World Order and The Dark Knight Subtext

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an opinion piece written by , and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of DCN, affiliates, or staff.

We currently live in a world where nations and entire societies shift their way of thinking, acting, and living to adapt to forces we are yet to fully understand – order and disorder. It’s not a matter of how to deal with the disorder in our way of living, nor it is a matter of controlling such force of nature. Fact is, it is all about survival.

Simply put, “order vs. disorder” is not the best way to describe the massive crisis in our world order. Instead, both forces react to each other without erasing the other one, they coexist and need each other to continue.

Certainly a normal person, the everyday man watches the news about the ongoing war involving the Islamic State or the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and immediately thinks it would be nice to help – it would be the right thing to do. In the end the thought flies in the air and vanishes into oblivion, as a single person can not change the world by himself or herself. It does not mean that person does not matter, it’s just that change comes in waves and individuals working together have a greater chance to impact the world when their minds are dedicated to the task. The government of world powers such as the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Union could really help cleansing the disorder aspect of such never-ending conflicts with the Islamic State and similar organizations. However they chose not to or simply decided that those wars were necessary. Why are wars necessary? The governments are used to fighting for freedom, to protect citizens against terrorism and any threat to what they consider a decent way to live, but when there is no monster to fight, when there is no enemy, they create the monsters, they create them because they need them. Because if there is no “evil,” how will you know when there is “good?”

In all of Nolan’s films, he delivered a message about what was happening with the world and the U.S. government at the time the three Batman movies were released. The films often represent and act as a testament of what was happening or happened to the world in the period they took place (2005,2008,2012).

Looking back at The Dark Knight

New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman, referenced in an article, how a piece of dialogue from the second film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight, reflects the world’s current status in regards to the matter of dealing with order and disorder in similar scenarios to the ones we are discussing. The dialogue is from a conversation between Alfred and Bruce Wayne/Batman talking about Gotham’s crime lords involvement with the Joker.

Bruce Wayne: “I knew the mob wouldn’t go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.”

Alfred Pennyworth: “You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them. You hammered them to the point of desperation. And, in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.”

Bruce Wayne: “Criminals aren’t complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he’s after.”

Alfred Pennyworth: “With respect, Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that you don’t fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But, in six months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.”

Bruce Wayne: “So why steal them?”

Alfred Pennyworth: “Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. …”

Bruce Wayne: “The bandit, in the forest in Burma, did you catch him?”

Alfred Pennyworth: “Yes.”

Bruce Wayne: “How?”

Alfred Pennyworth: “We burned the forest down.”

Protest against bombings in Gaza

That piece of dialogue delivers strong subtext, reflecting how the most prominent governments in the world deal with threats as if they were a sickness/disease. When dialogue is not enough, or when other groups do not comply exactly as those governments want them to, they choose to wipe their problems out just as Alfred and his friends burned down the forest to end with the warlord, simple as that.

Getting back to a world of order, money indeed serves as part of the means to an end. However it is no longer what drives the world. Instead, we are looking at a brave new world where power belongs to those with resources, to those who are able to control the flow of information. Order is a blunt force when used correctly, but it requires sacrifice, sometimes you can not have security and privacy at once. The Dark Knight gives a prime example of that. One may view warlords in Africa as mass murderers and criminals of the highest order. Ask one of their soldiers or one of the people they have under their protection and the responses will shock you. To the eyes of certain people, these characters are not criminals but rather saviors. They lend their hand to those they see in need, to homeless, abandoned starving children, even if it’s only to recruit them to die for a vain cause, these young boys and girls get the chance to feel secure, to have a home (albeit a temporary one). One can not argue with these people for giving their lives for the person who gave them shelter when the rest of the world turned a blind eye to their dire situation.

Example of the violation of civil liberties in our technological age

A hard truth, give people in need of protection the means to defend themselves and they’ll follow you. This philosophy hardly fails and is a common practice utilized by guerrilla groups. Not only that, but certain groups often preach their very own creed that attracts young minds in search of purpose – redirecting them in the wrong direction. Laws become simple text against people who have never understood them and have never benefited by them, and who can blame them? Certainly not those of us who live in democratic societies. Sure, everyone has problems, but personal ones at that, not external issues, we have never gone through such harsh situations that continuously try to break our spirits. When corruption is so widely spread in the legal system of one’s country, it is not rare for the people to trust their kin and their kin only.

We already discussed how order perceives the problems outside its own bubble and how the disorder takes advantage of it, and while such forces coexist, it does not mean they should have to. I remember a scene in The Dark Knight Rises when the president of the United States expresses his support for the people of Gotham when the city is besieged by Bane’s forces. He expresses the government will not abandon the city and that it is not alone, when truth is exactly the opposite. Just like that, when certain groups of citizens become a burden for their beliefs, problems or opinions, higher powers tend to take decisions with extreme prejudice, either turning a blind eye or disposing of them. Indeed order is difficult to maintain, while disorder easily spreads, given enough time and when not supervised.

So, is it reasonable they both coexist, as to justify the presence of the other? Should we really allow states of chaos grow unnoticed just because we would struggle to deal with change/global impact of such force? Or is there a third option, one that can benefit us all? And if so, are you willing to sacrifice your commodity for the greater good?


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Antonio Jose Chavez

Antonio Jose Chavez

Antonio is a comic book artist-in process, writer and a huge fan of everything related to DC Comics. He would like to become the next Batman, however he lacks the billions to do so....oh and the ninja training too