Holy Totalitarianism, Batman!

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  • Six million people are evacuating Gotham city. They’re probably scared of what Batman has become.

    Developer Rocksteady’s interpretation of Batman has widened in scope. Once it was only Arkham Asylum under siege by piles of uber-villains, then an entire (growing) city in the sequel stakes race. In fear, the people – police too – have allowed Batman’s operation to grow. His technological range is alarming. Perhaps unknowingly, Batman has become less a hero than a threat to basic freedoms.

    Superheroes warn us now. It’s a popular thematic strategy. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was less a film about Superman saving the world from an invader so much as it was a film about Superman saving America from itself. Marvel’s comparably fanciful films inject their social commentary too. Captain America: Winter Soldier had plenty to speak of regarding unauthorized surveillance.

    But Arkham Knight’s Batman is not warning anyone. Free from oversight, Batman has constructed a spy network, integrated with a police state, held citizens against their will and constructed a multi-ton transforming tank – for protection. He is now a well-armored, bulky and implausibly powerful unrestricted figure, looming overhead on Gothic architecture as private conversations stream into a headset. He needs no militia; he is one.

    In an imaginary background montage, newspaper printers spin off fear-inducing headlines: “We need Batman,” or, “How much can Gotham take?” That’s what the news does. Scarecrow’s hallucinogenic gas is less caustic to safety. If Batman can protect people by installing citywide spying antennas, hacking into private networks and using a tank, so be it, personal information be damned.

    UW68-smallArkham Knight has no basis of morality, no balance. That’s the problem. Commissioner Gordon’s state funded police mingle with Batman freely. They’re excited about his progress. Superficially, it’s leaning right wing. Multi-billion (trillion?) dollar Wayne Corp has produced the necessary equipment to keep society safe without interference from legalities, legislation, or licensing hold ups. The free market keeps us safe. TSA. NSA. CIA. Batman is all of them, without tax payer dollars.

    Except Gotham isn’t safe. Arkham Knight would be needless if it were. Naivety is the city’s downfall. Despite the invasive anti-privacy measures, someone still proved capable of building thousands of remote controlled tank drones to unleash on city streets. Terrorists infiltrated Acme Chemical Factory to produce (rather obviously) a chemical weapon. Riddler sadistically hid his dangerous trophies across the city. Terrorism wins.

    You’ve been reading an excerpt from Unwinnable Monthly Issue 68.

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