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Hancock, the Dark Knight and International Politics

July 26, 2008

Seems like there’s no escaping consideration of US foreign policy these days, even on a trip to the movies. I went to the conema this week to see both Hancock and The Dark Knight, both of which, undeniably have things to say about the role of America in the world.

Hancock, played by Will Smith is a drunken, hapless, unloved superhero, whose feckless attempts to fight crime are met with derision by a less than adoring public. Until, that is, he saves the life of PR man Ray, played by Jason Bateman who then offers Hancock his expertise to rehabilitate his image.

So Hancock learns how to appear on the scene without wrecking nice, tidy, suburban driveways, how to be polite to the natives, and how to wear a nice shiny superhero suit. Job done.

Thing is, an image/attitude change is all that happens, the violence Hancock perpetrates is still required to change the world he lives in.

And there you are. American foreign policy needs a bit of fine tuning and a good PR agent.

As for the Dark Knight, what a starlingly good movie. It is genuinely dark, genuinely exciting and manages tours de force from every actor, especially Heath Ledger as the Joker. Everything, even the soundtrack excels. But again, the message of the film is remarkable.

The Dark Knight is dark and brooding and unpopular, but recognises that there are unpopular and awful things that he must do in order to rescue the world from the terror of the criminal element. Note, by the way, the crumbling burning tower in the background of the poster.  He knows that the inevitable and necessary outcome of his role in Gotham is to be derided and pursued by those he protects who can’t understand the complexity of dealing with the badness in the world. The Joker is the mindless, senseless, motiveless purveyor of violence whose actions terrorise the citizens of Gotham.

The conclusion, Batman is the hero we deserve, but not the one we need right now. Gotham will hunt him, and he can take it because he’s not a hero, he’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector….a dark knight.

So it’s in large part our fault if we have war, and one day we’ll learn to thank Mr Bush. He hopes. But in the meantime, it’s clear how much of a burden it is being George, and we should appreciate him.

Two films worth seeing.

From → Film

  1. Mitch K permalink

    Saw Hancock a while ago, and DK last night with my spouse and 11 year old. A little more violence and horrifically agonizing situations than I’d like for Stefan, but he didn’t have any bad dreams, so that was good. Anyhoo– with both movies there was something unsettling for me, and I believe you’ve put your finger on it! Guess I’m too close to recognize the similarities, but I think you’ve nailed it. I also enjoyed Greg Boyd’s philosophical take on DK as well, it’s worth a read:

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