Batman: The Dark Knight Returns; Themes and Analysis Essay

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The main conflicts in the world of The Dark Knight Returns revolve around escalating crime in Gotham city and forces of the authority attempting to control it. The authority should be a moral force and represent justice. The figures that represent the authority should be selfless and work only to promote the integrity of law and order. Authority proves to be contradictory in Miller’s novel as the authoritative figures express qualities of vigilantism and overall moral ambiguity.

The first example of a figure that contradicts his morals and skews the integrity of the authority is the president (assumed to be Ronald Reagan). In the novel Reagan is fed up with Batman’s movement of illegal actions. He uses Superman as a political pawn
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Batman contradicts his morals while he is fighting the mutant leader and when he is about to shoot him he stops himself with “though that means crossing a line I drew for myself thirty years ago”. While Batman did not kill the mutant leader, earlier on Batman shoots a mutant grunt with a machine gun and faded blood is splattered behind the criminal holding a baby captive (Miller, 64). Later on in the novel Batman says to the joker “a gun is a coward’s weapon, a liars weapon” (Miller, 149). Batman has power to stick to his morals, to take on the evil of Gotham City, and to make the decision to deliver justice no matter whose side of the law he is. However, in the novel he has clearly stated that killing someone crosses his morals and that he despises guns yet he uses them to kill criminals. Batman crosses his golden rule of not killing criminals and shows that he will go above his own moral code of justice.

Authority should and seek justice to maintain the integrity of law and order. This is not the case in the novel as the authority constantly contradicts itself with every authoritative figure nonchalantly stepping across their moral boundaries.

Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Rises is set in the very grim world of Gotham City. Bruce/Batman is in his 60s and throughout the novel appears to be on the brink of death yet continues to persevere in his

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