Thoughts on the Batman character and shooting deaths at the Aurora Theatre
by Robert Randle
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Almost everyone who has ever picked up a comic book is familiar with the origin of “Batman.” The story of the ‘Caped Crusader’ is one of the most compelling in all the history of superhero stories, starting back around 1946 in Detective Comics [later “DC comics”] where a young boy of around the age of eight years old watches both his parents get robbed and murdered before his very eyes. The criminal named “Jack” who pulls the trigger sets in motion a series of events after sparing the life of the youthful eyewitness to the crime sets both of them on a collision course later in life. Jack become head of a crime syndicate as the “Joker” and Bruce Wayne dedicated the rest of his life to fighting crime. Batman was driven by a sense of justice, moral integrity or fairness, and a real hero, not someone seeking revenge or retribution; although his feelings about the Joker may be the exception to the rule.
Several actors have played the character of Batman on the big screen, including Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, and Christian Bale and Adam West starred in the late 1960’s television series, still, none of them quite captured the essence of the man Bruce Wayne or his alter ego. Batman did not have super powers like his friend from the planet Krypton named Kal-El (Superman) or the Amazonian goddess Wonder Woman but his leadership served as a role model for others and was the ultimate team player. The noble ‘Caped Crusader’ of the past has morphed over the decades into The Dark Knight. It is as though Bruce Wayne suffers from a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, and he is a brooding loner trying to exorcise his inner demons, keeping people at a distance, and someone who doesn’t always explains his actions or feel the need to do so. This Batman doesn’t trust anyone, even those closest friends who he has known the longest. Sometimes it is hard to tell if this Batman is one of the ‘good buys’ because more often than not, he blurs the line between protecting the public good and outright criminality. Batman seems to operate just ‘outside’ the law and in some ways he is no better than the character known as “The Punisher,” who is solely driven by revenge for the mob killing of his family and he makes no apology about it.
DC Comics have created a “batty” man instead of portraying the original Batman and Hollywood has taken it to the next level with the visual and sound effects that can only be reproduced on the big screen with unmatched quality and effectiveness. The thing though, is that such graphical imagery stimulate a part of the brain, perhaps the lower reptilian one or causes the secretion of brain chemicals such that it can serve as a trigger for someone who my already have a disconnect with reality or is at a borderline threshold between sane and insane, who is enticed into the latter and commits acts that to his mind is a blur between what is real on one hand and imaginary on the other. And while the movie industry or comic book illustrators or their publishers are not liable for the behavior of some disturbed individual yet thoughtful consideration must be given to whatever is presented to the public has to be done in such a way that it does not explicitly or implicitly influence anyone to act out a role that leads to hurtful or deadly outcomes.
Such was the case with James Holmes who planned and carried out one of the most horrific crimes of domestic terrorism in recent years when he shot and killed about a dozen and wounded nearly fifty others at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado last week. Ironically, it was thirteen years ago that the massacre happened at Columbine High School that shocked the nation, which is about fifteen miles away.
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