The Dark Knight’s War on Terrorism

21 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020

See all articles by John Ip

John Ip

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 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.

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

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:

John Ip (Contact Author)

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law ( email )

Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics