I’ve never been much for epic mano e mano conflicts between devotional good and malevolent evil. They’ve always seemed like stories for simpletons who don’t know from parking meters. So when I hear Chris Nolan describe The Dark Knight Rises as “a very elemental conflict between good and evil,” I immediately mutter to myself, “Jesus…give it a rest, for God’s sake.”

Good vs. evil is an ancient crock — a bullshit fable that epic poems and dime novels and comic books and superhero movies have been selling since forever and ever. Obviously there’s a basic emotional need to see these tedious tales told time and again and again. I realize I’m in the minority for being sick to death of them, but every time I hear people cheer a superhero, I think to myself “you fucking saps.”

Evil clearly abounds in the U.S. financial and political realms (Boehner, Cantor, Rove, Koch brothers, Tea Party idiocy, rightwing talk radio, Goldman Sachs, “banksters”) while internationally we’ve had Al Qeada, the Taliban executing female adulterers, Pol Pot and the killing fields, Adolf Hitler and the Final Solution, etc. But there are never any formidable polar opposites looking to stop or defeat them, no real-life Bruce Waynes or Supermans or Peter Parkers. There are only flawed and/or compromised alternatives (Obama, Warren, the progressive community) who are less selfish and less craven and nobler in their stated goals.

Bane is just a designated hitter — a cyborg built to enhance corporate earnings. He’s just a musclebound, gurgly-voiced S & M gay icon who’s essentially a tribute to George Miller and Kjell Nilsson‘s “Lord Humungus…the Ayatollah Rock-and-Rolla.” Now there was a baddie to believe in. Because thirty years ago, he felt semi-novel — a relatively new idea borrowed from gay leather culture.