Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taking the law into their own hands

{warning - spoilers ahead}

At a time when we are struggling with the limits to government power, it is interesting to look at our heroes.

First there was Iron Man. When he discovered that his weapons systems were being used by terrorists he built a suit of armor and took them out personally.

Then there is Hellboy. If someone refuses to answer a question then Hellboy beats on him until the subject talks.

This question is asked again and again in Dark Knight. Batman tries to beat information out of the Joker and the police let him. District Attorney Harvey Dent puts a gun to someone's head and flips a coin to see if he should shoot (this is a bluff since it is a double-headed coin). At one point a criminal tells Batman straight out that he isn't scary enough to compete with the Joker. Eventually Batman lets the world think that he is merciless in order to uphold Dent's reputation.

Out here in the real world, none of this would be tolerated. We want results from our heroes but we also want their hands to be clean. Funny how we allow our fictional heroes more latitude than real-life law enforcement authorities.

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