Hunting the Dark Knight Twenty – First Century Batman

Author: Will Brooker

When my editor asked who wants to review a new Batman book, I couldn’t have jumped fast enough. However, my first reaction on getting the book was ‘where are all the pictures?’. Putting that disappointment to one side, Hunting the Dark Knight is an intelligent, academic and thought provoking studies of one of the most popular heroes of all time.

Hunting the Dark Knight covers all of the incarnations of Batman and their context. From the camp Batman of the TV shows, to Christopher Nolan’s epic modern crime fighter, Brooker uncovers why Batman changes for the times that he’s in. Surely there is no other hero that morphs with every passing decade.

A study in authorship and the auteur, it’s a thoroughly well-researched book bursting with detail. Broker jumps from era to era and his knowledge of Batman makes the book look like it’s been written by an intellectual, but nevertheless obsessive, fan. In one page he’ll jump from Nolan, Schumacher, Burton, Miller and then back to Nolan, dissecting all of the peripheral characters from Ra’s al Ghul to Batgirl to the Joker.

Topics such a homosexuality might be part and parcel of the Batman myth, but Brooker really contextualises why this is so intrinsic to the Batman myth. Batman’s campy turn in the TV  series is countered by his appearance in Arkham Asylum, where he calls Joker a ‘dirty degenerate’. I hadn’t really though of the context of that outside of the comic, but Brooker points out that this is a time when Aids hysteria was reaching it’s peak – it really highlights how political Batman is and always has been.

With Batman’s image being used for everything from selling Dominoes Pizza to being part of the Obama’s Presidential campaign, Batman is clearly an icon that crosses every demographic boundary – Will Brooker will explain why that is, and why he’s here to stay.

With the release of Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film just weeks away, Hunting the Dark Knight should ensure that your more clued up and plugged into the film and able to appreciate all of the nuances just a little bit more.

Maliha Basak

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