By now the dust has settled and everyone has had the chance to experience the majesty that is Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Now, I'm not going to get into my opinions about these films. obviously I'm biased and believe that Christopher Nolan is arguably one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. The man understands storytelling, characters and the narrative structure better than most. He and his team, which includes his brother and wife, are on the ball. But again, I am biased. Today I just want to discuss the viable life lessons that we are taught in these films. Bruce Wayne, our story's protagonist, experiences a true hero's journey and along the way reveals the best and worst parts of the human condition. Let's explore some of these themes now.
1. It is up to each person to make something out of his/her own life. Bruce Wayne was born rich, but that didn't define him. His wealth didn't drive him. Bruce was driven by his passion for justice, his love for his city and his belief that at its core humanity is good. In Batman Begins we see a young boy who is dealt a crummy hand in life and it cripples him. For years he wanders, incomplete without a purpose. That is until one day he grows up and fills the void with a mission; to save Gotham City. Now the path is not an easy one. In fact it's nearly impossible, but he is driven to it because it is something he must do. So he confronts the obstacles of his life with full fury and creates his alter ego, batman, an idea so big it that it becomes more than himself. All this is to say that the Dark Knight trilogy teaches us that we must not be afraid to make something out of our lives, to be bigger than ourselves. Bruce might have been born a rich kid, he might have lost his parents but he ultimately was not defined by these things. He took up the mantle, he created an image and he became, through much sacrifice, a hero. Nolan's films teach us to become our own heroes.
2. Everyone has the capacity for good and evil, so choose good. In the second film of the series we meet a man by the name of Harvey Dent. He is the direct foil to the positive light that is batman and the chaotic darkness that is the joker. Harvey Dent gets caught in the crossfire between good and evil and ends up losing his sanity. He was the cities white knight but because of corruption and loss finds himself turning to the dark side. Harvey is the walking talking symbol of moral ambiguity that exist in this world. He literally becomes a breathing dichotomy called two-face. In the narrative structure of the Dark Knight, Harvey is used to show us that every man has a choice; he can either resist his anger and overcome his pain to do what is conscionable and right, or he can fall. This is the choice we all have in life. We can either let the circumstances that we are dealt push us to do what we know is wrong, or we can fight for what we belive to be right. We can battle our demons like batman. We can walk through the fires of our pain to become better versions of who we are and become a true hero. But we must always be aware that evil or becoming a villain is one turn away.
3. Lastly, we learn that to win you must give your all. Bruce Wayne was a boy that lost his family, he grew into a man that became a champion for his city and to save that city he had to give his life. This is the story of every true hero and success story. To truly effect change you must give up yourself to that mission. You must dig deep inside yourself to find whatever spirit it takes to win and you must be willing to give it all up. Your mission is your life, your purpose is your destiny and you will only succeed if you are willing to give everything up for it. Christian Bale, the actor who portrays Bruce Wayne, once said that "whatever you do, do it completely. Don't do it half-arsed. Do it more than anybody else would." I think this is the embodiment of batman. Bruce Wayne was a man who became a symbol for hope and that hope saved a city. What are you willing to be a symbol of? Are you willing to do everything for what your care for? Are you willing to be forever changed for your beliefs? Because if you aren't you will fail, but if you are no one can stop you. You have to give everything you've got to win.
The Dark Knight Trilogy is a manifesto for how to live the life of a hero. It teaches us that we are more than what we are born into to, that we have the capacity for both good and evil and lastly that we must be forever changed to succeed in our mission. Not every man can be a hero, because not every man is willing to do what is necessary for what he believes in. Be a symbol and use your powers for good, only then will you become a true hero.