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Abhimanyu Das: Bat-Mythos - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics by Abhimanyu Das - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics


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Superhero ideology, Batman, and the Aurora shootings

Eric,

Great piece. Thanks for posting.

This essentially life-affirming and humanist philosophy is writ large upon the canvas of the Bat-mythos. In the very film that James Holmes chose to co-opt with his perverse plan, Bruce Wayne lays out his cardinal rule to Selina Kyle: “no guns, no killing.” In the fan communities there exists a time-tested decision-making methodology. When plagued with crippling doubt, you simply ask yourself: “what would the Batman do?” In the face of panicked finger-pointing and bandying about of the Second Amendment at the expense of the First, what would Batman do? A now-immortalized panel from The Dark Knight Returns depicts the Caped Crusader breaking a rifle over his knee. “This is the weapon of the enemy,” he says. “We do not need it. We will not use it.”

Indeed, ask yourself, "What would Batman do."

Eric and Barbara, agreed. This is outstanding:

Bruce Wayne becomes Batman via tireless self-improvement, retaining his aspirations to greatness even as the comics world grows steadily more cynical.

This has long been a feature of Batman stories, varied as they are. Batman falls the hardest, but because the valleys are so very deep, the peaks soar that much higher. The latest cinematic installment, Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, literalizes this theme: Bruce rebuilds body and soul after a brutal defeat at the hands of the terrorist Bane and is forced to ascend from a hellish underground pit into the light. Not the subtlest of visual metaphors, but it sharpens the democratic ideal of the character; given impetus and fortitude, anyone can aspire to heroism.

Batman’s fortune is incidental; there are numerous story arcs (including most of The Dark Knight Rises) in which he prevails without the protection of his money. Superman has always been said to represent the American Dream, but Batman is the real self-made hero. Born vulnerable, he wills his way to the closest possible approximation of invincibility.

"Batman … is not just a 75-year advocacy for reason, moral fortitude and the betterment of oneself, it is also an argument for the sanctity of human life."

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