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- "...this world is inevitably a place of sorrow and that the only heroism is a solitary resignation of the spirit" (Catherine Belsey).

Introduction to Batman:
    For our purposes in this introduction, we will be discussing Batman in reference to the two latest movies to hit the box office: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Our psychoanalysis, however, will be primarily focusing on the second movie.
    Batman, otherwise known as Bruce Wayne, is a man seeking justice for the wrongs that have been done to him during his life. In this first movie, the audience sees young Bruce witness the murder of his parents. Although left with a sizable fortune, Bruce strives to fill the void left behind from the missing role models in his life. According to Freud, Wayne has experienced a form of traumatic anxiety.  His ego was overwhelmed by the death of his parents, leaving him feeling helpless and alone.  It is this helplessness that can be attributed to Wayne's creation of his alter ego Batman.  Batman, unlike Wayne, has no fears.  Batman's only creator is Bruce Wayne, thus he does not have to fear being separated from his creator like Wayne was (for if one dies, so does the other).  Wayne also shows signs of "death guilt" which would be defined as guilt that results from living through a traumatic event.  People with this issue wonder why others died and they survived (Brody 3).  This guilt is a major factor in determining Wayne's character.  We can even see remnants of this in The Dark Knight. He feels terrible when people died impersonating him at the hands of the Joker even though Alfred, his butler and confidant, tells him that he must "endure" these deaths. Luckily, Dent lied and turned himself in as "the Batman" before Wayne could step forward.  How bad would Wayne have felt if he had given in to the Joker's evil plan and then witnessed more deaths when the Joker didn't follow through on his promise to quite killing?    
    Bruce embraces some of the very things that frightened him. When the audience sees Bruce Wayne’s childhood flashback of him falling into a bat cave (in Batman Begins), it is apparent that he is frightened by bats. Instead of him becoming a chiroptophobe (a person who is afraid of bats), he decided that he wants to use the very symbol that frightens him in order to strike fear into the hearts of the criminals on the streets of Gotham. Conquering this fear is similar and directly related to his "conquering" of the fear of being an orphan.  In order for Wayne to overcome being an orphan, he lashes out against what made him this way: criminals.  In contrast, in order for Wayne to conquer the bat, he has to become one.  It is this mastery over the very things that frighten him that makes Wayne an interesting case.
Analysis of The Dark Knight:

  The Dark Knight.jpg    To begin our analysis of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight, we want to prepare our audience with the knowledge that we will try to move in a linear fashion through the movie as much as possible, however, sometimes this is impossible based on the themes. In the beginning of the movie, the question is raised whether or not Batman needs psychological help and he states “I don’t need help,” however, the psychiatrist from Batman Begins, Dr. Jonathan Crane (the Scarecrow), said, “Not my diagnosis.”  It is this very statement that piqued our interest.  What if we were to psychoanalyze and deconstruct Batman?  What would we find rules "the bat"?
    One of the main psychological issues that we found with Batman is exactly where does Batman stop and Bruce Wayne begin? Bruce Wayne says to Alfred after displaying his injured arm that “Batman has no limits” to which Alfred replies “But you do sir.” Bruce has become so enveloped in his own quest for “justice” that he seems to have lost who Bruce Wayne is. On the surface Bruce Wayne seems to be a playboy that invites Russian ballerinas to go cruising on his yacht, but is that really him? Our answer is no. Bruce Wayne loves Rachel Dawes, however, he realizes that Batman would get in the way of him being a good companion.  The simple answer to Wayne's problem is that he needs to choose between being Bruce Wayne and Batman.  Easy right?  No.  This leads us into our next psychological issue. 

     Bruce Wayne is unable to force himself to retire and live a normal life. Bruce Wayne wants to be with Rachel, yet he has developed the character of Batman more than of his own identity as Bruce Wayne. The difference between Batman and Bruce Wayne is that Bruce Wayne is a mere mortal with flaws and insecurities.  Batman, although exhibiting no superpowers, is more than a person, he is a symbol.  He symbolizes justice (which we will go into later).   Thus, Wayne has constructed a superhero not only to save the people from criminals, but to save him from himself.  The less time Wayne spends as Bruce Wayne, the more he gets to be this figure of justice, this self-created god.  It is quite apparent by his actions that Bruce Wayne has a Christ Complex. He is everyone's savior.  In the very end of the movie this comes up when Batman takes the punishment for the crimes that Harvey Dent committed in order to uphold the peace and allow Dent to continue to stand for true justice.  Batman takes the punishment for the sins of Dent in order to allow the people to continue to look up to Dent instead of having their faith wrecked.  It is this instance that proves that Batman is not a self-serving hero like some others may be.  Batman stands for what is right, even if by doing so he must be wrong.

     In the beginning of The Dark Knight, one of the Batman wannabees asks Batman what gives him the right to take justice into his own hands.  But what is “justice?” According to justice is defined as “rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.” Based on the definition, justice means to follow the laws laid forth by the state and federal levels, however, what happens when laws conflict? Let’s take the Joker, for example, and compare him to Batman. The Joker kills people just for the sport of it, almost as a hunter shots a deer. By killing these people, the Joker is depriving them of life which is a right given to you by the Constitution (the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness) and upheld by laws against homicide. When the Joker is put into jail he escapes which allows him to kill more people. Since the Joker continually breaks laws by killing more and more people, is it “just” to kill him? Batman seems to think not because, according to him, if he killed the Joker, he would be just as bad as him.  To kill the Joker, however, means to entitle the people around him to life for they no longer have to live in fear that they will be his next victims.  Is it just to kill the Joker then?  Does Batman oppose the very justice he is supposed to represent by allowing him to live?  Furthermore, how are people supposed to conduct themselves if the laws that they live by subvert each other? 

     Now back to Batman.  In some cases, Batman is the law. When Richard Dent and Patrick Harvey are killed by the Joker, then the law is suspended for Batman because he is allowed to take away evidence from the scene of the crime. This is partially because it is known that there are traitors within Gordon's police unit and so Batman is the only one he can trust. When it all comes down to it, the law is ideal and people are not so how can the law be enforced when people themselves are not perfect and not completely law bidding?

     In summation, Batman and Bruce Wayne appear to be one in the same. Bruce Wayne is merely a front, not an actual person.  Batman is who he really is and chooses to be in order to escape his own past. We determined this because Bruce Wayne is not the playboy that he pretends to be nor is he even into his company, Wayne Enterprises, (he falls asleep during board meetings). Batman, however, is the control that Bruce Wayne strives for in his life. Batman, for him, represents stability. Batman is indestructible/has a Christ complex. Because Batman is Bruce’s best friend, only friend, and identity it is impossible for him to retire to live a normal life. Batman is also "justice" because he is not ideal.  Where the law fails, he picks up the slack.  When the people need him to be the bad guy, he becomes the bad guy.  He is always there, always incorruptible.  Batman is the "watchful protector" that Gotham needs.  Watch the end on Youtube.


  Batman watching over the city.jpg 





                       Works Cited

Batman Begins. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2005.

Belsey, Catherine. "Literature, History, Politic." Contexts for Criticism. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Humanities, Social Sciences & World Languages, 2002. 427-435.

Brody, Michael. "Batman: Psychic Trauma and Its Solution." Journal of Popular Culture 28.4   (Spring95 1995): 171-178. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Reeves Memorial Library, Greensburg, PA. 7 Apr. 2009 <>.

"Justice." 07 Apr. 2009 <>.

Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket. 10 Apr. 2009 <>.

The Dark Knight. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2008.

Weis, Mara Sophia Ellen. "The Christ Complex." Gnostic.Org. 07 Apr. 2009 <>.

Yorke, Clifford. "Reflections on the Problem of Psychic Trauma." Circumcision Information and Resource Pages. 07 Apr. 2009 <>.

"YouTube - The Dark Knight - Ending." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 10 Apr. 2009 <>.

10 Apr. 2009 <>.




First, I find it very interesting that you were intrigued about what, “rules ‘the bat.’” Immediately when I read this it made me think of a previous Batman movie, Batman Forever. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie; however, towards the beginning of the movie, Bruce Wayne is at an event in where he is invited to have TV beamed directly into his brain (which is new invention in the movie); however, the machine actually works in two ways and also extracts a picture of what the individual is thinking about. This is meant as a scheme of sorts to try to discover who Batman is and what’s going on in his mind. So I think it’s always been something people (and characters) have wondered, what is Batman thinking and what makes him tick?

I also appreciated that you said, “Bruce Wayne is merely a front…” Previously on your page when you said, “The simple answer to Wayne's problem is that he needs to choose between being Bruce Wayne and Batman.” I thought to myself, “Well, Bruce Wayne is just a front for Batman.” Then later you confirmed the same thing I was thinking. It is certainly a reversal though to consider a person’s real name and identity as only a front.

I really liked how you explained that Batman has a Christ-complex. I really think this was an extremely powerful part of the movie. I remember sitting in the movie theatre the first time and the power these lines had over me:
Batman: You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I can do those things because I'm not a hero, like Dent. I killed those people. That's what I can be.
Gordon: No, you can't! You're not!
Batman: I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be.
I literally shivered when Batman said that last line. I guess it was one of those “frissons” that Derek defined earlier in this semester. But when I read your explanation of how Batman is a Christ-figure it recreated this shiver sensation. It is so true, the comparison is very appropriate.

I also liked how you did not limit this page to psychoanalysis. You actual veered into some poststructuralism as you considered what justice truly is. You basically deconstructed justice. After all, does the end justify the means?

I also found it interesting that you wrote, “Because Batman is Bruce’s best friend, only friend, and identity it is impossible for him to retire to live a normal life.” I know that you are trying to limit yourself to The Dark Knight and a little bit to Batman Begins (and I respect you for being so successful at it, the whole time I’ve been reading your page I keep relating it to all the other portrayals and versions of Batman I have come into contact with), but I am going to bring up another version of Batman anyway. I know it’s kind of geeky, but I am a graphic novel fan (whether it be American comics or manga). And when you mentioned the impossibility of Batman being able to retire it reminded me of a comic book series I have read called “Batman Beyond.” The general premise of the comic is that Bruce Wayne has become too old to continue effectively being “Batman.” As a result, he ends up finding a replacement in a teenager, Terry McGinnis. And Terry begins to take over the role of Batman under Bruce’s tutelage. So I’m just a little curious, what you think about that—a Batman who is no longer Bruce Wayne, but someone else?

First of all, Greta, I'd like to thank you for such a thoughtful comment. This made me feel really good about all the hard work. I also liked your comparison to Batman Forever. I had forgotten all about the brain TV device that the Riddler (Jim Carrey) used to gain knowledge. It was amazing to see what was actually inside Wayne's head, as scary as it might have been.

As for your question, I think you almost answered it yourself with the quote you included above, "I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be." If Bruce Wayne gets too old to be Batman, it should be passed down to the next generation. The Ironman comic is like this as well and although I have an attachment to Bruce Wayne, what makes him so cool is the fact that he's so realistic. Because aging is a normal part of life, Batman should experience it.

Thank you for such an engaging comment, Greta! I like how you noticed that we veered our way of thinking from psychological criticism into post-structuralism and Derrida's theory of deconstruction. A reader can see how Batman's identity is different when he is Bruce Wayne or defending Gotham.

I also really enjoyed how you related the comic series of "Batman Beyond" to our website and analysis. In addition, you pose an interesting question about Batman passing his rights and role onto someone else. Could there ever be another Batman like Bruce Wayne? Is this type of question stereotypical because of how the media and Hollywood portrayed Batman? Or is it a front? Questions like these become twisted around the idea of Batman and society.

Angela also brings up an interesting idea about Batman and his family. Through history, we have learned how England and their Kings have passed their roles onto the male gender and future generations. Can this type of "knighting," per say, be referred to Batman when he becomes old and can not meet the requirements that Batman has to do?

Also, I want to thank you again, Greta, for the great complements and uplifting kudos.

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