Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

Batman = Bush?

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: arts, film, Batman, cultural commentary, politics, Andrew Sullivan, George W. Bush, terrorism, presidency, Dave Kehr, Wall Street Journal, Andrew Klavan,

batmanWith its complex moral dilemmas and dystopian vision, The Dark Knight is an unlikely summer blockbuster and unquestionably dour as a superhero movie—but it’s still  performing ridiculously well at the box office and with critics.

Some of the commentary is inevitably political, framing the film as an overt 9/11 allegory. Andrew Klavan takes things a step further in the Wall Street Journal, making a favorable comparison between the latest iteration of Batman and the Bush administration’s absolutist approaches to geopolitics, applauding the Caped Crusader for demonstrating the same decisive, nuance-free heroism that Bush supposedly does.

What Klavan seems to be missing is that The Dark Knight portrays Batman as a deeply conflicted and flawed antihero; the film excels at illustrating the moral ambiguities inherent in fighting crime or governing a populace.

On his blog, Andrew Sullivan provides an articulate rebuttal to Klavan, ultimately focusing on the failures of Bush’s cowboy swagger, use of torture, and with-us-or-against-us version of diplomacy. Sullivan concludes that those who can’t or won’t do nuance are missing the point—perhaps deliberately.

Image adapted from a photo by Yosi:), licensed by Creative Commons.