath Ledger, cast as the infamous Joker, died just prior to the film’s release.
Readers of this blog know that I love action films and am especially fond of comic adaptations. It is my love of the genre that led to my ongoing original horror/thriller comic series, VOID! If you have not been following Void, please click on the link below and “like” him on Facebook. It’s FREE and my labor of love tribute to the old black & white horror magazines (Creepy, Eerie) of my youth, not to mention a certain playboy millionaire from Gotham City!
I have not yet seen Dark Knight Rises, which makes this post seem out of whack. I will see it eventually … after this weekend’s crowds diminish … and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts here even though I’m a loyal Captain America guy rather than a “Batophile!” (With apologies to Adam West and the classic 1960s TV show of my childhood that certainly helped drive my passion for costumed characters for all eternity)!
I just could not resist taking a moment to chuckle at all the hoopla caused this week not by the film’s logical pre-release publicity, but rather by a source certainly known for creating controversy and raising blood pressure. I’m talking about Rush Limbaugh.
I was a passenger in the car this past 17 July when Limbaugh’s show was broadcast. He made a major point about the upcoming Dark Knight film and insinuated it to be part of a political effort by President Obama. How so, you ask? Dark Knight Rises (Batman) = Obama. The primary villain, Bane = Bain (Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital Asset Management and Financial Services Company which he co-founded in 1984 … its net worth today is about $66-billion)!
Limbaugh’s argument was that viewers would connect the villain Bane to Romney’s Bain and that “Dark Knight Rises” would be associated with the ‘heroic’ rise of Obama. As Skip Carey (the late radio/TV announcer for the Atlanta Braves) used to say, “I can’t make this stuff up, folks!”
I found Limbaugh’s argument to be so silly and completely over the top that I laughed about it all day and shared it with my family over dinner that night. The Bane/Batman storyline is so famous … even outside comic circles … that I am amazed Rush was not aware of it.
Ever so often, a story in a comic series is so big that it makes mainstream news casts. Examples are the “death of Superman” in the early 90s (he didn’t really die), Spider-Man’s all-new costume in 1985 (it didn’t “stick” haha), the death of Batman’s sidekick Robin (1980s) and this year’s revelation that the Green Lantern is gay.
Bane (something that causes death, destruction, or ruin) was introduced in the comics in 1993. This much publicized event made the news because the character defeated Batman in battle and broke his back, thus ending his career. A new man took over, relegating Bruce Wayne to retirement and a wheelchair. As is the case in such events in the world of comics and film, Bruce Wayne rebuilt himself, regained his Batman costume and defeated Bane to save the day.
Still, Bane became famous because he had accomplished something no other villain had ever done … he’d beaten Batman! He retains immense popularity among Batman followers and even had a cameo in a previous Batman flick, Batman & Robin (1997) that starred George Clooney.
Referring to Batman as “The Dark Knight” is also nothing new. Frank Miller and DC Comics published the 4-part series, Dark Knight Returns in 1984. The tale, about an older, retired Batman who returns to fight crime after many years, is one of the most popular Batman stories of all time.
Turns out I was not alone in my disbelief of Limbaugh’s claim. More than one million people contacted him to “set the record straight” and point out the fallacy of his analogy. It was the centerpiece of talk shows all week.
Of course, Rush will never admit to a mistake. Remember his racially charged comments about Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb that got him canned from the ESPN NFL pre-game show in 2004? He wouldn’t back down then and he won’t now. Rush points out he only said Obama’s campaign could use that analogy, NOT that it was the intent of the film.
So take it for what you will, but I know what I think about it all. When I see The Dark Knight Rises, I’ll be trying to escape the real-world problems of the already endless Presidential Campaign, not find hidden meaning behind every character. I hope that for the almost 3-hours of this film, I’ll think not once about Obama, Romney, Bain Capital or outsourced employment vouchers!
But in my mind, I’ll be thinking, “Captain America could kick butt on ALL of you!”
Even YOU, El Rushbo!