James Bond is the archetypical, suave, muscular, witty hero, who many guys only dream of becoming. He saves the day, gets the girl, beats up or kills a few baddies along the way. The 2006 reboot of the Bond franchise, in Casino Royale, depicts Bond (played by Daniel Craig) as an impulsive, yet clever, assassin, who lets his actions speak louder than his words. Craig’s character is not nearly as sexed up as his Bond predecessors, but he compensates with his brawn and brutishness. This is one of many subtle, but also drastic changes that the franchise has taken in the reboot. Historically, previous Bond films have been highly sexist and materialistic, portraying Bond as a comedic, likeable guy, who always seduces a beautiful woman, half his age. In Casino Royale, the story takes a modern twist, casting the woman (Vesper Lynd) on a progression towards the dominant role, and Bond on a path towards an emasculated shell of a man. The film goes against conventional Hollywood norms, initially portraying either character in their gender’s negative stereotypical fashion, subsequently sending Vesper to ascendancy and Bond to inferiority. Bond is castrated, and Vesper washed of her womanhood.

Until we get to the heart of the film, the casino locale in Montenegro, Bond is depicted as a ruthless, cold-blooded killer with few to no redeeming values. He gets his job done by being a high-testosterone, stereotypical male with a drinking problem. The opening scene is a pursuit, Bond chasing a bomb-maker across cranes, several hundred feet in the air, smashing through walls, exhibiting his crude, brute-strength (Amacker, Moore 145). He acts before he thinks, causing a shootout at an embassy, killing a man across international borders, etc. If anything, Bond is painted as an impulsive killer—like an abusive husband, he engages in violence without thoughts of repercussions. Mark Worrell and Daniel Krier recognize that, “Craig’s Bond was emotionally-detached,” depicted as a “cold, ascetic soldierly-male” (8). They go on to explain that Craig’s Bond was more focused on physically beating his enemies, taking each victim as an end, rather than a means to an end. For the new Bond, politics were unimportant; the mission was the target. Restating what I mentioned earlier, in Casino Royale, Bond is coarse and blunt, fitting the mold of the negative stereotypical male (i.e. physically aggressive). I need not mention his alcohol addiction problem, which further typifies him as a wife-beater.

james-bond-smashes-wall-oJames-Bond-Cumbria-Crystal-Grasmere-Double-Old-Fashioned-BT-102-GR Contrastingly, Vesper is initially depicted as delicate and stereotypically feminine. She readily bends to Bond’s will, dressing in a scandalous dress, subsequently approaching Bond at the poker table, and seductively kissing him. Essentially, her major role in the first chapter at the casino is to be a trophy to show off to the rest of the room. Vesper ceases to be human, in the sense that her purpose becomes more of an objectified, material intimidation. Furthering her stereotypical feminine inferiority, when Bond goes all macho, and kills the Ugandan warlord and his accomplice (with his bare hands at that), Vesper goes into shock. She breaks down into tears, like a damsel in distress. Clearly either character fits the mold of their negative gender stereotypes. Vesper is objectified, and any attempt of hers to be something more just causes additional problems. Bond is presented as callous, physical, and impulsive, and, more often than not, it is his stubbornness that gets him into greater trouble.

Following Vesper’s break-down over the bodies of the Ugandan militants, there is some progression in gender roles. Bond showers Vesper in order to wash her blood stained skin. The scene is highly symbolic, showing Vesper washed of her womanhood. Bond, in a sense, baptizes her. By cleaning her of her “weaker feminine qualities,” Vesper becomes more pure and capable. This is not to be confused with Vesper’s progression to masculinity. On the contrary, she is stripped of her negative, feminine stereotypes. Having been washed of her “menstrual inferiority,” we immediately see a change in Vesper’s character. Bond is poisoned by the antagonist’s girlfriend, and is unable to deal with his condition before passing out. Out of nowhere, Vesper comes to the rescue, fixes the defibrillator, and saves Bond’s life. In a matter of a couple scenes, Vesper goes from helpless damsel to hero. To a certain degree there is a role reversal, wherein Bond actually becomes the dependent damsel in distress.


Bond’s progression to emasculation reaches its climax when he is symbolically castrated. Near the end of the film, Le Chiffre (the film’s antagonist) repeatedly swings a weighted, knotted rope at Bond’s manhood as Bond sits, strapped naked to a chair. The scene is very sexed up, suggestively insinuating that Bond is getting raped. Two distinct shots show Le Chiffre dangling the knotted rope between his own legs, and then laying the rope across Bond’s chest, much like a phallic symbol (Amacker, Moore 146). It becomes increasingly evident that Bond is being castrated, and therefore emasculated, when Le Chiffre makes the comment, “there will be little to identify you as a man.” Before the scene comes to a close, Le Chiffre threatens to feed Bond his manhood, an act of fellatio, utterly effeminizing whatever sense of masculinity he has left.


Vesper, again, saves the day, striking a business-like deal with Le Chiffre’s killers, offering them money in exchange for her and Bond’s lives. Bond passes out as Vesper organizes their salvation, consummating his transition to fragility, and Vesper’s transition to fearlessness and independence. The relationship between bond and Vesper continues, after Bond wakes in a hospital in Venice. It is important to note that Vesper continues to assume all dominant roles, commonly associated with men in Hollywood films. Vesper initiates sex, asserting her dominance over the fragile, weakened Bond. Bond has fallen in love, embracing emotions, which were not central to his character earlier in the film. Furthermore, Bond, having resigned from his 00 status at MI-6, realizes he cannot hold an “honest job,” because he “has no idea what an honest job is” (147). His dependence on Vesper will continue. Symbolically castrated, and without his job, which, for that matter, allows him to assert his dominance, Bond becomes reliant on Vesper to care for him. He confesses to Vesper, “I have no armor left. You’ve stripped it from me.” Disarmed, disengaged, and jobless, whereas Bond was once a symbol of power and security, he now stands as a symbol of emotion and care.

We see Bond’s changed self in his failure to save Vesper, drowning in an elevator shaft. Whereas early-on in the movie we would have thought Bond would have no problem busting open a metal gate, by the end of the film, we know his emasculated self is nowhere strong enough to save the one he loves. Furthermore, his new-found emotions further disparage his mind from the inside. Neither physically nor mentally strong, Bond is thrown into despair.

Vesper reaches her full ascendancy by deceiving Bond. She has “grown the balls” to not only cheat behind his back (i.e. have a husband without him knowing, and strike a deal without him knowing), but she also has the guts to physically take her own life. She puts herself in a metal cage, like a diver swimming with sharks, protecting herself, isolating herself from the patriarchy. Vesper maintains her independence through the end. She doesn’t, however, take on the role of a male figure. Although she adopts dominant roles and attributions, she maintains her femininity, in a more independent manner. Unlike common Hollywood gender transitions, Vesper doesn’t become brutish and manly, rather, she preserves her beauty and wit from earlier on in the film. By her end, it becomes apparent that she has reached a level of dominance, and Bond has succumbed to impotence.

The argument could be made that, contrary to my thesis, Bond bounces back and regains his manhood, and, furthermore, the film as a whole suppresses women. For the latter matter, Amacker and Moore both conclude that, “Casino Royale…does more to undermine the status of women than any of the previous incarnations of Bond” (144). Such a statement is not easy to brush off in a matter of a few hundred words, assuming that my argument thus far has not already proven it otherwise. The reality is that Bond doesn’t bounce back. Having been effeminized, in his castration he faces a large degree of penis envy. After Vesper deceives him, he feels an obligation to compensate for the loss of his endowment. Even to this extent, when Bond pursues Vesper and her clients to the Venetian mansion, he both literally and figuratively gets nailed. One of the henchmen shoots a nail into Bond from behind, in one sense of the term or another, penetrating him. Bond, further emasculated, goes into a fit of rage, attempting to make up for his lost dignity. The film closes with Bond shooting one of Vesper’s clients in a sad attempt to regain his manhood, a task he knows is undoable. Bond approaches his target clutching a large gun, a phallic object, in an erect position. Bond’s insecurity is unmistakeable. If anything, Casino Royale undermines stereotypical gender roles, particularly going against those portrayed in past 007 films.


Erected? Unlikely.

The Bond reboot discredits the common belief that Hollywood films are patriarchal. Casino Royale portrays both genders in their negative stereotypical fashions, but then puts either gender on tracks to transcend their norms. Femininity, represented by Vesper, ascends to independence and other qualities often associated with masculinity, whereas masculinity, represented by Bond, is effeminized. It is important to note, however, that Vesper does not come to represent masculinity, rather, she comes to adopt roles and qualities that men often exercise (i.e. business transactions, cheating, deception, financial independence, sexual instigations, etc). We see character transitions, when Vesper is washed of her womanhood (that is, when Bond washes the blood from her hands), and when Bond is tortured (or symbolically castrated). The film seems to reestablish norms by breaking the attributes that are hermetically sealed with either gender. Women can still be beautiful and emotional without succumbing to dependence and frailty. Men, on the other hand, can just as easily be emasculated, or in Bond’s case, castrated.


Works Cited

Amacker, Anna Katherine, and Donna Ashley Moore. “’The Bitch is Dead’: Anti-Feminist          Rhetoric in Casino Royale.“ James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films Are         Not Enough. Ed. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2011. E-Book.

Worrell, Mark P., and Daniel Krier. “The Imperial Eye.” The Imperial Eye. Fact Capitalism.         Web. 16 May 2016.

Encoded Shadings


When the word “dystopia” is thrown around during a debate, most people’s minds jump to thoughts of 1984, The Hunger Games, or The Matrix. Normally, the visionaries, who portray such societies, pit a revolutionary protagonist against a seemingly indefatigable, fascist system. There is always this sense of absolutism that equates dystopia with totalitarian repression. Such is the message, that cultural pieces, like the ones mentioned above, seem to show us. In The Matrix, yes, there is clearly a struggle on the part of the “enlightened, real-world minority group” to overcome the prescriptive, coaxing, materialistic world of the matrix, controlled by the agents. It’s the modern reinvention of David and Goliath, where a charismatic, weaker force overcomes a dominant one. This, however, would only be a simplistic, with-the-grain reading of the film. Let us not overlook the fact that Morpheus’s crew, namely Neo, only overcomes the antagonist, Smith, so that he might replace him as the alpha in the matrix. My point being, the matrix actually has some redeeming intrinsic values. The matrix may support a dystopia of sorts, but it has utopian qualities. Even those individuals, who have been brought out of the matrix to the real world, appreciate the seductive possibilities when jacked-in. The matrix offers entertainment and culture, which, even, regretfully, in the eyes of the protagonists, holds promise of a better life. Ernst Bloch, the renowned Marxist academic, maintains a similar line of though, “seeing utopian potential in cultural artifacts ranging from advertising and display to Beethoven and opera” (Kellner 5). Though very anti-Adornian, Bloch seems to uphold that, what one may see as, “controlling” aspects of the culture industry might actually offer utopian qualities.

Much like critics before me, we can settle on the fact that the world of the matrix is fundamentally dystopian. People within society follow through with their lives under the assumptions that consumerism puts before them. They work, they buy, they work more…the cycle continues. This is the way in which Lilly and Lana Wachowski, the film’s directors, lead us to believe life in the matrix persists. Essentially the agents, the human-like subjects of the machines that control the matrix, act as the Big Brother authority figures that, ever so inconspicuously (to the everyday citizen’s eye), manage everyone’s lives. One might subsequently pair a conception of rigid control with dystopia. Jill Dolan, English department chair at Princeton, professes, however, that, “Fascism and utopia can skirt dangerously close to each other” (2). By this token, one might find parallel qualities in both dystopian and utopian societies. Hence my claim, though The Matrix depicts a dystopian society, it has shadings that give it utopian qualities.


Cypher, a proven villain of the film, finds resolve in the world of the matrix. It is important to note that Cypher, like many other characters of the film, is a human, brought from the world of the matrix to reality. Having experienced both worlds, Cypher cuts a deal with Agent Smith to live a better life, within the matrix, as a famous actor. Fully aware of the “dystopian” consequences to which he is sentencing himself, Cypher voluntarily seeks out Smith. A critic might choose to ignore such a plot detail, or merely dismiss it as the action of a thoroughly materialistic antagonist. Cypher, however, is not the only one coaxed by the promise of the matrix—I will discuss that later. The intent of the rebel group, who lives in reality, is to enlighten people and pit them against the matrix. Once they are brought over, the assumption is that they will see the poison that seeps ever so quietly into the minds of those that live within the matrix. Having seen both worlds, Cypher decides to go back. Logically speaking, only an utter fool would choose something truly dystopian over something as liberating as reality. Cypher, however, through his systematic destruction of Morpheus’s crew, proves he is no fool. Why then, would he choose to go back? The matrix has certain utopian qualities that offer something reality cannot: limitless possibility.

Neo, our protagonist, only has the ability to be a kung-fu master, a parkour legend, a weapons expert, and a bullet dodging superhuman when he is jacked-into the matrix. Similar abilities go for other characters in the film, like Morpheus and Trinity (disregarding the last, god-like ability to dodge bullets). When cops come after Neo and Trinity, police prove no match for the martial arts masters. Furthermore, in the conclusion of the film, where the all-powerful agents are obliterated, Neo exercises divine powers. His abilities are only possible when he has entered into the matrix. In the real world he is a weak, unconfident, pasty man. Contrastingly, when in the matrix, Neo is, as we see in the film, nearly invincible. The matrix may in fact be dystopian, but such abilities and changes in character present viewers with a problem: the matrix is almost too good to be true. When Neo jacks-in, he’s hooked. What he can do in the matrix makes him worth something to the crew, and it gives him character. Douglas Kellner puts it quite well, in that, “many people wear masks…to get a new and more satisfying identity through immersion”(5). One can’t deny that Neo, along with Trinity, appreciates the matrix more because of what he can do in it. It makes grey, listless people great. Everyone, who enters the matrix from reality, becomes super-human. Given, these abilities they are granted are materialistic, but they shape the development of the film’s characters so much that they seem to scream utopia. What in fact gives us our identities is a combination of what we do and how we reflect on what we do.


Not only does the matrix give one superhuman abilities, but also one can have most any skill uploaded to their mind. Nearing the end of the film, Trinity desperately needs to know how to fly a helicopter in order to save the day. Within seconds a file is uploaded to her animus and she is a professional pilot. Similar things happen throughout the film, from learning advanced martial arts to speaking several languages. Essentially anything that our protagonist and his crew need can easily be provided. This aspect of the matrix is borderline comedic. When a problem arises, a solution is almost always within reach. Oddly enough, in such a cruel, repressive world as that of the matrix, one can find effortless perfection. This persistent deus ex machina aspect of the film sheds light on the utopian characteristics present.

Let us also not forget that the romantic relationship between Trinity and Neo was sparked in the matrix. The eroticized excesses of tight leather clothing, slicked back hair, and promiscuous shades that Morpheus’s crew bear far outweigh the grey, tattered, sub-thrift rags that the crew wears in reality. They could wear whatever they wanted, but they choose to wear sexy, tight clothing. Even though they have all left their former lives in the matrix for a promise of something better, it is evident that they still appreciate the clothing they wear in the matrix. Though speculative, one might add that Trinity’s seductive outfit played a large part into why Neo even listened to her in the first place. Jill Dolan goes as far as describing aspects of utopian unity as “clinging to the fleshy seductions of old-fashioned primal emotion and presence” (3). Clothing enhances physical attraction and image. The tight leather garb Trinity wears simulates her wearing no clothing whatsoever. By this token, the matrix offers solutions to primal urges. The clothing Neo and Trinity wear in the matrix plays very much into their relationship, affecting their sense of character. Neo goes from being a low-life computer hacker to being a decked-out badass. Such sexually amplifying materialism makes even those that have been enlightened (the crew) more intimidating and cohesive. If the “pure” specifically appreciate what they wear, there must be a certain degree of utopian qualities to clothing. In no doubt is flashy clothing consumer culture. Obviously, however, it has benefits in the eyes of those, who ought to know better.


If you want to become “aware” and leave the matrix, essentially you have to trip on drugs. Morpheus offers Neo a choice, roofies or DMT, a blue pill or a red pill. The blue will make him forget and the red will make him essentially experience the most vivid trip anyone has ever had, thus “awakening” him. It’s kind of ironic that one can leave the matrix, a dystopia, by taking a drug. One might suppose that Morpheus’s choice of narcotics as a solution to a system of oppression isn’t quite so favorable. It makes one question whether “finding reality” through vices is really all that genuine. Within the matrix, at least, you’re not about to be drugged by some cult-leader who claims he has answers. I digress.


The dystopian nature of society in the matrix must not be seen as an absolute. The matrix has several utopian qualities that provide our group of protagonists with various popular cultural choices. As it seems, even though our group of protagonists have made it their goal to undermine the power of the matrix and its subsidiary agents, they cannot seem to evade the luring utopian qualities that permeate from the lines of code. Neo, among others, enjoys the feeling of invincibility. Cypher recognizes that the matrix is full of culture and vibrancy that gives one a sense of identity. In the visceral minds of each crew-member, there exists this burning desire to advance beyond a reality of grey, cold, faceless monotony. For this exact reason, even those that have seen beyond the matrix choose to live the better part of their lives in the matrix, where power is transcendent. Unbridled potential lies in the dystopia critics call The Matrix. Why would the forces so deeply pitted against a dystopian regime be so coaxed by its influence? What appears to be a dystopia, in the absolutist sense of the term, actually has various shadings of utopian qualities. Such can be seen in all that our utopian-oriented protagonists, Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, etc, strive towards.


Works Cited

Dolan, Jill. “Performance, Utopia, and the “Utopian Performative”” Project MUSE. Oct. 2001.     Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Kellner, Douglas. “Ernst Bloch, Utopia and Ideology Critique.” Illuminations: Kellner. Web. 20    Apr. 2016.

Lose Control


For those of you who, as children, wanted to grow up to be a “superhero,” like Batman, I presume “fascist” was not part of the job description. The Dark Knight, a 2008, Christopher Nolan blockbuster, shows us that justice is not absoluteOur beloved childhood superhero, Batman, isn’t so ideal. Though a superficial, with the grain reading of The Dark Knight would go along with the consistent depiction of the Batman in various other films and comics, Nolan attempts to show us that justice has shadings, and they are not as clear-cut as they might seem. The mere fact that the film was named The Dark Knight licenses some curiosity in even the least skeptical of critics. For the sake of making my argument even clearer, Batman is not the knight in shining armor we might see him as, on the contrary, he is a knight that works in the shadows, a vigilante. Because he attempts to solve the problems of crime plaguing Gotham, we see him as a hero, however, audiences overlook the fact that his actions fit the mold of a blatant fascist. Batman steps outside the legal realm to engage in violence and, more often than not, infringes upon the privacies of the people of Gotham. He reserves the enforcement of justice for elite like himself. Complementing this, his nemesis, the Joker, is an anarchist, priding himself on the destruction of societal norms. The film is actually more of a dichotomous relationship between fascism and anarchism, where the true colors of Batman shine through. Even the seemingly most pure symbols of justice are flawed.

Though this goes without saying, the Joker is not in the slightest sense a materialist. Yes, we see several scenes associating the Joker with money, but it becomes quite evident that the Joker is not your average “money is power”-type criminal. He torches Gotham’s mob’s extorted funds without batting an eye. The Joker professes, “It’s not about money, it’s about sending a message”. Withholding money from those who want it most is his way of gaining attention in the capitalist economy. Alfred makes the piercing observation that, “Some men…they can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with.” This is precisely why the Joker is untouchable. The Joker has no material desire. Nothing can lure him out of his cage. The fact that he has nothing to lose, only a drive for means (and not ends), makes him close to perfect. When threatened by Batman during his interrogation, the Joker remarks, “You have nothing to hurt me with.” Pain is fleeting. The Joker has no Achilles heel. His nihilism makes him a devout anarchist.


Whereas it is evident that forces of good, like Batman and the law, attempt to contain situations, what makes the Joker’s character so powerful is lack of control. The Joker gets off on the fear that causes mayhem and disorder in society. He explicitly says to Harvey Dent in Gotham General, “I try to show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.” Control means you have and end. It means you are vulnerable and expendable. Essentially every attempt by the “good guys” to contain situations is their undoing. The Joker goes on to explain, “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?…I’m a dog chasing cars.” A lack thereof a plan means that there are no expectations. The Joker is just a grown up version of that delinquent child who would always exceed expectations (and I don’t mean this in a good sense). Rules were there to be broken. The Joker is a blatant anarchist because his sole purpose is to tear at the roots of society, taunting those with a plan. The Joker even says, “I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself.”


When it comes to Batman the great, Batman the fascist, we are blinded by our naiveté. Batman is supposed to be the hero, enforcing justice where the law cannot. We so very much want him to be perfect. So what if he has a little bit of a power complex? The Dark Knight’s authoritarian tendencies are evident very early in the movie. The opening scene of the film depicts ruthless mob members, who cringe at the sighting of the menacing bat-crest that lights up the sky. When the Dark Knight is done beating up the mob-members, one of the bandwagon, copycat batmen asks, “What’s the difference between you and me?” The response given is one implicit of power and wealth. Looking past the fact that Bruce Wayne is a smart, billionaire, playboy, trust-fund child, Batman uses his wealth and resources to act in ways the law does not. Whereas Gotham Police can’t afford high-tech, carbon-fiber armor, cutting-edge, military grade vehicles, and gadgets that seem to be handy in the worst of situations, Bruce Wayne can. The film’s audience is blinded by the fact that everyone wants to be a smart, capricious, billionaire playboy. We overlook the fact that his money gives him power, which he uses to act in ways he sees fit. Much like the Joker uses fear to stir society, Batman uses fear (in conjunction with brute power) to control crime. In a sense, Batman’s power goes beyond controlling law offenders as he also holds sway over law enforcement. The police won’t arrest him—Commissioner Gordon is essentially his puppet. Gordon gives Batman priority over raids, investigations, etc. Clearly this is a blatant transgression of what law is supposed to be. Batman is the muscle who acts in ways the police can’t and won’t physically and legally act. In a sense, Batman has monopolized every aspect of society. His power lets him enforce justice the way he sees fit, and, in turn, he walks unscathed. The Dark Knight is premised on totalitarian control of the justice system. Gotham is a corrupt city, even under the guard of the Batman.


Batman takes the Patriot Act to a whole new level. The Dark Knight goes beyond visible power tactics by formulating a highly-illegal, complex cellphone surveillance system to monitor society for threats. Batman infringes upon the privacies of each and every citizen of Gotham. Lucius Fox, the head of Wayne Enterprises, recognizes that the machine is “too much power for one person,” but, of course, concedes to the rhetoric of the Dark Knight and provides his services. Mass surveillance is a blaring signal of Batman’s fascist tendencies. Not only does he use money and power to influence and control people, but he also monitors the most intimate, undisclosed facets of people’s lives by turning their cellphones into pulse-generating, live microphones. As no one is beyond the reach and influence of the Dark Knight, we must ask, what are the limits of good intentions? Batman wants to keep society safe, but, in doing so, is he justified in infringing upon other basic liberties?

Anarchism and fascism are at odds with one another throughout the film. As these two forces duke it out, Nolan attempts to show the audience that a normative view of justice is nonexistent. Justice has shadings, and for every person there is a tipping point. The Joker mocks Batman, “You are truly incorruptible, aren’t you?…I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” Evidently the weakness of the Dark Knight is his compulsive sense of justice. The Joker and Batman are at odds with one another just as disorder and an obsessive urge for control oppose one another. The system is in constant swing.

Knowing that Batman’s weakness is his ardent sense of justice, the Joker pushes the Dark Knight to challenge his own beliefs. The Dark Knight seems like an “immovable object,” but seeing that he was willing to risk the lives of the partygoers at the Wayne fundraiser to save Rachel, it becomes clear to the Joker that Batman cares about something other than justice. In an attempt to corrupt the Dark Knight, the Joker gives Batman a choice between the two things he holds most dearly: Rachel, a symbol of lust, and Harvey Dent, a symbol of justice for the people. While being interrogated, the Joker says to the Dark Knight, “Then that’s the rule you’ll have to break to know the truth. The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules, and tonight you’re going to break your one rule.” Ironically, the Joker is in a cage: he has no control, but nor does Batman. For once in his crime-stopping career, Batman loses his grip on the world. This explains why he goes to the extent he does to infringe upon the law. The Joker’s job is made easier by the fact that he can tear people apart internally, even in the position of a prisoner. The Joker lies about the locations of each hostage, in turn internally tearing the Dark Knight to pieces. Batman intends to go after Rachel, but finds Harvey in the warehouse at which he arrives. Batman’s intentions show viewers that even the most consistent sense of justice is corruptible. Not only did the Joker pervert the authoritarian justice that Batman stood for, but, like a double-edged sword, he also corrupted “Gotham’s White Knight.”

When we think that all has come to a close and justice has been served, the Joker reminds us, viewers, of the loose cannon that he has set upon society, Two-Face Harvey. Dent is the one man Batman can’t control. If society were to learn that the man serving as Gotham’s district attorney had been stepping outside the law, to serve justice as he saw fit, order would crumble. Paradoxically, Batman seems to already fit this role, enforcing justice the way he sees fit. Just as Batman breaks laws to bring society under his control, Two-Face Harvey kills in order to bring the world to its knees. Until the end, it seems as if the only thing separating Batman and Dent is the fact that Batman won’t kill. Ultimately we are proven wrong when the Dark Knight assumes his role, hurling Dent off the edge of a building. The Dark Knight takes Harvey Dent’s life to reaffirm the sense of justice that the Joker took from him. In Gotham there can only be one fascist that decides how to interpret justice. Corrupted by the Joker, Harvey Dent threatened that establishment.


Nolan’s film depicts a struggle between fascism and anarchism, a battle of polar opposites, where justice is not absolute. Even the things we take for granted are corruptible. The title, The Dark Knight, is implicit of a struggle more than just that of good versus evil, as most viewers see it. A society, heavily monitored and maintained by one individual, is challenged by a nihilist, who attempts to break away the most fundamental facets of what makes the public human. The Dark Knight is in no sense clear-cut. Justice has shadings, and those shadings are determined by those individuals who hold the most influence over society. The conflict of the film is Batman’s attempt to hold onto his twisted sense of justice, even in the face of a villain who tries to show that justice is obsolete.