When The Dark Knight came out, there were a few bloggers who saw an authoritarian/Conservative bent to the character. Similar things were said about Iron Man being a shill for the Military Industrial Complex and Superman as a tool of Jingoism. Pretty much any super hero movie gets parsed for liberal/conservative bias. And while there are any number of valid ways to interprit a story, looking at super heros throught he lens of poitics always irked me, but I couldn’t quite explain why.* Luckily, John August has given it some thought as well and explains the issue far better than I could:
Efforts to place TDK’s Batman on a real-world political spectrum are doomed. Sure, he’s tough on crime, but he’s also anti-gun. He holds himself outside the law, but destroys his own phone-tapping technology. Is he a Conservative? A Liberal?2 A Libertarian?
Nope, he’s just Batman. And as a comic book character, he’s allowed to hold simultaneous incompatible philosophies.
Exactly. Batman can be all these things because he is hyper-real. He’s not a citizen or a politician running for office, he’s a psychologically complex avatar, a stand in we can use to explore larger, slightly abstract concepts about Freedom, Free Will and Justice. If you saw The Dark Knight and all you saw was a Billionaire exercising his authoritarian impulses without restraint, then you were sitting way too close to the screen.
* Also, Bruce Wayne, Billionaire Playboy would never vote. It’s out of character for the disinterested playboy persona. He can buy whatever freedom he needs, which is a decidedly Republican attitude, but one that would go completely unacted upon, outside of large donations to the popular DA who doesn’t relaly need the gesture. And Batman, while concerned about the plight of the pooor and the disenfranchized, wouldn’t bother pulling the Democrat lever, as he knows all polititians are crooked and fallible.So there.