RARA-AVIS: Re: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir

From: Mark Finn (markfinn@texas.net)
Date: 24 Jul 2008

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Sean Shapiro <ssshapir@...> wrote:
    > BM wants to save his parents ... over and over again.

    I think that if you do Batman right, there's a real pathology there. This idea of saving his dead parents (of course, he thinks of it as making sure no one else has to suffer as he suffered) forms kinda the crux of the dilemma in writing this character. How screwed up is he, anyway? I mean, if we take the concept of heroism and super heroism at face value (basically, altruism on eleven), then Batman disappears into the rest of the sea of four colored heroes. But if you really take his origin at face value, and build off of that origin, Geez, what a mess. Here's a guy so at odds with himself, living in his family home, completely unable and unwilling to let go of the past... It's no wonder people often ascribe gothic tropes to the character.

    And the worst part of it all is he plays this shallow trust fund baby to hide it all. You can almost start to see the "Batman" persona as self-inflicted punishment.

    And regarding the definition (or lack thereof) of Noir, everyone's take is different, of course. But there is an inevitability to Batman, and certainly to The Dark Knight as a film. Batman is in a spiral that he cannot control, and worse, is paralyzed to act against. He spends the whole movie reacting to the Joker, and in doing so, ends up right where Joker wants him. While certainly not as gruesome an ending, I was reminded of Fincher's Seven, which was the first time that I as an audience member A) wanted a pure act of vengeance, even as Morgan Freeman spelled out the consequences to Brad Pitt (if you kill him, he wins), and B) after I got what I wanted, I felt like shit about it.

    If not Noir in practical fact, it sure played around in Noir's sandbox a lot. For me, that is.

    Mark Finn

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