I know, I know. Bane is Zerzen-esque. This entry is along the same lines as the anarchistnews.org perspective, except this is a nerd-ed out detailed analysis of the coolest movie I have seen in a theater to date. So give me a chance despite me not having a fancy piece of paper that says I'm allowed to focus my thoughts on such trivial matters. This movie was clearly about Occupy and why it failed. Here it is - The Forecast.
This movie starts out with the cover up of Harvey Dent. (Bear with me I'm using a plot summary to help speed this up). Harvey Dent is the socially acceptable version of Batman. He thinks he's fighting for justice but while fighting with his last breath, it corrupts him. Then, via Joker, becomes Two-Face (in case you didn't see the film before this one). Why two-faced? On one side he is the hero Harvey Dent, on the other he is the very thing that he hates, corruption and crime. Batman is similar because although he has very clear cut morals, he is still going against the law to do what he feels is right. Essentially Batman is a criminal, which is how the government and majority of Gotham feels; he has alot in common with Harvey. So Harvey Dent's character is paralleled with Batman. (i.e. what is socially acceptable, what is not? what are morals? is the law ethical?) This is why I dissected this movie on anarchist principals - aren't anarchists the ones who essentially fight for justice while simultaneously opposing the law?
The whole controversy in Gotham is why Commissioner Gordon felt it was necessary to cover up for Harvey when he was a murderer. Why? Because Harvey is the law, the people need to trust in the law or else everything could spiral out of control. (Sort of like what our government tries to do now). If they trust Batman, who was criminalized by the state, people could get funny ideas. Plus, people are morons.
So, in the meantime, Wayne Enterprises is investing in clean energy. How merit-able Bruce Wayne! Aren't you the hero/billionaire? As you can see, Bruce has a hard time dealing with the fact that the police can't be trusted, the general public is brainwashed, and the fact that he's a billionaire in good with high officials, so he overcompensates by trying to do something good. If you can't change politics from the outside, you should be able to change it from the inside, right? Wrong! This is what the Occupy movement was about, what it failed to recognize, and what the public fails to recognize. It also happens to be the plot device for this epic movie. Let's continue...
The thing with the sustainable energy project, is it's made with nuclear technology. So, if in the wrong hands, it would be disastrous, when, in fact, it was designed to help people live peacefully. This goes along with the whole dual-identity thing that Harvey and Bruce have going on. Even though something is meant to be for good (or your intentions for instance) it doesn't mean the outcome will be good. This is the grey area of ethics and morality this movie is trying to show and what anarchism is all about. Bane, who wants control of this power, also has good intentions. To have people live peacefully, instead of being moronic sheep. This is the "Zerzen-esque" parallel that Graeber mentioned, because in theory, if green anarchists actually achieved their goal of rewilding, even a city, it would have disastrous outcomes. Like for instance, those who didn't give a rats ass about the environment and loved sipping on lattes and raping women in the first place, so your whole theory that sounded good on paper is actually attacking you now. (Which, although I am a green anarchist, this is theoretical and in accordance to the movie, and what it seems to express). In Bane's attempt to help civilization, that he also hates (there's that duality again), he is actually destroying the city and becoming militant which is the antithesis of what he initially wanted. Which is also how some green anarchists like to approach helping people (i.e. Green Nazis).
When Bruce finds out he's bankrupt, thanks to my favorite character of all time, Selina Kyle (aka CatWoman, but she is not referred to that in the film), Bruce suddenly sees things a bit differently. Like how corrupt money is. Not to mention how Selina, seemingly a criminal (after all she is breaking several laws for that necklace), is actually a morally intact person who only steals from those who can afford it. That would be the typical "I only steal from large corporations"-anarchists and Batman would be the one on a morally high horse who never steals because he doesn't think stealing on any level is good; but will still vandalize property. When he meets Selina, he obviously falls for her, because they're both psychopaths who dress up and break the law. All she wants her identity erased so she can live peacefully outside the system upon realizing she can't keep stealing, she needs to lay low. Sound like anyone you know? Conveniently for my analysis, they all wear black. Thank you Christopher Nolan!
That's about when Joesph Gordon Levitt comes into the picture (seems like he's in a ton of movies these days) and he knows everything. Not only that, he was an orphan just like Bruce and totally idolized him from the time he was a kid and his childish obsession continues into his adulthood, into his profession. That's actually what inspired him to be a cop. A good guy. He wanted to impact people the way Batman had, so he's adopted the same strong ethical code Batman has, and thinks he can help from the inside - like Bruce Wayne. That's a delusion that gets dispelled at the end of the film. His character is a key role because he becomes Robin/Night Wing, so he as well as every single character in this movie, parallels the Dark Knight and his moral evolution. He represents naive youth. He's trying to fill the role Batman had, by helping those that truly need it - eventually stumbling upon the fact those who are there to help (kinda like cops) aren't doing their job, in fact, they don't care. The whole idea of "I can be a good cop" is a farce, and at the end of the movie he throws his badge away to become Night Wing. Following in the shadow of his hero, Batman, throughout the film this question is posed as they mirror each other's steps "Can you work inside the system and still make a difference?" Really, they are just delusional and won't come to terms with reality. The innocent people of Gotham they love so much and are trying to save are actually morally corrupt, just like the law. Most of the time they're too busy trying to save the people from themselves.
This poses a moral conundrum for all the characters (excluding Selina Kyle, because she is in no way trying to be a vanguard, she's in it for herself, her own gain) now that they are starting to realize how corrupt the system AND the citizens of Gotham are. Why are they trying to save them in the first place? Can justice truly prevail? Are people doomed to make their own mistakes over and over again? How can one be truly happy within all this chaos? Can you be happy living apart from society? Is that feasible?
Selina Kyle is like the anarchist that is actualized in thought, practice and theory. She has come to terms with society and it's flaws and has decided her coarse of action based on experience of juggling two very different personas - Selina the socialite living within the system/ the cat burglar against the system that is disgusted by Gotham's well-to-do. Now, believe it or not, no one with such moral opposition to the system of 1% versus the 99% can conform their actions to project their radical ideology in their day to day life and peacefully live within that same society. That society doesn't want you, and you don't want it. So like many anarchists who want to change the system, but cannot, and keep finding blockades in their struggles, eventually giving up because of all the problems from the law, neighbors, your relationships, your child, etc. You have to make a decision. Will you continue on to make a point despite the cost of your happiness/peace, extract yourself from society altogether, or go with the flow so to speak, i.e. give in to capitalism?
Both Alfred, one of my favorite Batman characters, and Selina, are two sides of the same coin - reason and experience. They both understand the ethical dilemma of Batman (and what he represents) and the need to just live life in peace. Everyone deserves that, you can't save other's from themselves like everyone is trying to do by dressing up in costume. That's why Selina is never addressed as Cat Woman in the movie. She is who she is all the time. No fake identities to save her from from going to jail or to save her reputation to get a decent job. The only difference between the two of them is they represent different options that anarchists eventually face: Alfred = giving in to capitalism and becoming a producing member of society despite being knowledgeable enough to oppose it, and Selina = getting off the grid and living on the outskirts of society and not worrying about other's economic issues she can't fix by robbing the rich.
This is the green anarchist problem: stay within society to help it become sustainable and equal, or give up on it because it's not going to change (at least not anytime in our future) and just live in a nice hut, grow your own food, etc. During this development, Batman still not knowing what to do upon Bane's rise in power, is making last attempts to justify his Bruce Wayne/ Batman lifestyle that is for the "good of the people", he let's Tate take control of the nuclear energy investment because she seems trustworthy. Plus, if you haven't seen the movie, Bane has control of the energy, he just needs a scientist (like Tate) to activate it and create some sort of death threat so people will be scared enough to do what he wants.
Bane is the vanguard, UnaBomber person who honestly has a point, but doesn't realize his ways of proving that are psychotic. He gains the city's trust by showing how the police aren't on their side and Harvey Dent was not who he was portrayed as. Commissioner Gordon had a speech all written out that Bane took (score!) and read it out loud to the public. Now, Bane is painted as having a secret motive because they aren't clear as to why he wants everyone scared into REAL freedom. As you watch scenes with Bane, you start to realize he is a pretty nice guy who had some harsh stuff happen to him being raised in a prison and all. But...that is proven to be assumption that is incorrect. HAHA! (more on that later). He wants people to be free, because he honestly feels people are sheep who deserve the right to have a choice. What he doesn't realize, is how naive he is. In fact, like many anarchists (and pro-authoritarians) proclaim in their theories, when the prisoners were released because they are just victims of society and circumstance according to us good-hearted folks, they start killing, raping and creating havoc for those who they felt were responsible for their life decisions. You know, CEOs, politicians and rich old women.
Cillian Murphy (a great Irish actor who played Scarecrow in the first Batman; another awesome comic book character I wished this movie elaborated on...) happens to be the judge, and if you knew he was Scarecrow in the first film, (you do, cuz I just told you) the craziest of the crazy are now making judgments on the people who were imprisoned by society - giving them the option of death or death by trying to escape. Nice. Bane thinks this hilarious, just like myself, and continues on believing this is what people want, they just don't realize it yet. The truth of the matter is, Bane thinks his motives are pure, but they aren't because he is actually the son of Ra's al Gul (Liam Neeson, another Irish actor, from the first film), so it's tied in with his need to actualize his dad's vision. That's why he imprisons Batman in the prison he grew up in - BUT WAIT! That's not his dad, as revealed in the film, Tate is his daughter...that's who is behind it the whole freakin' time. The reason why no one suspects her and trust so much is because she's a smart woman, in a man's world of business. In fact, Bruce has no clue because he's somewhat of a closet chauvinist. So that's why I appreciate that aspect of the film. The men are so much on their high horses they don't suspect that even for a moment that the pure motherly, smart Miranda Tate is a conniving backstabber, and Selina Kyle who's such an untrustworthy burglar who turns Batman in, is actually sweet as pie. It's all too easy for them to manipulate the situations to their advantage. Good for them!
All the while Batman is in the Ra' al Gul prison watching the people of Gotham going out of control like some movement just happened (ring a bell?). He does have the option to leave, after all there is a big opening at the top of the prison someone escaped through (only once) and it was a child, whom Batman believes is Bane, because he is still completely ignorant that a woman could be doing this. He is being kept alive by some monks, because in Bane's words, he has to have hope of escape to truly suffer. So Bruce is just waiting around for something to light up so he can finally make the connections to what Bane was unintentionally alluding to. It has something to do with (a) hope, (b) his unrecognized motives that have to do with Ra' al Gul, (c) escaping, and (d) a mass movement.
The thing is and what I'm trying to conclude by tying together all these characters and motives and cultural analysis is that Bane, like anarchists in general, has strong ethics that unless forced upon the general public, will only be actualized in small time setting. Why? Because people have their own individual problems and motivations that they fail to recognize that have alot to do with how they are approaching things like activism, personal relationships, political theory, etc. Which makes it impossible for anyone to be on the same page. We are all individuals, and that is what the intention of anarchist principals and practice are supposed to respect at all times. But when you start to interact with society, with all the different types of people with different views, desires, and aspirations, we ultimately dismiss the possibility that we were wrong to think we have the best morals that make the most sense. We are only in control of our own lives, not everyone else's and we need to make decisions based on that. Like Alfred and Selina.
Bruce eventually comes to this conclusion by putting things back to the way it was, just as messed up as before, becoming the martyr of the movement by faking his suicide, because he just loves society so much. When in fact, he realizes he can't be a billionaire who cares about orphans and pretend he's doing so much to help the world, when in fact, like the nuclear sustainable energy, that started with good intentions, his fascade developed into something reckless based on personal motivations and ego. People need hope not to suffer, but to balance the duality of their lives without being hypocrites.
That's why Bruce and Selina in the end run off to Italy with Alfred's recommendation, off the grid, and start living a happy life. He now sees he was pretentiously making himself the hero for a lost cause at the expense of his happiness. It's like Occupy movement because the intentions weren't clear, it was angry and all over the place. Occupy eventually fizzled out because people lost hope. The point of the film, as symbolized by Robin/Night Wing is you need to continue hoping, and trying as much as you can. People need to feel a revolution could happen if they wanted it. Which it could. The truth is though, we don't know what's good for everyone else.