Batman this, Batman that

200808181242 Batman this, Batman that
As expected, THE DARK KNGHT finally fell to number 2 at the box office, although it took a superteam of Nacho Libre, Iron Man and Zoolander to stop him, with a cameo by Ethan Hunt.

Nonetheless, DARK KNIGHT is now officially the second biggest grossing domestic film of all time, and expect a new cottage industry of psychoanalysis as to why. The Guardian lays out various theories in the link, and you know it is serious whenever someone uses the word Manichean!

“Nolan turns the Manichean morality of comic books — pure good vs pure evil — into a bleak post-9/11 allegory about how terror (and, make no mistake, Ledger’s Joker is a terrorist) breaks down those reassuring moral categories,” writes Dana Stevens in the online magazine Slate. If the references weren’t obvious enough, the Time magazine critic Richard Corliss calls the Joker “the Bin Laden of movie villains”.

Both conservatives and liberals have been rushing to claim that The Dark Knight has become such a phenomenon because it validates their beliefs about the ethical issues at the heart of the war on terror. “There seems to me no question that The Dark Knight is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W Bush in this time of terror and war,” the conservative novelist Andrew Klavan writes in The Wall Street Journal. “Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.”

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Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    Reading the Wikipedia entry on Manichaeism, it seems that the evil body is in opposition to the good soul in each person.

    Now… can Batman, a person with so many demons, be good? Or does he sacrifice redemption or happiness by breaking laws for a greater good?

    As for the Wall Street Journal article, well… Batman breaks the law everyday by being a vigilante who works above and outside the law with no oversight. Not the sort of person I’d compare with the president!

    I can already see what the pundits will say about Watchmen in six months time…

  2. So… those guys who were leaving Joker cards in Walmart were really emulating Al-Qaida? So, they should have been charged with terrorism? I’m confused… is liking the Joker like pot… it leads to the harder drugs of bombing federal buildings?

  3. If you banned mainstream critics from talking about genre films as though they’re just current-events reports with explosions…well, I don’t know what you’d have, aside from a lot less boring genre-film criticism and a happier Sean T. Collins.

  4. Brian Davison says:

    “Now… can Batman, a person with so many demons, be good? Or does he sacrifice redemption or happiness by breaking laws for a greater good?”

    In the words of Hank Venture from last night’s episode of THE VENTURE BROTHERS…What would Batman do?

  5. Mariah says:

    While generally film themes are open to interpretation, there’s such a thing as just missing the point. Which is what I think almost any conservative commentator/critic who thinks this movie is supporting the current president in any way is doing. Nolan doesn’t like to give easy answers in his films and he leaves a lot up to the audience…but that doesn’t mean the -questions- he’s asking aren’t very clear or aren’t meant to indicate some very specific ideas. And coming to the conclusion that it’s about using any means necessary to take down someone like The Joker, it seems like maybe they missed a lot of the rest of the film…like the parts about consequences or how Batman is, in his own way, as insane as The Joker.

    That kind of stuff just feels like seeing what you want to see, not really critically analyzing it at all.

    Also, that article got one major thing wrong…the ad campaign with The Joker all over everything was in place long before Ledger died. Sure, they didn’t stop it after his death, but it wasn’t some ploy to exploit it either. I don’t think advertising needs defending most of the time, I just don’t like unnecessarily wrong info.

  6. I can’t believe someone would tarnish the good name of Wayne by trying to say Batman trumpets George Bush or conservatism in general. Batman is the ultimate liberal and checks off liberal on just about every position.

    Redistribution of wealth, he is for and does so voluntarily
    Big government projects he is for and will finance if the government cannot
    Alternative families he is for and likes to take in youthful wards
    he is anti gun and prefers strict gun control and will control them when the government fails to
    As for family values, he is in love with a kitten with a whip

  7. Dweeze says:

    Batman breaks the law everyday by being a vigilante who works above and outside the law with no oversight. Not the sort of person I’d compare with the president!

    I don’t know – seems a pretty apt description of the Bush Administration to me.

    Nolan doesn’t like to give easy answers in his films and he leaves a lot up to the audience…but that doesn’t mean the -questions- he’s asking aren’t very clear or aren’t meant to indicate some very specific ideas.

    While it’s clear from interviews that Nolan intended the spy system to be a regarded as a bad thing, and while Lucius is given a hero moment when he destroys the system, the rest of the way it is presented in the movie is certainly muddled enough to give someone who wants to argue that tough times are enough justification to suspend civil liberties something to hang their hat on.

    As for family values, he is in love with a kitten with a whip

    To be fair, everyone loves a kitten with a whip.

  8. Torsten Adair says:

    When having to ponder a moral or ethical dilemma, I stop and ask myself, “What would Bugs Bunny do?”

    I thought Batman was considered ultra-conservative, and Green Arrow was radical?

    Yes, Dweeze, it is an apt description, but that column appeared in the Wall Street Journal, not the New York Times!

  9. I’ve heard so much of this crap spewed on conservative talk radio. Larry Elder I think was the first to make this stupid comparsion.

    C’mon – Bruce Wayne HIMSELF dons a bat suit and beats the stuffing out of criminals –

    George W. Bush dons a flight suit and declares Mission Accomplished not even halfway out of his first term – and we’re still in the mindless trenches of Iraq.

    There is no comparsion. It’s a piss poor analogy.

    ~

    Coat

  10. Alan Coil says:

    I thought the theme to the movie was that there is a thin line between Good and Evil, and it asks the question of exactly what it does take to make a person cross that line.

    Batman is obviously Good, yet almost crosses to Evil. Dent is Good, and does cross to Evil. The innocent citizens on the barge vote to blow up the barge carrying the criminals. The criminal on the prison barge does Good by throwing the detonatot out the window.

    Who is Good, who is Evil, and what would it take to get someone to cross that line?

  11. W also has a partner named Dick.

    Too bad W couldn’t be a fictional character.

  12. mrpeepants says:

    o no he didn’t!

  13. And here I thought the joker represented the chaos that occurs when we turn our backs on things like civil rights. When in jail and secure from society it only took a cop to turn his back on his duty, beat the crap out of the slimy terrorist to allow all hell to break loose.

    Besides being a well crafted story, the movie had more going for it in brilliant casting (with one very well liked actor having recently died), being shot in IMAX which encouraged those who saw it in regular theaters to see it in its enhanced form (which explained how two weeks later all IMAX shows were sold out while regular screens continued to do good business with word of mouth and IMAX spillover crowds), and of course parents who went to see the show ahead of time to see if it was age appropriate for their kids. All of this contributed to amazing numbers.

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