For the past several weeks, this blog has investigated which Batman character has the most in common with presidential candidate Donald Trump. We have considered five Batman villains thus far: Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot, Dr. Jonathan “the Scarecrow” Crane, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, legendary villain the Joker, and the most recent of prominent Batman villains, Bane.
At this point, it is worth asking an important question: what should we do with this information? Why does it matter which character from Batman has the most in common with Trump?
But first: are there important Batman characters left to consider?
How much does Donald Trump resemble Lex Luthor?
Lex Luthor, while predominantly a Superman character rather than one of Batman’s friends or foes, resembles Trump in two significant ways: a) he’s a billionaire who b) runs for president (and, frighteningly, is elected) in the DC universe.
The two do share one other key characteristic: a hunger for power. However, Luthor is known for being two-faced, passing himself off as a thoughtful philanthropist (while secretly plotting and inventing.) As previously discussed in the Harvey Dent article, one of Trump’s traits, and potentially his only virtue, is that he is not duplicitous: he has repeatedly revealed his ugliness on the world stage.
If anything, the storyline in which Luthor is elected president might be a prescient cautionary tale, relevant now more than ever.
How much does Donald Trump resemble Batman?
Comparisons between Trump and Batman are cheap, easy, and common. But, most importantly, they are wrong.
The strongest connection between the two of them has already been discussed on this blog: a tendency to incite violence. But the difference between Trump and Batman in this regard is that Batman typically disavows the violence he incites, whereas Trump does not.
“Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A dark knight.” – Jim Gordon, The Dark Knight
Trump is not a good guy. And sure, Batman might be more anti-hero than conventional hero, but even then, Trump is no caped crusader. Trump is the antithesis of a watchful guardian or a silent protector. He isn’t a white knight, but he’s also a far cry from a dark knight.
How much does Donald Trump resemble Ra’s al Ghul?
Ra’s al Ghul’s beliefs and tactics strongly resemble those of Bane, to whom we have already compared Trump at length. But it might be lingering for a moment longer to consider the connection between al Ghul and the Donald.
Trump’s response to the terrorism in Brussels has rhetoric reminiscent of the leader of the League of Shadows. Al Ghul believes that when a city becomes too corrupt and crime-ridden, it deserves to collapse. One might compare this to Trump’s response to the recent terrorist attacks:
“We have to have very vigilant and careful about who we let into our country. I know Brussels well. And Brussels is a total mess. And I’m not talking about the attack today. I’m talking about generally speaking. It is a city that used to be one of the finest, one of the most beautiful and one of the safest cities in the world. And now it’s a catastrophic, very dangerous city where the police have very little control.” – Donald Trump
“Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we’ve performed for centuries. Gotham… must be destroyed.” – Ra’s al Ghul
Trump has said similar things about the Republican party, about the idea of establishment in general. He seems to think that cities and systems can reach a point beyond saving. And that, no matter what, it’s always a good idea to seal the borders.
- The only similarity between Commissioner Gordon and Trump is that they’re both divorced.
- Trump appears to believe himself to have powers of seduction, perhaps the only trait he shares with Poison Ivy.
- Tommy “Hush” Elliot is a minor Batman villain with some Trump-like traits. He’s a vengeful hateful man who refers to Catwoman as a “gutterslut,” a very Trump-esque use of language.
- Trump might consider himself an ubermensch, but he and Superman don’t have much in common. For starters, Superman is an illegal alien, while Trump is a raving xenophobe.
As for Robin and Alfred, it’s hard to think of anything they have in common with Donald Trump.
Which brings us to the final question…
Why Do We Fall?
Crowd of Prisoners: [chanting] Deshi basara! Deshi basara!
Bruce Wayne: What does that mean?
Trump is his own brand, with striking similarities to a host of villains the world already knows. Fear, pain, chaos, adaptation, manipulation, power. All instruments in his battle.
The previous five blog posts have shown two things: Donald Trump is dangerous, and he contains multitudes. He resembles all of Batman’s villains in varying, disturbing degrees.
There is something important to remember: in all these narratives, it is not the villains who succeed. They may have the upper hand at times, but they end up defeated, often due to the extreme nature of their own plans and stances.
Even when Batman is framed for murder in the comic books, even when his back is broken in Knightfall and The Dark Knight Rises, even when Gotham is nearly destroyed in No Man’s Land and various other narratives, one thing remains: hope. Bane attempts to manipulate hope into an instrument of pain, but hope fuels determination. It’s hope that turns out to be Bane’s undoing, and it’s this hope that we need in the fight against dangerous demagogues like these.
Like Harvey Dent, Trump takes a dangerous view of the world as a place of duality and extremes. Like the Penguin, he deflects blame from the violence he incites in his fans.
Trump has the ability to induce mass fear like the Scarecrow, and he uses this fear as a weapon. He, like the Joker, cannot be “bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.” And, like Bane, he can turn out to be “our reckoning,” if we fall into his plan.
But he can be defeated. It’s important that Donald Trump lose at the general election. It’s important that he receives a message from the American people, similar to the one learned by the Joker when his plans fail at the end of The Dark Knight.
“What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone’s as ugly as you?” -Batman, to the Joker
And we may be better off at the end of it than we were before, just as Gotham ultimately betters itself through its trials and tribulations. As Jim Gordon quotes from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities at end of The Dark Knight Rises, all of this may lead to “a beautiful city and a beautiful people rising from this abyss…peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy…”
To quote Thomas Wayne:
“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
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