The Dark Knight Rises is fast-becoming quite the controversial film. Critics, fanboys, and casual fans alike seem to have VERY strong,
crazed impassioned opinions when it comes to the finale of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Films today, especially the sequels and trilogies etc, have the increased ability to create ‘superfans’ that will staunchly defend the films in a ‘franchise’ with uncontrollable rage passion. For example, try telling a Twilight fan, or ‘Twihard,’ how much the films suck or point out the storytelling flaws in The Avengers (there are many) or even suggest that the Lord of the Rings films are too long and kinda slow; it’s just a bad idea. And yet, none of these examples compare to what is happening with TDKR psychofans.
A TDKR controversy seemed destined ever since Nolan resurrected the Batman franchise and lifted it to new heights thus creating astronomical aspirations and with a deeply loyal fanbase. What Nolan did with his Batman was change the definition of what a superhero, and superhero movie, should be. Instead of the hero having fame and adulation, Nolan created a flawed yet relatable hero that had to sacrifice for the greater good. By exploring the humanity in his hero, Nolan created a human out of a hero. This new brand of hero truly is something special and, as a result, has built up a rabid fanbase. To question the loyalty of these fans, or to dispute Nolan’s films in some way, is to incur deep-pitted rancor. Sadly, the rancor has risen.
Hints of trouble started a few days ago on Rotten Tomoatoes, the popular and typically accurate movie review website, when commenters made death threats, rape threats and other aggressive comments towards other commenters who disliked TDKR. The posts, which are made anonymously per website rules. forced Rotten Tomatoes, in an unprecedented move, to shut down the comment section entirely as well to
likely implement significant changes to the posting format. Matt Achity, editor in chief of Rotten Tomatoes, addressed this in his aptly titled open letter “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” that is well worth the read. However, as the world knows now, this wasn’t the worst of it.
As anyone who has read the news today knows, these aggressive online comments are nothing in comparison to what happened at a midnight showing of TDKR in Aurora, Colorado. The link to TDKR could be pure happenstance or not but it begs many questions. Why did the lone gunman chose to attack and kill innocent movie-goers in a packed movie theater? And why did this obviously disturbed man choose to do so during the first public showtime available for TDKR? Is there a direct link? I don’t want to speculate as too much but I am curious as to why especially in light of the early controversy that TDKR created. Answers won’t fix any of this but hopefully, if ever discovered, it can help with some semblance of understanding.
Like Nolan’s Batman, we humans are all flawed and in search of meaning but unlike in comics and movies, situations like these are both real and really depressing. Going to the movies should be a fun outlet, it should be pure escapism yet that seems to be changing. I sincerely hope that out of this tragedy, people can begin to understand where misplaced rancor can lead. The world doesn’t need more villains…