Mrs. Degnan and Mr. Dowling
April 29, 2013
Vigilantes and Heroes
In our world, it is widely accepted that Good and Evil are two opposing forces, completely contrasting each other. Through all eras, Good and Evil are depicted as starkly conflicting as black and white. This, however, is a false dichotomy, the continuation of which creates heroes out of those who do not deserve to be worshipped, and villains out of those who do not deserve to be ostracized. This disunion of similar forces is often perpetuated in popular culture and the media. In children’s shows, there is a clear hero and a clear villain (i.e. the Powerpuff Girls vs. Mojo Jojo.) In the news, when a crime is committed, the police forces are almost always depicted as the inherently good force, and the person who committed the crime as the inherently evil force. However, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins screenplay, this idea is challenged. In this screenplay, Nolan shows that Good and Evil are, in fact, two sides of the same coin, and it is often hard to label a character or entity as one or the other. Furthermore, when two forces engage in conflict, it is not always a clashing of Good against Evil. Nolan shows that the human condition makes it very easy for Evil to infiltrate and corrupt Good. It is much easier, in fact, for Evil to overtake Good than for Good to overtake Evil. In order to avoid this corruption, one must achieve balance between both sides, instead of trying to suppress one. Much of this concept is explored through the character Batman, in his many faults and strengths. Batman is supposed to be a “hero”, but many times his weaknesses get in the way of his quest to bring justice to Gotham City(which is also a very flawed, Evil-ridden place,), making it hard to decide if he is good or evil, and, in fact, where the line between Good and Evil lies; this is a truth that is seen more in the real world than the(commonly accepted) idea of Good and Evil in clear distinction is.
One way in which Nolan uses Batman to blur the lines between good and evil is through Batman’s unsuppressed rage. Batman wants to bring justice to Gotham City, which is a good, pure cause, but often times his rage gets in the way, causing him to do unnecessary, evil things. Batman must find the balance between these two forces inside of him, but often struggles with this. One of the earliest examples of this struggle is in Batman Begins, during the first battle scene, in one of the first times Wayne emerges as the “hero” figure, Batman: Falcone: What the hell are you?
Smash!!! Glass shatters- black clad arms shoot down through the sun roof- grab Falcone by the lapels and yank him up through the opening and bringing him nose-to-nose with... The Batman…
Batman: I'm Batman
The scream echoes down the alley. The Homeless Man looks up from his brazier, curious. He moves around the corner, peering around to see... Batman, standing, iconic...
Batman: Nice coat. (Nolan 68-70)
This scene is a perfect example of the good and evil that lives inside of Batman, and the struggle he has with balancing it. In this fight scene, it is clear that Batman is fighting out of pure rage All moral intentions, whatever they may have been, are forgotten- he is only fighting out his anger now, it has corrupted him like a disease; the evil in him has overcome the good. Instead of only fighting to achieve justice, he wants to cause pain and instill fear into Falcone, unnecessarily so; the point where he is causing pain or fear that is inessential to the cause of justice, is where he has allowed evil to corrupt him. However, moments later, we are reminded of the good in him by bringing us back to the homeless man that Bruce gave his coat to, days ago, and Batman (ironically) complimenting him on it. The fact that these two scenes are connected by Falcone's scream is symbolic of how intertwined, connected good and evil are- and, at the moment,...
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