Terror, tragedy mark 'Batman' on screen and off

With a fixation on random violence, Gotham City dysfunction and the death of a star, the "Batman" movies have long been consumed with tragedy and terror.

Now an unfathomable horror is forever linked to the series.

After the deadly shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater where hundreds had gathered to see the area premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," it's hard not to wonder whether the gunman was in any way inspired by the characters or chaos that are the hallmark of the lucrative movie franchise.

No one yet knows exactly why a black-clad man wearing a gas mask and full body armor burst into a theater with several weapons, and there is no proof that the horrific deed has a direct connection to the Batman saga.

But there is connection by default, and the film's red-carpet premiere in Paris -- where stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Morgan Freeman had been due to attend -- was canceled Friday.

New York City police announced security was being stepped up at cinemas, in part "as a precaution against copycats."

And Batman studio Warner Brothers said it was "deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident" and extended its sympathies to families of the victims.

Even before the shooting, tragedy, loss and controversy haunted the Batman landscape, notably when Heath Ledger, the Hollywood star whose devilish portrayal of The Joker in the 2008 blockbuster "The Dark Knight" won him an Oscar, died months before that film's release.

Director Chris Nolan has won plaudits for the ambitious finale of his brooding super-hero trilogy, which details the full breadth from childhood trauma -- protagonist Bruce Wayne saw his parents murdered -- his vow for revenge and his status as loner and eccentric billionaire crime-fighter, through to whatever awaits viewers at the end of the latest movie.

Its portrayal of terrorist attacks, anti-government uprisings and martyrdom in what clearly resembles New York is unsettling in the post-9/11 era.

Nolan's reprisal of arch-villain Bane, a beast of a man who wears a mask and unleashes horrific attacks, caused a stir on American talk radio when a prominent conservative broadcaster savaged Hollywood for what he said were the film's liberal political undercurrents.

Rush Limbaugh pointed out that Bane sounds just like Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican who is challenging President Barack Obama for the White House.

When "Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Bain, Romney and Bain... these people will think back to the Batman movie -- 'Oh yeah, I know who that is,'" Limbaugh argued.

Comic book writer Chuck Dixon, who created the Bane character in 1993, dismissed the comparison as "ridiculous."

Political posturing aside, a debate has simmered for years about whether movies like "Batman" are the projector or the reflector of a culture of violence.

Hollywood and other popular culture staples, like rap and heavy metal music, are trotted out as scapegoats in the wake of tragedy, and some films have indeed inspired extreme acts.

John Hinckley Jr, who shot US president Ronald Reagan in 1981, had sent love letters to Jodi Foster, the child star of 1976 classic "Taxi Driver," about a mentally unstable man who tries to kill a presidential candidate.

And Oliver Stone's 1994 movie "Natural Born Killers" is believed by some to have inspired deadly shootings.

After Aurora, the veteran movie critic Roger Ebert rushed to the defense of film.

"I'm not sure there is an easy link between movies and gun violence. I think the link is between the violence and the publicity," Ebert wrote in The New York Times.

The shooting suspect's "inner terror expressed itself, as it often does these days, in a link between pop culture and firearms," he said.

While the Batman effect on Holmes is not clear, the Caped Crusader has been swathed in violence since he was brought to life in a 1939 comic book, and observers turned to Batman Friday for possible clues to the Colorado tragedy.

Recent Batman films portray ineffective politicians, a corrupt police force under pressure from crime lords and terrorists, and a broken legal system, the embodiment of modern dysfunction in a fallen age.

Corey Graves, a wrestler in Florida, tapped into the incomprehension people expressed on social media over how someone could take so many innocent lives, with authorities powerless to stop the slaughter.

"Kinda makes you wish Batman was real, doesn't it?" he posted on Twitter.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • North Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    North Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two missiles into the sea on Monday and vowed "merciless" retaliation as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre rattling. "And if there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the North …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday it will have to be discussed by Congress because lawmakers are the ones who enact tax exemptions, special or general. Pacquiao has been dogged by unsettled tax obligations with the BIR. …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options