Holding Out for a Hero: The Dark Knight Trilogy, Resistance, and Contemporary America

Why Nolan’s Batman films are the perfect metaphor for the here and now.
By  · Published on May 11th, 2017

Why Nolan’s Batman films are the perfect metaphor for the here and now.

First and foremost, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is about fear; the fear of being conquered, of being enslaved, on both a societal and a personal level. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman to combat this fear, choosing himself to take a guise that will strike terror into the hearts of his enemies, who he condemns from the beginning (at least in the comics) as “a cowardly lot.”

Secondly, the Dark Knight Trilogy is about resistance, not just Batman’s resistance, but the resistance he inspires in the citizens of Gotham, who by the end of the third film have seen their city ransacked by supervillainous terrorists over and over again but who have survived annihilation thanks not only to the caped crusader but also their own fierce resilience. On a contrary hand, it’s also about the resistance of the trilogy’s villains, their unwillingness to abide by the rules and mores of society and their desire to carve their own system out of the existing one. This sets up a conflict that’s bigger than one costumed crimefighter against one maniacal madman, rather it poses society against itself: those who would lie down and accept their conquering and those who would rage against it.

In this way, it’s been argued, Nolan’s films aren’t just the action-packed blockbusters they seem to be on the surface; they’re also parables about resistance, tyranny, insurrection, and the nefarious ability to rule by playing into people’s base fears.

Sound familiar? Turn on CNN; fear, insurrection, tyranny and resistance are today’s top stories, and a lot of them are taking place much closer to home than we might have thought possible. We’re living The Dark Knight Trilogy in a sense – just check out the Joker in the White House – and all that’s missing is a figurehead in body armor.

To further and better prove these points, dig the following video essay from Daniel Clarkson Fisher which I am calling the best, most poignant, most salient video essay I have seen thus far this year. Using the Nolan films and a host of supplementary, real-world statistics, Fisher has crafted a hauntingly captivating line of thought that will change the way you see these films, their director, and indeed the world surrounding you. There are things you should watch, and there are things you need to watch. Fisher’s video, without a doubt, belongs at the top of the latter category.

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