LONDON — Director Christopher Nolan is defending fans irate over negative reviews of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

While the final piece of Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy has gotten mostly positive reviews, a few critics, including The Associated Press’ Christy Lemire, gave it a negative review. Fan response to those critics became so venomous on the review aggregator site RottenTomatoes.com that it suspended user comments late Monday.

Appearing at Wednesday’s London premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Nolan was quick to defend fans’ heated response to the reviews.

“I think the fans are very passionate about these characters the way a lot of people are very passionate. Batman’s been around for over 70 years and there’s a reason for that. He has a huge appeal, so I think you know people certainly respond to the character,” he said.

Nolan also weighed in on conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh’s contention that the villain in the movie, Bane, was an attempt to make a disparaging link to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital.

“I’m not sure how to address something that bizarre, to be honest. I really don’t have an answer for it, it’s a very peculiar comment to make,” he said.

Morgan Freeman, who plays Lucius Fox, called the contention “ridiculous.”

“Chris wrote a fictional story that didn’t have any political thoughts in mind, so it’s like art or something you know, it’s all in the mind of the beholder,” Freeman said.

Bane has been a character in the Batman comic series for a long time. But Limbaugh said making him the villian in the movie was politically motivated.

“The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date’s been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental, that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?” Limbaugh said Tuesday.

“This movie, the audience is going to be huge, [a] lot of people are going to see the movie. And it’s a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd,” Limbaugh said. “And they’re going to hear ‘Bane’ in the movie, and they are going to associate Bain. And the thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, 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.”

Bane, the villian, first made headlines when he broke Batman’s back in the comics in 1993.