Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight
Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight 2008
This is the second to last documentary style special that’s available to watch on the DC Universe streaming app, two of them were connected to Superman Returns and this was the second one that was attached to the Dark Knight. One of the interesting things that I noticed about the three that I’ve watched so far, and I believe it continues onto the last one, is how differently they handle their source material. In the Superman special, it embraced all sorts of different variations of Superman across movies and television. But the two Dark Knight specials seemingly prefer to completely ignore Batman’s past outside of the comic books and only show clips from Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. Just like the previous two specials, this has a mix of interviews, clips from the first two Nolan movies, and comic book style graphics as they discuss different aspects of Batman’s personality as well as some of his villains and how they relate to psychology. It’s fun, but similar to Batman Tech, it felt less like a stand alone documentary, and more like just promotion for the Dark Knight.
Like the previous couple documentaries, this has several of the same personalities in front of the camera, especially the ones dealing with comics like Dennis O’Neal and Len Wein. But it also has many more people who are better known for psychology including a couple people who authored books on the psychology of Batman. Although it’s not likely that this special was based on any one of those specific books unlike the special the Science of Superman.
There is plenty of interesting angles on Batman’s psychology that are explored through this special. They take a look at the psychology of fear and how it connects to how Bruce Wayne was afraid of bats as a child and how he faces his fear as an adult in a version of exposure therapy that’s actually quite accurate to real life. There are also several examples of real life notorious criminals and their mental health issues like John Hinkley who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan because he thought it would make Jodie Foster fall in love with him. Or how Jeffrey Dahmer clearly had some sort of mental health issues, but when he was tried in legal courts, they found that he was legally sane.
The biggest problem with this documentary is the length. At just over 45 minutes long, it was basically an hour long special on television so they weren’t really able to go in depth on any specific psychological angle. And since it was mainly focused on the first two Christopher Nolan movies, there was too much emphasis on what was covered in those movies, especially the villains although there was mention of a few other Batman villains that hadn’t been covered by the Nolan movies at that point like the Penguin and Catwoman. There wasn’t really any time spent on the psychology of being an orphan or how he would connect with a sidekick like Robin, mainly because Robin hadn’t been introduced in the movies either. The doc touched on how he would have been affected by losing his parents and how he would have blamed himself. There’s touches of a hero complex and other than being rich, Batman’s greatest “super” power would be his mental discipline.
There’s not really a whole lot to discuss about this doc that wasn’t said about the previous two documentaries that are very similar in scope to this one. The references to the comics and the use of comic art work quite well. Despite the focus on Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, the personalities behind the movie have interesting things to say about Batman and how they approached the character in terms of his psychology. While it wasn’t very in depth, it was still interesting and entertaining for what it was. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.