Advertisement

Natural Law and Vengeance: Jurisprudence on the Streets of Gotham

  • Thomas GiddensEmail author
Article

Abstract

Batman is allied with modern natural law in the way he relies upon reason to bring about his vision of ‘true justice’, operating as a force external to law. This vision of justice is a protective one, with Batman existing as a guardian—a force for resistance against the corruption of the state and the failures of the legal system. But alongside his rational means, Batman also employs violence as he moves beyond the boundaries of the civilised state into the dark and violent world outside law’s protection. He thus sacrifices his own safety to ensure the safety of others—he is a Dark Knight, a sentinel, fighting the nasty and brutish underworld of criminality in his effort to bring rational order to the world and protect the people of Gotham from criminal harm. This fight for justice is fuelled by a deeply private trauma: the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents: a private desire for vengeance that Batman transcends. In navigating Batman’s jurisprudential dimensions, we are ultimately reminded that private desires and motivations are enfolded within the public structures of justice.

Keywords

Batman Natural law Violence Justice/vengeance Public/private Resistance 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Timothy Peters and Stephen Skinner both read previous drafts of this paper, and helpfully shared with me their dissatisfaction with various aspects of my work. I’d like to thank them for doing so. (The mysterious peer reviewers did a similar thing, and so attract similar thanks.)

References

  1. 1.
    Bainbridge, Jason. 2007. ‘This is the Authority. This planet is under our protection’—An exegesis of superheroes’ interrogations of law. Law, Culture and the Humanities 3: 455–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Comerford, Chris. 2015. The hero we need, not the one we deserve: Vigilantism and the state of exception in Batman Incorporated. In Graphic justice: Intersections of comics and law, ed. Thomas Giddens. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cover, Robert. 1993. Violence and the word. In Narrative, violence, and the law: The essays of Robert Cover, ed. Martha Minow, Michael Ryan, and Austin Sarat. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Culbert, Jennifer L. 2005. Reprising revenge. Law, Culture and the Humanities. 1: 302–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Douzinas, Costas, and Adam Gearey. 2005. Critical jurisprudence: The political philosophy of justice. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fuller, Lon. 1969. The morality of law. London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Giddens, Thomas. 2012. Comics, law, and aesthetics: Towards the use of graphic fiction in legal studies. Law and Humanities. 6: 85–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Giddens, Thomas. 2015. Lex comica: On comics and legal theory. In Graphic justice: Intersections of comics and law, ed. Thomas Giddens. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hart, H.L.A. 2012. The concept of law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Loeb, Jeph, and Tim Sale. 2001. Batman: Dark victory. New York: DC Comics.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Loeb, Jeph, and Tim Sale. 2011. Batman: The long Halloween. New York: DC Comics.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    MacNeil, William P. 2007. Lex populi: The jurisprudence of popular culture. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Menke, Christoph. 2010. Law and violence. Law and Literature. 22: 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Miller, Frank, and David Mazzucchelli. 1988. Batman: Year one. London: Titan.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Morrison, Wayne. 1997. Jurisprudence: From the Greeks to post-modernism. London: Cavendish.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morrisson, Grant, and Dave McKean. 2004. Arkham Asylum: A serious house on serious earth. London: Titan.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nolan, Christopher. 2005. Batman Begins. Warner Bros.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Peters, Timothy. 2007. Unbalancing justice: Overcoming the limits of the law in Batman Begins. Griffith Law Review. 16: 247–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Rosky, Clifford. 2004. Force, inc.: The privatization of punishment, policing, and military force in liberal states. Connecticut Law Review. 36: 879–1032.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sharp, Cassandra. 2012. ‘Riddle me this…?’ Would the world need superheroes is the law could actually deliver ‘justice’? Law Text Culture. 16: 353–378.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sherwin, Richard K. 2000. When law goes pop: The vanishing line between law and popular culture. London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Simester, A.P., and Andreas von Hirsch. 2011. Crimes, harms, and wrongs: On the principles of criminalisation. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Skinner, Stephen. 2009. Stories of pain and the pursuit of justice: Law, violence, experience and jurisprudence. Law, Culture and the Humanities. 5: 131–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Smith, Hayden P., and Geoffrey P. Alpert. 2011. Joint policing: Third parties and the use of force. Police Practice and Research. 12: 136–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Stone, Richard. 2012. Textbook on civil liberties and human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Vincent, Andrew. 2012. Can states commit crimes? In Shooting to kill: Socio-legal perspectives on the use of lethal force, ed. Simon Bronitt, Miriam Gani, and Saskia Hufnagel, 65–81. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ward, Ian. 1995. Law and literature: Possibilities and perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Mary’s UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations