Is the Scarecrow the Batman Villain Who Trump Resembles Most?

This is the second installment in an ongoing series of articles exploring which Batman character Donald Trump resembles most. You can read the first installment here, in which I explain the impetus for this series and compare Donald Trump to Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot.  Or if you’re interested in reading D. F. Lovett’s fiction, you can buy his books here.

Like many of Batman’s villains, The Scarecrow first appeared in the 1940s. His backstory has gone through some variations, but there are a few universal elements: his weapon is fear, he wears a Scarecrow mask, and he is a disgraced psychiatrist who worked at both Arkahm Asylum and Gotham University before his downfall into crime.

“I am fear incarnate.” – The Scarecrow in Batman: The Animated Series

Unlike most of Batman’s famous villains, Scarecrow had not been seen on film until the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Cillian Murphy portrays Jonathan “the Scarecrow” Crane in all three films, beginning with Batman Begins, in which Scarecrow works with Liam Neeson’s R’as al Ghul to poison Gotham with a weaponized hallucinogen.

scarecrow
Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow in Batman Begins.

One’s first instinct is to think that Trump and Scarecrow are an odd comparison. Trump is a brutish bully with cash, while Scarecrow is a delicate intellectual with a mask. But they have one thing in common: fear.

Both men use fear as their key instrument.

The Scarecrow finds out what you fear, and uses it against you. He does this is many ways. One is to plunge the city into darkness. Another is to use various fear toxins, frightening people to death or leading them to believe that their worst fears are becoming reality.

“He preys on the innocent and instills them with fear. When I chose to wear my costume, it was to prey upon the criminals and instill them with fear.

The irony is not lost on me…”

-Batman, describing the Scarecrow, in Jeph Loeb’s “Fears” (1993).

Trump’s entire campaign is based around fear. He tells people to fear immigrants. Fear refugees. Fear Mexicans. Fear Muslims. Fear ISIS. Fear “The Establishment.” Fear liberals. Fear women.

You either cede power to him because you are afraid, or he is what you fear. Both men have legions working for them, ready to rabidly attacked the next enemy. Scarecrow scares his opponents into not even engaging in a fight, just like Trump’s ability to scare away opponents from taking him on.

Fear is a tool for manipulation in the hands of Scarecrow, just as it is for Trump. Their power grows as they use fear to turn people against one another. Continue reading “Is the Scarecrow the Batman Villain Who Trump Resembles Most?”

What We Failed to Learn About Terrorism from The Dark Knight

Or, “Stop Calling Them Gunmen and Start Calling Them Terrorists”

One of the most notable elements of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is that, despite being made by a British writer and director and set in the fictional Gotham City, the films capture the zeitgeist of the post-9/11 America in a frightening, realistic way.

But there’s one lesson in these films that we don’t seem to have retained: terrorism can take many forms. 

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, the first and third films in the trilogy, show evil as an extensive international network motivated by belief in a higher cause: the League of Shadows, led first by Liam Neeson and later by Tom Hardy’s Bane. It’s an evil organization which resembles Al-Qaeda or IS/Daesh in its reach and tactics. 

Unlike the other two films, in The Dark Knight our villain is Heath Ledger’s Joker: a criminal who seemingly materializes out of nowhere. His background is unknown, with no criminal record or history of violence. He operates as a loner, with a few followers but no peers. He believes not in fundamentalism but in anarchy and chaos. He prefers easily-obtained weapons: in his words, “a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets.” He kills with abandon, targeting mob bosses, murdering his own followers, burning corrupt businessmen alive, turning civilians against one another. Throughout it all, he operates without loyalty and welcomes death. 

CA.0627.darkknight
Perhaps film’s most famous villain of the oughts.

He gives a speech, in one of the more famous moments from the film, explaining why people are so frightened of him. Because he disrupts expectations. He disrupts “the plan.” Because anyone can be his victim, not just “a gangbanger” or “a truckload of soldiers.”

The mass waves of shooters (most of whom are white and “Christian”) overtaking America resemble the Joker in every way: they kill innocents, make spectacles of their crimes, and fear nothing, including death. The American mass shooter is almost always suicidal. There are few mass shooters who begin their killing sprees expecting any outcome aside from death or life imprisonment.

Like the Joker, they cannot be “bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with.”

But there is a key difference. In The Dark Knight, District Attorney Harvey Dent holds a press conference and calls the Joker what he is: a terrorist. America’s leaders, when they hold press conferences, talk about gunmen, about shooters, but not about terrorists. Continue reading “What We Failed to Learn About Terrorism from The Dark Knight”

My Only Complaints About Interstellar

It’s been out for a while, but there are still two things that bug me about Interstellar.

And no, neither of them is the science of it.  I’m not expert in theories of time travel, interstellar travel, worm holes, quantum mechanics, etc.  I’m not even very interested in such things.  I know that some people explain the science of Interstellar isn’t good, but I don’t care.  My two concerns are more from a story and character perspective.

No, my complaints are not related to the over-use of Dylan Thomas.
No, my complaints are not related to the over-use of Dylan Thomas.

That’s Some Bizarre Parenting

I am not a parent, so I cannot say that I am 100% correct on this, but something did strike me very strange in Interstellar.  When McConaughey is trying to reassure his daughter about his trip into the stars, he says something along the lines of “by the time I return, we might be the same age.”  This is bizarre on so many levels.  First of all, is he really telling her “it’s okay, because I’m only going to be gone for a couple decades.”  And he’s also telling her, “don’t worry, this is going to mess up all the laws of space and time so intensely, that I’m no longer going to be older than you.” Continue reading “My Only Complaints About Interstellar”

Do You Believe in Harvey Dent?

Remember The Dark Knight?  Who can forget Harvey Dent’s tragic line, the one which foreshadowed both his own downfall and the character arcs of so many of those around him: you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Choices...
Choices…

The question I have often come back to is whether Harvey could have ever died a hero.  Sure, they gave him a hero’s funeral, a hero’s legend, and a hero’s holiday (the second Monday of Gothamuary, presumably), but we the audience knew that he had been a villain ever since he got half his face burned off and a dead fiancee, and subsequently decided to murder everyone he held accountable.

Or do we?  Is it possible that Harvey was a villain all along?  Was he a white knight corrupted by The Joker, “the best of us,” as Batman called him, or was he just another corrupt politician with no ethics or heroism to speak of? Continue reading “Do You Believe in Harvey Dent?”

The Top Ten Christian Bale Films of 2013

A lot of movies happened in 2013.  Only a few of them had Bale in them, but many were connected to Bale, either through themes, tone, extended universes, future sequels, Nolan-esque qualities, etc.  This is a list of the Top Ten Christian Bale films, whether or not they actually had Christian Bale in them.

10. Man of Steel

It’s on the list, but barely.  The strangest thing about this movie has to be that it’s ostensibly a gritty reboot, yet it still features basically the exact same opening as the Superman movie from the 1970s.  Why so boring?

Try making it through the alien-explosion-flying scene at the beginning of Man of Steel and still call it a "gritty reboot" with a straight face.
Try making it through the alien-explosion-flying scene at the beginning of Man of Steel and still call it a “gritty reboot” with a straight face.

9.  The Great Gatsby

The success of The Great Gatsby demands a sequel, setting things up nicely for DiCaprio and Bale to make The Greater Gatsby in the next few years. Continue reading “The Top Ten Christian Bale Films of 2013”

What Ever Happened to Bruce Wayne?

Warning: Spoilers for all the Batman films, as well as a few Batman comics, abound in the following:

The most troubling element of the Dark Knight Trilogy (as it is now known) is that the entirety of Gotham City does not realize that Batman is Bruce Wayne.  Interestingly enough, a variety of characters figure it out throughout the film not because he tells them, but through deduction alone.

Consider that, by the end of the series, the following characters (approximately chronologically) know that Bruce Wayne and Batman are indeed the same person:

  • Ra’s Al Ghul
  • Alfred Pennyworth
  • Lucius Fox
  • Rachel Dawes
  • Coleman Reese (the accountant guy who tries to blackmail them)
  • John Blake
  • Selina Kyle
  • Bane
  • The entire League of Shadows
  • Commissioner James Gordon

These people fall into three categories: those who naturally know that Bruce is Batman because they watched him become Batman (i.e. Alfred, R’as, and Lucius), those who know he is Batman because he disclosed his identity (Rachel, Selina, and Gordon), and those who deduced it (Blake and Reese.)  Bane and the League of Shadows fall into the first category, as they know Bruce is Batman because he used to be one of them.

Continue reading “What Ever Happened to Bruce Wayne?”

More Thoughts on Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle as Catwoman as Sarah Palin

The idea that Selina Kyle will be a metaphor for Sarah Palin in The Dark Knight Rises has already been previously discussed here, in the post Why Catwoman Will Be Sarah Palin.  There is little left to say on the matter, aside from these key points:

1.) Anne Hathaway will be an excellent Selina Kyle, who will probably be Catwoman, who will definitely be Sarah Palin.  The reason I say “probably” before “Catwoman” is because I suspect that Hathaway will be spending more time as Selina Kyle than she will as Catwoman.  Why?  Consider that Bruce Wayne did not become Batman until roughly halfway through Batman Begins, Jonathan Crane was never called Scarecrow other than people suffering from his weaponized hallucinogens, and Harvey Dent was only referred to as “Two Face” once, by Commissioner Gordon, reluctantly.  It’s also still possibly that Selina Kyle might not even be Catwoman: who knows if Nolan has decided to take it in a different direction.  The only villain in the first two films who has had a fully formed identity from the start of the film is The Joker, and the main reason for this is that his character has no alter ego in the manner that the other characters do.

Either way, this image recently lit up the internet:

Selina Kyle? Catwoman? The Huntress? That girl from Princess Diaries?

One thing that is clear is that Selina Kyle looks different than we’ve seen her before: she is wearing leather, but she doesn’t have pointy ears.

Continue reading “More Thoughts on Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle as Catwoman as Sarah Palin”

Why Bale Will Be Referred to as a Member of “The Bat Pack”

I am seriously disappointed that I’m not the one who came up with this, but website “The Wrap” (I don’t know what it is; I googled it) wrote an article in February of this year on something that I was going to write about this week: The Bat Pack.

The Bat Pack, meaning the team of actors (plus cinematographer and art designer) who Nolan frequently collaborates with.  Yes – it’s an obvious riff on the previously existing Rat Pack, Brat Pack, Frat Pack, etc.

Caine is at the top of the list, having been in five Christopher Nolan films. Also, I like how proud he looks of the dove in this photo.

Unfortunately, I think the above-linked-to article fails to do anything beyond give it a catchy name. I think that you can look at this crowd and extend it the fact that the actors who Nolan prefers to work with are gradually becoming the most respected actors working today.  The older and more established among them are Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, arguably two of the greatest living actors, but every one of the younger actors has also been in other incredible films within the last several years.  Marion Cotillard just proved her abilities in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris; Tom Hardy is in three films being released in 2011 and another three in 2012; Joseph Gordon-Levitt has gradually gone from child TV actor in the 90s to star of Brick in 2005 to 500 Days of Summer in 2009 to The Dark Knight Rises next summer; and Cillian Murphy is tremendous in everything, and is not only a frequent choice for Nolan, but also for Danny Boyle (the Slumdog Millionaire guy, who direct Murphy in 28 Days Later and Sunshine.)

These actors aren’t just the cornerstone of Nolan’s films, but they are the cornerstone of film today.  These are some of the greatest working actors and actresses, and in many cases their abilities were not fully realized until cast in a Nolan film.

Continue reading “Why Bale Will Be Referred to as a Member of “The Bat Pack””