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Nolan’s Batman: Like Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities

The Dark Knight Rise’s examination of our social order might be just the analysis we need right now

It was a time of prosperity. It was a time of poverty. It was a time of freedom. It was a time of bondage. In New York, there were fat cats seeking government handouts in return for political donations. In Washington, there were fat cats seeking political donations in return for government handouts.

If Dickens were living now, maybe he’d write something like that. Instead, Christopher Nolan has captured those ideas on film.

My friend Jonathan Last at the Weekly Standard has written a compelling analysis of The Dark Knight Rises and its predecessor, The Dark Knight. Going beyond partisan political points, he shows how the last two installments in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise are an examination of the liberal order and whether it can survive threats from within and without. Director Nolan said he was inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and, Last argues, he comes pretty close to Dickensian level insights. Last writes:

“What Nolan is saying in The Dark Knight is that our social order is far more fragile than it seems, and that even democracy is not sufficient to maintain it. Upholding the liberal order requires larger guiding forces — such as religion and natural law, as suggested by the ferry dilemma. And sometimes maintaining order requires illiberal actions, such as those undertaken by Batman.”

Seriously, read the whole thing here (about 2 pages). Then post your comments below.

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