Tag Archives: The Dark Knight

Optimism vs. Cynicism: The Great Heroic Debate

Batman in The Dark Knight Rises

Let’s talk about utopias, giant robots and pop culture.

There’s been much talk surrounding the recent hit Pacific Rim, and how, in all its giant-alien-clobbering awesomeness it was very quick to be dismissed as a shallow creation by critics. Fair enough, I suppose, Pacific Rim isn’t exactly an award winning struggle with the Great Themes and overall the movie was pretty simple, especially in terms of its black and white morality (humans = good guys, giant poisonous aliens = not so much). It’s a lot of fun, plain old monster fighting fun, not exactly gritty, dark or deep. But here is the question: must it be, in order to be accredited any artistic merit?

Apart from, of course, the awesome characters, worldbuilding and immensely creative design of the whole thing, you could argue that one of the big appeals of Pacific Rim is that it’s an optimistic science fiction, where humans and their inventions and relationships actually end up saving the world instead of trashing it. Raleigh and Mako, the main Jaeger team, could be given the title of the heroes of the movie and could convincingly hold onto it, being heroes in the regular sense of wanting to save people, do good and being genuinely likeable characters along the way.

They aren’t twisted or cynical or even snarky, and they don’t have fathoms of shadowy depth and inner turmoil. Neither of them is Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne in terms of dark, brooding complexity, but rather than making them immediately seem shallow and boring it made them part of the overall enjoyability of the movie. Perhaps, if nothing else, it’s because they stood out of the crowd. Continue reading

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Filed under Archetypes and Genre

Dying in Fiction 102: Be an Innocent Female Character

Within fiction there are certain codes, ingrained enough in our collective psyche that, hypothetically, if we were to end up stranded in a made-up world, we, as geeks and fiction aficionados, would sort of know what to do to stay alive.

Trying too hard to be a hero, for example, is a sure way to get killed off, so that kind of behaviour is something you as a mortality-conscious protagonist can be careful to avoid. However, there are other deadly conventions that are far more difficult to run from, such as the one in question today, which seems to be a target strapped to the character in question since birth.

While the heroes are running around being heroic, doubtless somewhere in the background there’s an innocent bystander unfortunate enough to have two X chromosomes. She is unassuming and sweet-natured, maybe she’s a love interest or a little sister or a friend. Either way, she’s top of the hit-list.

Especially, apparently, if she has anything to do with romance and superheroes.

Someone’s got to add a more relatable element to the sci-fi struggle between good and evil, and who better than a doting love interest? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Romance plotlines are not bad by default, and the women and men who lead them are not always unnecessary or obnoxious. That isn’t what we’re talking about here, anyway. We’re talking about how, whether they’re relevant beyond fan service and warm fuzzies or not, they seem to have a startling mortality rate. Continue reading

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Filed under How To

Holy Dark and Gritty Retool, Batman!

Remember when superheroes were wholesome and happy-go-lucky? Good, innocent comic readers could sleep at night in the assurance that Superman would never fail to leap those tall buildings and that Captain America was punching Nazis and Communists in the face on their behalf and keeping them safe. They were created as a beacon of hope and a showcase of the power of simple white over black morality.

The Dark Knight Rises poster

Spiderman: And then there's THIS ASSHOLE

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Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings