Shadows of the Bat Constructions of Good and Evil in the Batman Movies of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan

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Simon Philipp Born


The superhero narrative is typically premised on the conflict between the hero and the villain, the mythical struggle between good and evil. It therefore promotes a Manichaeanworldview where good and evil are clearly distinguishable quantities. This bipolar model is questioned in the Batman movies of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan.Since his creation in 1939, Batman has blurred the line between black and white unlike any other classic comic book superhero. As a “floating signifier”, he symbolizes thepermeability of boundaries, for his liminal character inhabits a world between light and darkness, order and anarchy, hero and villain. Drawing on the complex ambiguity of the character, Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan deconstruct the traditional dichotomy of good and evil in the superhero narrative by reversing its polarity and emphasizing the fictionality of it all. Although they differ in style and method, both filmmakers invite us to overcome the Manichaean belief in favor of a more ambivalent and sophisticated viewpoint.

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BORN, Simon Philipp. Shadows of the Bat. Journal for Religion, Film and Media (JRFM), [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1, p. 75-104, may 2017. ISSN 2414-0201. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2018. doi:
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