The Hero’s Form of Appearance: the Necessary Darkness of the Dark Knight
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the Dark Knight

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McGowan, T. (2019). The Hero’s Form of Appearance: the Necessary Darkness of the Dark Knight. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 1(3), 16-48.


Even the most ethical superheroes occupy a position outside the order of law simply by virtue of their heightened powers. Using Batman as the protagonist, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) takes this problem posed by the hero and the hero’s exceptional status in relation to the law as its overriding concern.

The film's universe makes clear the need for an exception to the law. The problem with accepting and celebrating the hero’s exceptionality is not simply that such acceptance produces conservative misreadings but that this exceptionality has an inherent tendency to multiply itself exponentially. Batman – the hero, who accepts evil as his form of appearance, sustains the only possible path for heroic exceptionality. Audiences flock to superhero movies in search of a heroic exception that they can embrace, an exception that would work toward justice without simultaneously adding to injustice in the manner of today’s real world exceptions. In The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan offers a viable image of heroic exceptionality. As he sees, its form of appearance must be its opposite if it to avoid implicating itself in the injustice that it fights.
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