2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

The Joker told the Batman, "You Complete Me": Yin / Yang and the Roles of Hero and Villain in The Dark Knight
John H. Hitzel
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

Director Christopher Nolan's 2008 film, The Dark Knight, was the biggest movie of the year. Aside from its impressive box office scores and Heath Ledger's gleefully disturbing portrayal of the Joker, the film raised questions about the roles of heroes and villains. Who are they in this film? Is the Batman a hero? Is the Joker a villain? Or are they both not so easily categorized? I posit that these two characters exist within a yin / yang relationship, a framework which allows viewers to see them as more than their protagonist / antagonist roles imply about heroes and villains. A formalist analysis of the film reveals that within the yin / yang roles, nothing in The Dark Knight is so simple. Everyone is corruptible, and every thing holds within it the seed of its opposite. There are no stark heroes or villains. Only villainous heroes and heroic villains.

Keywords: The Dark Knight, The Joker, Batman, Yin and Yang, Heroes and Villains, Taoism / Daoism, film, formalism

Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 43-5
Location: OP 2113
Time: 2:15

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