If Latest “Batman” Is Anti-Romney, Then the Last “Dark Knight” Was Pro-Bush

Darkknight_rises_reviewRush Limbaugh guaranteed all sorts of attention today when he attacked Warner Bros.’ upcoming “The Dark Knight Rises” as anti-Mitt Romney.

His evidence is the presence of a villain named Bane, which he sees as a reference to Bain Capital. Per the Washington Post, Limbaugh said, “The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date’s been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental, that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?”

The character actually was created in 1993, before Romney even got in to politics, and co-creator Chuck Dixon calls the claim “ridiculous.”

It’s true that Hollywood leans left, that plenty of Warner Bros.’ executives are supporters of President Obama and that Democratic senator Patrick Leahy has scored another cameo in the latest film. But when “The Dark Knight” was released in 2008, some conservative commentators saw it as a nod to then-President George W. Bush.

“There seems to me no question that the Batman film ‘The Dark Knight,’ currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war,” wrote Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal. “Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.”

This actually reminds me of a screening I attended of “The Incredibles” the day after the presidential election. Many in the crowd crestfallen that John Kerry had lost, and, with that in their minds, saw the animated as somehow pro-Bush. The director of “The Incredibles,” Brad Bird, appeared afterward at a Q&A and had to defend the movie as apolitical, having been conceived before Bush took office. It speaks to how the news cycle can influence the interpretation of otherwise nonpartisan entertainment. For his part, Limbaugh thrives on comments made to provoke and jest, as nothing gets the juices flowing than the idea that mass culture contains some ulterior message.

If the latest Batman films present contradictory partisan leanings, maybe it is time to retroactively parse past summer hits for political intent. Obama does enjoy support from those responsible for the biggest summer blockbuster of them all, “Star Wars,” as evidenced by this ABC News story.

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