I think it’s safe to say we’re all familiar with the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise that has captured the minds of moviegoers across the world since Batman Begins was released in 2005. The third and final film in the trilogy came to theaters on July 20. It’s been hugely popular, grossing profits of over double the film’s $250 million budget. The film has garnered positive reviews by both critics and audience alike. I was privileged enough to see the film myself just a couple weeks ago. I went in with average hopes, thinking that nothing could be as good as The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was just too good for another film to be able to surpass. Honestly, though, I was amazed. The performances, the plot line, the aesthetics, all of it was cinematically astounding to me. What really got me interested, though, was the anti Occupy Wall Street I sensed from the beginning of the film. I remember turning to my boyfriend and saying “Are you picking up on that too? The anti Occupy Wall Street message?” After seeing the film I typed “dark knight rises anti occupy wall street” into Google and was very surprised at what I saw.
Occupy Wall Street is a movement that was started by the Canadian activist group Adbusters in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011. The initial protest went viral, so to speak, and ever since then there have been Occupy movements and protests around the nation. Most people know the protestors as people who are fed up with the American tax system, but that’s not all they stand for. The main issues presented by the Occupy protestors are economic and social inequality, corruption, greed, and the influence of large corporations on the government. Upon Googling the possible link between The Dark Knight Rises and Occupy Wall Street I was bombarded by hundreds of different hits. There were so many articles linking the two together. I was stunned that anti Occupy Wall Street was an actual message in the film. “Okay, so others picked up on this too,” I thought to myself. “It’s a real thing.”
In the film, Bruce Wayne is faced with a tough dilemma when he’s thrown into an underground prison and his nemesis Bane takes over the city of Gotham, essentially giving the city to its citizens. As Bane gains control of Gotham he says “Gotham, take control… take control of your city. Behold, the instrument of your liberation! Identify yourself to the world!” In the line, you really start to grasp how deep the Occupy Wall Street message is ingrained into the film. The characters, the citizens of Gotham, are gaining control. They’re taking what’s theirs. They’re doing what it takes to get their city up and running the way they view as adequate. This line might make you think the film is pro Occupy, but keep watching. The farther you get to the end, the more you’ll realize how anti Occupy this movie really is. Gotham is torn apart from the inside out by Bane and his followers. The city is in ruins. The more well-off citizens of Gotham were thrown out of their homes onto the streets by the other citizens, their homes used as shelters for the passing citizens of the city. By all means, giving Gotham to the city itself more or less destroyed it. In the end, it takes the Batman to save the city from both Bane and from themselves.
Christopher Nolan, the director of the Batman series, has maintained that The Dark Knight Rises was not inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, but the link between Bane’s revolution and the movement itself cannot be denied. It’s been talked about and written about by people and newspapers such as Rush Limbaugh and the Huffington Post. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding shows that all signs point to anti Occupy. Whether or not Nolan meant it, the message has been given and the damage been done. Occupy protestors have already spoken out on the subject, saying that they wish the themes in The Dark Knight Rises remain free of any kind of association with the Occupy Movement and the people associated with it. Maybe the films aren’t meant to have any kind of stance on politics, but then again, don’t they say that all art is political? All art is political in that it serves another person’s point of view and the message they want to get across. Nolan may not have meant for the film to mirror Occupy Wall Street in the sense that he was taking a legitimate political stance on it, but he did put all his creative efforts into The Dark Knight Rises and in turn he put his heart and soul into it. He may not have meant to be political, but his views were surely shown.