I’m not writing to capitalize on what’s happened in the past 24 hours. That’s not the kind of person I am. I’m more just trying to get my feelings out and discuss how I feel about Batman as a character, what these past three films mean and how impactful they are on the public or could be.
There are a few legitimately strong lessons in Nolan’s Batman films and the strongest of which is “Why do we fall? So we can teach ourselves to stand back up.” This is a theme that resonates through the entire trilogy. With Bruce falling with the death of his parents and Batman standing in his place, then Batman falling so that the reputation of a good yet twisted man may stand up, and then Gordon falling for the same reasons as Batman, but morally feeling broken. This is a lesson not only of self reliance but of relying on other people to help you when you need them.
The second biggest theme is Batman’s disgust for guns. They ruined his life when one took his parents, then the love of his life is disgusted at him for even thinking that a gun could solve his problems when he wants to murder Joe Chill, and then, while stretching the idea further, he refuses to even kill with a sword when ordered to by Ras Al Ghul.
Even in the sequel, The Dark Knight, Batman has a chance to shoot The Joker or at least run him down on the Batpod and doesn’t do it, nearly killing himself in the process.
Batman and Bruce Wayne’s stance against using guns has been criticized by readers of the character over the decades and while Batman used guns when he started it’s been a sticking point that he not use them. From The Dark Knight Returns, Batman snaps a rifle in half and states, “THIS is the weapon of the ENEMY. We do not NEED it. We will not USE it.” and “A gun is a coward’s weapon. A liar’s weapon. We kill too often because we’ve made it easy… too easy… sparing ourselves the mess and the work.”
In the Dark Knight Rises there are multiple instances where characters have issues with guns including Batman who tells Selena Kyle (Catwoman) not to use a gun, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character John Blake not liking the results of defending himself with deadly force and more. There’s a joke involving a character being killed with brutal fire power that undermines the message for the sake of a big laugh, but it fits the tone of the film.
So we have this message through Batman’s history. This idea that we can be above guns, that we don’t need them to solve our problems and yes there are grey areas with Batman using guns in his past but that’s not the current message of the character…
The most impacting moment for me involving this topic came over a decade ago and involved the first 5 minutes of Batman Beyond. Batman is an older man and when trying to stop a kidnapping/ransom he holds a gun to a criminal and that’s when he knew that he couldn’t be Batman anymore. He had to hang up his cowl and go into retirement. You can watch that clip HERE.
I’m not trying to make a point about gun laws or politicize what happened in Colorado with this post. I feel horrible for the people involved and hurt by what one man did. I do feel that the man should pay. The deaths of 14 people is a huge deal and I understand that a lot of people don’t feel safe this weekend. The movie theater is supposed to be one of the safest places in the world and when that safety is torn away and we’re left with the horrible actions of one person ruining the lives of dozens, it’s hard to comprehend.
I feel like I needed to get this all out on the table because these are the ideas rattling around inside my head right now. I sat through 9 hours of Batman films and the two lessons that I pulled away are in direct contradiction with what one awful man did and I think that says something. I think those ideas of falling and getting back up, and guns are powerful and that they mean something. What? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out in the coming weeks.