The scent of money is everywhere in The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s alternately wrenching and lugubrious capstone to his Batman trilogy. Those who don’t have it, want it, and those who have it seem both weighted down and perplexed by it. That the film gives even a glancing nod to conflict between the haves and have-nots was enough to ignite a small op-ed brushfire war over whether the film was an Occupy-style indictment of capitalism or a pro-One Percent manifesto.
This emphasis on money is appropriate, given the amounts of revenue that Warner Bros. and its various partners have raked in on this franchise. But it’s also a curious focus for a superhero film, a genre that usually operates in a universe where issues of filthy lucre are either ignored entirely or explained away by the hero’s being self-financed. It’s a sharp turnabout from one of The Dark Knight’s most striking images, that of the Joker tumbling merrily down a mountain of looted cash before he sets it aflame.