2012-07-17

The Dark Knight Rises – Why Batman Dies

by Yo Snyder

(Warning: I will be
speculating about the end of The Dark
Knight Rises
in this article. I haven’t seen it at this point, so I can’t
really spoil anything perse, but just be warned, this may be spoilerish
speculation.)

Back in 2009, Batman
and Detective Comics came to an end
after a long, illustrious publishing career. Batman himself was long gone due
to the events of Final Crisis, and
the end of these two issues turned out to be a sort of a eulogy for the Dark
Knight. Neil Gaiman was pretty much given free rein to bring these titles to a
close however he wished, and so the story known as “Whatever Happened to the
Caped Crusader” was born. Well, here we are in 2012, and another Batman saga is
coming to an end. Christopher Nolan is bringing his own take on the Batman
mythos to a close after a seven year journey that started with Batman Begins in 2005, rose to a
crescendo in 2008 with The Dark Knight,
and now is coming to a definitive (and hopefully appropriately epic) conclusion
with The Dark Knight Rises. After
this movie, Nolan says that Warner Bros. will have to continue their Batman
film franchise with some sort of “reboot” because this will be an ending with
no opening for further sequels for this particular take on Batman. I love that
idea of bringing this trilogy to a firm conclusion, but if there’s one thing I
learned from Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader”, there’s only
way to bring any Batman story to a true, definitive, conclusion: Batman has to
die.

Because of all the talk about how The Dark Knight Rises is the final movie for Nolan’s trilogy and how
brings this story full circle and to a true, firm ending, speculation has run
rampant on what that means for the fate of Batman. Will Batman die? He is
facing Bane, the villain that broke his back and put him out of commission for
a time in the comics. Will Bruce Wayne die but will the legend of Batman
continue? Will someone take up the mantle of the Bat and carry on Bruce’s quest
after he’s gone? Those questions won’t be answered until the film’s release
later this week, but I just have this feeling that in order to truly end any
sort of Batman story, it must end with Batman’s death. I think it’s very
probable that’s what happens in The Dark
Knight Rises
. Either that, or Bruce Wayne is killed but someone carries on
the legend of the Batman to continue to inspire the citizens of Gotham City. I
just can’t see any other way of really ending any sort of Batman saga, and part
of that is due to the insights of Gaiman’s excellent ending to Batman’s story
in the comics.

In “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader”, an ethereal
Batman gets to attend his own funeral. As he watches, he sees allies and
villains alike come forward and share a few thoughts about Batman, who he was
and how he died. All of these stories are different, but they all hold one
common element; the fact that Batman does indeed die. When asked what he’s
learned by watching these events, Batman says, “The end of the story of Batman
is, he’s dead. Because, in the end,
the Batman dies. What else am I going
to do? Retire and play golf? It doesn’t work that way. It can’t. I fight until I drop. And one day, I will drop.”

There isn’t a retirement plan for Batman. Being the Dark
Knight isn’t just a hobby that Bruce Wayne can give up when he tires of it. No,
being the Batman is a lifelong commitment, and the only way it ends is with
death. This is why I think The Dark
Knight Rises
in some way must feature the death of Batman. Christopher
Nolan says this is the end of his Batman story, and Batman’s story can’t truly
end any other way but with his death. He’s not going to give up, he’s not going
to stop, he’s not going to surrender, and so the only way Batman ends is with
his death. Now, that’s not typically the way super hero movies wrap things up,
but then, Batman has never been the typical super hero.

There are a lot of things I admire about Batman, but chief
among has to be this fierce commitment; this fact that in life he can’t really
be anything else and the only way he’ll stop is when he dies. I think more
Christians need that kind of mentality; I know that’s the kind of mentality I
want as a Christian. None of this “just giving it a try” stuff, or any of that “I’ve
stopped being a Christian because…” stuff. Being a Christian isn’t a hobby, an
activity, a set of religious duties; it’s a life.
The only way one should ever stop being a Christian is death. Aside from that,
there should be the same drive, the same determination to never give up, give
in, ever. Why? Because Jesus revealed
to us Truth; and that’s worth dedicating a life to stand for. He bought our
lives at a price, saved us for all eternity from hell and sin, gave us purpose
and reason for life and existence; and that’s worth proclaiming and sharing throughout
an entire lifetime. Jesus conquered Satan, won the battle against evil with his
death and resurrection, and then he offers us a chance to stand with him in
that victory. He’s empowered us to take that victory and shine its light into
all the darkness and evil of this world. That’s not always easy, the battles
will often be fierce and difficult, but Jesus has already won the war. That’s something
that’s worth fighting for, and it gives us every reason to never, ever give in
or give up. After all, if victory is assured, why would we give up in defeat?
No, it’s not always going to be easy, but instead of giving up at the first
sign of adversity, we need more Christians with a Batman mindset; one that says
“I won’t stop; ever. I don’t give up;
ever. One day I will die, but until
then, I fight, I stand, I endure, I thrive in the name of Jesus Christ.” I want
my story to end the Batman’s does; with me never stopping to be who I am in
Christ until the day I die.

Will The Dark Knight
Rises
bring Nolan’s saga to satisfying ending? Will it bring to a proper
ending? It will if Batman dies. Yet even he doesn’t, if Nolan somehow is able
to just make a really good third movie and therefore a trilogy with no weak
links, he’ll still have done something remarkable. However, without Batman’s
death, the trilogy will lack genuine finality because Batman’s story truly
shouldn’t end any other way; nor should the saga of any Christian. As Paul put
it so well, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians
1:21)