A WOMAN. Christ Almighty….

One of the major differences that separates Frank Miller’s comic from Christopher Nolan’s movies is the very apparent rebellion against social controversies, and Batman’s fight for the rights of devalued identities. Throughout reading the comic, I kept tabs of all the different social controversies mentioned within the text and here is the list I gathered:

  1. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and transgender) controversies (Miller, 45)
  2. Racial controversies (Miller, 71)
  3. Gender Controversies (Miller, 73)
  4. War Controversies (specifically Nazi Germany war) (Miller, 106-108)
  5. Drug Controversies (Miller, 109)
  6. Religious Controversies (Miller, 111)
  7. Nuclear Weaponry Controversies (Miller, 119)
  8. Contraception Controversies (Miller, 129)
  9. Ethical Controversies (Miller, 102)

The main topic I would like to touch on is the gender controversies used by Frank Miller. I believe this relates to the civil rights movement with the focus on the women’s rights movement happening roughly from 1950-1980 (Mittelstadt). Such interrelated civil rights, antipoverty, and women’s rights work suggests that the period from the 1960’s through the 1980’s ought to be seen as a vibrant and forceful moment in the history of left liberalism in the United States (Mittelstadt). Therefore since this comic was originally published in 1986 when women began seeing the opportunity to be seen as equals; I believe it to be an, “advocate for change.”

Our initial glimpse of the gender controversies comes when two men (The Mayor and Gallagher) decide to make Ellen Yindel the new Police Commissioner of Gotham City, “the first woman- Ellen Yindle, brings with her an astonishing arrest record from Chicago” (Miller, 72). Not only is a woman being brought into a position of high status, but she is also being congratulated on a very promising arrest record.

Furthermore, by choosing a young girl to play the role of Robin over a strong male, “Batman” is making a statement and fighting for equal rights. Page 93 shows the debate between Batman and Alfred as Batman decides to make Carrie his new Robin due to her bravery, youth and intelligence rather than basing the decision on gender alone (Miller, 93). Continually throughout the Comic, Carrie (Robin), impresses Batman with her skill set and ability to learn quickly. For example, he tells Robin if she touches any of the controls on the “copter” she would be fired, because she “wouldn’t understand” (Miller, 122).  Yet, Robin’s decision to give the helicopter manual commands, ultimately saves Batman from the new police commissioner (Miller, 127).  This constant reminder presents the reader with the idea that we all have talents and strengths and therefore should be given the opportunity to be equals regardless of gender.

Frank Miller uses narrativization and takes the social discourse of society and its ideologies and turns it into a narrative providing a basis for intersubjectivity and understanding. His touch on controversies in a popular narrative spreads the word of equality.

Carrie Kelley as Robin

It appears that Nolan, including Robin in the final Batman movie, was an attempt to create a complete Batman mythology that touches on the most iconic elements of the Batman mythos. Though it differs from the Frank Miller Comic’s it does relate to other classic versions of Batman and Robin. When Robin (Dick) was made an orphan, he was taken on under Bruce’s wing as Robin.  He later became a Cop to learn more about crime before leaving Bruce’s side and taking on a role as “nightwing”. Similarly, in the movie, he uses an alias and becomes a rookie cop to learn more about the crime scene. We are also shown, through foreshadowing, his identity as Robin when we learn he knows the truth about Bruce Wayne as Batman. Since Batman is “Dead” at the end of the movie, this is symbolic of Robin leaving Bruce’s side and it is suspected, since he leaves his job as a cop, that he is going off on his own to fight crime.

John as Robin

  • Mittelstadt, Jennifer. “Philanthropy, Feminism, and Left Liberalism, 1960-1985.” Journal of Women’s History20.4 (2008): 105-131. Academic Search Elite. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.
  • Miller, Frank. Batman: the Dark Knight returns. New York, N.Y.: DC Comics, 2002. Print.
  • The Dark Knight Rises. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway. Warner Bros., 2012. DVD.
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6 thoughts on “A WOMAN. Christ Almighty….

  1. Greetings from across the ocean! This is just what I was thinking of, and you did it well. Thx

  2. taliawaite says:

    Sarah, I think you did a great job explaining your argument in this post. I had not picked up on some of the social controversies that you mentioned and having the page numbers as a reference makes it easy to go back and look them up! I also enjoyed how you compared Miller’s comic and Nolan’s movie and display the differences between them. Keep up the good work!

  3. nicolemcnaught says:

    Many of the controversies you have talked about I did not pick up on during my reads of this graphic novels (this is the second course I have read TDK for). I like how you have used references here to make it easy for readers to access what you have seen.

    Prior to my first read of TDK, I heard of Carrie Kelly via a friend who is into comics, however it was not until I read it how Miller writes about a female superhero and doesn’t make her completely sexual visually (for example Wonder Woman).

    Hopefully, since the genre of graphic novels is growing, we’ll see more woman superheroes that are not sex symbols.

    • Sarah Petrie says:

      Yes, its easy to read it for pleasure without noticing these things, and there is also other proof beyond those reference pages too. I know I so badly wanted to go into detail about how she isn’t depicted sexually like the typical female of comic books, but my post would go on for days if I covered everything! I also feel like if she was drawn seductively it would go against Frank Millers grotesque artwork, but I should add something in about that I suppose…so much to say so little time!

  4. You did a really good job of showing the positive aspects of how women are perceived in media. Most of today’s media is negative towards women but I like how you have focused on two women in power. Good Job!!!

  5. Sarah Petrie says:

    Reblogged this on Resistance is Futile and commented:

    Yesterday in Lit Club at my school one of the grade 11 girls said to me, “Uhm, Ms. Petrie, you like comic books right? Can I nerd out with you for a second?” to which I said, “Absolutely!”. She said that for her English project she wanted to talk about how gender roles are changing (or not changing) as portrayed in graphic novels and she wanted some help. It immediately made me think of this post from my Citizens of Gotham blog from when Frank Miller made Robin a girl (Carrie) for the first time! We also got into Thor recently becoming a girl and various other hot topics. So I thought I would re-post this for everyone!

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