Friday, August 01, 2008

Dark Justice

David Goulet says:
“My only beef with DK is that it could be interpreted as an endorsement of redemptive violence.
“I can see where some folks have compared the Bush administration's vision of America to Batman. Someone has to do the dirty work, so America shoulders this cross and takes out the bad guys -- alone. The references to terrorism/insurgency are not subtle in the film.
“In DK we never are presented with the Christ option, which is transformation of evil (our enemy). Batman doesn't transform bad guys, he brings them to justice. He's still an Old Testament character, despite his noble desire not to exactly repay an eye for eye.
“Now I realize igniting inner repentance isn't the usual m.o. for comic book characters. But if we're going to discuss the Christian parallels in DK, which there are, we must also discuss the elements that are missing.
“Funny, I liked Iron Man more than DK. Maybe because it had a little more hope in it.”


Well said. As I stated in the review, I’m not sure I agree with the “third way” decided upon in THE DARK KNIGHT.

First let me address IRON MAN vs. DK: interesting to note that they both kinda deal with the darkness in a similar fashion – fighting violence with violence all the while hoping for a better way.

IM is more of the moderate’s vision – blatantly saying “warmongering is bad” while at the same time affirming that sometimes butt need kicking. DK goes much darker with its villain, and thus ends in a much darker place.

But redemption? Hmmm…

So what does the Christ-like action movie look like?

Don’t know. But here’s a start:

The prophet Micah tells us (6:8): “He has shown you, O Man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Simple. Yet not easy.

And movies like DK and IM got a third of it right -- do justice.

And it is good that we have movies that at least get that right. I applaud any movie that understands that the answer is more complicated than merely “do justice” – both DK and IM get that.

But walking in the Way is not an “or” philosophy; it is an “and” philosophy.

So where are the movies that “do justice” AND “love mercy?”

Not many, but there are a few.


There is a striking scene where Sean Penn’s character – a murderer/rapist -- claims a conversion to Christ, then asks “So, when do I get out of here?”

Sarandon’s Sister Helen is shocked by that question – shocked that he has so little understanding of Jesus’ faith. One that has mercy AND justice. It wouldn’t occur to her that he would not pay for his crimes.

On the action side, I offer you THE X-MEN.

Magneto must pay for his crimes; he must be brought to justice.

But Xavier will never give up on Magneto, will continue to visit him in prison (hmmm, visiting one in prison, where have I heard that spoken of before?).

Archenemies? Sure. But that won’t stop Xavier from loving Magneto.

Note: A key factor that allows both Sister Helen and Professor X to behave in such a counter-cultural way is their humility. Hmmm…

Doing justice AND loving mercy AND walking humbly – very, very tricky stuff.

Figure out how to do all of that at once, and you’ve got yourself a third way.

Just my thoughts,


PS In his defense, Batman never gives up on Harvey Dent – in the movie and throughout the comics (through and including THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS).

And I still am a huge fan of DK.

Maybe next week I'll get all political and talk about how DK does NOT reflect the Bush administration...

1 comment:

David Goulet said...

Good stuff, Sean. I do like your Third Way theory in DK. The X-men example is also spot on.

I'm actually developing a script, for a superhero project, in which I'm going to try and execute the transformative climax. Your thoughts are good seed towards that goal. Wish me luck. If I do this right, I may even convince Barb N. that comic book movies can be for "big people" too.