Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Politics in Gotham: The Batman Universe and Political Thought


Batman’s self-imposed mission to rid Gotham City of its criminal element has always presented the problem of vigilantism. From the perspective of criminology, Batman’s methods raise the problem of whether society can be governed, or govern itself, with extralegal law enforcement. The problem presented by Batman’s behavior is often stated, as the ancient Roman satirist Juvenal famously put it, “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (“but who is going to guard the guards themselves?”).1 The threat posed by selfappointed guardians, such as Batman and other super heroes, has been frequently analyzed by scholars and fans alike. Yet, there is an additional, less frequently discussed, problem presented by Batman’s behavior: what are the costs to Batman and the citizens of Gotham from a guard who refuses to govern? In this chapter, the authors discuss Plato’s conception of spiritedness and analyze how Batman’s behavior affects his soul and the souls of Gotham City’s citizens.


Journal ISSN / Book ISBN


Book Editor(s)

Picariello, Damien K

Published Citation

Picariello, Damien K., ed. Politics in Gotham: the Batman universe and political thought. Springer, 2019.