Demonizing Demons: Reasons Why “The Dark Knight Rises” Sucks

So it’s been a little while since the movie came out, and by far I’m not the first person to say it, and I won’t be the last. The latest Batman movie was awful. I am a huge Batman fan, yet was frothing at the mouth in the theatre. The reasons I mention below have not been discussed yet, as far as I could see.

1. Social commentary at the expense of story.

I’ll try to forget for a few minutes the terrible social commentary and associations that were made between Bane’s gang and the wallstreet occupiers. Let me just say that the association seemed to be “see, if you trust these people trying to bring justice to the market, they’ll detonate a fusion bomb because really, they’re just messing with you”. Others have said it, so I won’t digress.

The real problem and where the movie reeked of outside of influence was in the out-of-place nature of Bane’s philosophy. The occupy-content in the movie was just a way to “toy with Gotham”. Bane himself was a pawn whose ultimate goal was to tear apart Gotham as Ra’s Al Ghul had intended. We never learn enough about Bane to determine why he might do what he does, why he goes after Wall Street, why he dangles the hope before Gotham before presumably destroying it. That is terrible writing, and of a much lower caliber than the other two movies.

By comparison, the Joker’s sense of anarchy was essential to his character, and you catch glimpses of his motivation throughout “The Dark Knight”. Even if the movie was laced with Christopher Nolan’s political values, it was told through a textured story so that you weren’t being slapped in the face with it.

If you intend to comment on current events via a movie, make sure the movie can stand on its own two feet. Otherwise you’re insulting your audience.

2. Scientific demonization for no justifiable reason

Along the same lines as the above reason, this comment refers to the terrible science in the movie. I’m fully aware that the other two movies (probably “Batman Begins” worst of all) had very awful science in them, so much that I’m confident Christopher Nolan either failed high-school science or has an ex he really hates who happens to be a scientist.

No, what bothered me was not the bad science by itself. It was the fact that it was socially relevant and deliberately bad. Fusion — the reaction that happens in the sun, slamming two nuclei together to make a new atom, releasing energy in the process — is at a make-or-break point in its history. The world’s largest laser at the National Ignition Facility in California is supposed to demonstrate fusion energy breakeven by the end of 2012. If the teams of scientists succeed, a surge of funding and effort could follow in order to bring this energy resource to the light of everyday use.

Fusion is extremely hard to make happen. There are very good reasons why it’s taken researchers over fifty years to attempt to squeeze more energy out of it than they put in. It’s so hard to make happen, that chain reactions and out-of-control situations are simply not possible. If something goes wrong in a fusion reaction, everything stops. You don’t get a bigger implosion, you don’t make a crater in the Earth — NOTHING HAPPENS.

Simple-mindedly, people could argue that fusion releases a lot more energy, so there’s more danger, right?


A reactor has to compensate for the amount of energy released by its fuel. Therefore a fusion reactor would have tiny pellets that would detonate only under extremely precise conditions. And the amount of energy would be spread over a wide enough area that the reactor wouldn’t come close to melting, let alone explode.

This is a long-winded way of saying that you could never turn a fusion reactor into a bomb. A fusion bomb is such a vastly different beast that you need a much higher-energy ignition source, on a much larger scale. By its design the amount of fuel required is much, much higher. If you tried to simply cram more fuel into a fusion reactor, again, nothing would happen, because the ignition energy you’re providing with each pulse is not enough to compensate for the added mass.

How would you ignite such a bomb, you might ask? By lighting a fission bomb. And yes, HUMANITY HAS ALREADY DONE IT. It’s called a hydrogen bomb, Christopher Nolan. A Google search by you or any of the other writers would have clarified this immediately. The genie’s out of the bottle already, and to “hide” the technology of a fusion reactor from the world (as is done in “The Dark Knight Rises”) makes absolutely no sense. He is making a demon out of technology that already exists, has existed since the Cold War, and will continue to exist long after he’s done putting damagingly shitty science into Hollywood movies.

These are influential movies, that a huge number of people see and absorb. I know that many people are not going with their notepads jotting things down regarding modern science, but there is still a subconscious level of knowledge absorption that occurs. Since most people have almost no exposure whatsoever to fusion beyond Gillette’s razor, the most likely reaction they’ll have if they hear about it is “Oh no — isn’t that the terrible thing that almost blew up Batman?”

There have been fusion awareness campaigns in the past, and I’m pretty sure Christopher Nolan has single-handedly outdone any of them put together. Again, the specific reason for a fusion reactor is not at all clear in the movie. It could have been any technology, any weapon, that was “tricked” out of Wayne Enterprise. Slapping it with a current label to try and make it relevant, without doing any homework whatsoever on it, is again, terrible writing.


“The Dark Knight Rises” has many holes and unanswered questions as a result of bad writing. The majority of the questions center around the science used and the political philosophies of the villains. These are crucial in any superhero movie, yet are mysteriously lacking from a trilogy that has heretofore demonstrated good characterization and motivation by its antagonists. After leaving the theatre, I had a foul taste in my mouth, as though behind-the-scenes propaganda had just been rammed down my esophagus by an invisible hand. In a Batman movie, no less, one of my more beloved childhood superheroes.

Tell you what, Christopher. You want to make a movie about how occupy Wall Street is evil, and fusion energy is something to be afraid of? Fine. Just don’t do it with Batman.

1 Comments on “Demonizing Demons: Reasons Why “The Dark Knight Rises” Sucks

  1. Hey Hal!
    This post needs more pictures! Preferably in comic form but I guess photos will do.

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