Photograph courtesy of Greg E. Mathieson (2012)
As one of the premiere forces fighting for the American way of life, the Navy SEALs through stealth operations, perceived negative view, and alter ego are comparable to Batman, the caped crusader of Gotham. Due to this the SEALs have earned the title of the Dark Knights of America.
If there is anything that is drilled into the Navy SEALs’ heads when they go through their grueling training, it is mastery of stealth. When it comes to special operations, being undetected is the most crucial aspect of the mission. SEALs can move around and take out targets without anyone knowing they are there, which ensures the safety of every soldier and the accomplishment of an important mission. Batman learned how to be stealth from his training with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows. He perfected the art of stealth to a point where he would be talking to someone and they would turn to find that he vanished. Batman’s ability to disappear aided in his crime fighting and even provided a comical spark to the movies.
In the infamous Osama Bin Laden Raid the most important part of the mission for the SEALs was that they remained undetected to ensure success. For the mission a super elite team was “handpicked, assembled of the most experienced men”(Owen, Mark) in the SEALs. This unit was named “Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU”(Owen). For the mission new Black Hawk helicopters were utilized which couldn’t be seen by radar. This utilization of high-tech equipment is similar to Batman’s “fantastic gadgets”(Zehr, Paul E.) and machines. The helicopters allowed the SEALs to enter Bin Laden’s compound without anyone knowing they had arrived, which assured the successful completion of the mission. The element of surprise is a key advantage that SEALs utilize in all of their missions much like Batman when he combats enemies by attacking from the shadows of night.
Since the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the SEALs have been perceived as heroes of America. They have always been considered great protectors but their missions and military victories in recent years have brought them to hero status. However, they are not so popular in countries they conduct missions in because in the case of the Osama Bin Laden killing, they went into a place where they were not wanted and due to some complications with the mission there were unplanned damages. In Batman’s case his intentions are good and he fights to protect his fellow citizens but is perceived as a masked vigilante and viewed negatively. At a point he is hunted down and chased because he takes on this negative persona in The Dark Knight. Both are heroes despite some of the negative views of their actions making them Dark Knights.
The SEALs, although trained killing machines, still have lives outside of the battlefield. Many of them are ordinary guys that have families and do things that normal people do. This is comparable to Bruce Wayne who lives a very separate life from his alter ego, Batman. He is a multi-billionaire businessman who would not be remotely considered to be the caped crusader. This allows for him to escape from crime fighting but like the SEALs, there is never a time when they are disconnected because protecting a city, and in the SEALs’ case a country, is a round the clock job.
In the two recent Batman movies one of the central themes is that Bruce Wayne cannot give up his obsession with Batman. The most memorable quote is from Rachel Dawes when she says, “I’m sure the day won’t come when you don’t need Batman.” (The Dark Knight). Batman has an internal struggle with his persona but unlike him, the SEALs can’t risk this internal struggle. The SEALs have sworn allegiance to their country, which makes living a normal life a secondary importance. Many men still have wives and kids, but miss a great deal of time with them. This tough decision SEALs make is for their country and to protect Americans from enemies.
Many of the men selected to become Navy SEALs are some of the most athletic, intelligent, and well-rounded individuals in the world. A SEAL ranges from an All-American football star to an Ivy League graduate. There is no specific background required, but they all share the similar characteristics of being driven, competitive, and slightly arrogant. They are the most lethal weapons in the U.S. Military and know this so there is a sense of self worth to their presence. Although SEALs may all be different they have formed a brotherhood through their BUD/S training that keeps these men so close and able to continue their fight.
There is not much differentiating the real life soldiers of the Navy SEALs from the fictional superhero, Batman. Both are similar in their utilization of stealth to combat enemies. They have intended good in their areas of operation but are perceived in a negative manner. When they are not off fighting they can return home and escape from their other persona to live normal lives. There is an old Navy SEAL philosophy, “The Only Easy Day was Yesterday” (Owen), which is something that Batman could agree with especially in The Dark Knight Returns when it appears that all of Gotham is lost. The Navy SEALs deal with this on a daily basis, making them the living embodiments of Batman, the Dark Knights of America.
Owen, Mark, and Kevin Maurer. No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden. New York: Dutton, 2012. Print.
The Dark Knight. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Warner Brothers, 2008. Film.
Zehr, Paul E. Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. Print.
Zero Dark Thirty Trailer, YouTube
Act of Valor Trailer, YouTube
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