i can't seem to stop picking at The Dark Knight, taking it apart in my head. something inside me keeps telling me things like
the myth of the superhero is meant to be a thing of comfort, an expression of the desire for a powerful, benign force that knows what's best for us and will do whatever it takes to make sure we get it, as most recently (and best) exemplified by Singer's embarrassingly wussy Superman; Nolan's Batman deconstructs the myth, strips it bare, and reveals just how disconcerting an idea it really is. Batman certainly seems to be a "benign force" who "knows what's best" for Gotham, and will do everything in his power to achieve it, but the result is hardly comforting. granted that Batman's position as the subversive element in a dysfunctional status quo makes it deceptively more palatable than Superman's petty meddling, there's something objectionable about the politics of the superhero as revealed by The Dark Knight, the Machiavellian, paternalistic, elite dictator casting its manipulative shadow over a spineless majority. but what's most disconcerting about it isn't the realization of how far Gotham must have fallen to get where it is--and here the League of Shadows had it exactly right--nor how Gotham brought everything--the reign of terror, the absolute need for a Big Brother figure--down on itself; it's that despite how utterly dystopian (read: hyperbolic, fictional) Gotham appears, Nolan manages to make it distressingly immediate, even familiar
and won't stop until it gets out.
oh hey. i can actually hear myself think now.
thanks to E. Cross Saltire for pulling me back from the pits of the Marxist dialectic i was attempting (ill-advisedly) to impose on this analysis.
but if someone must be blamed, i can think of none better than Michael Moorcock.