February 06, 2010

Should I really like Bruce Wayne?


So, before I begin, let me just say, I love "The Dark Knight". I never get tired of watching that movie. I think it's a masterpiece at every level.

But there are two moments that always get this nagging little voice in the back of my brain squawking.

The first is where Morgan Freeman's character puts the conniving Wayne Enterprises lawyer who uncovers Batman's identity in his place:

"Let me get this straight: you think that your client, one of the richest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his spare time beating criminals to a pump with his bare hands. And your plan is to BLACKMAIL this person? Good luck."


Good writing & performances. But stick with me for a moment.

The second scene is when The Joker crashes the crime boss meeting. And as great a scene as that is, I couldn't help but notice something.

Sal Maroni - Italian American.
The Chechen.
Gambol - African American.
Lau - Asian.

This one room had more ethnic diversity than any other scene in the entire movie. But these were the criminals.

Who were the heroes? With the exception of Lucius Fox and, some may say, The Mayor, they're all non-ethnic whites. In the case of Bruce Wayne & Harvey Dent, fairly upper class non-ethnic white men at that.

Dent constantly refers to the criminals as "scum".

I don't know. Am I crazy?

But I felt like I never saw what was actually so bad about Gotham City. Did it have criminals? Of course. Every city does.

But if John D. Rockefeller's great, great, great grandson & his wife had been gunned down after sneaking their scared son out of an opera at Lincoln Center, and that son grew up to decide that he would devote all of his considerable resources to allow him to run around New York City in a costume to shoot up the Gambino crime family and the Brooklyn drug cartels with military grade firepower, would we really consider that kid a hero?

There's a really understated element of direct class warfare in the Batman mythos. In many ways, Bruce Wayne starts reminding me more and more of Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York". And class warfare almost always has a racial undertone to it.

I mean, I know it's just a movie based on a comic book, but, as a writer, I always try to think about the fantastic in the most real terms possible.

Like the irony that Captain America, who makes his debut punching Hitler in the face, is, in fact, the living embodiment of the Nazi ideal of a so-called master race. I guess that's why The Red Skull is constantly trying to steal Cap's body.

And let's not even get into the homoerotic undertones of THAT superhero conflict!



But I digress.

I love The Dark Knight. It's one of my favorite movies.

But still....
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