Unpopular Thoughts Regarding the Dark Knight

I haven't seen it yet, but I understand that, in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman kills a bunch of people. He even uses guns. The fan reaction to this has been...not good. We all know Batman doesn't kill, and "don't use guns" is practically tattooed on his forehead*. All I have to say about that is:

Good. The Dark Knight should use a gun, and he should kill people.

I'm making a distinction here between "Batman" and "The Dark Knight." I'm talking about the version of Batman who appeared in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" and has informed every Batman story since, as well as most grim-and-gritty stories about heroes who aren't named Batman. 

In "The Dark Knight Returns", Batman is, well, dark. He's really, really dark. He isn't in to things like innocent until proven guilty, or rehabilitation, or therapy, or laws. He's all about punching, and kicking, and torturing, and terrorizing. He literally beats the Joker within an ounce of pressure of his life**. That's what distinguishes him from the criminals, right?

What complete nonsense.

Batman may separate himself from criminals by using more humane methods, but Frank Miller's Dark Knight openly mocks that distinction but doesn't quite have the courage to take it to its logical conclusion. Miller's proposition is that it's not the methods that make one's actions right, it's your rightness that justifies one's actions. Batman is right and criminals are wrong because he's Batman and they're scum. It's not the methods so much as the rightness of the cause and, importantly, the rightness of the man. In Miller's world, abstaining from using the same methods as your foes isn't moral strength; it's unilateral disarmament and it provides aid to the villains. 

And in this world, Batman absolutely would use guns and he wouldn't hesitate to kill. Trying to maintain the thinnest veneer of superiority by having Batman abstain from only the most extreme measures feels like a cheat. It's not an honest representation of Miller's take on the character. 

My hope is that, by finally reaching the logical culmination of this take on the character, we can finally put it to bed. It was a hell of an original take on the character thirty years ago. The eighties are long over. Time to move on. Time to be someone else***.

 

* Even though he uses guns. He's always used guns.

** Yes, literally. For what it's worth, this scene is a perfect example of Miller trying to have it both ways. The Joker is certain that Batman will face consequences for "killing" him as opposed to stopping just short so. It didn't ring true then and doesn't now.

** Yes, literally. For what it's worth, this scene is a perfect example of Miller trying to have it both ways. The Joker is certain that Batman will face consequences for "killing" him as opposed to stopping just short so. It didn't ring true then and doesn't now.

*** Yes, I totally stole that from Warren Ellis' Planetary, Issue 7.  Too good a line not to use.

*** Yes, I totally stole that from Warren Ellis' Planetary, Issue 7.  Too good a line not to use.