Re: Visceral Batman Essays
With all due respect El, I think you are being too harsh on our protagonist. Note that throughout the film there is a very drastic difference made between 'Bruce Wayne' the human being and 'Batman' the symbol. If Gotham City has responded to and reacted to this symbol of Batman and has suffered for it (Dent, Joker etc.) then it is up to that person or idea to remedy it. It's more like cleaning up after one self rather than a perpetuating lie. Batman has brought on the plague that is embodied by the likes of the Joker and Two-Face, the entire point of the movie is about the necessity of Batman. So yes, a certain level of superiority is present in this 'hyper-real' world of Gotham City. It's like Vic says in the essay, Wayne tried to prevent his totalitarianism, but some how he doesn't. I believe that it is up to the (attentive) audience to decide whether it was something that pertained to circumstance, or something that Wayne convinced himself over.
Moreover, the pragmatic reason for keeping Dent's corruption hidden was so that the prisoners/criminals do not get away.
But this isn't to say that what you've said here is wrong. In fact, this is true. Batman is a 'Dark' hero, his existence is not one that is purely positive.
To reiterate Nolan's simile, yes, Batman is like Caesar, at least by the time the movie ends. He has been elevated to a level above the masses, and he has (must?) refuse(d) to let go of that power. It is a 'dark', nearly Machiavellian conclusion, but somehow transcends mere utilitarianism. Batman is not going through this lie to achieve the 'greater good' (the other option is surrendering to the Joker, arguably a much greater evil) but to amend the wrongs that have been made. Namely Harvey Dent. The people of Gotham City are instead given the choice of choosing their own hero - Harvey Dent, a man who would not have been utterly destroyed had it not been for Batman, or the Dark Knight, a one-man army who seems to only escalate the cause. It isn't mere utilitarianism because had it been so, Batman would've allowed himself to continue being the hero because then, in his own words, he would be able to 'save Gotham'. But that isn't who he is trying to be, the entire point is to reduce that sense of superiority, to not be the hero, he cannot be a martyr if no one mourns him. It isn't mere Machiavellianism because then, Batman would've kept that sonar device intact.
I think the bigger question concerning Batman's characterisation in TDK is, simply put, whether or not he is responsible for Harvey Dent's demise. Did the Joker really make him break his one rule? Is that the point of a 'world without rules'? Is that why the next argument Nolan will tackle be one of redeeming oneself from failure or defeat? The fact is, even if Batman hasn't broken his 'one rule', it is clear that he has failed to save Harvey Dent. Contrasted against the climax of the last film, where Batman angrily tells Ra's that "I don't need to save you", this is not the case. Dent needed, deserved, to be saved.
The argument is elaborated more in the 'Characterization' thread in the TDKR Spoilers forum, if you are interested that is.
THE JUSTICE BULLETIN published some of my thematic analysis on the symbolism in Nolan's superhero saga.
I call it Heroic Archetypes
. You can read the parts on Batman Begins
in the following links:
; pt 2
; pt 3
; pt 4
; pt 5
; pt 6
; pt 7