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The Dark Knight’s War on Terrorism

John Ip

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law

September 2011

Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. p. 209, 2011

This article considers Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film, The Dark Knight, as a reflection on legality and security in the post-9/11 era. The article examines how the film depicts three specific counterterrorism policies associated with the war on terrorism (namely rendition, coercive interrogation and warrantless surveillance), and argues that none of the film’s depictions of these actions can properly be seen as endorsement of their Bush Administration-era equivalents. Accordingly, the film is better viewed as something other than an affirmation of the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism. Rather, as this article contends, the film is about the need for public resoluteness in the face of terrorism, and about the inherent limitations of relying on vigilantism. Therefore, unusually for a film about a superhero, the film is ultimately about reaffirming law, legal institutions, and popular courage.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: Batman, Popular Culture, Terrorism, National Security, Rendition, Torture, Coercive Interrogation, Terrorist Surveillance Program

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Date posted: March 25, 2010 ; Last revised: September 1, 2016

Suggested Citation

Ip, John, The Dark Knight’s War on Terrorism (September 2011). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. p. 209, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1574539

Contact Information

John Ip (Contact Author)
University of Auckland - Faculty of Law ( email )
Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand
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