In their zeal to embrace "Batman Begins" [" 'Batman's' Laissez-Faire-Weather Fans," Sunday Arts, July 3], conservative and libertarian commentators must have missed the movie's messages about helping the less fortunate, sacrificing for the common good and valuing more than money.

One wonders if they nodded approvingly at the cost-benefit analysis offered by Bruce Wayne's supplier of gadgetry, Lucius Fox, who had plenty of Kevlar suits in stock because someone decided that the life of a soldier wasn't worth the armor's cost.

-- Rob Walton



The beauty of "Batman Begins" evidently lies in the eyes of the beholder. Where Ann Hornaday reports that libertarian conservatives were pleased to find in the film a celebration of laissez-faire capitalism, I saw a reasonably balanced treatment that showed both the positive and negative potential of corporate power. More significantly, and economics aside, the movie presents some not-so-hidden messages that might cause militant conservatives to wince and others to find challenging:

* The true hero has the courage to question the morality of justifying, by their promised desirable ends, whatever means are necessary to achieve them.

* He has the wisdom to see through the high-sounding phrases and fear-inducing rhetoric that present this philosophy as something noble and compelling.

* He rejects the notion that a place must be destroyed in order to save it.

* He has absorbed the lesson that revenge is not an acceptable substitute for justice, and that justice is sometimes more and sometimes less than punishment.

Unlike some of their fellow conservatives, libertarians might find more to cheer about in some of this than in the supposed laissez-faire content of the film. For what it's worth, I found Bruce Wayne, billionaire, to be more of a George Soros than a Ken Lay.

-- Jesse Etelson