Batman the Capitalist
The Post's movie critic, Ann Hornaday, had a nifty little piece in Sunday's paper (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/01/AR2005070100370.html) in which she reveals that the libertarian blogworld has latched onto "Batman Begins" as a rare Hollywood endorsement of America's anti-government, pro-individual heritage. The Bruce Wayne in the latest Batman flick spurns his parents' liberal do-goodism after their murderer is coddled and treated more as a mentally ill fellow than as a vicious thug. Master Wayne turns into a vigilante who takes over the family company, realizes that an individual must create justice on his own because he can't trust the system, and is quite comfortable with a classic black-white view of evil and good.
Ann--and all those libertarians out there--are absolutely right that this Batman is a walking advertisement for the Cato Institute. But if I were a hard-core libertarian--I am, rather, a queasy and mushy libertarian, which is a very dangerous thing to be--I would not be so quick to adopt Batman Begins as my own because the problem with this Batman movie is that, unlike the comic and the first movies in the series, this one is utterly and relentlessly humorless. It completely misses the comic book, the cartoonish side of the Batfellow. And no political movement can succeed in the long run without a decent sense of humor. The earlier versions of the Batkid mythology were self-deprecating and self-aware in a way that this guy never could be. It's hard to imagine anyone liking this Bruce Wayne; it's even hard to imagine why Alfred stays loyal to such a harsh Master Bruce.
But libertarian or not, this Batman is deeply committed to the city, no matter how wretched urban life might become. There's a lesson in there for all those suburban libertarians who now fancy themselves caped crusaders.
July 5, 2005; 9:54 AM ET
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