On my first post here, I wrote about Christ figures in popular culture. It’s a fascination of mine, I’ll admit, and has been since high school.
And because of that, I’ve observed that many, if not most, superheroes, can be considered Christ figures.
And for the most part, I pointed the finger, as most did, at Superman. I’d never considered my favorite superhero, Batman, to be a Christ figure. I just hadn’t. That wasn’t what Batman was about. Batman was about other things. He’s about brutal justice, about capitalism and so many other things.
Batman could never be confused with Jesus.
But until this past week, The Dark Knight Rises didn’t exist.
The Dark Knight Rises is Batman’s Book of Revelation, and it’s final half hour is the second coming. I’m putting in a cut so as not to reveal spoilers (although, I bet everyone who cares knows what happened)
The Dark Knight Rises begins on “Harvey Dent Day,” a new Gotham Holiday that commemorates the “murder” of Harvey Dent by Batman, eight years earlier. Part of the celebration involves a fund raising dinner at Wayne Manor, where we learn that not only has Batman left the city, Bruce Wayne has become a shut in.
This all leads to a very, very twisted plot, where Batman confronts Bane, a twisted version of Batman (the anti Christ), he too wears a mask, he is also an ex member of The League of Shadows. During this confrontation, Bane breaks Batman, both literally and figuratively, he breaks his back, and his spirit, dumping him in the miserable Lazarus pit, a horrifying prison, nursing him just to the point of life.
But Bruce Wayne fights. He fights for Gotham City, his home, he fights for Alfred, his butler and last remaining family, he fights for his friend Jim Gordon, and Lucius Fox who made him Batman, and for Selina Kyle and John Blake, who showed that she was would fight because of him. He fights for the people of Gotham, who no longer have a defender.
There’s a scene that cements it. Bruce has been languishing in the pit, and has decided to take his chance at climbing out. He listens as the prisoners around him begin to chant. He turns to another man and asks, “What are they saying?”
And so he rose. He returned to Gotham, struck down Bane, saved the city and then sacrificed his life in the end.
In fact when Selina said that he should leave, “You don’t owe these people anything more. You have given them everything!” His response is simple.
“No,” he says, “not everything. Not yet.”
Upon his “death” (he doesn’t actually die, I mean, come on, he’s Batman) his friends take on his cause. Jim Gordon puts the Bat Signal back up. John Blake and Alfred turn Wayne Manor in to an orphanage and John Blake (probably) becomes Batman. They become like Christians, looking for Christ in Batman.