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It's going to be a good 'Knight'

December 25, 2011|By Stephen Markley, For RedEye

"Uh, I just watched #TheDarkKnightRises trailer, and I feel like my erection might be visible from space."

Or so I tweeted from the dazed fugue state I found myself in following the two minutes and change I spent at the height of guy-movie arousal for Christopher Nolan's third (and final?) Batman movie. Yes, feel free to make your clever joke about how the "visibility" would have to rely on Pentagon spy satellites that can count the hairs on the beards of Taliban fighters—whatever! That movie looks awesome.

I've decided that Hollywood should just arrive on Chris Nolan's lawn with dump trucks of money, leave it all there in mountains and see what he comes up with. When I saw "Batman Begins" in college, I was convinced that Nolan had made The Best Superhero Movie Ever (with all respect to the Nic Cage masterpiece "Ghost Rider"), only to watch him eclipse that film so completely with its sequel, "The Dark Knight," that it makes the first film look trifling by comparison.

Obviously, I don't know if "The Dark Knight Rises" will match the second film or—dare I even say it?—surpass it, but I'm totally impressed that Nolan conceived of the third film before the explosion of Occupy Wall Street. Judging from the trailer, the film appears to center around a neo-Bolshevik revolution led by villains Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) and Bane.

Played by Anne Hathaway, Kyle tells Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne, "You think this can last? There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."

I mean, talk about capturing the zeitgeist. There were even rumors that Nolan thought of filming at Zuccotti Park in October with the protests providing background, but ultimately (and wisely) viewed this as a cheap ploy (filming a few blocks away from Wall Street, though).

Reinventing the superhero narrative as a commentary on wealth inequality and society's realignment into a permanent plutocratic ruling order is a fine idea made even better given the legend of Bruce Wayne as the multibillionaire playboy oligarch who turns his fortunes toward pursuing justice. My hope is that Nolan's film will ask the obvious question: "Justice for whom?"

Whereas "The Dark Knight" drew subtler parallels between the superhero narrative and the anxieties of our times, "The Dark Knight Rises" appears as though it will go straight for the jugular. The second film used Heath Ledger's incredible performance as the Joker to stylize the decade's primary media villain: the terrorist unfettered by rational decision-making, who views wanton destruction as its own existential goal. The Joker was the terrorist who couldn't be bargained with because "some men just want to watch the world burn."

By turning to a narrative so overtly political, I hope Nolan will create one of the most interesting action films, possibly even the crown jewel of the superhero genre.

And hell, if he doesn't, there's always "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance." It's awesome because Nicolas Cage's head turns into a skull that's on fire, you see.

REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR STEPHEN MARKLEY IS THE AUTHOR OF "PUBLISH THIS BOOK." REDEYECHICAGO.COM/MARKLEY

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