In the past few months I have had the opportunity to watch the Batman movies. Up until now I have avoided them, assuming that like all the other superhero movies, they were gonna be quite predictable, cliche and superficial, leaving my brains full of useless information. Yet my interest was sparked when I continued to hear positive things about the films from some good people.
Aside from the amazing score, great directorship, and an interesting story line, the main reason that I appreciated these movies is the depth of questions that they raised. The questions of the battle between good and evil are common topics that show up in fictional stories. However, these films don’t just address the battle on the large spectrum of life. They take it the focus down deeper, putting the spotlight on the human heart itself.
Why do we do what we do? Are we mostly good or mostly evil? What is the solution to the violence, cruelty and selfishness that fills this world? Is there hope to the problem of pain and suffering in this world? These are some of the most important questions that fill our lives on a daily basis, in one form or another.
Of the three, the second movie sets these issues in spotlight most clearly.
Just when the city of Gotham starts to confront the evil, selfishness and crime and rise up for integrity and justice – a new kind of evil comes on the scene and turns everything upside down again. The Joker is criminal unlike any other. He seems to be a person who has lost all his sanity and intelligence for everything in life except one thing: helping people turn on each other for the sake of their own selfish desires.
The power of the Joker is not in his riches or his army but in his ability to tap into the people’s great potential for evil. He knows that everyone has a price at which they will sell out; everyone’s integrity can only exist within certain limits. His fascination lies in seeing what those limits are, and then drawing them out of those limits. Then, stand back and observe the spectacle of multifaceted horror that arises as his selfish prey destroys its own life by its fight for its selfish desires.
The observations that this movie makes on the human heart are very profound. Indeed, the greatest thing that we have to fear is not some crazy criminal or terrorist but the powerful selfish nature that fills our hearts. We destroy ourselves in our fight for the fulfillment of our own personal desires.
What then, is the solution? This is the part where the movie completely misses the mark. In the end, as people are driven to the end of their fight, to the point of greatest desperation – they rebel against the evil and stand for one another. Is this really how it happens? What do we get when we dig deeper and deeper beyond the layers of selfish pride? The true answer from reality, and from Scripture, is always the same – more selfish pride.
We cannot and do not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. The only hero that gives us the inspiration and power to stand against the evil within is the one who came into this world from the outside; the one who took upon himself the weight of our problem; the one who died for us and rose again and who is reigning on high.
Is there hope in this world against all the evil brewing within us? Nope. The hope comes to us from the outside from the One who alone possesses the power to both pay for our failure and to share with us his own power and justice and beauty. Jesus Christ is the only hero whom our broken and shattered hearts desire. He is the knight that rises in victory over all evil.