A couple of months ago I brought up the tiredness of the Frank Miller/Dark Knight trope, how works like Jane Jacobs’s Death and Life of Great American Cities and Canelli’s favorite article about a plutocratic Batman have really helped to grind down the facade and expose the ridiculousness of Batman. Now comes this review of the Batman Vs. Superman movie by the someday-national-treasure Albert Burneko: Batman Is A Corny Dingus, And Superman Should Whomp His Ass. Allow me to sample some choice passages.
First, on Frank Miller’s plotting in The Dark Knight Returns:
Let us now pause for a moment to marvel at the political stupidity of this. Miller had the Randian Reagan government throwing itself behind an adopted undocumented alien immigrant newspaper journalist, against a trust-fund billionaire industrialist vigilante who’d just squashed city-wide riots by rallying a bunch of angry white teen boys to beat the shit out of poor people with no help from the government. Why did anyone ever think Frank Miller isn’t a goddamn moron?
Hey, we’re all 12 years old and living in the 80s at some point, right?
More than that, his entire concept of how to interact with the world is stupid. Scare the bad guys with karate is the least helpful, most moronic thing a young billionaire could do with his wealth and free time, short of building a doomsday device. If he quit with the crime-fighter malarkey, stayed home playing Xbox, and literally just paid property tax on all the shit he owns, he’d do more good than he does as Batman, because at least he would not be beating the shit out of people and undermining the civic justice system.
Look, I’m never going to see this movie, and I can’t even convince myself it’s worth my time to pull my copy of The Dark Knight Returns off my bookshelf for the simple need to put it in alphabetical order with my copies of The Walking Dead and Fear Agent. But I understand the appeal of movies like this. They’re treading on a nostalgia that only gets stronger as the primary intended audience (folks like Canelli and I who read the comic books as kids in the 80s and 90s) gets older. But we’ve got to understand that the ridiculousness in the movies’ premises and the darkness inherent in the storytelling/cinematography is the product of a by-gone age when crazed white conservatives really had a lock on America, convincing everyone that we needed to get the fuck out of cities before black people stole our cars, robbed our houses, and raped our women.
We’re better than that now. We know better. And we should shame the fuckers that keep trying to resurrect the specter of the scary inner city black man (or, hell, even the specter of the scary red communist). Because this is all old, rehashed, tired bullshit.
NOTE FOR CANELLI WHEN HE GETS BACK FROM INDIA: dude, read this review and then read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me. Then put together a more eloquent argument than what I’ve done here.