We’ve let Hollywood control our national story — and, with it, our view of heroism. We’ve let a mostly left-leaning elite undermine even our sense of right and wrong by replacing the hero with the antihero, which is a 20th-century invention. The 1940 edition of the Merriam-Webster New International Dictionary had a listing for “anti-hero” but didn’t define it. I would suggest that an anti-hero is a person who might want to do good but doesn’t believe he can know what is good and what is evil.
The modern Batman character is very much an example of an antihero. He’s not right or wrong, but is lost somewhere in between. He is as tragically flawed as Martin Sheen’s character in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now. But Batman wasn’t always like that. In comic books from the 1940s up until the 1970s, Bruce Wayne was clearly fighting for good. Since the 1970s, and especially in the most recent films, he is a darker character. Though he sides with good, he is ravaged internally, a bit like Sylvester Stallone’s antiheroic character in the 1982 movie First Blood. So the line between Batman and the Joker has blurred.
To see how we can win the hero back, see my article in National Review.