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Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight is not that great as a superhero movie

Trying to blend a superhero character and justification for torture and unlawful wiretaps into one story yields very mixed and often depressing results in the Christopher Nolan directed Batman movie The Dark Knight. Perhaps the makers of Knight achieved what they set up to do: show how Batman can be viewed as a crazed, inflexible vigilante who will break rules, act as law enforcement, judge, jury and sometimes executioner (maybe accidentally) in the pursuit of what he believes is justice. In Knight citizens of Gotham City, a group of people that allowed themselves to be saved by essentially a masked criminal with unlimited funds and sexy weapons, perhaps have the hero they deserve in Batman. Thus, at the moment - the time period depicted in Knight - Gotham City does not have a traditional superhero, and the half-effective and partially corrupt police force may be a mirror of Batman; by operating outside the law, regardless of what small victories in favor of law & order Batman may achieve, he is not an argument in favor of the ability of citizens to reign in chaos and lawlessness. Batman himself is lawlessness. In order for there to be a traditionally good ending to the path that Gotham City is on in Knight, eventually the law enforcement apparatus of the city will have to get its act together; fight crime effectively, reduce corruption, and ultimately will have to capture and try Batman for breaking laws - including violating rights of the accused, pretending to be a law enforcement agent - self-appointed, and possibly murder. This is not a good direction for a superhero character story to go in. The deconstruction of Batman's superhero identity is one of the depressing aspects of Knight. However, since Batman has been, in the past - in other movies and comic books, something close to a traditional superhero, we will have to see if he is redeemed or completely destroyed in the next movie.

- Sujewa

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