I finally saw Dark Knight Rises last (k)night, which was much better than I was expecting; it is, along with The Avengers, not only one of the best movies so far this year, but probably the best superhero movie I've ever seen, period. Time will tell whether I ultimately decide if The Avengers was better than it, but in the meantime, I can definitely say that Dark Knight got me thinking a lot more about a lot more. What follows are my Dark Knight Rises lessons learned.
1. Corporations ARE People.
Being an anti-Scalia, Stevens-loving lefty, I was always disturbed by the whole "Corporations are people" thing, & resisted it like Scalia resists making a logical sentence that includes the words "healthcare" & "broccoli." But Dark Knight Rises has shown me the error of my ways. One of the lead characters is a greedy, manipulative, power-hungry tyrant named Bane, who is clearly the personification of Mitt Romney's old business enterprise. I think it's great that Romney was so cool about letting them use Bane for the film, & hope that other corporations will follow his lead. Is it too late too see if the Man of Steel can take on "Wall-Mart" in the new Superman reboot?
2. Christian Bale & Tom Hardy Are the Two Greatest Actors of Their Generation.
As I've previously written, Christian Bale is amazing if only for the way he can magically turn into Clint Eastwood every time he puts on the Batsuit (All together now: "Get your hands off my Gran Torino, Commissioner Gordon!"). But in Dark Knight Rises, Bale meets his match in Tom Hardy, who magically turns into Sean Connery every time he says something as arch-rival Bane: "Catwoman talksh in her shleep." This is truly transformative acting at its finest. Although both are still outdone by the greatest actress of their generation — Katie Holmes — whose development from the first to second Batman film felt so complete, it was like watching an entirely different actress.
3. It Turns Out That Overall, the Oscars Do Get It Right.
I have never been so aware of so many Oscar-winners & nominees in a single movie, all kicking ass. Oscar-winners Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, & Marion Cotillard were each great in their roles, with Oscar-nominees Anne Hathaway & Gary Oldman proving it's just a matter of time. Only Tom Hardy & Joseph Gordon-Levitt are completely left out of the BYOO parties, but it wouldn't surprise me if either of them didn't end up getting something in the long run. & in the meantime...
4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt May Be on Track of Having the Coolest Acting Resume EVER.
Well, at least of a modern actor. Who isn't Paul Rudd. But with 500 Days of Summer, Inception, the under-rated 50-50, Dark Knight Rises, & now the Spielberg-Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln biopic on deck, Paul Rudd better watch his back. Plus, Gordon-Levitt gets bonus points for appearing in two episodes of Family Ties as Andrew's young classmate. That more than makes up for his role in Angels in the Outfield in my book.
5. 21st Century America Is a Big, Fat, Messy Place.
It is impossible to watch Dark Knight Rises without thinking about America over the past dozen years. The film plays like a dream that lingers on a nightmare culled from our collective unconscious, working through the latent fears of the 21st Century. Can one watch all those NYC buildings explode & fall & not think of 9/11? Can one look at Bane's wealth-punishing revolution that begins on Wall Street & not think of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Can one hear the "terror" & "evil"-filled terminology used against Bane & not think of the War on Terror? & of course, with all of the violence — sudden, random, & often inflicted upon people who are not expecting it — how can one not think of the Colorado shooting at the Dark Knight Rises midnight premiere? With the latter event, the Dark Knight Rises makes its most powerful American statement, stepping outside of the film itself to unknowingly help create something very real & very evil, directly inflicted on the real America, our America.