The film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, directed by Christopher Nolan, is set in the dystopian city of Gotham, where crime runs rampant and unchallenged. Other than the failing Gotham City Police Department, the citizens of Gotham’s only hope is the masked vigilante known as the ‘Batman’. Batman has saved Gotham on two separate occasions, both of which would have led to the deaths of hundreds and the subsequent fall of Gotham. He has been through hell and high-water on Gotham’s behalf, yet continues to fight for the citizens of his city. As Batman himself states ‘I’m not the hero this city needs, I’m the one it deserves,’ indirectly telling the audience that he thinks Gotham doesn’t need a hero like Batman, but rather deserves someone who can act as a beacon for its citizens, someone who can guide them to their futures. His sacrifice for Gotham was nothing short of complete; his body physically broken, his company ruined and his trust in his allies shattered, yet he continues to fight, when all else seems lost.
A recurring theme in this film is trust, and how fragile it can be. For most of the film, Bruce Wayne, Batman’s real identity, works alongside his company’s board in order to help further the city of Gotham and its people. While he is helping his city prosper, a super villain named Bane is planning its downfall, with the help of one of Bruce’s board members. Without his knowing, Bruce helped Bane further his master plan on multiple occasions, one of which is key to ensuring its success, namely the construction of a nuclear bomb. When his board member finally revealed themselves as the organiser of Bane’s plan, Bruce was dumbstruck, unable to comprehend why they would help a soon-to-be mass murderer and city destroyer. This doesn’t hold him back for long, as even after being betrayed, stabbed and left to die, Bruce gets back up and continues to fight. The dedication and commitment required to continue to excel under those circumstances is almost incomprehensible, yet one man, who had lost everything and everyone, managed to save a city from complete annihilation. While I highly doubt there is a person in our world with this much commitment even with outside support from peers, watching this film made me start thinking about the number of times we’ve been faced with situations not to dissimilar from Bruce’s, and how we have faced them. There are many less-significant events happening all over the globe, but the event I thought Banes plan shared the most with was the September 11th attacks, and how they shook the world. Banes plan ultimately failed, yet the fact he even managed to detonate the nuclear bomb should be a stark reminder to all who think that real events, such as North Korea declaring war on the US, can’t reach them, that in fact yes, they can, and all it takes, is one man with a plan. Personally, I don’t believe the US population is in any position to trust their current President with handling such a situation, and with worldwide destruction a possibility, they have a right to place their trust in others, as with our current technology, destroying modern civilization is only a buttons press away.
Another significant part of the film was Banes ideals. The director attempted to make Bane seem like an agent of chaos, removing power from the police department and the mayor’s office, and giving it to the people. Yet, the fact he brought with him a nuclear bomb signalled to me that he actually wanted to end the suffering of the weak and the innocent from the prejudice of the corrupt and the greedy. He believed that Gotham was already destroyed, rotted to the core by the corrupt and the wicked. He wanted to cure the world of this ‘disease’ before it spread to other cities, and eventually the world. While his method was less than logical, his beliefs were sound, he simply wanted to make the world he lived in a better place. We have seen this before, in another of Christopher Nolan’s films, ‘Batman Begins’, where Batman saves Gotham from the wrath of Ra’s Al Ghul and his League of Shadows, who also believed Gotham was beyond saving from its corruption and needed to be destroyed. While there may not be anyone with the commitment of Batman in our world, I’m almost positive there are some with as sounds beliefs, yet questionable actions as Bane or Ra’s Al Ghul. After watching the ‘Dark Knight’ film series, I had a lot of understanding for many of the ‘antagonists’. These men were just men who wanted to change the way their world was run, to relinquish control from the greedy, the wicked and the corrupt, yet the only viable way to do so was through fear, chaos and destruction. As a result, they were portrayed as violent, vengeful and even downright insane, their sound reasons ignored for the simple fact their methods may lead to civilian harm, regardless of whether they may be more effective of even just more logical. Personally, if I were to choose between whose ideals were the most beneficial for the people of Gotham, I would have chosen Bane over Batman, hadn’t he decided the best option was to nuke the city. While his methods were far-fetched, his logic and reasoning were by far the better of the two.
In conclusion, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ tells the tale of a crime-fighting vigilante who attempts to save Gotham from seemingly insane criminal leader. However, when all of the major scenes of the film are considered, the theme of fragile trust and the missions of the ‘antagonists’ seem to almost merge; the antagonists wish to change their world, but can only guarantee their success by using less than conventional means, sometimes cozying up to their enemies, or sometimes by deciding to nuke a city. Either way, Batman saves the day once again, and Gotham lives on, as proud, as bloated, and as corrupt as ever, and the only thing to change is one more man in the prisons, wishing he’d just killed Batman.