In the College Hill Independent, writer Jeffrey Yoskowitz ponders the cultural — and socio-political — significance of Batman and, to a lesser extent, other superheroes:
The rise of Batman in the 90s corresponds nicely with American urban history. Suburbanization following World War II led to the near disintegration of the American city. Urban decay and white flight in the 1970s and 80s led to the degeneration of city culture; our national consciousness and downtown properties across the country were abandoned and depleted of value. Meanwhile, crime and corruption rose. By the 1990s, US cities in alliance with private developers used principles of New Urbanism to bring about an urban renaissance. Public spaces were reclaimed; downtowns in cities such as New York and Providence were ‘revitalized.’ Yet such a task required cracking down on corruption and crime. It is no coincidence that Batman exploded onto the big screen in 1989, the year the Berlin wall fell and the United States could focus on domestic issues with the Cold War no longer in control of our national attention.
Much more at the link.