Christopher Nolan’s Batman films

631 words | 3 page(s)

In the paper I recently wrote for writing 122, I argued that Christopher Nolan’s Batman films can be understood to be archetypal instantiations of the hero myth as this is discussed by Seger in her work on the way that hero myths are formed and transmitted through cultures. I argued this from three main points. The first of these is that Batman, or Bruce Wayne, is originally someone who comes from a normal background and who grows to hero status after receiving a calling to bring justice to the world. I also argued that he undergoes a standard process of training that Seger sees as important in the formation of the hero, and that he has mentors and friends who train and serve him throughout the films. FInally, I argued that the villains and enemies that Batman faces confirm him as a hero. In particular this can be seen in the figure of the Joker who almost exactly fits the ‘trickster’ figure that Seger sees as often opposing the hero. Taking the factors together I argued that Batman should undoubtedly be viewed as being a heroic figure.

Still, there are some potential weaknesses in this argument. Arguably the most important of these is the fact that Bruce Wayne is not actually an ‘ordinary person.’ Although he lives in a city and does not posses any actual super powers, he is a billionaire and has inherited all of his money from his parents and their estate. As such, he is often shown to be unable to work in a regular job, something that forms a point of humour throughout the films. Any argument that ‘normal’ status can be assigned to Wayne in the sense that it could be assigned to Luke Skywalker, Seger’s own example of the modern hero, is therefore tenuous. There is also a potential weakness in the idea that Batman has a strict calling or aim in mind. In other examples of the hero myth, the hero has a direct goal or aim and they take part in brave actions in order to achieve. Once it is over, however, they stop. Bruce Wayne does not have an end goal in sight, rather he aims to ‘bring hope’ or help ‘justice.’ Although this may be argued to be a noble aim, it is not something usually associated with a hero as it very difficult to tie it to definite actions or events.

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I can therefore identify strong arguments for responding differently to this question at issue. It is entirely possible to argue that Bruce Wayne / Batman is not a hero. To begin with, he is a billionaire and not an ordinary person. He also acts out of constantly deferred desire for vengeance rather than from a sense of senselessness and, finally, he has not strict end goal in sight. Indeed, these points are often brought up in the films themselves, in particular on occasions in which Bruce is accused of being narcissistic in his desires to achieve justice and of simply using the Batman alter-ego to hide his true feelings and to evade taking responsibility for his actions and his emotions.

There are, however, weaknesses in this argument as well. It is clear that Batman does fit some of the requirements for a hero. It is also clear that one does not need to fulfil a remit exactly in order to be an example of a certain type of person or character. If one required each literary trope to be matched exactly by its particulars then it would be almost impossible to make generalisations or to spot patterns in stories or characters. As , while Batman may not be a completely typical hero, it is difficult to deny that her possesses several of the characteristics one may expect from one.

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