Archetypical Heroes

My wife and went to see Batman Begins tonight. We enjoyed the movie immensely. You may want to know that at the end of the movie most of the people in the theater stood up and clapped and some cheered.

There is much to like about the way Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman are defined in this movie. It is a story about redemption and resisting revenge while at the same time fighting evil and acting both as watchman and intercessor.

There are two views in the movie of how to deal with sinful humanity: one unremittingly retributive, which deems compassion as weakness, and the other that holds out hope in the midst of chaotic evil and exhibits a continuing willingness to stand in the gap.

But there is also, at least for me, a truly great line in the film. “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” One can understand a kind of justice that leaves evil to its own fate, knowing it will not change, while at the same time knowing that it is wrong to outright take its life.

I believe the reason batman is such a powerful character and prototypical hero image for our culture is that he is just a regular human being. He has no super powers and when he puts himself on the line he comes home battered and bruised. He is one of us, or one of what many of us would like to be. He is not an executioner but a restrainer and imprisoner of evil. He leaves final judgment to the courts and the law. He does, however, intervene; he stands in the gap between the weak and defenseless and the evil that would destroy them. He is the epitome of acceding to “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” He does not exact his own retribution. To me Batman is a modern mythic example of one man’s response to God’s challenge in Ezekiel 22:29-30

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

I invite you to see the movie and let me know what you think of it, and if you agree with me that Batman, at least how he is presented in this film, stands in the breach.

Update: You might also be interested in my other thoughts on Batman Begins. Check out my postings Batman Begins, Additional Thoughts and Defined By What We Do.