Superheroes vs. Saints
Posted by Peter Lawler
A most thoughtful man of the cloth makes a deep and original contribution to BATMAN STUDIES. The diabolical Joker is confident that we live in a world cruelly governed by chance. No mere masked superhero can defend good and evil from him. Gotham needs a person who openly displays and defends the good. But can a saint do what’s required to defeat the evildoer on the battlefield?
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Lawler's ironies are delicious, as he reaches the heights of intertextuality by referring to the 'saint' another crime-fighting comic book figure.In many respects all of this insight depends on which evil we are addressing, be it the intellectual work of 'Egghead' or the diabolical 'aporia' of the Puzzler, or the insidious 'Bookworm' or the terrifying 'Mad Hatter.' Perhaps we should unify the Batman and western themes by focusing on the diabolical 'Shame' figure, who casts such a pall over our erudite discussions. Indeed, the puzzler, riddler, and joker share many nuances, perhaps a meta-commentary on the differences between Nietzschean reactions to either moralität and sittlichkeit
The Dark Knight also seems to borrow a page from William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration (a very underrated and very Christian movie). In the The Ninth Configuration, an atheist character refuses to believe in the possible existence of good. He is only convinced when the main character sacrifices himself. In the Dark Knight, the Joker refuses to believe that any system of morals is anything but self deception. It is only when the passangers on the ferries refuse to kill that his confidence cracks. This is very well developed in the movie. Prior to midnight, the Joker was a prophet of relatavism and the fear that he would be proven right was well founded. After midnight, he clearly shrank to merely a willful (though still dangerous) and evil man.