“THE DARK KNIGHT RISES” filmmaker Christopher Nolan is not one to judge passionate Batman fans — even ones who post threats to professional film critics.

At Wednesday’s London premiere of “Dark Knight Rises,” Nolan said we’ve got to appreciate that the Caped Crusader has 70 years of reader/viewer connection at work here, reports the Associated Press. Fans feel intensely loyal to the Bob Kane/Bill Finger character, Nolan said, apparently including Rotten Tomatoes readers who are so irate, they verbally attack critics who dare write a negative review.

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On Monday, fans began degrading and threatening film critic Marshall Fine after his became the first negative review of “The Dark Knight Rises” on RottenTomatoes.com. The barrage of vitriol and death threats continued after AP’s Christy Lemire and the Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton also wrote negative reviews of the film.

That prompted Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief Matt Atchity to disable his site’s comments for the film — the first time he’s done so on the 13-year-old entertainment review-aggregation site.

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GETTING HIS HANDS DIRTY: Director Christopher Nolan shows off his hands this month after leaving his handprints in cement during a hand- and footprint ceremony in the forecourt of Hollywood’s Grauman's Chinese Theatre. (MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)


“I will not have this site be a platform for that kind of invective — even if we have to go with no comments for reviews.” Atchity told Comic Riffs on Wednesday, as he voiced his support of Fine, Lemire and Pinkerston, calling them intellectually “honest” reviewers who aren’t trying to use negativity to court attention.

[‘DARK KNIGHT RISES’: Rotten Tomatoes disables comments for the first ever over negative-review threats]

Atchity noted that most of the commenters had not even yet seen the film, which opens Thursday. On his site, “The Dark Knight Rises” currently has an 86-percent “fresh” rating and an audience rating of “93.”

(The film, which reportedly has already grossed $25-million in advance ticket sales, is expected to have the biggest domestic debut ever for a non-3D film — besting the $158-million record held by 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”)

Nolan also addressed the kerfuffle that made headlines when Rush Limbaugh, on his Tuesday radio program, questioned the homonymous similarity between Bane — the hulking “Dark Knight Rises” villain played by Tom Hardy — and Bain Capital, the investment firm once headed by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“The thought is that when they [members of the pop-culture crowd] start paying attention to the campaign later in the year,” the right-leaning commentator said during his program, “and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie —’Oh, yeah, I know who that is.’ ”

Nolan called Limbaugh’s remarks a “very peculiar comment to make,” the AP reports.

The Bain/Bane similarity has been drifting in the cultural ether for many weeks, of course, including in a “Tom the Dancing Bug” cartoon last month by Ruben Bolling.

Limbaugh also said this week: “The kind of people who would draw this comparison are the kind of people that [Obama and his supporters] are campaigning to.  These are the kind of people that they are attempting to appeal to.”

And to bring this all full circle, Atchity — the Rotten Tomatoes editor — tells Comic Riffs that he thinks Limbaugh must not have seen the film when he commented, because the editor views “The Dark Knight Rises” as dramatizing an anti-Occupy Wall Street stance.

If anything, Atchity tells Comic Riffs, Limbaugh should view the film as presenting a conservative world viewpoint more than a liberal one.

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CLICK HERE to view a larger version of this cartoon. (2012 RUBEN BOLLING / Universal Uclick )