Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This Dark Knight Is Oh So Serious

In Canto XII of Dante's The Divine Comedy: Inferno, the poet writes:

'[...] I thought the universe felt love, by which, as some believe, the world has many times been turned into chaos.'

Dante refers, perhaps with great philosophical irrelevance, to Empedocles' doctrine about the material world being in order due to the discord of the elements; when brought into harmony by love, the world loses its variety and the result is chaos. In other words, bring The Batman into the grand scheme of things and the result is anarchy.

There is method behind this apparent madness, for it is not by a super-human leap of the imagination that I can latch Christopher Nolan's vision of political apocalypse to Dante's still unparalleled system of hell. Batman the Minotaur (still Canto XII) bursting with rage as he gnaws himself is the turning axis of a brutal world where Everyman is a self-righteous, double-faced back-stabber who needs a smile on his face, where every fraudster is fending off for himself and where the notion of heroism, like perfection, remains a continuously ever-changing target whose gauge escapes categorisation as necessity commands.

Substitute Empedocles's love, as referred to above, with justice, or indeed with love for justice, and the result is an attempt at re-defining ethical standards which leaves us strung us up by our feet as we swing high above the chasm of a one-way journey into hell. Because it's all part of the plan, and because politics and the politics of power are smoldered in plans, Batman is more of a Foucault's pendulum than the vigilante he is often referred to as; he appears as the leading man of action while it is Gotham itself in all its guises (the mob and the criminals and the Joker and Two Face, but also the police force, Harvey Dent, Gordon, Rachel) that leads the celebratory dance of violence. All that remains is that, if there is something you can do well, you should not do it for free.

Gone are the days when comic book super-hero movies were pop-corn fuelled, lycra-clad extravaganzas consigned to the depths of cartoon-like memory so very fitting to the mood of the nineties. The Caped Crusader has become oh so serious this doom can only get worse but, of course, it's all for the better.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...