The Problem with Batman

As a child, I had always loved batman; I would watch The Adventures of Batman and Robin on Teletoon Retro and play with my brother’s toys. However, the very seriousness of Batman’s actions had never registered with me until recently as I read the Dark Knight Returns illustrating a critical and controversial question surrounding both Batman’s morality and purpose in Gotham. Alongside this graphic novel, I had seen some videos surrounding crime in developing countries and a similarity I noticed between both these videos and the graphic novel was the difference of morality and values each individual based their actions and decisions upon. These morals however, often supported, seemingly, immoral actions in the name of justice or gentrification to a society. For Gotham to receive such a hero as Batman was incredibly lucky as his own moral code prevented him from taking the lives of others, most of the time, however, this doesn’t excuse his blatant arrogance towards the law. Gotham was lucky for only a short while as Batman’s return only sparked more arrogance towards the law and his vigilantism excused the actions of other criminals; if Batman was allowed to break the law without punishment, who was stopping the man who shot up movie theatre customers.

CENTENNIAL, CO – JULY 23: Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes makes his first court appearance at the Arapahoe County on July 23, 2012 in Centennial, Colorado. According to police, Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 others during a shooting rampage at an opening night screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” July 20, in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images)


In the eyes of the law, both individuals were the same. They both have terrorized many, impacted the lives that others have lead and have ignored laws preventing them from harming others. Batman’s vigilantism and ultimately morality were never in question in my eyes until I watched a video about individuals living in sewers in Caracas, Venezuela for my Urban Geography class. Many of these individuals were children, kicked out of their homes or have fled from abusive households yet, vigilantes of Caracas constantly exterminate these children in order to gentrify their streets and sewers. These acts of vigilantism are supported in the eyes of these exterminators as they believe their actions will improve their city; their actions are supported and validated by their own moral code. Similarly, in Kinshasa, there are also many children living on the street as a direct cause of the possession issue. As Kinshasa is quite religious, peculiar actions taken by children often lead to their death or expulsion from their homes as it is assumed that they are possessed. These religious beliefs support the individuals in Kinshasa’s moral code and actions of excluding or even killing these street children. It is this phenomenon that illuminated the truth surrounding vigilantism and morality in my eyes. Not only are Batman’s actions immoral, they also, implicitly, allow the criminal actions of others. Even more so, Batman does not allow even criminals to be treated with dignity through the judicial system; he denies them their basic rights. This is seen through his many acts of unreasonable search and seizure as he breaks and enters many facilities. Batman also does not assume individuals are innocent before proven guilty allowing him to jump straight into violence. It is with these conclusions that I have decided that Batman is not the hero Gotham deserves or needs because Batman is not a hero.

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