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Old 04-06-2011, 12:09 AM   #1
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I know I know there are too many things that already commentate on the character. However I have many thoughts that I like to share and after looking at some of my old posts I decided to full form them into essays in order to better analyze what the character means to us and more importantly to me.

If you happen to read these let me know what you think and add any thoughts you have.

Thanks.

Intro.

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


Introduction

Batman is arguably one of the most relevant characters created over the last century. He has endured a long time and is easily still one of the most popular superheroes out their. The questions that he asks and the way he is portrayed seems to influence people in every age group.

I decided to write out my thoughts on the character, and the major ways that he has evolved over the years. Though the character was created by Bob Kane and in part by Bob Finger. I believe that the major changes to the character have happened far later in the characters history.

When Bob Kane created Batman he was attacking a society that was very scary for young children. Those children in the 1930's were growing up in a tough world where war and depressions were a huge reality. Gotham was in part inspired by the corruption that Chicago faced with gangsters like Al Capone. It was difficult for a person to believe that they could keep their integrity in a dark world. Batman then was a character that every child would love as he keep his fight pure even though the world around him was getting worse.
The character became complex and so it is important to analyze the different incarnations of the character to understand why we have loved him for so long and know really what he means to society.

Though it was Bob Kane who created him, Frank Miller, Tim Burton, and Christopher Nolan have made serious impacts on the character that I will examine.


Frank Miller's Batman

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


Frank Miller's Batman

Miller has constantly been writing great comics from the 1980's onward. His books are always interesting and contant similar points on which Miller commentates society. He always chooses characters who are tortured and face incredible odds. These are characters of whom Miller respects. His impact on Batman is obvious even when viewing his other works such as Sin City it can be seen that he was meant to revitalize Batman.

The idea of Old Town being the sanctuary for the most prominent characters in Sin City shows us that he isn't being misogynistic, quite the opposite. A lot of ideas get tacked onto Miller's writing but that isn't really what he is about. All of his books speak to the idea of keeping your integrity in a fallen world. All of Miller's characters know that they are sinners and have to fight against not only their own personal demons but a world that seeks to use those demons to use and keep them in place.

"My Sin City heroes are knights in dirty, blood-caked armor. They bring justice to a world that gives them no medals, no praise, no reward. That world, that city, often kills them for their brave service."

In Daredevil Born Again both Matt and Karen, are broken down til they have nothing left to live for and nowhere left to turn. They maintain their dignity though and in the end they survive making the right choices.
Year One and to that extent Batman Begins, both Gordon and Batman are similar in respects to Hartigan and Marv. They seem crazy but are both selfless and constantly beat down. Gordon in particular is an interesting character who shows his fallen-ness with his affair with Sarah Essen comes clean to Barbara in the end to maintain his dignity. Showing that through humility a cop becomes the hero he should be. Where as all other cops in Miller's world are misogynistic enemies.

The 300 Spartans might be eugenic but I don't think that this is what he was writing about. I think that it was a choice of death over submission to a dictatorship. Complete exoneration of the individual human spirit. The same way in which Batman fights Superman for his allegiance with the government in The Dark Knight Returns.

I used to be against the Catwoman as a prostitute idea, but as I get older I see the commentary that Miller is making. A woman who does this will do anything to survive, in a sense they are far stronger than any one who enjoys the luxuries and comforts of modern society.(If Batman hates the bourgeoisie society that Bruce represents how could he not fall for someone like Selina)
It's what makes Deadly Little Miho the most powerful individual in the Sin City universe.

All Star Batman takes what Miller started with Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. What I like is that the Batman here is portrayed not as the inexperienced everyman in Year One. His psychology is beginning to set in. The story centers on why batman would take on an apprentice and then deny membership to the Justice League. Miller portrays Batman as a madman, with specific reason. Gordon throughout the story states that the Batman is a jerk but at the same time states he wishes to confide in him. Miller displays Gotham as a world much like his Sin City world, obsessed with greed and corruption. In a world like this a good man like Gordon feel alone and constantly weaken him. It is only in Batman whose complete rejection of societies values give Gordon any hope.

It is this rejection of society's law for a higher law that not only makes Batman appear insane, it probably makes him somewhat insane. In a pivotal scene, Green lantern screams at Batman that because of his crazy actions the people will begin to call any superhero a criminal. To this Batman simply responds, "Of course we are criminals, we have to be criminals". He is like the idiot from Dostoevesky's famous novel driven mad by being virtuous in an un-virtuous world. Even if that makes him seem a little cold at times.
Here we see that batman though driven a little mad by constantly beating up bad guys, he refuses to become like the comedian in the watchmen, a political puppet. Instead he views the other superheroes like this. batman is taking a stance against the government and toward the individual person. He is like Zorro who was always pictured as a rebel against the evil government. Robin has also gained inspiration from a similar movie character in this, Robin Hood.

Of Course the book is about the relationship between Batman and Robin. As of late in Batman books, the taking on of a protégé is a more of a statement about Batman. Miller continues the statement made by Loeb's Long Halloween and Nolan's The Dark Knight, that Batman's actions constantly inspire other people to act in extreme ways. Both villains (Joker) and Heroes(Black Canary), take action in this book, but Miller makes an addition bring Batgirl to show us that the madness the batman provokes in the adult world looks like brilliance to children.

Robin probably can't tell whether he is getting brilliance or madness which will always strain the relationship between them. For Batman however, there was no choice to take Robin on as a protégé. Within Loeb's Dark Victory, batman makes the choice to bring Robin on as a protégé or son figure in order to quell a loneliness or void cause by his failure to save his friend Harvey Dent. Miller makes a different statement. Witnessing the murder of the Graysons, an event that mirrors what created Batman, forces Batman's hand. It is a symbol of failure. Miller states that Batman is a hero trying to create a world where he does not have to exist. If this is true then Robin's existence must be devastating to Batman. Batman cannot within his complex psychology refuse Robin the empowerment he needs to fight against the world as well. The event was probably so similar to Wayne's that I am sure Batman might think it to be an act of providence, aid from the higher power batman has aligned himself with a higher law.

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Last edited by Visceral; 04-06-2011 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:11 AM   #2
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Burton's Batman

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Burton's Batman

After the critical and financial success of Miller's run on Batman, The movie studios believed that the character would be great for a full length feature film. The studios then were able to get Tim Burton to make a Batman film which one might think was a great idea as the character would lend himself to the gothic taste of the director. And although the version of the character differs a bit from the Miller take on the character, the interpretation is still very intelligent and darkly comedic.

Duel of the Freaks

Tim Burton is a nihilist to some degree. He does not believe in God or any higher moral order to things. This aspect shows through his work on both batman and other works he has done. In his book Burton on Burton, Burton states "the whole film and mythology of the character is a complete duel of the freaks. It's a fight between two disturbed people." He continued, "The Joker is such a great character because there's a complete freedom to him. Any character who operates on the outside of society and is deemed a freak and an outcast then has the freedom to do what they want... They are the darker sides of freedom. Insanity is in some scary way the most freedom you can have, because you're not bound by the laws of society." Burton was describing what the dark side of freedom is. To him the only law you can take it upon to enforce is a law made up to ensure a way of life that you enjoy. Which would mean that only the powerful are aware of the lie. The lie is that there is no reason to follow rules that other people made up, there is no higher moral law that the law is trying to adhere to. Therefore, the salvation that the law promises will never come. There is no equilibrium within society, just a constant static evolution and change.

Thus the law is both just a way for people toi interact and the powerful to maintain their control. Burton is painting the Joker and Batman as two people who exist outside of society, but are able to control it through the power that they attain in their separation from it. It is a very Neitzchian touch to the film. Not satisfied with societies ability to make life comfortable for them they reject its fakeness and lies. Even their appearance seems to mock society. The Joker believes society to be a big joke. He believes that everyone is wearing a mask. He makes jokes about this by poisoning the hygiene products of Gotham so that people can see each other as they truly are. He defaces beautiful women to show them how shallow and empty they really are inside. The Joker kills policemen and crime lords out in the open showing them their power is meaningless and that we are all just as mortal as each other. He uses money to kill the citizens in the midst of their greed.

The Batman is the only person who he really finds interesting. Batman wears a mask to show his true face. Batman is like him aware of the falseness society presents. The Joker seeks to destroy the Batman not just because he represents order and the Joker loves anarchy. Instead, Batman is seeking to protect the society that Joker wants to change and face the truth, and so Joker needs to eradicate Batman.
The empowerment that comes from realizing the truth turns both the Joker and Batman into totalitarians. Though the two do not associate with a political party they do impose onto society their own rule. The commentary here seems to suggest that anyone who takes it upon themselves to usurp power from those that have it take it upon themselves to be the ones in that dictating position. Thus the fight between Batman and the Joker isn't merely one of good and evil but one of control over the city. These tow powerful forces cannot occupy the same space. There is another deep motivation for this fight besides that of revenge for the creation of each other.

Sexuality

The whole film is motivated by male dominated sexual empowerment. Burton is keeping with nihilistic tradition that someone cannot have power and not have it be connected to their sexuality. If you have the ability to do whatever you want then you have the ability to have whoever you want. Freud would say that Batman's vengeance is motivated by the loss of the maternal figure and then the fight to control Gotham would be to protect all of the remaining maternal figures. Burton I think takes it in a step toward his directorial tendencies. His film Edward scissor hands was a film about what he called a High School Fantasy in an obvious Gothic setting. Batman is also commentary on the social dynamic we continue to see in high school and after.

It's Burton on machismo. The two stags occupying the same space have to fight. the entire film is basically a fight over a woman. A blonde haired woman. Throughout the film there are many allusions to the fact that Batman and the Joker take what they want, even alluding to rape. Batman does take that film out of her blouse without asking. The Joker on the other hand is constantly trying to murder Batman who also happens to be Bruce Wayne. Bruce is the man dating Vicki Vale, who bears a striking resemblance to the woman he was set up over.

What is interesting is that Burton seems to show that the relationship, or the mission to destroy one another is far more important than the girl that they are fighting over. The blond haired woman is every bit the trophy woman of stereotype. Once the Joker killed Grissom his old boss and then retook the woman he was almost killed over, he simply discarded her in chase of a new prize. This is why I find it so interesting that Vicki is not seen with Bruce in the final scene, instead she is completely obsessed over him while he is over his mission.

This continued quest to find peace cannot be quelled by a single woman no matter how much she resembled the maternal figure Bruce lost. It is a constant void that hungers in him. Its like nihilism, there is no reason to continue the fruitless quest but he does so anyway.

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Last edited by Visceral; 04-06-2011 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:18 AM   #3
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Batman Begins

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Batman Begins

Christopher Nolan takes from the comics the already complex questions that have been faced by the character for 70 years of history and presents them in a way that is both relevant and relatable to the viewer. In asking how Nolan puts his staple on the character in a way that no one else has one hast to look at not only what this film is about and is saying about the character but what is being said about the character over all the films that are here. Most of the critics are split on the film. Some state that the film is a critique of our current society and that it is motivated by an undercurrent of fear. Justice is also another huge theme. The film asks question on whether institutions created by man can ever truly create a system that can effect justice on its society. Then there is the constant theme of fatherhood and the meaning that a role model has on young Bruce’s life. In order to figure out what the film is truly saying about the character the relationship between the themes need to be examined.

Fear

The films shows us that one of the most powerful motivating emotions is one of fear. Its quite obvious that Bruce was afraid of the bats and feels that it was this weakness that led to the deaths of his parents. However fear is not just his weakness it is his strength. Batman is constantly reveled as the most fearsome of the superheroes. He utilizes fear against his opponents and without this fear he could not be the symbol that prevents crime from occurring. When Thomas Wayne tells young Bruce that all creatures feel fear, especially the scary ones he is not just talking about the bats but also of batman himself. Afraid of the act that took away his life and loved ones batman becomes completely driven toward ending those acts of injustice.

Later in the film when the District Attorney is trying to get Chill out on early parole he argues that Chill did not kill Bruce's parents out of greed but of desperation. Desperation is a fear of death. it was fear that took Bruce’s life away and created batman both externally and internally. It is interesting that Bruce’s quest is to turn fear against those that prey upon the fearful when those preying are in fact also fearful. Fear is used by the Scarecrow as a weapon and ends up being hired by the man that trains Bruce, Ras al Ghul, who uses fear to destroy a society so that a new one may grow. In this film fear is an emotional that is used by every character in order to accomplish their goals.

Nolan's dialogue is very clever, throughout the film he alludes to fears ability to completely distort someone’s mind. I believe that the over all message of Nolan's Batman films are making a statement on ideals and people who try to attain them. Fear is an important factor that creates ideals within our minds. "Ras Al Ghul rescued us from the darkest places of our minds", "if I hadn't you mind would now be lost", "feel fear cloud your mind", are all examples showing the emotions relationship to the architecture of the mind. "You must become more than just a man in the mind of your opponent". The "How" of becoming more than a man is through the use of this primordial emotion fear.

Justice

If fear is the how then, Justice is the why. Justice is not an emotion it is a virtue and something that men are not born with but do yearn for. The discussion on Justice begins with the scene in which Bruce is on the train with his parents and the father tells Bruce that the train and other things he has done to the city has been done in trying to make the city is a better place. Later, Ras states that Justice is balance and he is correct. The legal definition of Justice is to give one their due. Justice is an act that keeps society in a balance so that everyone may live together in harmony. Without this balance there would be chaos and in that chaos one cannot appreciate life, be happy, or attain catharsis.

Our being human allows us certain rights when someone violates those rights it creates a fault and injury. Laws are then set in place to right those wrongs and maintain that balance. In Begins, the discussion of what justice truly is fought on the terms of how to keep that balance in place. Ras believes that criminals must be eliminated from the system while Bruce argues that they have rights as well. Thus begins Bruce’s quest to take down injustice and at the same time not lose himself by overstepping his bounds. A respect for law and order from outside that same law. Batman then exists as a sort of paradox but exist he must.

Gordon, Rachel, and Bruce's parents are all good people who try to fix the system from within the system, however they are not able to do so and most of them die in the process. Bruce seeks to get immediate vengeance and is stopped by Rachel who tells him that there are bigger reasons that caused his parents deaths. With this lesson Bruce realizes the importance of law and code even if the system trying to establish it has become completely corrupted. It is important to note that in order to stop corruption you need to have something to replace it with. So this sends Bruce on a spiritual journey, in which he meets Ras and the League of Shadows.

Many criticize this part of the film as it has a secret society of ninjas. Whether it is possible for something like this to exist is not important. What is the fact that Bruce is attempting to fight and recreate an institution using another institution. The League is another example that no system is perfectly just. In order to make a better more perfect union in Gotham, Bruce has found another union completely devoted to his cause. And he ends up breaking that union over his one rule. It could be said that the League really is trying to attain the level of justice described in Rachel's speech. Though they allow vengeance they really to seek to keep balance and harmony as well. A moral pragmatist would argue that Gotham will eventually destroy itself, that all institutions will break down over time, and that limping on is only what happens when men try to fight what will inevitably happen even if they try to maintain that union. This is how Nolan brings up the biggest theme in his Batman films and probably all of the Batman lore. The constant battle between idealism and pragmatism.

Patriarchs

Fathers are all over the place throughout the story of Batman. This shouldn't be any surprise as it was the death of his father that triggered his existence. In order to existentially examine who batman is that becomes very important. many psychologist would say that batman is a man who is on a spiritual journey to reunite with his father. This journey can be examined through western thought as a journey to a catharsis that is Christian in nature, or it can be examined through eastern oriental thought. Children are always affected by their parents actions. The film chooses Fatherhood over motherhood for a couple of practical reasons. One is that Bruce is a boy and they typically look to their fathers as role models. Second is the stereo type that comes along with fatherhood as a authoritative role. Throughout the Judeo-Christian tradition, families have been called the building block of society, and although in our modern pragmatism we realize that things in family life are never ideal. It is still important that through the copulation between a man and a woman is how life is created and the society survived.
Fatherhood is in a way a representation of all forms of authority. Freud talked about this through his psycho analysis. Here authority is both good and bad. In begins, the fathers take all forms of authority; parent, family leader, teacher, governmental leader, and religious authority with a possible metaphor for God himself. All of these father figures have something that they give to Bruce, they all affect his psychology, even Falcone. Thomas Wayne’s plight for social justice and final words are immortalized in Bruce’s mind. In this way Thomas Wayne is the ideal authority in every way, a perfect father because he is dead. Within Bruce's mind the memory of Thomas is the ideal that Bruce uses in order to become incorruptible.

In his search for a perfect father he gets many representations that fill up the void. Alfred fills in as a father that protects the image of the true father. Critics attribute Alfred to a maternal type of authority, but none the less he still watches over Bruce like a father. It is Alfred who knows the truth before we do. The father lives on in Bruce and therefore Alfred fulfills his duties of look over the legacy of Thomas Wayne by protecting the son. This coincides with many new age religions that examine the father and son bloodline as some sort of mortal immortality. Rachel takes on a similar role in protecting Bruce by referring to the idealized image he was.

The other large father figure in the film was of course Ducard/Ras. He fits into a spiritual mentor and governmental leader as well. He isn't a completely corrupt father figure as Falcone might be considered. Falcone being a Don fits into a completely corrupt role. Ras on the other hand represents a different type of fatherhood. One of liberation from those that impair us from becoming who we are meant to be. Instead of protecting Bruce as a the sacred vessel of his fathers legacy. Ras gives Bruce a path that is both contradictive to the Judeo Christian tradition and in a strange way coincides with it. The great novelist Dostoevsky (who I think seriously has had an impact on Nolan's writing) wrote a book The Brothers Karamazov, which many consider as the first and possibly best existential novel. The book's plot is about the murder of a father who had three sons. Though none of the brothers did it and the father was a corrupt figure, they come to realize that in a way by rejecting his tradition and not respecting where they came from makes them responsible for their parent's deaths.

Ras takes a position opposite of this. In a way he tries to get Bruce to overcome the guilt and fear left by certain events in Bruce’s life, so that Bruce can finally let go of his father and become his own man. The Wayne legacy cannot continue if Bruce continues to live in the past. This is a position held by existentialist Fredriche Nietzsche who was inspired by Dostoevsky. Nietzsche believed that in order to attain godhood, one must destroy the things of the past in his life until he becomes a blank slate on which he can move forward. Progress toward a more perfect union. In order to become the ideal Bruce must destroy his father, then his father, and then his god. The film does follow this progression in which as Wayne manor is burning down(in a very similar to how his mentors dojo was burnt down), Bruce makes a stand against his former mentor.

Though there is a spiritual journey of death and rebirth at the end of the film when Bruce finds his fathers stethoscope, the audience can see that there is love for his father. A common instrument of a doctor it is a symbol of healing, brought on by the memory of his true father. This leads me to believe the film has a message stating that love is important in keeping his father alive. We can always remove the people of the past if we do not love them. Just as we can destroy society if we do not love the union it preserves.

The Good People Do Nothing

The message that the film finally puts out is one of action. Nolan finds the fact that people still like Batman as adults interesting. So he uses it to challenge us. In order to attain our ideals of Justice, peace and a fulfilling life one must overcome their fear. Batman Begins is a story that asks for introspection. As Bruce follows Campbell’s the hero's journey, he becomes a representation of the audience. The words and lesson he learns are meant for us. What we really fear is inside us, in our minds, and if we truly desire a better life then we have face ourselves. The film ends on a note of hope, one that states change is possible if you overcome your fear. In order to keep Hope alive we must act.

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Old 04-06-2011, 12:23 AM   #4
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The Dark Knight

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The Dark Knight

Batman and Totalitarianism

"We did. All of us who let scum like Maroni take over our city. In Rome, they would elect one man to watch over and protect their city.
"Harvey, the last person the Romans elected was a guy named Caesar and he never gave up his power."

The Dark Knight is a film that takes the character of Batman out of his comic book roots an places him directly into the real world. It does this with certain poise to tell us something about the world we live in and also tell us about something about ourselves.

In these lines presented here we see that the film is using its characters to not just comment on current social reality, or the way our governing leaders mirror those of the past but on the very nature of our liberties. Where do they begin and where do they end.

In the book Long Halloween, a book that helped inspire Nolan, it isn't just the Joker who creates "a world without rules", he does gain power because "the world without rules" has been created. It’s the same here," There's no going back. You've changed things... forever."

In the scene where Mrs. Gordon finds out that her husband is dead and she creams at Batman, "You brought this upon us!" Batman inspired people to do good, but he also showed them that human law whether it be law enforcement or organized crime. "The criminals in this town used to believe in things: honor, respect! Look at you. What do you believe in, huh?" Cops and the mob have a lot in common, the film the Departed blurred the lines between cop and criminal and this does the same with good and bad people. The mob believes the Joker, an anarchist, will bring things back to normal and Gordon thinks that his use of a vigilante will bring things back to normal. Even Batman believes it, he thinks that he can just hang his cape up and it will go back to normal.

"Don't talk like one of them, you're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak--like me." Once one man successfully goes above the law what’s to stop another from doing it, one with a much different moral code. The scene in which the copy cats are taken down by batman "What gives you the right? What's the difference between you and me?! " and batman just responds, " I'm not wearing hockey pads."

The only difference is the money i.e. the power. Brian Douglas has the same right as any of us to take up the mantle of fighting for justice. But Bruce wants it to be Dent, a Self made man within the law. Brian, the Fake batman, is an interesting part of the film as I think in a way he represents us the batman fan. In a way everyone who read Batman as a kid wanted to be Batman. And so did he. His character brings an interesting view point to the movie as it shows one of the many ways that Batman has inspired, or maybe affected is a better word, the city. Batman inspired people to vote for good men to public office, this can be seen in Dent. Batman inspired people like Brian to become vigilantes like him.

"Shh shh shh shh. So you think Batman's made Gotham a better place? Hm? Look at me... LOOK AT ME! You see this is how crazy Batman's made Gotham. You want order in Gotham? Batman must take off his mask and turn himself in. Oh, and everyday he doesn't, people will die... starting tonight. I'm a man of my word."

The Batman is responsible for the Joker. Dent isn't crazy at the end of the film, he looks for justice, for those involved in killing Rachel. He gets the mob, the police, the joker, and then he comes back to the three. Batman has responsibility as he taught people that their are no rules by fighting outside the law, in one scene he even asks Alfred if he brought it down upon her, and he did in a way.

Batman is forcing himself into a totalitarian position. He wanted to pass on his mantle to Dent but he can’t, not just because of what happens to Dent, but because if he did someone evil might take up the mantle like the Joker. He is therefore cursed and can never hang up the cape. Not only that but he has to now prevent more escalation, stop others from crossing the line. The machine at the end is just a symbol of how the position is too much power for one man. So we see in the commentary on vigilantism a break down of the modern idea of hero, and therefore superhero. They are all just men after all.

Harvey Dent and the Law

Nolan stated that the Joker was partially inspired by the shark in Jaws that would be an evil unstoppable force without explanation that would cause the other characters in the film to question who they really are. Batman has to break many liberties in order to take him down. He invades privacy, tortures and goes outside of jurisdiction. This is why Frank Miller the famous Batman writer always holds that in the end Batman although a dignified man will be a psychotic criminal. Because once you break man's law in order to obtain a higher law, whether that law be spiritual or your own you cannot stop imposing that law or everything you have done will fail.

Dent is the self made man, he makes his own luck remember, and he has a belief that all men can make themselves good or bad by their work, nature not nurture. Dent is a representation of the state, the American justice system. The films tagline "I believe in Harvey Dent" is a reference to the opening line of the Godfather in which the American justice system is said to be inadequate. Dent's alter ego Two-face on the other hand does not agree that all men are animals (or monsters, I believe that animals behave better than human beings sometimes) as the Joker believes. He has stopped believing in a good or bad nature of men, rather in nurture. "It's not about what I want! It's about what's FAIR! You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time! But you were wrong. The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world... is chance...unbiased, unprejudiced, and fair. His son's got the same chance she had: 50/50." To him men just do what they do based on what fate has handed them. No longer does he make his own luck, the luck makes him. He sees in all men a little good and a little bad, we are all guilty now.
Dent worked in internal affairs. This adds to the idea that he was a good guy who would get to know you but would then if he found any little bit of corruption around you he would turn around and attack you. This helped get him the name ‘White Knight’, because he expected everyone to be perfectly innocent. Later on in the film He warns Gordon that there are corrupt men in his unit. This shows us that at the end of the film Nolan isn’t portraying Two-Face as a man with multiple personality disorder but rather a man that has given up on his fellow man’s ability to enact justice. No one is 100 percent innocent, even him. So at the end of the film he isn’t crazy, only a little deranged but still he thinks he is right in what he is doing. He is still enacting justice but since he has given up on man he looks to a higher power for justice and finds only chance. Unbiased, unprejudiced, fair. Where as the Joker sees chance as something that takes away responsibility, Dent sees it as an inescapable prison that takes away the control he once had over his life. In the script it specifically states Dent does not want to shoot Batman as he does. And when Dent falls, literally and figuratively, so does any hope for the Batman completing his task. “I think you and I are destined to do this forever”, the Joker says as the question of evil is left hanging, literally and figuratively.

When an activist group gains power, that power can corrupt it into totalitarianism or fascism. Most political parties are created by activist groups remember. I am reminded of real life examples of this, rebels who fight corruption in Africa who end up becoming the just as corrupt as the men they fought against, eventually rebels rally against them. I am reminded of America, once revolutionaries against a king, now viewed as oppressive force within the world.

Truth, Security and Freedom

Christopher Nolan has stated that his favorite genre of films is that of Noir. Noir is constantly surrounded in a veil of mystery and lies. Revenge and deception are constant motifs. In most of Nolan's films the women are figures of truth grounding the men in a stabel reality. And also like in many films the female lead is killed off and the lead males spiral off into uncertainty.
Each time Nolan kills off his leading women the men are killed symbolically with them. In Memento Leo’s last memory is laying on the floor bleeding. This spurs him living the rest of his life looking for vengeance, which because of his condition ends up being a lie as everyone around him deceives him. The Prestige is one big deception layered on deceptions, when Hugh Jackman’s wife dies drowning the next scene in which you see him he has his face in water. As if he is trying to drown with her. The movie then becomes about his constant vengeance toward the man he thinks killed his wife.

Batman’s entire persona of wearing a mask is a deception, Bruce Wayne is a fake, and then there is the constant deception of fear. Ra’s deceives Bruce in Begins and so on. Vengeance….well Batman is vengeance. In the Dark Knight, every character except Rachel is constantly lying, and like in all of Nolan’s other films these lies only make things worse. But first the batman films are about more than just vengeance and deception.

In Batman Begins we have the Scarecrow, who shows us on of the main themes in the film. "Patients suffering delusional episodes often focus their paranoia on an external tormentor. Usually one’s conforming to Jungian archetypes. In this case, a scarecrow."

In this line the Dr. Crane shows us not only what he is doing but what Batman is doing. He is the villain of fear reflecting Batman’s fear. A Bat is a Jungian archetype. Scarecrow is just uncontrolled though he actually uses it to destroy people, thus he is a vice of Batman’s use of Fear. Ra’s is the other theme of the movie, Justice. Nolan is very tricky with giving us villains in the comic book but with new spins that not only adapt them to a more recognizable world, it also adds depth to them and attaches them to Batman. Ra’s is an ideal just like Batman. They are symbols that can never be destroyed because if someone ever does kill him, someone else will step up to take his or her place. It is an interesting ideal of immortality and both work toward inspiration of justice. The thing that makes Ra’s a vice is the lack of compassion that controls Batman’s zeal. Justice without mercy will end up killing people who do not deserve to die. In other words, Justice without mercy isn’t justice.

Nolan is no stranger to using these characters as symbols to assist in commentating in our psychological make up. His film Inception described the villains within each others minds as projections of their subconscious. The Characters in his other films seem to support this idea that the characters are lessons or more importantly ideas. This is actually a writing style that was implemented by Fyodor Dostoevesky.

First we have the Joker who is obviously a mix of chaos and evil. The Joker is the only plausible reaction to his extreme behavior in the city everything about them are opposites except for the fact that they both break rules. The Joker has no explanation where as the Batman does. The Joker upsets the psychoanalytic reduction with his multiple back stories; the Batman adheres to the hero’s journey and the psychoanalytic reduction works well for him. There is one regard in which they are similar though. And that is that they both break rules. Or more to the point they both stand outside of human law. Batman stands outside and seeks a higher law as he was created in a world where human law was corrupt. The Joker stands outside of human law to annihilate delusions that human beings have of law, and he took his queue from batman. The Joker could be viewed that way but in all reality he is more of a force of evil than a vice. He is a vice only in that he is a consequence of Batman actions, in a sense he is a part of Batman. Another interesting explanation for his actions is that he knows he can’t die. Because he is pure chaos, if someone kills him, he will just comeback. Chaos is an inevitable part of life and of human nature.

Harvey Dent and Batman are, in a way, philosophically the same guy. They both represent order, they both fight to protect their world, they both love Rachel, and they are both referred to as Knights. Even more than that Harvey is the White Knight. What does that mean? It basically means that Harvey Dent is the perfect Batman. Let me say that again. Harvey Dent is the perfect Batman. This makes one think and for anyone who has read the script there are some interesting things left out. One is that Reese expresses his disappointment in that its just a rich playboy who is Batman when he is talking to Lucius. The second is when Dent states publicly that he is Batman the SWAT officers can’t take their eyes off him. This could be interpreted as they are amazed he was the one that beat them up, or more likely they look at him with total awe that this man does not just fight crime in the day but at night. Which makes me think that many of the people within Batman’s world don’t even for a second think that it is Bruce Wayne, more likely they think that Batman is some creation of Dent and Gordon.

That said, Wayne knows that the end of Batman lies in a man like Dent. He is the Batman in a world where Batman does not exist. However, the joker sees this new world they are building as boring, thus we have a transformation.
The character of Rachel is significant in the lives of both Batman and Dent. She exists as a sort of fulcrum to balance them. She represents truth in a way. She always urges both Batman and Dent to tell the truth because she know that in reality if you don’t face the consequences of the problem then the problem only worsens. In all of Nolan’s films lies are used to make things better but they only end up provoking the problem. Rachel is the only character that does not lies to accomplish their goals in the film and she dies. She faced the truth up front. In a way when the other characters sacrificed the truth to get ahead they were sacrificing her, just like in The Prestige when Christian Bale’s character’s wife kills herself because he won’t give up his secret. So lies will save people from the truth but they can’t stop the problem. The question in the movie presents itself to the most moral persons. It asks when someone you love is about to die, do you lie to them? Would it be moral to tell the truth? “Lie like I lied Gordon”. And he has lied in more ways than one, he lied saying he was Batman; he lied saying everything was alright to Rachel, and the Dawn really is never coming. The Night is here to stay.

Though the lie at the end of the film makes it look as though Rachel's point of view was wrong one must realize that her demise could be attributed to Batman's earlier deceptions. This final lie will have a toll to pay as well. As largely utilitarian act the deception of the masses is not just hollow heroic act but not heroic at all. It will have a personally destructive effect even if the social effect is beneficial. It has further alienated batman from society and has in no real way solved the fact that crime still exists within the city.
These themes present in The Dark Knight clearly reflect the themes in a classic novel the Brothers Karamazov and show that these questions are timeless ones. Batman's actions for a more secure city by lying, clearly parallel both Ivan and The Grand Inquisitor. In the story, Ivan uses a fictional story where Christ meets the Cardinal in charge of the Spanish Inquisition, in order to better state that the suffering in which Christ allows his people to endure for freedom is far to much for humanity. The Grand Inquisitor and Ivan believe that free will is not worth the price and that no one who endures so much suffering could ever make the right choice.

The Joker is not exactly entirely for free will. He fights for freedom, so he ends up being more of a Metistopholes than a Christ figure which makes much more sense, or Fyodor Karamazov who would believe in just mans baseness. Rachel it seems, the lover of truth stands on the Christ figure Archetype and argues for freedom.

The heroic act at the end is analogous too another lie in the film. When Dent lies to the people in order keep Batman's secret and possibly save peoples lives. But not everyone is so feeble. Rachel says, "you're right letting Harvey take the fall for batman isn't heroic at all". If Rachel were around for the final act then I am sure she would have disapproved in the same way. Both Rachel and Batman are making Valid points. Rachel just hasn't lost hop in freedom. She believes in the power of every individual to rise above suffering because that is their choice to make. The final act, however, batman makes the choice for the people. He doesn't believe they can handle the truth and so in the interest of their safety makes the choice for them. This shows that all though he believes that there is good in humanity, he doesn't believe in the individual good of humanity the way Rachel did. "If you lose faith in me, Bruce I hope that you still keep your faith in people".

He is beginning to lose his faith in the people, for instance He believes that the people will overcome the ferry incident but then lies to them about Dent.
Rachel knows that if the people want to take back their city enough they will. But it can't be done just by one man. The whole city must make the choice. This is why his inspiration was so good in taking away that fear in order to give them the freedom to make that choice.

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Old 04-06-2011, 12:25 AM   #5
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Why So Serious?

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:

Why So Serious? Why So Much Realism?

The most important message that Nolan has put in his films is found in the now famous line, why so serious? When I first was waiting for the Dark Knight to come out in theaters I thought that line was somewhat funny being used as a tagline for the movie. The first film that Nolan did was criticized for being too real or not being real enough. The fans made a big deal over the fact that Nolan brought realism to the character and the tagline seemed to address this. The line is not just describing the Joker's character but making a statement on the character of Batman and by possible extension our world.
So lets ask ourselves, why do we care if the character of Batman is so real? Nolan was brought on to the franchise because the entire world rejected the campy stupidity of the last two films created by Schumacher. The fans wanted a more serious and real Batman. Then once they got the realistic Batman they argued it impossible that a superhero could ever exist. This has to perplex the director who is just trying to make a film that will be good and have lasting implications on the character.

The reason the last two films were so campy was because the films before that were seen by the public as far too dark. They didn't make enough money and so the studios wanted them lighter. This is not the first time that this has happened to the character. When the character was first created the children that fell in love with him believed him to be real. They found his idealism inspiring. However as time went on the character grew older and the realism was seen as something that is ridiculous. Thus the studios in charge would create a more campy version of the character. The 1960's show was an example of when the producers behind the character decided that pragmatically there could never be such a character and therefore made the show campy. However, children who were fans of the show grew up and became upset learning that the character was a big joke. Frank Miller was one of these fans. He then created a darker more serious version of the character. This version is know as the most critically praised version of the character.

The character has so much variety, and constantly swings back and forth like a pendulum. Why? The key is that the children who grow up with the character refuse to let the things they love go. It is the constant fight between pragmatism and ideals. The fans refuse to believe that their ideals are destroyed in a pragmatic world. Nolan's films rail the character against a pragmatist world. The Jokers world. However he is not just putting the character through questioning, he is putting our love for the character, our ideals to the test. Do we believe that our dogmatic ideals are destroyed by the realistic world presented to us in our adult lives. Do we believe that one man can make a difference?

We are so serious because we want to believe that we might become Batman. That was why he was created, why he is so popular, but when we grow up we give up. The Dark Knight hasn't given up though. At the end of the film, we see something great. Though he has been through hell, and must continue on, though he has used methods that have almost destroyed his idealistic nature, Batman continues to fight for a world in which hope and ideals are possible. That is what a Dark Knight is an imperfect man who fights to create a perfect world.

Will you?

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Old 04-06-2011, 05:04 AM   #6
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Very nice

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Old 04-09-2011, 01:53 PM   #7
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Visceral, this entire essay is worth publishing. I mean it. I have one of my own but I wonder if it's possible to post it here?

My favourite part is from your TDK section:

Quote:
“Lie like I lied Gordon”. And he has lied in more ways than one, he lied saying he was Batman; he lied saying everything was alright to Rachel, and the Dawn really is never coming. The Night is here to stay.
This needs to be heard. Kudos.

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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 1; pt 2; pt 3; pt 4; pt 5; pt 6; pt 7)


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Old 04-09-2011, 01:59 PM   #8
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However, I do not think that the 'lie' at the end of TDK has such a negative implication. You interpretation is of course valid and it is a sound one, but I believe that Batman at that point made a decision for the people he is protecting. He does have faith in the people of Gotham City, that is the reason why he chose to give them the chance they needed. The entire speech has the promise that some day the people will accept Batman, but it is not this day. Some day, the people will rise above Batman and be able to solve the problems that exist. I often wonder, has Batman really become the criminal on a much more literal level? Yes, we can argue all we want about his transcendence into a 'Dark Knight', but has he really become the criminal that must be stopped now? I believe this is what will prompt TDKR and what will bring Bane into the equation. But that isn't our concern right now. Batman does believe in Gotham City, but does he believe in himself any more?

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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 1; pt 2; pt 3; pt 4; pt 5; pt 6; pt 7)


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Old 04-09-2011, 02:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nave 'Torment' View Post
However, I do not think that the 'lie' at the end of TDK has such a negative implication. You interpretation is of course valid and it is a sound one, but I believe that Batman at that point made a decision for the people he is protecting.
That's exactly the problem. It is a paternalist vision over people.

Batman seems to think, I'm human, they're human but somehow I am the only one who knows what's better for humans to know/learn. And even when I'm the only one believeing so, since I'm definitely superior, I don't need to verify my own superiority before making this decision in the name and on the backs of everyone else.

Then he disguises this notion as a sacrifice which he concretes by taking the blame for Dent's murders. Because you see, he is so completely convinced of his own superiority that making a decision for the rest is not enough; he needs to become a martyr.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nave 'Torment' View Post
He does have faith in the people of Gotham City, that is the reason why he chose to give them the chance they needed.
On the contrary.

If he had faith in Gotham's people, he wouldn't need to lie to them at all. He'd believe that in spite of Dent's "corruption" people of Gotham would still have faith in themselves. Their spirit wouldn't be broken by this. He'd believe they can endure, just like himself.

But Batman's reasoning was, nah, people of Gotham won't get over this, no chance, they just can't. They're not as strong as I am. So I need to keep the truth from them. It's the only way. Those poor weak people need this, and I, the embodiment of heroism, perfection and sacrifice, am the only one who can give this to them. So, without any further inquiring, which I believe is definitely not required, I'll just lie to those people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nave 'Torment' View Post
The entire speech has the promise that some day the people will accept Batman, but it is not this day. Some day, the people will rise above Batman and be able to solve the problems that exist.
And yet, by lying to them that day has become more distant from occuring. If you lie to people so they don't have to face the harsh facts, the longer they'll need to become able to do it. It's like parents who don't want to see their son suffer so they lie to him. That son, unable to experience terrible facts, will grow without the chance to develop a personality around some facts of life.

Now, if Batman thinks that one day people will be able to face the truth... what is exactly needed for that day to come? What do those people need exactly? WHy can' they face the facts right now? How more superior is Batman so he can decide for them all? And, where does this superiority come from?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nave 'Torment' View Post
I often wonder, has Batman really become the criminal on a much more literal level? Yes, we can argue all we want about his transcendence into a 'Dark Knight', but has he really become the criminal that must be stopped now? I believe this is what will prompt TDKR and what will bring Bane into the equation. But that isn't our concern right now. Batman does believe in Gotham City, but does he believe in himself any more?
Oh, he does believe in himself.

He believes in himself ONLY.

He believes in himself so much that he's ready to become a martyr. He's the chosen one to do it. Not because he has to, but because he's completely convinced he's superior to everyone else. He's Jesus, he's Ghandi, he's Neo. He's the 'Lamb of God', who sacrificed his life for all mankind's eternal life.

Nobody else in Gotham can accept the truth but him. So he decides above everyone else, that lying is the way to go. Selfsacrificing is his destiny.



But in the end a lie is a lie. And Batman's attitude of thinking in his own superiority is nothing but dangerous and dictatorial. He really thinks Batman needs to be eternal because otherwise... how could people's spirit possibly survive? Who else is going to decide what to hide from the rest and do it?


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Old 04-09-2011, 04:10 PM   #10
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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.

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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 1; pt 2; pt 3; pt 4; pt 5; pt 6; pt 7)


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Old 04-11-2011, 11:30 AM   #11
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It does have a negative implication, as Rachel said in her letter "If you lose your faith in me I hope that you do not lose your faith in people". Batman has not fully lost his faith in people, as he knew they would not blow up the other boat, but for some reason he thought to lie to them about Harvey. It is muddled for a reason.

What is important as well is the intentions behind the lie. I believe the Joker's entire scheme could really have been meant to break batman and bring him over to the joker's side of pragmatism. We know from the comics that this will never happen. However it isn't for lack of trying, even when batman, human as he is, falls. He gets back up and continues to pursue his ideals. The lie is definitely a fall a move toward pragmatically giving up ideals. His intentions though are to make a more perfect Gotham with this lie. And so though the action though might be good for the commonwealth, we will never truly know whether it helped or not. What is important is that it compromises Batman in a world where morality matters, it could destroy him personally from the inside out.

and Nave. Definitely post whatever you have.

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Old 04-11-2011, 11:44 AM   #12
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I didn't comment on Batman Returns as Smiley wrote a great article on all the sexuality flowing through out that film a little while ago, and my thoughts for the most part lined up with that article's. It didn't really focus on what happened to Batman during the movie, but I do agree that Catwoman was the more important character in that flick.

I don't know I might do one more section.

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Old 04-17-2011, 01:40 PM   #13
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Thanks Vis, I wrote an entire essay (10 pages) and showed to a few people on the Hype. I suppose I will feel a little more confident after I hear their responses.

Regarding Batman - I do think that Nolan was trying to comment something about the 'super'heroism that Batman represents, perhaps a post-heroic sense of heroism? Nevertheless, I've always seen Batman as someone who stops criminals first before saving people (I know it's a weird distinction and perhaps a false one), but if we follow that (that he stops criminals who are threatening innocents?) then the TDK dilemma reads like this: The point was to try and save the work and ideals of Harvey Dent from the corruption of Two-Face. I do think this interpretation can be made. Just as well, the implications do not shed Batman in a negative light, but in a positive one. But anyway, I'll save the debate for another time.

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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 1; pt 2; pt 3; pt 4; pt 5; pt 6; pt 7)


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Old 12-04-2012, 04:35 PM   #14
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Part 1 of my TDKR essay, I should have the rest out by tomorrow. Tell me what you guys think.

Nave, I never got around to telling you how much I respect your archetype essay on begins and your constant deep thoughts I read on these boards.

Anyways I hope you guys like it, and I hope it opens up some discussion.

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:


Immortals Discuss Saving The World:
A Film Analysis Of The Dark Knight Rises



Intro


There has been much discussion on the screenplay of The Dark Knight a film that has been heralded as a new age for the action film, and there has even been some good analysis on the existential archetypes that are examined in Batman Begins. The Dark Knight Rises, however, is getting tossed aside it seems. Whereas before Jonathan and Chris never wasted a scene, with the final film people can only see fault. Don't get me wrong I don't think Nolan's perfect, he is capable of fault, but people seem to forget that he is great at what he does, and what he does, he does with purpose. Before one attacks that scene or the motivations of some character one should first try and understand what the writer meant by that situation only then can one attack whether they executed their purpose as well as they should.

Nolan is a very clever director who has a vast love of films and classic literature. The Dark Knight Rises in its self has a great many influences running throughout it. Charles dickens a Tale of two Cities is obvious, as is On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Less obvious is Lawrence of Arabia, The Man who would be King, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and then there is a strain of Dostoeveskian existentialism that runs throughout all of his films.

How it all makes sense is is in the question, if together these three films form one story, then what do they mean? what is it a story about? Throughout Law school I had a professor who stated that whenever a Lawyer reads a case he is to notice the issues and the ruling, but the good lawyer see why the case even stands out in the first place. This goes the same for all art. Even individually these films have certain meaning to the central character and anyone who loves the archetype the character represents.

Nolan fixes the film so that as he writes characters who revolve around the central character of Bruce Wayne, they each explain a different aspect of the character, or teach him a different lesson. In Batman Begins, you had Scarecrow who was an explanation for the suit and the fear it provided in criminals minds. In one of his lines he even mentions Jungian archetypes.

Then much more importantly, the film opens on a conversation between Bruce Wayne and Ra's Al Ghul. Both immortals in that they fulfill both a Father and Son Archetype. Bruce's loss of a father makes his search very similar to that of a man searching for his father's spirit. These archetypes are as old as time itself. The discussion they have is a timeless one on training, will and Justice. They disagree however on what true justice means. Biblically the father has always been more oppressive in holding to the letter of the law. Flooding the earth and killing all but a few, the fathers rage seems somewhat genocidal. As Biblically the son is always much more compassionate, sacrificing himself for the good of the many as the spirit of the law intends. This argument continues throughout the trilogy. Though Ra's dies in the first film, his conversation with Bruce is very much alive.

The Dark Knight is a film that halts the Son's crusade for absolute justice. The characters in this film represent themes within Bruce's life yet again as he is close to finally saving his world he is prevented by the Joker, who represents that evil side that lives in all of us. The Joker is the part of the human race that cannot fit into a government system. That the human complexities will make it impossible to create a perfect program. Two face is that perfect program, and the inevitable failure of that program.

If I were to put the meaning of these two films into one sentence each, I would say Batman Begins asks whether Justice can be sought by human institutions and what that justice looks like. And the Dark Knight asks whether one can truly bring justice, or save the world without becoming that evil they were trying to rid the world of. Can one save the world without enslaving it.
I would also say that the trilogy most obviously is a discussion between two immortal archetypes over how to save the world. Therefore the Dark Knight Rises, is the end of the discussion. What does the world look like when it is saved, and is it a better one?

The Underground Man...And Army

[URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/687/640pxtdkrbanecityhall.jpg/]

Nolan was very influenced by Rudyard Kipling's the Man Who Would Be King. The story involves two men who are tired of exploring the world and need a path, so they decide to become kings of a third world country (Michael Caine happens to star in the film). Kipling uses this adventure story to comment on Western Imperialism. As the two men become kings they are shown to be generous yet very arrogant. The men believe that they are saving the country from their third world savage ways and bringing them into the 20th Century civilized way of doing things. This is generous and they do help the nation, but in the end their arrogance gets them killed, and it seems as if the way things were before might not have been all that bad. This is quite similar to the themes going on in the Dark Knight Trilogy which is full of characters who want to save the world, save it in their own way.

As the film The Dark knight Rises begins were are shown the character of Bane who seems to be nothing but rage personified. He seeks to rise a fire, and then crashes a plane without survivors. Later we find out that he is in connection with the League of Shadows. After that scene we move all the way to Gotham. This Gotham is a saved Gotham, it has been living under the Dent Act for 8 years now. We are not given much to go on when it comes to the actual language of the Dent Act, but it is easy to assume that it is similar to The Patriot Act. Nolan is doing this to again set up a world very much like our own. The League of Shadows is a ninja like Al Qaeda group bent on showing the west the error of their corrupt ways. Gordon has used the Dent Act like the Patriot Act to eradicate organized crime from the city. A correlation is being made between organized crime and terrorist organizations.

As the story continues Bane moves his operation underground. Nolan does this with purpose. As I have explained in previous articles, Nolan imbues his stories with existentialism. A quick overview, Nihilism came about in the enlightenment period from naturalism, believing that the only reality in life was matter. Nihilism, exemplified by the Joker, was that if matter only exists then there is no meaning to life and it should be lived accordingly. Existentialism shouts in the face of nihilism, stating that my own existence gives life meaning, it is proof of its meaning. Therefore through Batman's own will he give purpose and meaning to his life and that of Gotham's. Though Bane and Ras are both terrorists attacking Batman's western Gotham, they are not nihilists like the Joker. They are existentialist like Batman, whose wills contradict each others. There are many historical figures that get called to mind by this. Both Nietzsche and Dostoevesky describe human existentialism in similar ways, however there are a few differences. Dostoevesky believes that human existentialism is about mans will or spirit trying constantly to escape himself, constantly seeking freedom, or the unattainable. Nietzsche believes that this calling is a will to power. Though a will that is beneficial for all mankind, one that still overpowers other is benefit of the self. Even if it is selfless Nietzsche argue that might benefit the self. The point is that when someone's will overpowers other's will it is essentially an act of Fascism.

Batman has always been somewhat of a Fascist, in his controlling methods, but Nolan shows both Ras and Batman as characters who resort to their own will because of societies inability to enact true justice. Or possibly their perceived notion of what is true justice. Thus the Fascism that Bruce and Ras present is done out of their love for the world. Nolan makes this example early on in the historical figure of Caesar. Caesar saved Rome, but out of fear of corrupt bureaucrats never gave the power back to democracy. The Dent Act and the lie created by Gordon and Batman are a similar act to the one Caesar made. The Dent Act skips out on due process, keeping the power in Gordon's hands. Though Batman did give up his power to Gordon, he still awaits in his cave lest something should go wrong. This is not a letting go of power.

The first novel ever written by Fyodor Dostoevesky was called Notes from the Underground. It is seen by the philosophical community as the first existential novel. In the story the main character, the Underground Man, is living underground to escape a perfect almost utopian socialist society.

Dostoevesky is commenting on how no government institution will ever be perfect and on the freedom of the human will. The Underground Man's first line is that "my liver is diseased, I should seek a doctor for my liver, but I won't, if something is wrong with my liver then let it get worse". The character is somewhat similar to the Joker, he is irrational and would rather die underground than live in a perfect utopia that doesn't take into account human freedom. In a sense, he chooses the irrational.


The first scene in Batman begins, has Bruce falling into an underground cave away from his perfect mansion, and perfect world. This traumatic experience coupled with the death of his parents leaves him seriously questioning his world, yearn for the reality the cave represents. He grows up to spend most of his life brooding in his cave. The Dark Knight Rises has even more underground symbolism. First there is Bane, a man who grew up in a cave in the underground world. A world completely suppressed and unseen by the wealthy powerful warlord who created it. He has sit in wait all of his life hating not just the people who put him there, but all of the people who are like those who put him there. He hates all of those who have wealth and power. Bane would rather die than live in such a world, and Bane will die.



Bane isn't the only one living underground though. The children from St. Swithin's show an interesting side of Gotham's current psychology. The early scenes with Blake exemplify that when Batman took the blame for Dent's murders, the lie didn't go over as smooth as they thought it would, but the public went along with the program as they were in fear. Now eight years later it seems that everyone even those who are not aware there is a lie are tired of living under it. Blake wants to know the truth and continually asks gordon about. One might be able to argue that as such an angry kid, Blake grew up wanting a fight. He became a cop so that his fight would be rightuous, but the already "saved" condition of the city prevents him from doing this. Its arguable that all the kids at St. Swithins feel similar. There is no work and they are angry for similar reasons. So they go underground, the perfect utopia of gotham doesn't provide for them. Once they are underground they join Bane's army where he makes them members of the league of shadows. This is important, Batman took the falls, created the lies, and Dent Act so that no one else besides him would take the law into his own hands. Here, Bane taking vengence on those wealth and in power, is effectively making everyone not served by the Dent Act a vigilante. In away the entire city of Gotham follows in batman's example.

Bane isn't anarchistic like the Joker, he is a revolutionary like Batman was in the first film. He seeks to overthrow the old way, the corrupt way, Batman's rule. Bane believes that his actions are completely just. It is symbolic that Bane rises both from the cave that he was born to the streets of Gotham and completely reverses what Gotham looks like. At the beginning of the film Bane's Army is oppressed under the city, then as Bane takes power the police are imprisoned under the city as is Batman imprisoned.


Multiple revolutions are portrayed in the film. Bane revolts against the society that Batman created. Then Batman revolts against Bane's rule. While in prison, Batman is told the story of Ras al Ghul, who as it seems revolted against a warlord. There are two possibilities as to how this occurred. One is that Ra's created the League of shadows to overthrow the corrupt warlord and the other is that the warlords own city favored Ras more than him. Its possible that this warlord was a father figure to Ras, the same way Ras was to Batman. Might this warlord's name be Ras al Ghul as well?


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“I need to know that every single one of you would die for the man next to him.”

Last edited by Visceral; 12-04-2012 at 04:40 PM.
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