Around the Margin – The Dark Knight Rises

Before we begin our discussion here we would like to say that our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the families of the victims, the survivors, and anyone else affected by the awful act of violence in Aurora Colorado.  We would like to take some time to discuss the tragedy some, try to put the madness into perspective, as difficult as that is, and then we will even talk about the film.  We blatantly admit we do not have the answers, rather just some solid thoughts, and we hope that people smarter than us can begin to devise a way to prevent senseless pain like this from devastating lives in the future.

MCS: Thank you all for talking this through. This is a challenging and complex topic, this much is certain, and because of this I am not exactly sure where to start.

Fresh:  I’ve done some digging and asking around and I still find it one of the most complex issues to take a stand on.

PG:  The way I see it……the average fucker doesn’t need a weapon more evolved than a bayonet.

MCS:  Indeed. We do not have to dismiss the right granted by the 2nd amendment (an amendment drawn up in a VERY different time I might add) to be smarter and safer about weapons. Semi-automatic rifles are ridiculous, and the excuse that they are used for hunting is laughable.  And not only are the type of weapons available completely unnecessary and absurd but how they end up in the hands of the ignorant and the insane so often must be looked at.

Fresh:  The “screening process” for obtaining a firearm is still a joke, even if it varies from state to state.

CMT:  I grew up around guns as both my grandparents were WWII veterans and sportsmen who enjoyed hunting. But along with that exposure came a respect and understanding passed down from them to me that these were not toys. I’m not sure how this guy Holmes was failed (i.e. psychotic break, lifetime of mental illness) but it’s obvious he practiced escapism and he didn’t just come up with this plan on a whim. There must have been some failure down the line (i.e. parents/caregivers, friends, family) that allowed him to slip through the cracks and devolve into this maniac. 

I can’t help but wonder that all of this could have been avoided if the people closest to him were more involved in his life. You don’t just wake up one day and do this….there was a process to this insanity as evidenced by how meticulously it was planned.

Fresh:  Where do you draw the line? At assault and anti-personnel weapons? Where’s a distinction need to be made?  And….psychological evaluation needs to be part of the process.

PG:  I’m saying, you should have to bite off the fucking gun powder and pour it down the barrel…or your ammo should have fucking feathers at one end.  Hunting is a sport, and at one point a necessity for survival.

CMT:  Once you start down that road of further control things get scary, and a lot of the pro-gun noise plays on those fears.

MCS:  Does anyone here think our society shouldn’t have guns at all?

PG:  I’d prefer it that way.

Fresh:  Look at stat’s around the world. Compare our homicide rates as a nation compared to those of countries where guns are outlawed. It’s crazy.

Rau: I have some weird thoughts on gun control. On one hand, we clearly need it. Statistically we rank right up there with the most fucked up countries in the world as per people killed by guns annually. It’s completely ridiculous and unacceptable. On the flip side I feel pretty hypocritical saying drugs should be legal but guns shouldn’t. I mean I wish guns were illegal maybe, but I don’t think they should be. I do think that there is absolutely no reason on earth anyone needs to own a fucking semi-automatic weapon for their private use. I mean fuck our Constitution when it’s clearly outdated. How about a real vetting process for people who wish to purchase guns? And how about if you are a violent criminal and you get caught with a gun, you go to jail for five years, no questions asked? I could live with those things for starters.

CMT:  I see their effectiveness as a deterrent but to make it available to any nut-job is where I have to draw the line.  I mean can’t we make these guns fingerprint activated? Maybe have them encode your DNA into the round like in Judge Dredd? We just landed a fucking robot on Mars how can we not have more control over this?

MCS: I think we need to steer this conversation in a different direction as it is naive to believe gun control is the only issue.  The problem is much deeper rooted. Gun control is of course a necessary Band-Aid as we work on some of the other societal ills that led to this. The fact that guns are available is not the REASON these violent acts occur. What we must find out is what is causing people, particularly young males of college age, to pick up guns and perform mass executions of people they don’t even know?

CMT:  Ignorance? Lack of respect for life?

PG:  Infamy?

MCS:  I have always thought that has something to do with it. I may be simplifying it too much, and ignoring mental health which is a huge factor, but I worry that much of this is the result of the glorification of celebrity and the undying need for fame that our culture is ridden with. With so many people in the world, and the population growing by the second, people feel unimportant….people want to get noticed….and the darkest of souls know that a quick way to get immortalized is not hard work but rather an egregious act of violence.

Fresh:  Look at the celebrity we create around guys like this.

CMT:  To be known for something is better than to be known for nothing? Jesus….

Rau: We live in a crazy disjointed, dystopian, wonderland where kids take drugs and drugs take kids. There is always going to be fucked up people, but dropping them into such a confusing world, where there is so much stimulation, power, greed, and desire for fame is just too much for sick people. Honestly, it makes me sad more than angry at the people that instigate these murders because while they are clearly at fault, I think our whole society is equally to blame.

PG:  The world is a fucking crushing piece of shit when it wants to be, we all know that. When you wake up and figure out that the whole thing might be complete bullshit and you are not stable, and they do not have any support….and they feel fucking alone… search for comfort in some fucking terrible places……and what starts to feel like a truth is often some demented shit, usually full of hate, it ain’t hard to access the means to do some apocalyptic shit.

CMT:  Do you think these kind of people existed 50 years ago? 100? 200?

PG:  Yes.

MCS:  No question.

PG:  But they lacked firepower to make this kind of impact.

CMT:  They just had a different set of tools.

Rau: They seem to have, generally speaking, been made in America. Seeing as how we are a two hundred year old country I’m not convinced they always have been around. Or maybe if they were they just were in places of such high importance that instead of calling them madmen we called them Explorers, or Generals, or Founding Fathers. I mean, I do think sick twisted people always have and will exist but I also think that we create them in our particular society at a rate that is unparalleled anywhere else.

Fresh:  Exactly.

MCS:  Well put. To change gears some and to ask an obvious question that must be asked: Do you believe the film that was playing during this tragedy had something to do with it?

Fresh:  James Holmes thinks he’s the Joker and the police found a Batman mask at his house.

PG:  With this dudes delusions it had to be Batman….but it could have been anything.

Fresh:  It would have manifested itself at some time regardless. I’m sure of that.

MCS:  That is very similar to my take.  It was Batman but wouldn’t he have found something else, another way to channel the dementia or hate or confusion he was dealing with it wasn’t a comic book film?

PG: I mean, not so much in this film….but the previous film I could see how a human who maybe was completely fucked from an early age (abuse, sexual physical, etc) could identify with creating chaos or joining in that type of movement, and could identify with being an agent of chaos.

CMT:  So he sympathized with Joker’s character?  Out of chaos comes peace for him?

PG:  If you lack any power or control in your own life…fuck it…lets make the world feel that way…and at the same time feel power and control.

MCS:  It is so fucking selfish and insensitive.

PG:  Just like the NRA lobby.


CMT:  I’m offended as a fan of cinema as this ass-clown violated the sanctity and camaraderie that we find there.

MCS:  True.  I really feel Nolan’s quote on that subject…..

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.” – Christopher Nolan

MCS: But….just to conclude the thought with the film’s effect….do filmmakers, authors, video game makers, etc….have a responsibility to be responsible….to not portray characters like this?  I do not believe this is the true origin of the problem at all but what do you think…..?

PG:  I think filmmakers like Nolan should make art and characters that reflect the most complicated parts of the human experience.

CMT:  Of course..well said!

Fresh:  Nolan’s fine. It’s romanticized biopics about traumatic events that piss me off.

PG:  One more thing on the gun subject, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong as I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE…..but what I do know is no one in power is going to stop this shit until people like them die from it.

PG: Unless their name is Mike Bloomberg.

MCS:  Bloomberg comes so correct on this topic.

PG:  It’s gonna take a fucking bus full of senators’ nieces to get shot up for some fucking legislative action.

CMT:  Mike’s got the trifecta: guns, soda and obesity….ban it all!!!

PG:  People don’t kill people, sugary beverages kills people.

Fresh:  I fear it will never be resolved.

We are going to switch gears here.  There is really no segue that is appropriate here . We struggled with the appropriateness of talking about the film but we, as many who dealt with this incident directly did, will not let the acts of a lunatic prevent us from enjoying and celebrating the things in life which make us happy. We will give him no more power. 

MCS: What do you think of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’?

PG: I think Cotillard mailed it in.

CMT: I agree 100%. I expected more from Cotillard. Especially since she won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance in ‘La Vie en Rose’. She seemed way out of her element in this movie. I found her death scene towards the end laughable.

Fresh:  I loved it. I loved Bane. I loved that Mayor Carcetti from ‘The Wire’ was in it.

PG:  Carcetti was a treat…and not long for that world.  All and all I found it to be an entertaining film.

MCS:  What’s not to like here. I will say that it was my least favorite of the three – which if your keeping track still makes it the third best superhero of all time – in my book. Carcatti was pleasant surprise (as Modine was slightly an unpleasant one) in that amazing opening scene….reminiscent of the amazing opening scene in TDK, the bank robbery. Both got things cooking.

CMT: I saw the movie three weeks after its premier (I’m rather embarrassed to admit that–but honesty shall set you free) and made every effort to sequester myself from the reviews and opinions that fly around us these days. I wasn’t very successful and came into the film with several preconceived ideas. But I must admit they were all for naught as I was blown away by the depth and magnitude of the film. It isn’t Nolan’s magnum opus but it was a respectable end to a thrilling ride.

PG:  My expectations may have played a role in diminishing the film’s impact on me slightly.  TDK is a Top 10 film in the last 10 years….just about perfect….and I think I was hoping TDKRises would be the same, and I did not find it to be that.

Fresh:  Nolan had his work cut out for him, because he knows there are very few good 3rd films out there.

MCS:  I do understand that. A bar was set very high indeed…..and I think I need to see the film again to appreciate it more. There are some themes they went into (that I will discuss in a moment) that are pretty deep and need time to digest.

CMT: I felt there was one common theme that permeated all three films and that was the contempt for money. I may be alone on this but I liked the idea of this on so many levels.

Paul:  I’ve heard from a few folks that it helps to know the comic story which I do not.

MCS:  I don’t know about that. Nolan took his own path from the very beginning. He had the opportunity to create the origin story essentially from scratch, as it has never been fully conceived (many comic adaptations have just looked at in flashbacks only).

CMT: As one who followed Batman through the comics I would say that Nolan did lean heavy on them. ‘Batman Begins’ was clearly inspired by ‘Batman: Year One’ by Frank Miller. It established Jim Gordon as a standalone character and rewrote Batman’s origin in a darker, grittier way and left a defining mark on the character. I think ‘The Killing Joke’ by Alan Moore set the tone for Batman and Joker’s adversarial relationship. It also cements the Joker’s idea that the difference between sanity and madness is “one bad day” which the Joker ruthlessly uses to destroy “Gotham’s White Knight” Harvey Dent. And of course ‘Batman: Knightfall’ (the comic that made Bane FAMOUS) is where ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ gleams a lot of its material. When Batman is at his weakest is when Bane–the opposite side of the same coin as Batman–strikes and the fight is insanely brutal in the comic. You’d have a hard time convincing me Nolan didn’t do an amazing job of putting all that brutality (and then some) into the film.

MCS:  I have read all of those and in terms of the origin story I was referring to it was not flushed out in full, like the way Nolan did it, in ‘Batman: Year One’.  The rest you are spot on with.

Fresh:  The only thing I knew for sure was that Bane was going to break Batman’s back.

MCS: What impressed me was the scope of the film. I heard Nolan in interviews talking about the filmmakers watching the ‘Battle of Algiers’ and ‘Dr. Zhivago’ in preparation for the film and that makes sense. The revolution aspect of the whole thing was very interesting to me. Bane, in his symbolic FR/WW2/USSR jacket leading a mercenary army into revolution.

PG:  I wish they played up the Occupy shit more, I wish Bane targeted more working folk to rise up, not just dudes in jail — maybe that’s not realistic for that story but could have meant more to today’s viewer.

MCS:  Yeah, I see that. Current events have strong impact. But it wasn’t really about occupy wall street or rich folk. That was just read into a lot by people as it coincided so closely with the protest. It is more about chaos. The whole idea of the film is based on French Revolutionaries and their ideological offspring called “The Propaganda of the Deed” – which is, in simple terms, a conspicuous act of violence used as a “sudden, violent shock” to shatter the status quo and catalyze revolutionary change. Mercenary armies, martial law…that sort of thing.  Revolutionary justice.

PG: Right, it’s a different narrative.

MCS:  Jacobin type stuff.
PG:  League of Shadows shit.
MCS: Exactly.

Fresh:  I’ve heard it criticized for basically riding the coattails of the story from ‘Batman Begins’. I don’t agree with that, though.

MCS:  I don’t agree either.  What he did was complete a tale.  He kept things tight as a trilogy.  He didn’t drop everything after TDK and start over with a fresh story as the continuum of the whole trilogy was obviously important to the Nolan’s.  Even the villain in this had ties to an organization that was actually the reason that Batman exists, the reason he was trained and able to fight crime.  If you think about it really….Bruce Wayne could have been Bane if he made just one different decision in ‘Batman Begins’.  That’s pretty incredible to think about.

Fresh:  I hadn’t thought of it that way.

Fresh:  Should the Joker have gotten referenced at the very least? We did after all, see Scarecrow, Ra’s al Guhl , and even Harvey Dent? Would that have been appropriate for Ledger to receive a tip of the hat?

MCS:  I would have loved that. I can see how that is a complicated decision though. What did you think of Catwoman?

Rau: If they can bring back Tupac, why can’t they bring back the fucking Joker?

CMT: I think by not including the Joker it made the film better. My thoughts drifted to him in the scene when I saw Cillian Murphy (aka Scarecrow) as the Judge and Jury but then I thought that the Joker would never be a part of Bane’s revolution. It wasn’t his style….

PG: l liked Hathaway, not Pfeiffer..

MCS: I actually liked her a lot and I didn’t think I would.  Nolan, in my opinion, put the cherry on top of the whole thing by doing the impossible…making both Catwoman and Robin not only bearable….but cool.

Rau: I second that.

CMT: You know, Hathaway grew on me. I had a few preconceived notions regarding her character but was pleasantly surprised by her performance. The writing for her was terrific and had a believable current running thorough it. Wayyyy better than Pfeiffer’s character in the original series. In my mind Nolan played fast and loose with the cat association and that’s where he succeeded. All that superstitious bullshit with Pfeieffer’s character and the meowing and whatnot was terrible. I’m glad Nolan ditched all that nonsense.

MCS: I agree.

Fresh:  I always thought Bale said that he would walk if the series included Robin. I knew that’s where Gordon-Levitt was headed, but I wondered how they went about changing his mind. I thought Robin was well done.

MCS:  I feel that it was done with such tact and that Bale, at this point, trusts Nolan completely.

Rau:  I loved the movie like a mug, but I did kind of feel like the Robin reveal was a bit on the kitschy side for a movie that had none of that.

PG: I got no beef with Gordon-Levit either…or the whole Robin thing.  It was bit heavy handed like Rau said. Are they going to make Robin flicks?

MCS: Unsure. I think Nolan is all set. On that note….I know that was Robin and all, but didn’t it seem that Bruce was leaving the keys to the castle to Robin so that he could essentially be Batman if Gotham needed him? That thought just crossed my mind at the end. That Nolan just created another Batman. That when JG-Levitt walked into the cave and then was lifted up by that thing (Rises!!!) and then the title screen came up reading ‘Dark Knight Rises’ that there was symbolism there. That he just rose another dark knight? Just a thought.

PG: I’m with you on that.

Rau:  I agree, with about fifteen minutes left I couldn’t figure out if he was making another Dark Knight or if he was Robin. I was kind of just hoping that he was going to be a whole new Batman a la Green Hornet.

CMT: JG-Leavitt picks up a bag left for him by Bruce Wayne and the Robin reveal is born. I thought it was subtle and well done. I love that Bruce Wayne/Batman sees himself in JG-Leavitt’s character–the contempt for the laws that serve only to chain you, the beginnings born of pain and loss, the desire for justice, and a commitment to something grander then yourself. Throughout the whole movie we see Batman getting weaker physically and he recognizes that he will need to pass on the torch (As Gordon says so many times: Gotham needs Batman). Who better than JG-Leavitt to become Gotham’s Batman?

MCS:  I know he is done with the series but….I think he didn’t leave Gotham without a Batman.

Rau: The symbolism of it and just leaving it alone was awesome.

Rau: I have a question: Batman is supposed to be this dark figure who is driven by this insane drive to fix this crazy corrupt world. It’s almost like Batman is supposed to be delusional in a way, or at least that is the way i feel like we are supposed to see him, but the reality is that in the world he lives in everything really is corrupt and insane and degenerative yet we are supposed to believe that people in his world still see him as this insane vigilante (or at least that they do a majority of the time).  But other than the fact that for awhile they thought he killed Harvey Dent all he has ever done has been good, yet we are supposed to still see him as dark and evil, but what is dark about someone that is almost 100% good all of the time?

CMT: Where does it say we need to see him as evil? Sure he is gritty and dark and knows both the highest echelons of society and the lowest of the lows but that doesn’t mean he has to walk a certain line does it? I think the people of Gotham are afraid of Batman because they do not know what he is. And people fear what they do not understand and attach fear-based names to it. Batman is simply a shining light that occasionally dims–but the one truth is that the light never goes out.

MCS: I actually thought about that some. I love TDK film like a son….but I never thought they did that good a job making it so that Batman would be hated by the city. I guess if you kill a bunch of cops and then Harvey Dent, the Great White Knight, then you’re obviously a villain, but after doing so much good???…..I never thought it was fully portrayed to potential. But I just went along for the ride and it paid off.

Rau:  Also, I would like to add that I already thought Bane sounded like he worked at McDonalds…but when he picked up the megaphone I almost lost my shit.

MCS: Hahahahahahaha……it’s like a double megaphone. I admit I missed a few words here and there.

MCS: I love Bane. I actually loved all villains chosen by Nolan for all 3 films. They helped him create the type of psychological thriller he was going for. They are the ones that challenged Batman mentally–challenged who he was and why he did what he did, the ones that caused him the most fear, and the ones that had the deepest of story-lines to explore.

PG: Bane rocks.

Rau: The Tom Hardy transformation into Bane was pretty fucking incredible.

MCS:  Since I have been doing nothing but essentially praising the film I would like to add my gripe….the football stadium scene was gratuitous for me. Way too much.

Fresh:  Stadium scene was a little over the top.

CMT: What purpose did it serve? Nothing but self-aggrandizement and showboating in my view. I mean did you look at all the empty seats in the stadium? It wasn’t even a sold-out game….

Rau:  I agree, the stadium scene was like a Michael Bay movie.

CMT: I was waiting for Megatron to crawl out of the hole in the field.

MCS:  All in all… incredible trilogy (excuse me as I go on a touch of a rant)…..Nolan took the best elements of any comic book film ever made and added to it an influence of film noir, a touch of James Bond (Morgan Freeman is clearly Q–he has that great role of showing Bruce and us the new gadgets!), a touch of Jekyll and Hyde (duality is explored in grand fashion throughout), and even some tragic elements of Shakespeare.  Nolan found a way to make Gotham exist in our world.  He did it slowly – every move was deliberate and because of that it was believable that a man could actually be able to pull off the ridiculous (The ridiculous being a man donning bat ears and a cape and fighting crime).  The realism was remarkable–I think the Japan trip in BB was essential to pulling this off–and then by the time we got to TDKR we were able to see Gotham as a city imprisoned, cut off from the rest of the world, in its proper perspective.

Nolan created something we really never see.  A full-scale summer film spectacular, but with grace and not held up by the crutch of explosions and the like.  He broke then re-invented the mold and film is all the better for it.  He fell in love with the story and his passion was fully visible on the screen, thrice over.

 Note from the editors:  Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts on the tragedy in Aurora and the film itself. We know they truly don’t belong together but we also know that anyone who sets eyes on the words above will recognize that we mean no disrespect and we too, were deeply angered and saddened.

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