Beyond the limits of the law: a Christological reading of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight

  • Author(s): Timothy D Petersa
  • When: 2015-10
  • Where: Griffith Law Review
  • Close readings of popular culture texts can illuminate the complexities of the narratives of law and justice that influence our legal imaginary, and provide a means for re-reading our concepts of legality. This article explores Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy not as a depiction of a traditional superhero who conservatively operates to supplement the legal system's goal of justice and restore the social order disrupted by criminals, villains or some other extraordinary threat, but as a non-hero who proposes a critique of justice and legality itself. It reads Batman as a Christological figure specifically because of his actions at the conclusion of the second film, The Dark Knight, in taking the blame for the murders committed by District Attorney Harvey Dent. In exploring what is an uncomfortable conclusion to the second film, I unpack how Nolan ‘makes strange’ the traditional superhero mythos and the narratives they tell of justice, law and legality. In this sense, The Dark Knight can be read as a Christological response to, as much as an expansion and fulfilment of, the rise of the superhero film and the superhero as a figure of the exception beyond the law.

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