“The Dark Knight Rises” isn’t just the Bane of Mitt Romney’s existence.
At least that’s what Internet freedom activists at Demand Progress are hoping.
The group launched a website criticizing Sen. Patrick Leahy for participating in the latest Batman flick (opens Friday), saying the Vermont Democrat’s role as chairman of the Judiciary Committee — which oversees legislation regarding the entertainment industry — makes his appearance in a Hollywood blockbuster a conflict of interest.
They also are angry at his sponsorship of PIPA – the ill-fated bill supported by the entertainment industry that was seeking to curb Internet piracy but which detractors said would infringe on Internet freedoms.
"Senator Leahy, like so many others, had childhood dreams of being Batman as a child,” Demand Progress executive director David Segal said in a news release. “But there's one reason why his dreams have come closer to fulfillment than the rest: He's chairman of the Senate committee about which Hollywood cares most, and has the power to support or kill legislation they promote. Sadly, such legislation — like SOPA and PIPA — would be to the detriment of Internet freedom, and hurt millions of ordinary Americans."
Leahy’s latest guest spot marks his fourth contribution to the Batman film canon: He appeared in “The Dark Knight” in 2010, “Batman & Robin” in 1997 and "Batman Forever" in 1995. He has also done voiceover work on an animated TV show about the costumed crusader and has written an introduction to one of the series' graphic novels.
Leahy spokesman David Carle said the money and royalties Leahy earns from the films get donated to entities that benefit his constituents in Vermont, such as the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, where Leahy said he read his first comic books growing up.
"Batman's connection to Vermont is a great thing that spans many years," Carle said. "The Batman character has been one of Patrick Leahy's lifelong passions, and it has spawned and energized an enduring bond to Vermont. By now this legacy includes collaboration with his crusade against landmines and helping to protect children in conflict zones, as well as ongoing help for the children's library where he developed a lifelong love of reading."
Carle, however, did not explain how Leahy secured his recurring roles in the films.
This is the second controversy surrounding “The Dark Knight Rises." Earlier in the week, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh alleged that the film’s villain, named Bane, is the product of a liberal conspiracy trying to link GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s connections to the company Bain Capital to a supervillain.