SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012)
Forget Dark Knight Rises. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is best Batman movie released last year. It is animated movie but don’t let that fool you. It is based on classic Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns. Story is from comic as are the visuals. Some images of comic are recreated for this movie. This is not kids animated movie. I don’t realize that live action Batman movies doesn’t have blood until you see blood in animated Batman movie.
Batman has retired 10 years ago and it is time for Jim Gordon to retire. There is gang called Mutants that cause problems. Now that he is no longer Batman Bruce Wayne gets his kicks from other life threatening hobbies. Crime wave and some random events are too much for Bruce Wayne. He obeys voices in his head and becomes Batman again.
Everyone is not happy that Batman has returned. He is seen destroying democracy. He is said to create his own enemies. Mutants were there without Batman. But Joker wakes up from coma when he hears about Batman. Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy also plays with this idea. Joker appeared after Batman showed larger than life characters could live outside the law and regulations of society. Kind like copy cats copy crimes that get publicity. Joker and other larger than life characters became what they are because Batman has set an example.
Destroying democracy is easy to see. Superheroes do what they want and are not countable for anyone. If you don’t think they are on your side you see them as bad as criminals. Like two criminals fighting each other. What is superhero doesn’t feel like being on our side? They have already forgotten parts of social contract. Why wouldn’t they forget the rest of it.
Two-Faces face is fixed and he is released from mental hospital. As soon as he is released he starts his crimes. This story goes deeper than you expect. Two-Face was given normal face but Two-Face sees his new face as ugly face. This drives him hiding his face and trying to commit suicide. Suicide by blowing two towers. If we see this movie as analogy of social contract we could argue, that Two-Face is victim of social contract. Society wants him to be something he is not and this drives him suicidal.This how ever may be more about expectations of society than social contract.
Social contract is agreement that you live by the rules and regulations of society you live in. You agree it by living in society. If there were no social contract everyone would take and do what ever they want when there is total freedom. You could kill and steal as much as you want and others can do this to you too. It is more of philosophical concept that anything concrete. In this movie Batman and criminals are living outside social contract. Strongest does and takes what ever he wants and others have to deal with it. Batman tells to Gordon that society can’t contain mutants. Batman has to deal this issue with rules of total freedom. Which means that he has to show in fist fight that he is stronger than Mutant Leader.
It has been a while since I read the comic. I remember it showed Batman less nice and heroic than this movie. Maybe that comes in next part. Only part I didn’t like in this movie was how much there were fist fights. Like it is somehow honorable way to solve who is strongest and best person. He who wins fist fight is right. Dark Knight Rises had same problem. If you live in real only the strongest survive world you would not have honor codes. You would use what ever you can to kill other guy. Honor codes are kind of social contracts and these guys doesn’t want social contracts. To be honest Mutant leader is only one not bound by social contract. Batman is still little bounded by them and that my be why he still have some honor codes that almost kills him.
Now the bad news. Next post is not part 2 of this movie. There will be post about second part but currently it is not available. So there will be something else next week.