The Dark Knight Legacy

Clayton Davis says he discovered his favorite superhero after seeing the 1989 film Batman as a five-year-old.

“I was completely invested in the story of Batman/Bruce Wayne, his tortured soul, diabolical villains, and his yearn to be loved in some way by someone,” says Davis, editor-in-chief and owner of The Awards Circuit, a website that covers the Academy Awards.

Since debuting in Detective Comics in May 1939, Batman has appeared in comic books, television series, graphic novels, video games and feature films.

Gotham City billionaire Bruce Wayne, Batman’s true identity, works without superpowers to eliminate crime with his abundant wealth, physical strength and personal motivation.

“It is, literally, his life,” says Mark D. White, a professor and the chair of the College of Staten Island/CUNY Department of Political Science, Economics and Philosophy.

The release of The Dark Knight Rises marks the end of the Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan. The first two films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, gross a combined total $738,659,835 in the United States, received nine Academy Award nominations and two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor for the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker and Best Sound Editing for Richard King in The Dark Knight.

Unlike the sometimes cartoony nature comic books and previous feature film adaptations, Nolan places Wayne into issues such as terrorism, criminal escalation and economic disparity, focusing on his inner struggles manifested in Batman.

In Batman Begins, Wayne uses his parents’ deaths of when he was child and his fear of bats as inspiration to prevent mob corruption and terrorist destruction of Gotham.

The Dark Knight illustrates the impact of Wayne’s decision to fight crime as Batman as Gotham criminals become more dangerous, especially the psychotic Joker. District Attorney Harvey Dent, who Wayne sees as Gotham’s real hero, buys into the Joker’s message of chaos and murders five people. After Dent dies from a fall fighting with Batman, Wayne decides to preserve Dent’s image by allowing his alter ego to take the blame for the fallen district attorney’s crimes.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Wayne must decide if Batman should return from his self-imposed exile to protect Gotham from the physically imposing, menacing brute, Bane.

Travis Langley, professor of psychology at Henderson State University and an author of “Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight,” praises Nolan’s Batman adaptations.

“They bring a degree of humanity to these characters that we’ve never seen before,” says Langley. “Nolan understands the relationship between Batman and Bruce Wayne.”

“Nolan did a solid job with Batman Begins and then, with the sequel, made a superhero film that seemed to do something far more serious and ambitious than most summer action movies,” says Will Brooker, director of research, film and television at Kingston University.

White, an author of Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul, says he has high expectations for The Dark Knight Rises. Based on responses from critics and audiences, he won’t be disappointed.

“It’ll be very hard to match the quality of the first two,” says White. “I trust Nolan to cap off his trilogy well.”

“I expect this film to be even more disturbing than The Dark Knight,” says Robin S. Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and the author of What’s the Matter with Batman? An Unauthorized Clinical Look Under the Mask of the Caped Crusader. “Batman will face an even greater threat to his sense of agency and competence than he did in The Dark Knight.”

Captain Clarky extends condolences, thoughts and prayers to those killed and wounded in the Aurora, Colo. shooting on July 20.

Photo credits:
The Movie Blog


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