The Poetry of Batman: This is how The Dark Knight Rises, by Mike Friesen

by Mike Friesen

poster-tdk-int3Soren Kierkegaard once said, “What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.”  When we look at the character of Batman, Batman is more than just a superhero, he is a poet of justice.
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At the end of the Dark Knight, Commissioner Gordon tells his son, “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.” (See movie clip of “Hero We Deserve” speech from The Dark Knight)
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But what makes Batman the true hero of Gotham? Fairytales and society tells us not to look to Batman but to District Attorney Harvey Dent (whom Commissioner Gordon deems the “White Knight“). We want the knight in shining armor (even Batman). But, after a series of tragic events and stresses, as we all know, Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face (a nickname the policemen give him for the hypocrisy they sensed in him). He becomes the criminal who not only kills people associated with Rachel Dawes death (his fiancé and Batman’s lifelong love); he threatens the lives of Commissioner Gordon’s family and tries to kill Batman.
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Carl Jung once wrote, “Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.”

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What makes Batman the true hero of Gotham, and a poet of justice, is precisely that he is not Harvey Dent. He is the Dark Knight. His history is filled with sorrow and he is in constant battle with his shadow. When things went wrong, Harvey caved and became his inferiority. He became Two-Face. When things went wrong for Batman, he revealed why he is the hero that Gotham deserves. His darkness did not overtake him because he was already in contact with it. Batman is Gotham’s knight because he can endure the shadows of society and his own personal existence. Justice is his craft, his poetry, his work of art.  This is how The Dark Knight Rises…

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