Put on a sad face: Batman as a schizophrenic vigilante

by Lorenzo Piccoli

The Batman trilogy is not about spectacle, to me. It is about introspection. Matter of fact, several people spent considerable time wondering about the political meaning and dissecting the layers of philosophy in the three movies. The point is simple: “The film does not exist in a vacuum. It exists and has been released into a very real, post-9/11 world”.

Wondering whether heroes lean on the right or on the left is a classic exercise that is carried out on very serious journals (take this paper published in 1993 on the Quarterly Journal of Speech). From such a perspective, the hero as an individual is no longer important (and, for what matters, Batman is often described as “a tortured, obsessive vigilante. He’s a borderline schizophrenic who lurks in alleys and on rooftops”). What matters is how his role in society is understood through the lenses of the movie. Now that the Batman’s trilogy is complete, and that I have eventually managed to see all the three movies, it is time to draw some tentative conclusions on this matter.

It might surprise you, but my stance on Batman’s philosophy is modelled over the arguments provided by Forbes’ Jerry Bower. To put it simply: Batman is “the exact opposite of so many revolutionary-wannabe films from Fight Club to V for Vendetta (which has provided the tell-tale Guy Fawkes masks to the Occupy movement)”. Batman/Bruce Wayne is an elitist (by the way: I am an elitist, myself. I am not Batman, though), a bourgeois capitalist, a privileged. The movie goes against the ideal of the French Revolution and, for what matters, against mobs such as those of Occupy Wall Street (among other things, the terrible villain of the film literally occupies Wall Street). Batman is a fascinating conservative vigilante. Gotham City is a place where egalitarian revolutions end up as other revolutions in the history of humanity.