There's already been a lot of talk about the shootings in Denver at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Luun E. Toonz, the paid right-wing troll over on Real Salon, says that this is proof that everyone should be armed, especially when visiting the black President whom he and his paymasters hate. And the traditional foes of the NRA are having their say.
However, I'd like to speak for Batman, because he can't speak for himself. I can't even post a pretty picture of him, because they are copyrighted by AOL Time Warner. But his point of view is very appropriate, especially because most of you out there don't know it. You know the "modernizations" from the movies, but this is the literary story you never bothered to read.
Bruce Wayne's parents were two rich people as unlike the One Percent and unlike the right wing trolls as you can get. Dr. Thomas Wayne had inherited wealth and was a working physician, but contributed his services to treat people who couldn't afford him. His wife Martha dedicated her life to helping abused children, at a time when America and the government denied that there were abused children. (As teachers, educators and Republicans deny it today.)
They were killed by bullets fired in panic. A panicked holdup man named Joe Chill gunned them down when Dr. Wayne resisted being robbed. Martha's wounds weren't deliberately fatal, but she suffered a heart attack during the robbery. Little Bruce was left there, in shock and horror, watching his parents bleeding out their lives in the location that gained infamy as Crime Alley.
In the early part of Batman's comic career, he did use firearms. But DC Comics realized that a comic featuring shooting would be bad for kids and eliminated them. For most of his career Batman didn't even talk much about why he didn't use firearms. It was only later, when guns became America's most vicious drug, that his stories specifically talked about it.
Beyond his own personal tragedy, Batman philosophized about it. Guns make it too easy for intemperate people to kill. Guns offer raw power to those without judgment or wisdom. By deliberately choosing never to deliberately take a life, he was taking a moral stand - something that the superstitious and cowardly lot never did. (And while that age-old description was applied to criminals, don't you think it applies to the National Rifle Association and its firearm manufacturers, too?)
It was appropriate that this particular Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, was the place for this tragedy to occur. In the Batman TV series, the mood was comic and goofy, almost drug-addled. In the Batman series started with the two Tim Burton films, there were deaths, and some moments of drama, but the attitude was also goofy.
But in the trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, there is no humor and the fun is all sadistic. Some critics, such as Andrew O'Hehir of Real Salon, have observed that the Nolan films promote a fascist philosophy. And in this one, although there are mathematically fewer deaths than the second film The Dark Knight, the deaths are more brutal and widespread.
I figured I'd had enough when I left The Dark Knight shattered and frustrated. Nolan wanted to put massive violence on the screen. As film editor Jim Emerson pointed out, in a critical dissection of a chase scene from that film, that the film is disorienting. Nolan wanted to abuse the audience as badly as The Joker wanted to abuse innocents. He wanted to turn the volume up to eleven.
It certainly thrilled audiences. But the film was profoundly depressing. And the latest film, with the villain Bane capturing Gotham City and turning it into a concentration camp, is more depressing still. Of course someone opened up gunfire in the theater. That was the element to which Nolan was appealing.
Nolan's shown his distaste and dislike for the Batman character portrayed in comics, and equally well in animated film. He doesn't even want a glimmer of light at the end of that dark tunnel. He wants you to leave the theater realizing that the hero you came to see can't possibly succeed, even in fictional entertainment.
Yes, it'd be stupid to claim that Nolan encouraged the sick individual who opened fire in the theater. But his films encourage the despair that makes pulling a gun and opening up on anyone the only possible way out.
The Batman known to me, and millions of comic book geeks, wouldn't punch out Nolan. He wouldn't even offer a scathing judgment of his terrible view of humanity. At most, he'd shake his head as he walked away to disappear into the night...where he would try again to bring justice to the world without guns or propaganda.