My paper is slated for the film panel Thursday afternoon: "The Dark Knight: Science and the National Security State." Here's the abstract:
The crime-fighting character Batman was created 75 years ago; yet, his age has not been an impediment to achieving tremendous recent successes in popular culture. The two latest “Dark Knight” films, released in 2008 and 2012, rank among the top 20 highest grossing films worldwide. Strangely, Batman is a super-hero without a physical superpower. Indeed, his successes are largely due to the development and application of scientific and technical achievements. This paper analyzes and explains the importance of Batman’s application of various scientific discoveries in “The Dark Knight” and other popular Batman films. Specifically, I argue that the most recent version of the Dark Knight reflects the dubious nature of the war on terror. To counter the threats he encounters in Gotham City, Batman is willing to employ an electronic spying device that appears to emulate the remarkable capabilities of the U.S. National Security Agency. In addition to secretly monitoring electronic communications, Batman also employs various weapons and transportation technologies that make possible the extrajudicial rendition of foreign nationals and the enhanced interrogation of prisoners. Ultimately, these applications of science challenge the legitimacy of Batman’s crime-fighting efforts, in much the same way the aims of America’s “war on terror” were undercut by similar methods.You can find the paper at my Academia.edu webpage.
The paper owes a debt to my blog post about The Dark Knight back in August 2008 and to my recent use of the film in my class on Global Politics Through Film.
While writing the paper, I discovered this similar argument. John Ip, however, primarily argues that the film reveals the practical limits of torture, rendition, and surveillance. My argument is more critical and normative.
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