by Jennifer Dyer
The Dark Knight Rises, has been all over the news. Christopher Nolan, the movie’s writer, placed a heartfelt note on the front page of the official site stating his grief over the tragedy in Aurora, CO. All of us share those sentiments of sadness and grief for the victims. Please know that any of my statements here do not detract from the tragedy so many suffered that opening night.
If the people in your life have an imagination like mine, they are probably going to see Batman, but what about all the bad press? The violence so many of those bloggers have reported? The exploitation of modern society problems, etc…? For those of you with concerns, I wanted to offer some positive viewpoints and discussion points.
In the Dark Knight trilogy, we see a man take on an alter ego in order to fight crime in his beloved home city of Gotham. The secret ID is an effort to keep Bruce Wayne’s loved one’s safe. Though originally tasked with destroying Gotham in Batman Begins because of the depravity its citizens have sunken to, Bruce decides the people are worth saving, even at the extent of his own life. Sound familiar? One willing to die for the sins of the many?
In the next movie, The Dark Knight, Batman takes on the sins of one for the betterment of all. His self-sacrifice helps peace to reign in the city. Yes, it caused a lot of problems later, but nothing is perfect when enacted by imperfect humans… Still, he took on the sins of one man in order to save a host of others.
In The Dark Knight Rises, we see a reluctant Bruce Wayne asked to take the mantle of Batman once again. Gotham needs its knight to save them again. Bruce’s body is broken from all his heroics of old, and no one argues that he doesn’t have some deep issues with guilt, anger and even aspects of morality, but he also has some good personality points.
(Spoiler alert). Bruce loses everything material in this movie, but it becomes obvious he is not trapped by the materialism enslaving his fellow Gotham-ites (?). When evil Bane (the bad guy with the breathing mask) shows up in Gotham, the people have fallen to such a state of depravity they willingly embrace anarchy and brutalize their fellow man. What the citizens don’t realize is they are playing into the very people who want to bring judgement upon them for their unchecked evil.
Bruce feels the only way to fight is to retake his Dark Knight mantle. Bruce is betrayed into Bane’s hands, though he is not surprised the person betrayed him. (Again, sound familiar?) He faces Bane even though he knows certain death will follow. He still feels fighting for the people of Gotham is worthwhile, although watching the movie it is hard to see why he loves some of those people so much…
Bruce is not killed in his confrontation with Bane. Instead Bane puts Bruce in one of the worst kinds of prison man can imagine–a prison with only a single, circular hole looking into the sky. He is left there to watch Gotham burn and to die a slow death in hell on earth. Broken and despondent, Bruce, however, wills himself to recover. He determines to do what no other man has done: climb out of hell to redeem his people.
The men in the prison chant in another language, saying, “Rise.” They watch hope rise as Bruce climbs his way to freedom. Bruce overcomes hell and sets off to save his people, flawed though they are. (Another familiar point…)
After escaping from that place, I might have headed to the Caribbean and ignored the giant boom taking Gotham off the face of the earth, but Bruce returns to fight. For the few trying to resist the evil, Batman’s return gives hope, something they thought gone. His Bat sign blazing over the city brings fear for the evil people and is a sign of impending judgement.
Again, after coming back, Bruce must face evil Bane, endure more betrayal–all while knowing his father figure turned away from him–and be willing to give up his life. He also inspires others to do their best and give their all.
I could go on. The gospel message echoes all over this movie, even though it can only be taken so far as Bruce is a human being with all the complexities of our kind. I am not saying the writers had this exactly in mind, or that the parallels are drawn to perfection, but the story is there. Some stories are written so deeply inside our hearts that they leak out whether we intend it or not.
Yes, there is violence in Batman, but I witnessed more violence standing outside a Quentin Terantino movie (and I couldn’t see the screen). There are monsters among the Batman villains, but our world is full of monsters, only many of them have a lovely mask over their true face of evil. Some people complained that the city of Gotham takes up the riots all too easy, but how many times has humanity done the same thing? That city needed a self-sacrificial savior, as do we all. The advantage we have is that ours lived a perfect life and paid the price of our sins once and for all.