1. J Wilson says:

    Thank you for summing up so well the thoughts that I’ve had about this movie, especially about the end. I’m surpirised I had not made the connection between taking the fall for Harvy, and Christ’s subsitutionary death sooner.

    I’ve been thinking about the fall recently — working on a short story about it, and the theme that keeps coming up is how if Satan can force God’s hand to destroy his beloved creatures, or to turn a blind eye to their fall, he has won.  Just like the Joker can win dead or behind bars, because he’s forced justice’s hand to undo all Dent has done, or cease to be justice.

    But like Satan, the one thing he hasn’t counted on, is an innocent hero who would come forward, and in agreement with the element of Justice – God, or Gordon, would take that penalty, and convert all the good and right to the guilty party — “He became sin for us who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”

    We are Harvey Dent — walking corpses — twisted distortions of what we were made to be, hurting and destroying as we were hurt and destroyed. Unable to help ourselves. But the Joker — Satan — cannot win.

    This is a quote about Christ on the cross from “When God Weeps,” by Steven Estes and Joni Eareckson Tada that I feel sums this up well: 
    “He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – …
    His Father! He must face his Father like this!
    From Heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seem the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.

    “Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. … – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe this things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”
    Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

    “Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”
    But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
    The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.”
    (Quoted from  http://yonah.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/when-god-weeps/ )

    … On an entirely different and side note, I have to say I laughed when I read what Bryan Davis had to say about the movie, because frankly, I would say the same about most of the situations he puts his characters in, and their mindsets. (I barely finished Dragons in our Midst.)

    • Kaleb says:

      I definitely have to agree with  your very last part. I had the disconnect from reality in his books, not TDK. 

      • J Wilson says:

        Reading his books really became a series of “wait — what? Really…. eh…. whatever I guess…” as we go from dragons that blow a particular kind of fire — the only kind there is that can destroy demons, to rain automatically falling since the demons have been released, to gobs of people trapped in the stone thingy…. “mum…. pepperoni pizza” — actually, that was the most memorable part :D.  And every so often, someone is referred to as “Godly”…. really? Okay, whatever.

        After a while, nothing made logical sense, and only existed, or worked…. because Davis said it did.

        (Okay, end of my anti-Davis rant — this post wasn’t about him)

        So I really did laugh when I saw he’d said TDK was divorced from reality.

  2. Kaleb says:

    I don’t think Batman/Bruce Wayne will die because there are rumors that both Batman and Wonder-woman are mentioned in Man of Steel. Plus, there is a Justice League movie coming out, and you can’t have the League without Batman. 

    Good article. 

    • Everyone assumes a reboot would happen. Either way it is inevitable, given the difficulty of meshing Justice League with Nolan’s Batman-only-exists universe.

      • Kaleb says:


         It would be kind of hard though, to have a new Batman so soon after Nolan’s trilogy.  

         It would be really interesting though to see a darker, more complex superhero team movie than Avengers was, assuming they manage to make it decently.  

  3. Galadriel says:

    I had to watch Dark Knight for a worldview evaluation in class–never having seen a superhero film before except the original Superman–and that last scene stuck me with power in so many ways. That quote–it poked something deep and strange inside me, and it was so intriguing.

    • Kaleb says:

      Yeah, it did the same with me, and I was on a bus with 40 other people on the way to church camp so I could barely hear it. That line definitely has power. 

  4. I’m so very impressed. This was a brilliant run-down of both the movies and their critics. I’ve always felt that Joker perfectly embodied evil: Chaotic, pointless, irreverent, inconsistent, wickedness. The breakdown of Batman’s substitutionary sacrifice was new to me, but I can see it. Great job.

  5. Timothy Stone says:

    Amen, great piece brother. Stephen, I remember the piece on your old site a few years back, right after I first “met” you and some other fans of fantasy and comics online, who are also brothers/sisters in Christ. I would say now in agreement what I said then, that Joker is realistic in the extreme. 
    He is not realistic as a supervillain and all, but in the nihilistic evil he represents. Whether it is a nihilism that strives for nothing for the sake of nothing, or the terrorists who strive for nihilism via embracing death to placate their twisted devotion to their warped idea of God, it is the same evil mindset. Evil occurs, and we ought to confront that fact in our stories, so we can do so in reality. If we can’t confront the reality of evil (not necessarily graphic displays that cheapen it, but as a “concept”), then how can we confront it in real life?
    Not that the moral qualms with Batman and Gordon’s decision didn’t have some discomfort from the audience, myself included, but I think it was meant to make people uncomfortable. As was the creepy one-deal only self-destruct at the end surveillance of the entire city. To confront evil is not clean, and easy, and that’s why it makes people uncomfortable. We don’t want to face the darkness withing ourselves, or the darkness in others, so we retreat spiritually and physically from the task.
    The thing that these movies do for me is to reflect the truth that the world is a fallen world of sin, where good often can not conquer evil without, to use your applicability of Christ’s sacrifice, taking that same darkness upon ourselves. Not that we turn evil to fight evil, but that’s the problem every person, and especially every believer faces: either we try to remain “pure” at all times, and evil thrives, or we are harsh, and must remain vigilant not to lose ourselves to the darkness. Not to allow lies, killing, or so forth to become actions unto themselves, instead of actions to confront evil. Or on a personal level, not allowing scolding, yelling, confronting, so forth to becomes acts of cruelty instead of acts of accountability to each other in the Lord.
    My opinions on the movie, it will not do as well if they kill off Batman. I don’t think there will be the repeat views from die-hard comics (especially DC/Batman) fans if that happens. I hope it doesn’t. I don’t think I’d bring myself to watch it then. 

  6. Jill Stengl says:

    Thanks for this great post! I appreciate your insights into what allegory actually is–not an exact re-depiction of the gospel but a story that gives glimpses into reality from an unusual perspective. I am a fan of TDK, and I liked movie #3 overall. The modern depiction of the French Revolution was chilling–and I hope it makes a few “Occupy” supporters think twice.

    My daughter, Anne Elisabeth, writes the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, which is highly allegorical yet entirely fantasy. I know how diligently and carefully she handles the allegorical aspects of her story, knowing always that her stories will be despised by many, if only because they might touch an exposed nerve here and there. Some of her Amazon and Goodreads reviews reflect this; others reflect ignorance of the subject matter. Fantasy readers, on the whole, respect only strong heroes and heroines. Flawed characters who cannot save themselves are despised, and their need of God’s grace is at best a mystery and at worst a personal insult.

     I expect negative, even nasty reviews from some non-Christian readers who recognize and resent the allegorical meanings underlying her stories, but I’ve been distressed by the reactions of many CBA readers who complain of the inaccurate depiction of Christ’s love in Heartless because the Christ-figure devotedly loves and rescues the quite undeserving princess. Being a mom (and therefore overreactive), I so much want to point out that Aslan died only for Edmund. Does this make LWW a bad allegory? As you pointed out, there will be imperfections in any allegory. C.S. Lewis had to write a disclaimer at the beginning of The Great Divorce lest anyone think he actually believed we would all ride a bus from Sheol to Paradise. . .

    I cannot write fantasy myself, but I am a lifelong fan of the genre–God first touched my heart through the Narnia Chronicles, so I know the power of inspired story. I believe that writers of Christian fantasy, particularly YA and children’s books, need to be extremely careful with the symbolism they use. (I tried reading Dragons in our Midst but couldn’t make it through book one, so I can’t express an educated opinion about that series myself–yet your comments here solidify the impression I gained from those first few chapters.) I am distressed by the shallow, shoddy, or even harmful quality of much fantasy published in the CBA market, yet I hesitate to express my opinions about books because I know how much criticism hurts, and I don’t want anyone to think that I would “dis” any fantasy book in the effort to make my daughter’s books look better–that would be pointless! My desire would be to challenge authors to raise quality throughout the CBA market–quality of writing, depth of theological understanding, and portrayal of truth through fantasy fiction. 

    There. Got that out of my system. Heh.  

What do you think?