... The trailer opens with a cherubic boy singing the Star-Spangled Banner at a football game before calm inevitably gives way to storm: a gas-masked sadist blows up the field, prisoners riot, swat teams assemble, a tank fires on city hall, a hover craft flies through the streets, and so on. These rapid-fire cuts act as bundled spectacles of stimulation: Look at all this action you are going to enjoy! Hence our attention lingers when the clip slows down. There are three such moments: butler Alfred comforts a forlorn Bruce Wayne by invoking Bruce’s orphan-related trauma, the boy sings the American anthem, and then — the longest by far — an extended ballroom scene where a spectral Anne Hathaway whispers in Bruce Wayne’s ear:
You think this can last. There is a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us
Class tension here is not only directly addressed but presented as the central threat to which Batman must respond. The next shots are of rioting prisoners and others chanting a phrase in a foreign language. What are they saying? “Rise,” we are told. Rise? Is this a working-class revolution we are being promised?
When Hathaway’s character invokes inequality, the camera pulls in tight on Wayne’s face, allowing us a good look. His expression is confused, anguished — not the pique or fatigue you’d expect yet another villain to provoke. Instead, his face seems to entertain the possibility that she is already right: not about the coming storm but about how Bruce/Batman could have so much and have lived so well with this fact without making that face until now. Shouldn’t he have seen the structural violence already, from both of his positions?
At that moment, Bruce Wayne’s face reveals the unspeakable contradiction that he can’t escape, either as Bruce or as Batman: “What am I doing with all of this dough, and what is Batman protecting?”
The justification for Wayne’s wealth has always been that it afforded him resources to “fight crime” as a semi-reclusive philanthropist and as Batman. But as the first film in the Nolan reboot, Batman Begins, emphasizes, degenerate street criminals and not super-villains motivate Batman by murdering Bruce’s parents, whose beneficent philanthropy had been all that was keeping Gotham City’s ungrateful poor from destitution. A war on street criminals can be read uncomplicatedly as a war on the poor. When Batman’s interventions are understood alongside his double’s conglomerate — Wayne Enterprises, which designs, for instance, the U.S. military’s equipment of deathmaking — a new problematic crystallizes. By rooting for Batman, we are endorsing the seamless violence of monopoly capitalism (represented by Bruce Wayne), reinforced by blunt coercion (represented by Batman). ...