So nothing says commitment like failing to post on the SECOND DAY OF A 30 DAY CONTEST! But I have excuses. First, it’s hot. Second, I’m on vacation. At Disneyland. Trying not to break it. Again. I’m here with the family—you remember this cast of characters, right? The Wife, the Honey Badger and the Boy. This year, we have the Boy’s girlfriend, Pollyanna (*sniff my lil knucklehead is growing up) joining us on the trip and she hasn’t been to Disneyland since she was 8. So you have this wide-eyed girl and the Boy in his full DMFRH gear and the next thing I know, I’m trapped on Teenage Drama Island for 2 days.
Then my battery died.
I’ve discovered that power is an essential component in the successful operation of modern-day electronics. And no sooner do I show up on vacation then the $10,000 battery in my expensive-ass Macbook decides to kick the bucket. I can charge this bitch for an hour and have 15 minutes of mobility. Godammit!
Anyway, I go to Apple to get a new battery and these fuckers say a) yes, I need a new battery BUT they won’t sell it to me; and b) I can’t get a Genius appointment for 2 goddamn days. For something that takes 10 fucking minutes to replace. I have 10 minutes. I can do it. When I question them about it, the Blue Shirt Hipster with the iPad and bad breath says, “Yeah, it’s connected to the logic board. We don’t sell it to customers.”
“But it’s my Mac!” I say. “I can switch it out.”
“Nope, the version of Macbook you have has to be unscrewed. We have to do that.”
“Apple didn’t invent screws. I can figure this out.”
So here I am, back to reality and talking about Batman. And Captain America. And somebody else that starts with D today.
If you remember, in this little blog series, we are looking at our favorite heroes and tearing them apart to find the real villains behind them. Today’s selection is Brice Wayne AKA Batman AKA the Dark Knight AKA the Productive End of the Dynamic Duo.
You know my man has problems, right? Given that Christopher Nolan just made $147 Billion dollars on the Batman franchise and garnered Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar award and destroyed an entire football stadium on film, I don’t feel the need to rehash the Batman mythos. What I will say is, despite Batman’s bevy of unbalanced miscreants and murderers in his rogue’s gallery (seriously, a murderous clown who thinks death is funny, a Jigsaw-like killer who creates complicated puzzles and riddles for his victims, and a psychotic psychotherapist—and that’s just a couple), the biggest villain in the Batman story is…Batman.
Ok so lemme explain: I am terrified of guns. I’ve had a girl get shot next to me, saw the bloody aftermath of two suicides, had a friend’s child shoot himself when he found the gun, and I’ve been shot at. Twice. I realize the damage guns can do. Despite those jarring experiences, at no point did I say, “You know what? I’m gonna get a cape and a Kevlar vest and get all MacGruff on em!” Never. Did you? Have you ever decided to take the law into your own hands and dive into the fray, armed with a boomerang and a grappling hook? No? Know why? Because you’re not insane.
Revenge is one thing. Revenge makes sense. This isn’t revenge. These are the antics of a disturbed mind who happens to have the resources to support his insanity. And nobody questions it! Not Alfred, not Malcolm Fox. They just roll with it. Oh, you want a car? Cool. And it needs to shoot lasers and have jet engines? No problem! How about a tank? At best, Bruce Wayne is schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder. At worst, he’s experiencing severe post-traumatic stress, suffering from a psychotic break at the murder of his parents, and is schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder. My man needs meds and a straightjacket not a mask and a cape.
Not only this, Batman actively thwarts the law. Like shits in its face. He’s a vigilante (which is wholly illegal), routinely destroys personal property to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, is a consistent perpetrator of assault, denies people due process, and constantly engages in torture. Batman dedicates his life to fighting crime but is a criminal himself. There is little that separates him from the people he hunts.
In the end, Batman is a force of escalation: he pushes everything forward and, in my opinion, does more harm than good. The movies attest to this idea as well. The whole point of the trilogy was to show the logical conclusion of his actions. He wants to learn about criminals to better fight them, so he effectively becomes one of them. What starts as local vigilantism eventually spreads to an open mob war with horrible consequences, the release of chemical weapons, international events, and ends with the siege of an entire city. Batman’s very nature is escalation: he raises the bar and his enemies continue to rise to the occasion until the populace is held hostage by the combined depravity of a man of who a villain trying to act like a hero.
And that’s my word. I’ll be back later today with Cap. Until then, I’m going to Disneyland!
If you have a chance, read Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul, edited by Mark D. White. It’s an ethical analysis of Batman’s motives and actions, and it often comes to the same conclusion as you, mainly that he’d do a lot more good for Gotham by donating his vast resources to the cops. But on the other hand, if the Gotham cops are super corrupt, who do you turn to for help? It’s like Mexico right now with all the drug lords. You stand up to them, they kill you and your family and a lot of random people. So what choice do you really have, other than call to in El Batmano (I don’t speak Spanish, BTW)?
Additionally, Nolan made his movies really dark. Batman: The Animated Series is by far my favorite incarnation, and in it Batman is a bit more sane and cheerful, or at least as cheerful as he can get. The animated Justice League movies made in the last decade portray him pretty well too, as the guy who has to come in and save the day when good ol’ Superman screws everything up.
I loved Batman: The Animated Series! I thought it was an excellent point of view of hero. And I love Batman overall–I’ve been a fan since Adam West and Burt Ward. There is something very visceral about somebody who is willing to put their life on the line for the greater good. Plus, he bought kryptonite just in case Superman got stupid. That part is fantastic.
My daughter and I used to watch the Justice League cartoon as well (I was pretty sad they stopped making that one). I liked that the heroes didn’t really like one another.
I’m gonna check out that book. Still, I think anybody who is perfectly fine with doing what Batman does is a little bit insane. He does struggle with where Batman ends and Bruce Wayne begins. He’s not 100% and I think we have to accept that about this hero.