This is quite embarrassing, but I must confess–I had no idea that Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises were connected films. In fact, I didn’t even know the first and last one existed until this year…
But that’s besides the point. My unforgivable ignorance does not take anything away from this three-part masterpiece by Christopher Nolan. If anyone hasn’t seen these bad boys, you should really make the time investment. I missed out on this treat big time, but I am so glad I spent 3 straight nights catching up on 8 hours-worth of cinematic greatness.
Yet oddly enough, it wasn’t the performance of a lifetime by Heath Ledger or the heart-pounding story line that resonated most deeply with me. Rather, it was simply a few small, simple, yet profound lessons about love. And from this film, I think I saw 3 major aspects of love put on display by Batman (who I believe is a very Christ-like figure if we analyze the film closely).
Love is Sacrificial
Quite frequently, love is cheaply presented and defined as a mere feeling, something that just comes and goes. Though in many ways, this isn’t exactly false, it’s certainly not a complete picture. In the bible it says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Here we see that love is a decision, an action, a commitment and a sacrifice we consciously and willfully make to those we claim to love.
In the last film of the trilogy, near the end of the film, Batman knew the bomb was going to go off. Without hesitation he decided to lay his life down for the people of Gotham, by sending this bomb out of the city. If you watched the film, you would know what happened, but in any case, he made that decision knowing the state of the people that lived in the city he unconditionally loved. Many of them were not deserving of this act of kindness at all. He had all the reasons in the world to just bounce and call it a day with Anne Hathaway. But still he chose to lay his life down to make a way for the people he loved. In the same way, Jesus showed us what love ought to look like when he died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. He proved it with His sacrifice. Love is sacrificial.
Love is Steadfast
I referenced the bible earlier because if we really wanna know what something was meant to be like, we gotta to back to the source, namely God. Only in this case, if we wanna know what love is like, God Himself is it. In 1 John 4:18, it says that “God is love” meaning that love is an integral and inseparable feature of God’s existence, character, and being. We learn more about this in John 3:16 where it says that “For God so loved the world that He gave is one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” On the old rugged splintered cross, drenched in His blood, Jesus remained steadfast towards us and told the Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Here we see that even at the peak of his humiliation, He chose to show mercy and did not waver in His commitment to those He loved.
In The Dark Knight, Batman was condemned falsely for the crimes of Harvey Dent. He was persecuted despite doing nothing wrong. Even then, He continued to watch over the city he loved as they trampled over his noble works and spat in his face. Whenever the city was in need, he always showed up and never wavered. He never took a day off. Truly, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, “love bears all things.” Love is steadfast.
Love in Secret
In the Matthew 6, it tells us to give to the needy, pray for others, and fast–but in secret. These are all acts of love that ought to be focused on the receiver, not the giver. But sadly, we often aren’t concerned for the well-being of others, but merely the gratification and glorification of ourselves. In the bible it says that those who seek the praises of men will get it–but that’s all they’ll get. Jesus wants us to do good, but even when no one’s watching. Yet in reality, we know God is always watching and that’s enough.
In the Dark Knight Rises, Batman tells Blake to wear a mask when working alone. He explained that it’s not for his safety, but rather, “to protect the people you care about.” I know I’m taking this quote a slightly out of context, but I think that when you truly love someone, it doesn’t really matter whether they know or not. The mere sight of their well-being is enough. I think the best example of this is seen in the closing minutes when Lieutenant Gordon begs to know who Batman is. Though he does end up telling him indirectly, he basically tells him that it doesn’t matter whether he gets recognized for it or not. He was content with setting a good example for future heroes of Gotham. Love is in secret.
The Sad yet Hopeful Reality
Though I’m sure this is all makes a whole lot of sense, these are difficult principles to live out. There’s a deep longing in our souls for recognition and affirmation which makes it hard to love in secret. On top of that there’s a big love for ourselves that makes it hard to surrender our will and see the interests of others as greater than our own. And loving imperfect people is especially hard, so hard that we want to give up at times. Yet the reality is that though Batman doesn’t exist (though he probably can) Jesus does exist and He loved us perfectly in every respect. Just as the city of Gotham built a memorial statue to recognize Bruce Wayne’s sacrifice and contribution, we ought to make a living memorial of God with our lives to not only remember His great act of love displayed on the cross 2,000 years ago, but to also revere Him, and ultimately retell of Him and rejoice in Him.
This post isn’t really meant to be jam-packed with insight, but it’s just some observations I made from watching these 3 films haha.