Speaking of The Dark Knight, I’ve already had a couple requests for a “FISA analyisis” of the movie (believe it or not), and since Ezra’s already brought it up, I suppose I’m due to throw in my two cents. Rest of the post below the fold in in the unlikely event that someone reading this hasn’t seen the movie yet.
So, as you may recall, at a cruical point, we learn that Bruce Wayne has (improbably) arranged for echolocation devices to be installed in just about every cell phone sold in Gotham, creating a vast sonar map of the city, and allowing him to pinpoint the Joker’s location. His corporate second-in-command and all purpose gadgeteer Lucius Fox is appalled, objecting that this is too much power for one man to wield. So Batman turns the system over to Fox, who will destroy it after this one use.
Now, I have no idea what Chris Nolan’s intentions here are. But I do think it illustrates the argument I made in my American Prospect story last year: The conventions of the superhero genre itself tend to embed what you might call a neoconservative ideology in superhero stories. That is, of course there’s going to be a threat that can only be dealt with by extraordinary means not available to normal law enforcement, because otherwise you have no rationale for putting a guy in a funny costume to engage in spectacular battles with fancy gadgets. And of course this unaccountable hero will use his extraordinary power wisely and judiciously, because he’s the good guy. Yes, Batman and Alfred can ruminate about the “blowback” that the Caped Crusader might cause, but insofar as they’re working with a property they can’t damage, they can’t ultimately conclude that the right thing to do is stop being Batman.