The Dark Knight Rises Christian movie review

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!

Be sure to also listen to our review of The Dark Knight part 1 and part 2.

Spoiler-free 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.

Get Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack from iTunes or Amazon.com

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).

Beyond saving

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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Share your feedback!

What did you think of The Dark Knight Rises? We would like to know, even if just your reactions to the trailer or the topics we shared in this episode. Or what general critical-thinking and entertainment thoughts or questions do you have? Would you like to suggest a movie or TV show for us to give a Christian movie review with critical thinking?

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters training, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcasts covering how to podcast, clean-comedy, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, all under the umbrella of Noodle Mix Network and having received nearly 20 award nominations. Daniel and his wife, Jenny, live near Cincinnati with their newborn son, "Noodle Baby."

9 comments on The Dark Knight Rises – AYJW032

  1. LisaFromOH says:

    Great podcast, Daniel! My husband and I saw The Dark Knight Rises earlier this week and liked it very much. Thanks for pointing out some philosophical/spiritual themes that we didn’t think of.
    The rest of this comment contains SPOILERS.One thing that I thought of while watching the movie toward the end was the parallels between the battle for Gotham and the spiritual battles we face. For example, the police were afraid until they saw that Batman was there. I thought of how we don’t ever need to be afraid because we’re on the same side as the God of the universe and He is always with us.
    I too, thought that Batman was presented as a Messiah-like figure and was kind of disappointed at the end when it was revealed that he hadn’t actually died, since that made the parallel not as close.

    1. Thanks for listening, Lisa!

      Yeah, good point on the battle-hero figure.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I think you missed some important points that could explain some of the doubts you had about the way the “good guys” are depicted in this movie.

    I saw a lecture looking at “The Dark Knight” from a Christian perspective and those people realized that in this movie as well as in many other popular hollywood movies there is a common theme that twists how we see Jesus and Satan.

    Basically what happens is that the bad guys carry a lot of symbols and attributes of Christ and God and Batman brings a lot of evil symbols and represents what Satan is up to in this world. This may sound harsh at first, but I invite you to be critical and look closely at what can be found in the Batman movies. The people from the lecture predicted the plot of the third part last year as the movie tells the story of the revelation in an upside down way and I just checked and what they predicted really matches.

    Please note my first language is not English.

    Notice how Batman is born through evil in the first place, he leads a double life, he “protects” the city by lying to them, he actually looks like a demon. Basically there are clues everywhere, but it’s hard to see them when you’re wrapped into the entertainment these movies provide. I liked to see them myself too.

    I have only read the plot of “Dark Knight Rises” and I won’t see it, but I found some clear similarities right away:

    In revelation in the bible God destroys the world, judges the people. In the movie the bad guy Bane builds a bomb to destroy the city and judges the rich and powerful. He destroys Batmans empire and a key to this is Batmans fingerprint he left. God will destroy Satan and his empire, the world, all the evil that he caused in the world by the traces he left and with Gods law. Bane later uncovers lies in front of the world, he tells the truth.

    Batman is sent to prison, just as Satan is sent to exile in revelation at the end. Only a woman escaped from that prison. The woman is called Miranda (meaning: worthy of admiration) and also called Talia (=Lamb). Jesus, the lamb, is also the only one ever coming out of the prison of the world. Later she stabs Batman.

    There are many many more connections, symbols and parallels. And I really invite you to look at them. I’m surely the wrong person to explain this in detail, I just looked at this briefly and already found so many things after looking at it for an hour, from a Christian view the nature of this plot becomes very apparent. I wanted to know more and see what other people write about this and found your podcast and thought this was important missing information. If you look at the plot with this in mind you can see that there is a different intention than mere “entertainment” here, we get a twisted view of how the messiah is. Satan wants to sell himself as the messiah. And I think revelation says that false prophets will come and only the ones who know Jesus will recognize him. So I suggest to look closely and don’t get caught into these twisted depictions of who Jesus, who the real hero and our savior is, that so many movies show. At the end many people will be mistaken and follow the wrong Jesus. Movies are a very powerful tool.

    1. Excellent points, Sebastian!

      I’m certainly not advocating that we can look at Batman as a Christ figure, but I did see messianic attributes common in movies with any kind of “savior” (like The Matrix).

      But you’re absolutely right that “bad guys” often have religious and even Christian symbols, as if the producers are making Christians out to be the bad ones.

      This is massively evident in the TV series Battlestar Galactica in which the Cylons (the bad guys) and the terrorists that came before them (according to Caprica TV series) believed in a single deity, even calling him “the one true god.” Throughout both series, they make almost direction quotations of Scriptures or Christian ideas—all held by the “bad guys” of the series.

      The Star Trek franchise also did this quite commonly.

      I really appreciate your comments and challenging me to look at things in reverse! Thank you!

      Coming up, I have some reviews about Total Recall and Hope Springs.

  3. Pedrozki says:

    Gday from Australia, Daniel. I really like your strong stand on critical thinking for Christians. I take my music quite seriously and listen carefully to the lyrics. The same goes for the books I read and the movies I watch. Your podcasts have been a great blessing. Regarding your podcast ep. of the Dark Knight Rises, I really liked your exposition on it. Thanks for your hard work, and I’ll keep my eye on your podcasts! I’ve gotten hooked on this one as well and the Ramen Noodle! For Christ. Pete

    1. Thank you, mate! I’m glad you’re enjoying our content!

  4. Rebecca Johnson says:

    I’m a huge Batman fan and I absolutely loved The Dark Knight Rises (and the entire Nolan Dark Knight trilogy) so listening to this is great because I’m pretty passionate about finding themes, especially, spiritual ones in superheroes stories.

    One thing not mentioned in this podcast episode (that you have probably heard of or read by now since I’m listening and commenting on this so late because I just discovered this) is that Talia pierces Batman’s side in their final confrontation, which is super Christ-like (courtesy of John 19:34). The stab wound is a reflection of “Batman Begins” when Ra’s talks about walking up behind someone and stabbing them in the heart, but it’s also Christ imagery used with superhero movies / stories before (see: Superman being stabbed in “Superman Returns”). It’s interesting that Bruce is stabbed right before (as you so wonderfully analyzed and something I didn’t really put in the terms in my thoughts when I saw the movie) Batman takes on the sins of Gotham City, dies, and is “resurrected”.

    Normally, Superman is the DC hero most associated with Christ imagery, but it was nice to see it with Batman. His methods are dangerous and sometimes, not very compassionate (dropping someone from a building comes to mind, although, you could categorize that as compassionate when he could have killed Maroni), but it reminds me of how Jesus would throw down with the Pharisees when they weren’t right or like when he showed force when he recognized that the Temple had become a den of robbers. Even though it’s not usually Batman’s territory, the Christ imagery in The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t forced and played out really well throughout the movie because he WAS a Savior for the people.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and covering this awesome movie!

    Oh, and P.S.: I’m obsessed with The Dark Knight Rises score! My favorite track is probably “Imagine the Fire”, but “Rise” has that wonderful ending and “Mind I Cut In?” is absolutely perfect for Selina. I’m a huge Zimmer fan so it was nice to know that someone else dug it, too.

    1. Great catch! I actually haven’t rewatched “The Dark Knight Rises” yet.

      Thanks for listening, Rebecca!

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