The Resurrection of Batman

17 09 2012

Spoilers follow about The Dark Knight Rises, so don’t come crying to me if I ruined it for you. 

* * * * *

Batmunny?

                In The Dark Knight Rises, there is a scene in which one of the orphan boys in the besieged city of Gotham is drawing a chalk outline of a bat on the side of a building.  When Officer Blake sees him, the child asks Blake if he thinks Batman is ever coming back.  Blake responds with a wistful answer and looks to the sky as the scene transitions, and we are left anticipating the inevitable return of the film’s hero.  The audience can sympathize with this uncertainty as Batman is currently at the bottom of an inescapable pit,* but the picture of childlike hope is encouraging, and the audience is invigorated after the scene, excited to see how Batman will prove the boy’s faith true.

*Yeah, he escapes

                In a thought-provoking article at Alternate Takes, James MacDowell gives a very good argument for why the “happy” ending of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy is both earned and justified.  One of the specific objections that he addresses is the notion that the final scene with Alfred—in which he sees the thought-dead Bruce and Selina eating at the same café he mentioned to Bruce earlier in the film—is a fantasy sequence borne of Alfred’s intense desire to see his friend alive and happy, and that the scene is analogous to the audience’s desire to always see everything turn out all right.  MacDowell’s argument to the contrary is timely considering the increasingly prevalent notion in film* that a truly “artistic” film should have tragedy and pain woven throughout the entire work, most especially the ending.

*Since 2000, Best Picture Oscars have gone to films like Million Dollar Baby, The Departed, The Hurt Locker, Crash, and A Beautiful Mind.  I am not saying that these movies are bad by any means; only that they represent a trend in film endings towards the macabre and cynical rather than the joyful and redemptive.  Even in Million Dollar Baby the only “redemption” is that of death and the release from life’s hardship. 

However, what caught my attention in the article was a commenter who, in his argument for the ending’s being a fantasy (and contrived at that), compared Alfred’s desire to see Bruce alive to the “delusions” of those who claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ after his death.  The comment put forth the idea that those who claimed to witness Jesus after his death were simply victims of their own fantasies—that is, they loved Jesus and missed him so intensely that out of their grief arose visions of He whom they missed so dearly. 

Now, it is a not-uncommon occurrence for grieving people to “see” their lost loved ones, and I even have a close relative who had an extremely vivid experience of this very sort (which Cory pointed out sort of seems to run against the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19ff, but I’m willing to leave the “reality” of that particular instance ambiguous for now).   But I would like to point out that, of all these occurrences, the one that should be considered most likely from a purely objective point of view is that of Easter Sunday.  I mean, think about it:  While the people in question were grieving and recently bereft of the greatest man they had ever known, the reason they were so distraught in the first place is because of who Jesus was.  Specifically, one who had performed miracles with the power of God.  One cannot accept that Jesus was simply a great teacher with a following even to this day while simultaneously discarding the very miracles that caused such a following in the first place!

Of course, that same commenter would also assuredly say that the perceived “miracles” were nothing more than either tricks or after-the-fact embellishments by those seeking to trump up the figure of Christ, and I could simply move on to cite the prophecies of Jesus (and many others in Scripture) about his own resurrection.  Then, I suppose, the commenter would say that the Bible has been corrupted by fanatic believers throughout the years or try to compare Jesus’ prophecies to those of other “great teachers” that were thought to have come true by followers of the deceased leader, only to be proven false in the light of day.  

But better apologetics have been done on those objections, and I need not give my own poor version here.  I simply feel compelled to point out that the resurrection of Christ has within its very nature far more support on the basis of its subject than any person before or since.*

 

*Yes, even Batman

 

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