I love The Dark Knight Rises.
I thought it was a great flick. Brilliantly cast, stunningly shot, with a twist that even I didn’t see coming.
But in a true example of “refrigerator logic,” Something about the end didn’t sit right with me.
Warning: Spoilers beyond the cut.
So Batman is dead, to begin with. This much is true. His sort-of-but-not-quite-a-Batwing flies out to sea with the bomb and seemingly blows up. That much is self-evident.
But Bruce Wayne isn’t dead. At least as far as the public are concerned. Only a handful of folk know about his secret identity and they’re all sworn to secrecy.
So how can Wayne be declared dead, allowing for the Manor to be turned into an orphanage, as per the instructions in his will, without the presence of a body?
As usual, a little bit of Google Fu goes a long way.
Enter Law And The Multiverse, and the “specific peril of death”:
Now, Batman clearly meets the requirements—a plane exploded with him apparently in it, so he could easily be declared dead without a body. This is the classic scenario for “specific peril”… But this doesn’t help us much with Bruce Wayne, because the courts don’t know he was in the nuclear explosion that consumed the not-a-Batwing-Bat-plane. So what might count as “specific peril of death”?
The wholesale sacking of Gotham might… While no systematic genocide occurred in Gotham, we know that the city was overrun for several months with widespread executions, lootings, murders, and violence. We also know that these incidents were focused on the wealthy such as Mr. Wayne due to Bane’s class-warfare approach. In the wake of tens of thousands of deaths, with intentional executions disproportionately focused on wealthy scions such as Bruce Wayne, I think it’s reasonable to consider Wayne to have been in “specific peril of death,”
The whole article is actually a pretty interesting read (especially if you’re a bit of a law nerd.) It brings up a lot of interesting legal precedent and is terribly well researched.
I wonder though: what other weird and wonderful legal challenges could come up involving our favourite superheroes? Lets hear your thoughts in the comments.