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Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman Paperback – July 17, 2012
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'A fascinating and incredibly detailed analysis of comic fiction's most powerful and successful hero.' - Pat Mills, author of Batman: The Book of Shadows 'Through the prism of poststructuralism, Will Brooker casts dazzling new light on Batman as myth, brand, and canon. Hunting the Dark Knight is, quite simply, a brilliant study of the Batman and contemporary processes of rebooting, franchising and shaping a cultural icon.' - Matt Hills, author of Triumph of a Time Lord
About the Author
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Will Brooker's "Hunting the Dark Knight" is not that kind of book. As he discusses Nolan's films, the genesis of "Batman Begins," and, best of all, the nature of Batman as being more than any one iteration suggests, Brooker draws from postmodernism, deconstructionism, and anthropology about middle-age carnivals, but he does it all in a way that illuminates Batman. If you read with attention and patience, you will learn about some of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, but you'll also learn more about one of the greatest pop icons we have, and one of the only mythical heroes that belong to us, not generations past.
Any reader who wants to argue that Batman represents more than childhood nostalgia and vicarious thrills must read this book. It is the best expression I've ever seen of Batman's value, and of his constantly expanding, ever hardening mythical core.
Right off, it's important to state that this book is not for the casual reader. To best understand it, a university education in literary analysis and a thorough knowledge of the Batman comics all the way from the 1930's would help.
I don't have either of those, but that didn't stop me from reading Brooker's fascinating book. It gets into ideas such as authorship, fidelity, paratexts, and intertextuality, among other literary tools to examine who Batman is, and who he isn't.
Two things struck me as I was reading the book. First, Brooker uses modern tools in examining Batman because he is a modern, pop culture subject. Instead of a scholastic approach wherein one might sight other authoritative writers to prove a personal argument, Brooker looks at information in the modern world. He cites message board discussions, reviews on Amazon.com (like this one), and movie review in magazines, newspapers, and websites. It's a world where Brooker looks at ordinary people who participate in the Batman phenomenon by contributing their personally varying degrees of interest, knowledge, and expertise to the critique of Batman.
Second, I was struck by how loose the concept of Batman is in spite of corporations or directors trying to define Batman in their own way. Especially in the sections on adaptation of the Batman character, I thought that things like continuity, canon, reboots, and branding worked to keep a tight reign on who the Batman character is. Not true! And here's an example.
You know Bat-girl? Well, she was created to heterosexualize Batman because a 1954 book entitled Seduction of the Innocent asserted Batman and Robin was code for gay. But then the 1960's TV show undermined her by showing a campy Batman. Later, again, in the 1990's, Schumacher's two Batman films further reinforced that gay camp with nippled costumes and prominent codpieces. So what is the new Batman? A mean, masculine Batman who reflects a post 9/11 world where issues of terrorism reflect the public's mood.
But is that it? A dark Batman without a Robin?
Well, that's not what Brooker asserts, as Batman is continually evolving, as he always has since his creation more than 70 years ago.
So how does this review help a person decide to buy the book (or not)? Check out a sample of the book before you buy. If the first 10 pages don't make sense to you, then it won't be any easier to finish the rest of the book. The more you know about Batman lore and history, the more you'll get out of this book, as it is not a primer in any way.
If you take Batman seriously in any serious or academic fashion, then you MUST buy this book. You'll particularly be intrigued by the Pharmakon analogy that breaks down the two-part/opposite approach where word meaning can create a gray area in the literary analysis of Batman. I won't even begin to try to explain this, but it is a fascinating read that leads to a discussion on the Bush policy on terrorism.