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boring of all. Anyone who has ever listened to a braggart can tell youhow unexciting a prospect it is. The drama for all the Dark Knights, not just Batman but any charac-ter of that archetype, is the temptation all policemen, jurors, and judgesface in real life: it is the temptation to be unjust in the name of justice.The temptation to go too far, to say the ends justify the means. The reason why a portrayal of Batman merely as a brutal vigilante-no matter how well told-is treason against the character is preciselybecause this essential element of the drama of virtue drops out. Justiceis a difficult balancing act in the soul, and therefore dramatic, the onlyreal drama in life; brutality is easy, therefore boring. The Dark Knight turns pride on its head. It is the arrogance of thecriminals that will prove their downfall. No one suspects the worthlessmillionaire playboy. Be strong and be meek! So says the code of the White Knight.Be dangerous and look weak and worthless, so that your foe willunderestimate you and be destroyed. So says the stealthy strategy of theDark Knight.14. The Animal Magnetism of the BatHaving said all this, the reason for the sexual appeal of the untamedbeast of Bruce Wayne over the White Knight of Clark Kent should beplain to see. By the very nature of what it means to be a dark vigilante, all such Zorro-types are rebels who play by their own rules. They are “bad boys” whodress like villains even to the black hat and black cape. Hence, they havethe romance of a villain without actually being a villain. And women findvillains alluring-look at how many pirates and bold highwaymen appear194
Heroes of Darkness and Lighton the front cover of lurid paperback romances. Women sigh over the “badboy” even if they end up marrying the good boy. Batman’s civilian identity cannot be a mild-mannered normal working-man for the same reason Superman cannot be Super President. Dramarequires a sharp contrast: the dark avenger needs must appear in the eyesof the world as a lazy, self-indulgent playboy in order for the contrast withhis inner steel to be clear. In order to maintain this contrast, in order to play the fop while beingthe deadliest blade in Spain (or the deadliest batarang in Gotham), the darkavenger must be a man of absolutely stern conviction, utterly devoted tohis cause. Devoted? Or driven? For Robin Hood, the injustice of the usurping KingJohn drove him to his career of vengeance; for Zorro, it was the injusticemeted out to the peons; for Batman, it was the death of his parents.To be truly dark, the dark avenger has to be tormented by inner demons.He is a man of unparalleled passion and conviction, his true naturerepressed, hidden beneath an icy cold exterior. He is like some sleeping vol-cano seen in the distance, crowned with snow and seemingly calm, butbeneath, an inferno. Batman is the Rhett Butler of the comic book world.