I went and saw The Dark Knight when it opened yesterday and loved it. It’s an incredible movie with a great script and awesome direction. In my discussion of it, I may reveal some things you may not want to hear before you’ve seen it, so be forewarned.
The movie’s main theme is corruption. Harvey Dent is viewed in the beginning as a crusader against the corruption and both Batman and the Joker know it. Batman tries to protect him, but in the end the Joker causes him to become the very thing he was fighting against.
At the very end, Batman’s police contact, Gordon has a monologue where he summarizes the position of the two heroes Harvey and Batman. Harvey, he says, is the not the hero Gotham City deserved, but he’s the one they needed. Batman is the hero Gotham deserves, but they don’t need him right now.
It’s unfortunate that the writers got this speech reversed. If we look at Gotham City as being humankind, we see it is completely corrupted. Sin is pervasive and insurmountable. When looked at in this way, Harvey Dent is exactly the hero Gotham City deserves. They were made for each other. But Dent is not what it needs. He is a shell of good intentions surrounding a core of sin and fallibility. Dent couldn’t cure the disease; he fell victim to it.
The incorruptible Batman is what Gotham does not deserve. He is an ideal, an untainted reality that stands in contrast to the decay that is Gotham City. Yet he is exactly what they need. Only he was able to oppose the crime and mayhem of the City.
What I see in Gordon’s statement is a kind of entitlement mentality: Because we live in such a corrupt city, we deserve a real hero who can get us out of it. Because there is nothing we can do about the sin in our town, we shouldn’t have to be held accountable and given our just penalty.