On Sunday evening, I made my way to the theatre to take in one of the most anticipated summer blockbuster films in recent history. The Dark Knight is the follow up to Batman Begins (2005), a Christopher Nolan film which portrayed a much darker version of Batman and Gotham City than we’ve ever seen before. The newest episode of the Batman franchise masterfully combines comic book pulp and modern cinematography as it continues on down the sinister path with a frightening portrayal of the Joker by the late Heath Ledger. When I exited the theatre, my Batman-induced mania gave me the impression that Kingston was a bit safer now that the Dark Knight is at large. This got me thinking, does Kingston need a Batman?
Sure I know Batman isn’t real, and with the legalities of vigilantism, as well as the exorbitant cost of Batman’s costume and vehicles aside, I think it’s an interesting fantasy to ponder. The Dark Knight is one of the only super heroes that does not have super powers. Instead, he relies on expensive gadgets and years of martial arts training to combat crime, corruption and super villains. So if Kingston were to have a Batman, we would therefore need a Bruce Wayne, and there are only a few local families that could realistically field a billionaire playboy turned crime fighter. Kingston’s Bruce Wayne would therefore have a last name such as Springer, Rosen or maybe even Ackroyd. Narrowing down a realistic personality to assume the responsibilities of the Dark Knight is really an exercise in futility, as the real question here is whether or not Kingston needs Batman.
Figures recently released by Statistics Canada indicate that Kingston’s overall crime rate dropped 11.7 per cent between 2006 and 2007, which is the fourth largest decline among Canada’s 27 biggest urban centres. Presently, Kingston’s crime rate is now at its lowest level in five years. But don’t let these promising figures quash your dreams about seeing Bruce Wayne Rosen run around Kingston in tights. According to Bob Napier, Kingston’s acting Police Chief, StatsCan’s data should be taken with a grain of salt as it only reflects crimes that have been reported to police and not the true level of criminal activity in the Limestone City. Although that may not be the concrete evidence we need, it is really the only justification a whack-job vigilante could possibly have to wear a Batsuit and run around the streets of Kingston.
What sort of seedy underbelly does Kingston have? From Block D to the LVEC and even the Wolfe Island Wind Farm, with all the controversial land development projects going on in this city, someone has got to be getting rich while bending a few of the rules. Don’t forget about overturned burning automobiles and massive student mob-like parties on Aberdeen during Queen’s Homecoming celebrations. Surely the historical (although somewhat exaggerated) reputation of Rideau Heights and the notorious serial cat killer are enough to warrant Kingston’s own Dark Knight.
For a more detailed examination of why Batman could exist, check out this featured article at Scientific American. What do you think, does Kingston need a Dark Knight? Don’t even try to tell me we’d be better off with a Spiderman.