It’s official. The Internet doesn’t give a flying shit about the Syrian stalemate, Mitt Romney’s alleged financial misconduct, escalating climate change or the looming Summer Olympics. Right here, right now, it’s all about Batman. The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s monumental franchise, opens in wide-release at midnight tonight. Anticipation has reached a frenzied pitch. Everywhere I click are articles, interviews, reviews, trailers, production stills and memes galore. I’ll never understand how this particular incarnation of the Caped Crusader managed to capture our popular imagination so completely. Or, in some unfortunate instances, inspire such vitriolic fanaticism.
Batman Begins, which launched this newfangled spin on the 70 year-old vigilante icon, was a modest success. It was dark without being depressing, and inflected with just enough comic-book camp. But it was the sequel, which preyed upon post-9/11 anxieties, that propelled the series into the pop-culture stratosphere. I’m one of the film’s few detractors.