Saturday, June 18, 2005
"Fear nothing. For nothing is concealed that will be revealed, nor secret what will be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in light. What you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops." Matthew 10:26-27
There is a scene in Batman Begins, when Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) is walking around in a cave below his mansion and hears the sounds of bats all about him, echoing on the walls in the darkness. Bruce Wayne, we learn, is very afraid of bats (originating in a childhood experience which scarred him for life). When the bats in this cave start flying over his head, he ducks in fear. But then he remembers, "Fear nothing," and slowly stands while hundreds of bats fly around him, circling him and screaching.
In this scene, Bruce Wayne not only faces his fear, he embraces it. After a life running from his fears, he now lives the command of Christ in the Gospels: "Fear nothing."
The real story of Batman Begins is the confrontation and conquering of our inner fears.
On a simple, surface level, Bruce Wayne has a fear of bats. However, on a deeper level, he is afraid of deeper things. He fears his own inner guilt, his violent temper, and his family's reputation in the city. When the story begins, he is also haunted by the night when he lost his parents so much so that he has fled from Gotham half-way across the world to China.
Underneath the vigor and violence we see in him, Bruce Wayne is the walking embodiment of fear. Like in the Star Wars saga, this film employs the philosophy that fear leads to anger, anger to hate, and hate to suffering. With all his fear and supressed feelings, Bruce Wayne lets his life's goal become a search for revenge against those who made him feel this way.
The Scriptures speak about this foolish desire for vengence: "Do not look for revenge...for it is written, 'Vengence is mine, says the Lord.'" (Romans 12:19)
About a quarter through this movie, Bruce is put to the test by Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) and his mentor Ducard (Liam Neeson) to enact justice of a common criminal through capital punishment. He refuses to put him to death, citing that, above all, we must have compassion for one another. This is the first glimer of hope that Bruce Wayne is clearing his mind of fear, vengence, and hatred, and that he knows the Gospel call to love one another.
Slowly (but surely), as Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, he rids himself of fear, guilt, and anger. By no means is Batman the purest, most moral superhero; he is truly a dark knight and is very human underneath that pointy-eared mask. Revenge, fear, and anger continue to haunt him, but as he learns what true justice is all about (i.e., protecting the weak and vulnerable rather than fighting only for ourselves), those human shadows are cleansed away.
In the Gospels, Christ challenges us to rid ourselves of fear, guilt, and vengence. These are emotions of our dark side. They are not of God. Therefore, to give into them is to push ourselves further from God. When we find ourselves overwhelmed with guilt and fear, we must confront them, even embrace them like bats in a batcave. Batman Begins reminds us of the Biblical answer to facing our fears: that is to see goodness in all things, to act justly for love of others, and to walk humbly and selflessly with our God (cf. Micah 16:8).