Christopher Nolan’s finale to his Batman series is remorseful and fatalistic, but raises questions of trust, fear of death, messianic connections, and more. Get your Christian critical thinking on for this movie review!
The Dark Knight Rises is the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga. It’s a high-action and thick-tension finale. This means no shortage of violence.
While Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were both very dark and deeply philosophical, The Dark Knight Rises seemed more remorseful and fatalistic.
But while also see The Dark Knight Rises has some interesting statements worthy of Christian critical thinking, especially with imitations of a messiah.
The Dark Knight Rises is not a movie for kids. It has more profanities than its prequels and even implied sex between the “hero” and a woman (God calls this fornication). But this movie it will certainly spurn some great discussion when seen through a biblical worldview.
The rest of this written and recorded review contains spoilers.
Scarcity vs. abundance
The entire Dark Knight trilogy has illustrated the difference between the rich and the poor. Along the way, they’ve pushed us to believe that organized crime is the result of poverty, and that minor offenses aren’t really crime.
You’re going to wonder how you can live so large and leave so little for the rest of us. [Selina Kyle / "Catwoman" to Bruce Wayne]
Many times, the Bible tells us to give to those in need, especially the widows and orphans. But the Bible never condemns wealth, but certainly does point out that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus also illustrated how riches can distract a person from the Kingdom of God in his conversation with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19 and Mark 10).
The ideology presented in The Dark Knight Rises is that of scarcity. Essentially think of this like a pie: if I take 6 pieces out of it, that leaves fewer for you. It’s this kind of thinking that leads us to be scrooges with our resources rather than generous toward others.
But the Bible teaches the idea of abundance because we serve a God with limitless grace, mercy, and even riches.
Trust the world
If you want to save the world, you have to trust it.
This is a familiar theme in the Dark Knight series. If the people are just trusted and given a hero, they’ll do the right thing.
But Jeremiah 9:8 reminds us, “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.” And Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
The world cannot be trusted to do the right thing because the world has already rejected an absolute definition of right and wrong. If left to our own flesh, we rebel and seek our own selfish gain. God has written His law on the hearts of men, which is why some are convicted of their conscience and try to do right (Romans 2:12–16).
Fear of death and fatalism
You don’t fear death; you welcome it. [Alfred to Bruce Wayne / Batman]
After eight years of living a lie, dealing with his loss, and Batman’s having to hide, Bruce Wayne is resolved that he can’t do anything and he seems to welcome death.
For those saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to fear death because we know that death will separate us from our flesh reunite our spirits with God (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, 1 Corinthians 15:50–58).
Bane called himself “Gotham’s reckoning—a necessary evil,” because “Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die.” But Bane’s view of judgment was more of purging rather than justice. (It’s no wonder he has a name like “Bane“!)
Look at the fictional city of Gotham objectively and you’d see that it’s really not much different from any other city—it’s yet another city full of sinful people.
The Old Testament includes many records of God’s judgment on cities who lived so rebelliously to God’s law: Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the pagan cities inhabiting Israel. As for a “purging,” the Bible speaks of this twice: the first was through the global flood (through which God saved Noah and his family—a salvation offered to others), the last is yet to come in the final judgement that Revelation is all about.
But on a personal level, Romans 1 speaks of a point beyond saving, despite their many opportunities to repent. That’s why Romans 1:12–29 speaks of God’s wrath and God’s giving them over to lusts of their hearts, degrading passions, and a depraved mind.
Batman, a messiah?
Now, the vigilante becomes a type of messiah to Gotham. Even John Blake says, “I’m still a believer in the Batman.”
But the interesting parallels go way beyond that.
Batman was absent for eight years, while he left Gotham to be kept in order by good people placed in leadership. Many were asking, “Does he still exist?” and “Will he return?”
When Batman does return from hiding, he is soon defeated and sent to a pit often referred to as hell. Batman stays in this pit for exactly three months, which is an interesting correlation to Jesus’s being in Hell for three days (though this connection may have been unintentional). All the other prisoners chat, “Rise! Rise! Rise!” as Bruce Wayne tries to climb out.
Batman’s return is seen as the city’s salvation against Bane and the evil he has released.
Ultimately (and I warned you about spoilers!), Batman ends up sacrificing himself by taking the “judgment” (that Bane intended for Gotham) onto himself.
But remember that our true Messiah lived a sinless life to become the spotless Lamb of God who took the punishment for sin. He is not still dead but alive with God!
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— Daniel J. Lewis (@theRamenNoodle) July 20, 2012
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