Eines der sehnsüchtigst erwarteten Machwerke des großen Hollywood-Apparates, der neue Nolan-Batman-Streifen The Dark Knight Rises, erreicht in diesen Tagen die Kinosäle. Neben allerlei vorfreudigen Beschwörungen fand ich auch einen interessanten Essay, den Elliott Prasse-Freeman und Sayres Rudy für The New Inquiry schrieben. Sie vertreten darin die These, dass aktuelle soziale Kämpfe (insbesondere die Occupy-Bewegung) mittlerweile Hollywood erreicht hätten. The Dark Knight Rises lesen beide demzufolge als „the first mass-culture artifact of the Occupy era“, in dem die Rolle und kulturelle Bedeutung der Figur Batmans vollkommen neu bestimmt werden müsse, was sie am Beispiel eines der Trailer verdeutlichen:

The trailer opens with a cherubic boy singing the Star-Spangled Banner at a football game before calm inevitably gives way to storm: a gas-masked sadist blows up the field, prisoners riot, swat teams assemble, a tank fires on city hall, a hover craft flies through the streets, and so on. These rapid-fire cuts act as bundled spectacles of stimulation: Look at all this action you are going to enjoy! Hence our attention lingers when the clip slows down. There are three such moments: butler Alfred comforts a forlorn Bruce Wayne by invoking Bruce’s orphan-related trauma, the boy sings the American anthem, and then — the longest by far — an extended ballroom scene where a spectral Anne Hathaway whispers in Bruce Wayne’s ear:

„You think this can last. There is 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.“

Class tension here is not only directly addressed but presented as the central threat to which Batman must respond. The next shots are of rioting prisoners and others chanting a phrase in a foreign language. What are they saying? “Rise,” we are told. Rise? Is this a working-class revolution we are being promised?

Batman könne deshalb auch nicht mehr als „der Gute“ herhalten, da er das unmenschliche System von Gotham City (als Synonym für die spät-kapitalistische Stadt) mitsamt seiner Korruption und Ausbeutung gegen Aufstände und Unruhen verteidigt. Stattdessen wäre es nötig, seine neue Rolle als die des Villains zu bestimmen — eine Funktion, die er einfach noch nicht realisiert hat:

The justification for Wayne’s wealth has always been that it afforded him resources to “fight crime” as a semi-reclusive philanthropist and as Batman. But as the first film in the Nolan reboot, Batman Begins, emphasizes, degenerate street criminals and not super-villains motivate Batman by murdering Bruce’s parents, whose beneficent philanthropy had been all that was keeping Gotham City’s ungrateful poor from destitution. A war on street criminals can be read uncomplicatedly as a war on the poor.
Wayne personifies capitalist firms’ “legitimate” expansion — assimilation to the military complex and consolidation with finance capital — and capture of the political process. Note that in The Dark Knight, when hailing Harvey Dent as Gotham’s savior in a scene glorifying his super-sovereignty, Wayne tells Dent, “One fundraiser with my pals … you’ll never need another cent.” Batman, meanwhile, personifies the extra-juridical violence needed to clean up the messes Wayne’s system produces. Batman is the barely veiled, ever-necessary, and always spectacular violence that haunts Gotham.