When about a man with extraordinary powers or abilities

When you think of a superhero movie you think
about a man with extraordinary powers or abilities fighting for justice. That,
through the use of their strong moral code and great courage, can overcome any
obstacle put in their path. These films are always fun to watch, but they are
also predictable. The movies that are the most memorable are the ones where the
director has done something with the film we were not expecting. Many movies
accomplish this by using our perceptions of what a particular genre should be
and then disrupting those conventions. Both the Watchman and The Dark
Knight movies subvert the superhero genre, but while Watchman’s inefficient
characters lead to it undermining the traditional style, The Dark Knight’s use
of a realistic style makes the hero altogether irrelevant in his own movie.

The core concept of being a superhero is the
fact that they have so much power, yet instead of using it for evil they use
their abilities and powers to save people. Their actions, without a doubt
morally sound, cannot be questioned due to their straightforward nature of
being good. This is not the case in Watchman, though. Every single
character in this movie is flawed in some way that makes the viewers
question their motives and mortality. The whole film is filled with heroes
making decidedly unheroic like decisions. The Comedian kills a woman who says
she was carrying his baby and is also accused of raping a fellow watchman.
Rorschach’s inability to compromise on his sense of right and wrong has lead
him to killing many men and women he believes to be morally corrupt. Silk
Spectre and Nite Owl start back up again with crime fighting only because they
want to feel relevant again. They exploration for their identity crisis has
lead them to trying to pick up their superhero disguises again. These
characters might have started off by wanting to make a difference and help
people but by the end of their career and by the end of this movie their
motives are purely self-centered. The actions of each of these characters,
whether it was to get justice for the murder of The Comedian in Rorschach’s
case or to stop the death of humans in Dr. Manhattans, was completely
ineffective. They accomplished nothing in this movie besides letting the
murderer of thousands get away with his crimes. Not only does their morality
lead all of them to committing horrible crimes the same people that are
supposed to save the world are powerless to stop the destruction of their own
city.  There is a common theme of triumph in superhero of movies that was
absent at the end of both the Watchman and The Dark Knight.

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Neither movie actually has any of the
superheroes saving the day in the traditional way. In The Dark Knight, Batman
doesn’t defeat the Joker. instead we see the Joker continuously out smart both
Batman and the cops plan of capture. They go as far as to fake a cop’s death
and still, even when they have the Joker behind bars, he is five steps ahead of
them and has a plan to get himself free. At every turn the Batman seems to be
losing a battle with Joker. He doesn’t end up saving the girl and the person he
does end up saving turns against him. He does vanquish his enemy and there is
no victory at the end of this movie. Batman ends up taking the fall for Dent
and he becomes the public enemy, instead of their hero. In Watchmen,
Veidt whose master plan is to kill thousands to hopefully end conflict between
Nations, accomplishes his goal. This superhero movie is filled with characters
that fail at actually saving anyone. Instead, they allow Veidt to get away with
his crimes and even end up killing Rorschach, their friend, to help Veidt cover
up his murder. “You taught me the value of life. If we hope to preserve it
here, we must remain silent” (Moore, Watchmen). Since the world might potentially
fall back into chaos and war the Watchmen are put in the position to tell the
truth or cover up Veidt’s actions. In the end, the superheroes are ineffective
at stopping Veidt and are ineffective at telling the truth to the world. At the
end of this movie there it’s not clear if what Veidt did was for his own
personal gain and was therefore actually the right thing to do or not. The
ending of this movie consists of a mass murder and leaves viewers with an
almost dirty feeling. The saving of the world happened at the cost of
thousands. Like we saw in The Dark Knight there was no victory for the ‘good
guys’.

The movie The Dark Knight is has a very much
realistic style to it. The Joker, instead of some silly cartoon villain is a
real-life terrorist using his anarchist mentality to cause mayhem on the people
of Gotham. His extremely and often times well thought out plans make him an
extremely interesting character. In this movie it is interesting to see how
much the Batman is controlled by the Joker. In an attempt to catch the Joker
Batman attempts to set multiple traps, but only to find out that the Joker has
been three steps ahead of him the whole time. He is constantly running after
the Joker, always behind. Batman’s complete helplessness when going up against
the Joker is proven time and time again when he can’t break the case,
underestimates the Joker’s sinister nature, and most importantly stop his
violence. In most superhero movies the hero has unrealistic powers and can
easily defeat the criminal through out of the box thinking and teamwork, but in
this case the villain seems to be smarter. This movie demonstrates how the
villain doesn’t always lose and the hero won’t always win. In the movie Harvey
Dent says that “you either die a hero or live long enough to
see yourself become the villain”. (Nolan, Dark Knight). This holds true for
both Batman and Dent. By the end of the movie Batman is on the run from the
police, having been wrongly accused of Dent’s crimes.

In most every superhero movie the superhero is
the what the whole movie is about, he/she is the most interesting character. In
The Dark Knight it’s unusual to see how the director turned the
superhero into one of the least interesting characters of this film. We see development of
Dent from being called “the white knight” of Gotham to being considered a
murderer. His black and white
view of life and now the law is represented by the two sides of a coin, which he now lives his
life by.  Then the
background stories we hear about the Joker lets us know a little about him. We
even get to meet Gordon’s family and watch his dynamic with his wife and his
son play out with other characters in this movie. Overall it seems like
Batman’s only role in this movie was to chase the Joker around Gotham and allow
for character development of the villain.

Genres can either be a really good tool or can
make the movie seem conventional and boring. On the upside,
understanding what genre a movie is classified as can help viewers understand
the plot and characters better. The disadvantage is that the filmmakers can find
themselves sticking to traditional themes and styles of that specific genre.
When you find a movie
that has taken a certain genre and subverts those traditions it can make for a
very interesting film, which is what we see with The Dark Knight
and Watchmen. By subverting the traditional genre, the
filmmakers have added a layer of meaning to the characters in the movie.
To make decisions that
other superhero characters never had to make. The choice between one
life and another.  Watchmen takes the superhero genre and creates a movie
filled with characters that have dubious morality and whose actions leads to
thousands of deaths, but whose inaction leads to the saving of millions.
The Dark Knight uses a realistic style
of storytelling that creates characters that are more interesting than the
superhero himself. Both these movies have taken the superhero genre
and created movies that completely changed the formula for what we believe this
genre should contain.