Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and an idealistic young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) must save Gotham from a blight named Bane (Tom Hardy), with occasional help or intrusion from a lovely philanthropist (Marion Cotillard) and the revived Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). All five are orphans in masks; they repress or express their true natures by playing roles. Christopher Nolan’s stupendous climax to his Batman trilogy is a masquerade too. Nolan is pretending to be a director of comic-book entertainment, when he’s really out to excoriate Americans’ greed, laziness and implicit yearning for an omnipotent father figure, whether superhero or demagogue. In a tragic coincidence, another masked man strode into an Aurora, Colo., movie house in a Bane-like gas mask during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and slaughtered a dozen people. The killer, identified as James Holmes, hadn’t seen the movie, but he underlined its mordant thesis: that in the real America, the creature that emerges from our dreams and into the night sky is as likely to be a madman as a savior.
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