'The Batman' Continues Hollywood's Weird Trend Of Saluting Conspiracy Theorists
This article contains SPOILERS for The Batman.
It’s not unusual for a Batman movie to comment on contemporary politics; like how The Dark Knight was an unsubtle allegory for the George W. Bush presidency, 1989’s Batman was a low-key takedown of Reagan’s America, and Batman and Robin was a scathing indictment of the weaponized botanical pheromone industry. Similarly, the main antagonist of The Batman (other than natural light) is The Riddler, who peddles online conspiracy theories about hidden cabals that are secretly controlling the government of Gotham City. And he succeeds in radicalizing his (gasp) 500 followers.
This new take on The Riddler conspicuously calls to mind recent news stories involving waves of toxic online misinformation, such as QAnon. Or the internet conspiracy theories that helped foment the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which director Matt Reeves has stressed happened after the script for The Batman was written. But the problem is that the character of The Riddler is ultimately right. He does help to expose a complex web of corruption spun by Gotham’s shadowy elites. So The Batman is commenting on the dangers of these fringe internet communities while also validating their wild theories? That seems … pretty messed up.
We’ve mentioned before how Godzilla vs. Kong turned a conspiracy theorist podcast host into one of the story’s heroes – which was weird because, while he was right about Godzilla, he also suggested routinely bathing in bleach to disable tracking devices. And it came out not long after some people were literally burning down cell phone towers to avoid getting a virus. But this trend doesn’t seem to be going away, in addition to Godzilla vs. Kong and The Batman, Moonfall features a conspiracy theorist showing up NASA scientists with his outlandish hypotheses, and a background joke in Peacemaker featuring an InfoWars-type show’s report about aliens –
– later turns out to be totally accurate. Again, it feels like this scene was intended as a quick jab against anthropomorphic hemorrhoid Alex Jones, but his stand-in’s apparent “craziness” was eventually vindicated by the events of the series. This is the guy who spouted baseless, monstrous conspiracy theories about literal murdered children; please don’t make him the Fox Mulder of the DC Universe.
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Top Image: Warner Bros.