What Batman and Jesus have in commonPosted: July 29, 2012
The Dark Knight trilogy has been a triumph. Christopher Nolan has injected new life into the Batman character. The three films have had it all – detailed storylines, complex characters and amazing special effects.
I’m no expert on the films, in fact I can’t even profess to be a hardcore fan (I watched the three films in the wrong order). But the final film in the series - The Dark Knight Rises has further cemented my belief that Nolan’s achievement in re-imagining the story of Batman will go down in history for all the right reasons.
I’m not sure where the phrase ‘greatest story ever told’ originated from. But it seems apt to me that the story of Jesus is often given this title. If you think about some of the films most of us enjoy the most, they contain the same themes and messages as the Jesus story. Redemption, hope and love are just three, but there are many more.
The parallels between Nolan’s great story and God’s greatest story start with the city of Gotham.
Throughout The Dark Knight trilogy, we are reminded that Gotham is a city void of justice. The police are unable to crack down on crime and various gangs and evil figures rule. In the Jesus story, the Bible tells us that society at large and the world in general has ‘fallen’. Jesus himself said “why do you call me good? No one is good except God”. Try telling a friend that they aren’t a “good person”. It doesn’t go down well. Most of us realise we aren’t perfect, but we all believe we’re above average. But statistically it’s impossible for everyone to be above average! Humankind has something drastically wrong with it. The Bible calls this ‘sin’. And in Gotham, sin is everywhere you turn.
Just as in the time before Noah’s flood, there was a feeling that the world (or Gotham) was too bad to be redeemed and must rather be punished. (God even said he had “regretted” making mankind because it had become so sinful). In the same way, The League of Shadows decided that Gotham was so evil that it must be decimated of all human life. This may sound extreme, but we all long for justice and many even express joy when murderers and rapists are either locked away for life, or even given the death penalty in other nations.
Salvation through Batman alone
Jesus was well aware of how sinful mankind had become. But he didn’t pronounce immediate judgment. Batman also knew first hand how evil Gotham was, but he saves it anyway. In both cases, it was undeserved favour.
The city of Gotham falsely accused Batman of murder. Jesus was falsely accused of a crime punishable by death (treason). He was hated. But he, just like Batman, never gave up. Even though neither Gotham nor our own world deserved saving, mercy was demonstrated in both cases.
Dying for you
Hope is a major theme in The Dark Knight Rises. Without hope, the good guys in the film would have given up about 45 minutes in. But no, they slogged it out for the full 2 hours 45 minutes! In the Bible, prophets foretold of a day when everything would be made right again. This gave the Israelites hope, even in the toughest times.
Like almost every superhero film you can think of, the main character pays the ultimate price and either gives or very nearly gives his life to save the world!
When we honour soldiers who have given their lives in battle, we often quote the words: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” These words were originally said by Jesus. All of us can relate to them. Sacrifice is impressive. But there’s something even more impressive than dying for your friends. Dying for your enemies. Both Batman and Jesus did this.
The greatest story ever told
I genuinely thought The Dark Knight Rises was going to be a tragedy. When the nuclear bomb went off, I thought it was all over and Nolan had killed off Batman. When Jesus lay dead in the tomb, his disciples were devastated. But Jesus wasn’t going to go down in history as a guy who said some nice things and told people to be nice to each other. He rose from the dead, demonstrating he was God.
Batman also seemingly rose from the dead!
There’s some other possible similarities I haven’t mentioned (both Batman and Jesus descend into and rise out of hell / the pit. Could Catwoman be Judas?)
Of course, there are many aspects to the final Batman film that bear no resemblance. Jesus didn’t kiss a girl, let alone two! Neither did he drive a motorbike (although that would have been awesome). The overall storyline from sin and suffering to resurrection and redemption is striking. We all love a good story. It seems that 2000 years on, the themes of the greatest story ever told are continuing to influence popular culture. And rightly so.