The Dark Knight: George W. Batman [Karl]
Although I avoided spoilers in last week’s review, I note that novelist Andrew Klavan has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal examining “What Bush and Batman Have in Common”:
There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, 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. 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.
Kyle Smith’s review at PJM similarly contends that The Dark Knight is a conservative film.Ã‚Â Indeed, the review from Dana Stevens at Slate last week sees post-9/11 themes in the film,Ã‚Â while arguingÃ‚Â the opposite conclusion:
[T]he movie seems to arrive at much the same conclusion about Batman as Americans have about Bush: Thanks to this guy, we’re well and thoroughly screwed.
And hilzoy hints that Klavan is like Heinrich Himmler.Ã‚Â Because of the Godwinian subtlety.
In a recent interview at Rope of Silicon, screenwriters Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer address the political questions in a a more politic manner:
Can you talk about the role that politics played in your writing and if it was used as a guide or something that was supposed to be picked up on while watching the film?
JN: To me any kind of overt political reference in a film is going to pull me out of it. I’m going to start thinking about that rather than about the movie. The fact that there were resonances in this film with contemporary situations to me suggests the fact that for seven years the comic book has been interested in really interesting questions. A lot of the stuff that in the film feels contemporary, Batman wrestling with the question of how far is too far in trying to catch someone? They are as old as stone in the books. They have been there since the very beginning. That question of Batman as a vigilante and what’s appropriate, what’s legal, what’s not legal, what does he do? That’s always been to me the driving question of the franchise.
DG: People say, “Oh there are references to 9/11,” and to the extent that we tried to paint a realistic portrayal of Batman, yes we are going to bump up against those, but if The Joker is an anarchist and when the anarchy movement began at the turn of the century they were blowing up bombs all over Europe and employing classic terrorist methods. So, if anything we were drawing from that as opposed to specifically 9/11 or anything like that. Also I think one of the distinctions that needs to be made between what The Joker is doing and the terrorists of today, is that The Joker doesn’t have a cause. He’s not trying to get the people of Gotham to do anything to release someone.
Goyer’s answer, imho, isÃ‚Â semi-disingenuous, once you consider the various political associations of early 20th century anarchism,Ã‚Â Osama bin Laden’s ever shifting grievances against the West, or The Joker’s actual demands in The Dark Knight.Ã‚Â But it is artistically and politically smart of them not to concretely politicize the movie.Ã‚Â Moreover, the screenplay leaves enough ambiguities and has enough differences from a purely partisan view of 9/11 (from any point on the spectrum) to be thought-provoking without being heavy-handed or didactic.
Plus, this video demonstrates how hard it is to distinguish Pres. Bush from the TV Batman.Ã‚Â The icing is the appearance of the Moonbatman.