This is the world we live in, folks, a world where our popular culture and our reality is getting increasingly “confused”; where a person can wake up one morning and decide they are the “avatar” for the Punisher and get into a situation where he is doing cosmic battle with a Power Ranger. Personal mythology, pop-culture mythology, and an unsuspecting world fuse together to create a new, strange landscape.
When I wrote The Year Of The Mask, which was an exploration of how pop-culture—especially comic book culture—started creating this “new landscape” right around the time of the Aurora “Dark Knight” shootings, I conceived this period of time as being “finite.” Hence: giving it the duration of a year. But now I’m not so sure about that.
Look at it: A world built on fantasy. Synthetic emotions in the form of pills. Psychological warfare in the form of advertising. Mind altering chemicals in the form of food. Brain washing seminars in the form of media. Controlled, isolated bubbles in the form of social networks. Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century.
—Mr. Robot, “Mr Robot”
At the end of March of 2013, I resigned from my job as editor/writer of a “geek culture” website for one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world.
I thought there was no better way to round out this series than the movie that, in my opinion, “ties it all together”—the zeitgeist, at any rate—Iron Man 3. Though I have been largely focusing on the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, it is Iron Man 3, released in May 2013, that represents the true nexus-point between Geek Culture, the conspiracy fringe, and world politics.
Now, this bomb is armed! This bomb is mobile! And the identity of the triggerman is a mystery. For one of you holds the detonator! And we came here not as conquerors, but as liberators to return control of this city to the people. And at the first sign of interference from the outside world, or for those people attempting to flee, this anonymous Gothamite —this unsung hero—will trigger the bomb. For now, martial law is in effect. Return to your homes, hold your families close, and wait. Tomorrow you claim what is rightfully yours.
—Bane, “The Dark Knight Rises”
do yourself a favor, go watch the batman #tooreal.
—Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after watching “The Dark Knight Rises” (3 days after the Aurora theater shooting)
Our foe did not come only to destroy our things or our people. They came to desecrate our way of life. To foul our beliefs. Trample our freedom. And in this, not only did they fail, they granted us the greatest gift—a chance at our rebirth. We will rise renewed, stronger, and united. This is our time. Our chance to get back to the best of who we are. To lead by example with the dignity, integrity, and honor that built this country. And which will build it once again. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
—President Benjamin Asher, “Olympus Has Fallen”
The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.
—Harvey Dent, “The Dark Knight”
And the Great American Movie continues, set off by The Dark Knight in 2008, followed-up by The Dark Knight Rises in 2012…and just keeps going…and going…and going…
By 2013, as The Year Of The Mask continued, what was previously only “comic book kid stuff” started to become the honest-to-gods template for ideology, politics, and even international relations. And one of the most successful movies of that year would, in its way, give the tragic Harvey Dent/Two-Face storyline the sort of happier and more idyllic ending the nation needed.