The most hyped movie of the summer was Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his interpretation of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR). While there were a few flaws, it was still a wonderful finish to a well-rounded trilogy.
We pick up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Batman has disappeared since he took the bogus rap for the District Attorney Harvey Dent’s (Two-Face) murder. Gotham needed an everyday hero. They needed Dent to be their savior. Should Gotham find out that Dent cracked and became a kidnapper/murderer the city might never recover. So Batman takes the fall for something he didn’t do, being the hero Gotham needed to keep hope alive that the city could change for good.
Now, Batman is virtually forgotten. It seems the plan worked. Gotham is at peace. The crime is minimal and manageable. Yet underneath it all there is a chaos that is about to unleash that will push Gotham to the brink of extinction. For Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to save the city he loves he must dawn the mask and cape for one last battle. A battle not just for Gotham but for his own redemption. Bruce is pushed to his breaking point.
Without too many spoilers I will just redirect you to the title of the movie; the Dark Knight does indeed rise. As Nolan has done throughout the trilogy, his story of the Dark Knight is one of desperation and despair; of good versus evil; and of a man and his city simultaneously striving for a life that matters; a life and a city that stands for something; a life and city that flourishes.
Nolan’s storytelling and the Gotham he creates has been immensely popular. To date, TDKR has had domestic sales nearly $354 million.
So what draws so many of us in to this Gotham world? It’s realism.
Gotham: The Microcosm of Our World
It sounds silly to say in regards to a super-hero movie. Yet, the reason we love Batman is because he actually doesn’t have super powers. He has a lot of money and as Jack Nicholson said in the classic Batman movie from 1989 “wonderful toys.” More importantly though, it feels like it’s not too far-fetched. Chemical warfare, mass-murders, psychopathic anarchists. It’s not the goofy Riddler in skimpy tights. These guys are people we wouldn’t be completely shocked to see on the front page of our local newspaper or CNN iphone apps. It feels realistic.
Almost too realistic. Gotham is a microcosm of our world. When we look at our world we see so much decay, destruction, depression, and despair. We see the orphans needing homes in America and in third world countries. We know people die every day from something as miniscule as lack of water or food or medicine. We see Tsunamis, earthquakes, and floods. We see genocide, civil war, nuclear warhead building, and civil unrest in places like North and South Korea, Uganda and Syria. We see sex trafficking all over the globe.
Yet, in other ways we see beauty, bravery, heroism, and courage. We see men and women giving their lives for freedom. We see people giving their lives in mission projects all over the globe. We see a country grieving with her countrymen in the wake of massacres in movie theaters, schools and places of worship showing camaraderie, sympathy and compassion. We see Olympic Games full of fierce but respectful competition. We see relief aid in the natural disasters mentioned earlier.
Gotham is a microcosm of our world because it is constantly trying to get over the hump; trying to sustain a quality of life that brings out the best. Gotham’s desire, like the desire of many in our world, is to see the evil finished and things made right so that humanity can flourish.
The Problem of Sustainability
There’s just one problem. It can’t seem to succeed for the long haul. Chaos abounds on the streets or brews underneath just waiting to burst forth like the tidal waves of the sea. What’s more? Chaos often lurks in us as well. We have good days and bad days. Most of us feel like things are on the “up and up” only to be hit by one of those tidal waves. Deep down we all wrestle with feeling like this world needs a do-over. Not a new world necessarily but a fixing of what has fractured our great town, city, nation and planet. And maybe, if our fractured world can be fixed for the long-haul, maybe our inner-turmoil can be fixed as well.
That’s why we love TDKR. Both Gotham and Bruce epitomize our world and our personal condition. We realize we can’t fix it for good. We need an intervention from the outside.
Intervention From Outside
Thankfully, there is one. This world wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t intended to be like this at all. It was created in peace and harmony with the creator pronouncing how good his creation was. Mankind, however, decided we could run things better and rebelled against God, fracturing the peace, harmony and life afforded it. Now, we see the decay of our world and ourselves and wonder what can be done. We all need intervention from outside; someone who can actually right all the wrongs.
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God, is the answer. But he doesn’t start with fixing the world so we might have hope. He starts with fixing us so the world might have hope. The Scriptures tell us in 2 Corinthians:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV)
You see, reconciliation begins with a person being reconciled back to the God who you and I have rebelled against. Through Jesus this is possible. The result: we become a new creation. We are made alive, for real. We are able to flourish as God intended. And we carry this message of reconciliation to the world around us that society may flourish, cities may flourish and nations may flourish. We take part in the new creation that God began when he raised Jesus from the dead.
Then, one day, even the physical creation itself will experience this reconciliation.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:19-21 (NIV)
What Gotham and Bruce were looking for is what we are looking for: a place where beauty and life can rise from the ashes. It can and it will. You can take part in it. Sure, in the movies the Dark Knight rises. The good news is that in real life you can truly rise to life and become a new creation. The question is: Will you?
Intersection: Are you trying to rise on your own and conquer life’s battles, struggles and despair? Are you ready for the good news of Jesus to fill your heart and raise you to life? Let me know if I can help by leaving a comment below.