Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Gotham and the Origin of the Origin Story

Posted: October 24, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized
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[Editor’s Note: We’re committed to illuminating film through the lens of Scripture here at Reel Thinking and as such, this post is a bit outside of our usual repertoire. However, we saw fit to discuss Gotham because it has some bearing on and relationship with the movie universe. We will not be discussing TV shows on a regular basis at Reel Thinking.]

A young police officer is called out on a murder investigation. He arrives on the scene, a dark and dingy alleyway, to find that a couple has been murdered. Ignoring his partner, who is more interested in shirking his responsibilities than solving the case, the young officer makes his way over to the only known witness—a young boy, shocked and frightened, named Bruce Wayne. So begins one of the most-anticipated TV shows of the fall: Gotham.

The premise of Gotham is far from unique: a young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie)—the future Commissioner for Gotham Police Department—arrives in the iconic, crime-riddled city of Gotham and pledges to undo the corruption therein. Adding to this already difficult challenge is the fact that the Gotham P.D. is corrupt. It’s not so much that local gangs have moles in the police department, either; in Gotham, the mafia runs the town and essentially owns the police department. Gordon, of course, is the exception to this rule, and thus his mission is clear from the outset. Moreover, this setup begs an interesting question: will Gotham, in an effort to appeal to the broadest possible audience, end up looking like the stereotypical, solve-a-murder-a-week television cop show, or will there be more of an overarching narrative as Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) attempt to find out who killed Bruce’s parents? The answer to the first side of this question, given the overall feel of the show to this point, appears to be no; for the most prominent feature of the first few episodes of Gotham is that it is packed full—too packed some critics have said—of encounters with Batman’s future enemies. The forensics expert at Gotham P.D. is Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), the Riddler. Working as minion in one the city’s most notorious gangs, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), the Penguin, is set up to play a central role in upcoming episodes. Carmine Falcone (John Doman) is the big baddie, and Poison Ivy (Clare Foley) also makes an appearance. Gotham is, then, clearly set up as an origin story show.

Origin stories are not new, and Batman origin stories are far from rare. Everyone knows how Bruce Wayne—the boy who watched his parents die— became Batman. Everyone knows, and yet an estimated 8 million people watched the first episode of Gotham.[1] Why? Why do we still want to see young Bruce’s story? Why are we curious about the rise of Jim Gordon, and why do we enjoy seeing Batman’s enemies before he’s around to fight them? These questions can be answered in a number of ways. One answer is that people love the Batman universe and are, therefore, naturally interested in anything that gives them more of it. There is some truth to this claim, no doubt, but it doesn’t account for the fact that many people who watched the show are probably not Batman fanatics. [2] It could be that people are intrigued with Gotham because it’s usually Batman who gets the spotlight, and so a show focusing on Gordon is unique. Then again, perhaps the marketing team just did a fantastic job selling the show. There is some truth to each of these responses; however, there is, it seems, an much simpler underlying factor that needs to be considered.

People are drawn to origin stories like Gotham because we are obsessed with origins. That is, people want to know how things began—how things got to be the way they are today. Origin stories meet that need; they promise to answer our why questions. In Gotham, we have the promise of getting to see why Jim Gordon is Jim Gordon, Police Commissioner of Gotham Police Department. What shows like this reveal to us, then, is that there is something in our nature—our design—that compels us to search out stories about beginnings in order that we may better understand life (and our role in it). At its most basic level,Gotham reveals and awakens in us an ancient desire—a desire that goes all the way back to, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

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  2. For instance, I am Superman fan; and although I like the Caped Crusader, I’m not necessarily among those rushing out to see or read everything Batman.  ↩

Well, summer is over. School has started back, for most, and the tone at the local box office has changed. I believe this was a pretty good summer for films. The Avengers avenged, Spidey was back in action, The Dark Knight saved Gotham again, and the Bourne series birthed a new hero. However, which film was the best of the summer? One might easily look to the numbers and say, ‘The Avengers’, however, that’s not necessarily a fair comparison. For one, TDKR wasn’t released in 3D (hooray for Nolan!), which greatly decreased the monetary return, plus, should money determine the best film?

In my opinion, summer is about blockbusters (no offense to Moonlight Kingdom) and that brings us to two, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. And I really really enjoyed TheAvengers, but have to pick The Dark Knight Rises as the best film of the summer. In a sense, comparing these two is sort of like comparing apples and oranges. Yes they’re both blockbusters and they’re both superhero films, however, we are comparing the first installment of a film with a third. When The Avengers 3 comes out, then we can compare the two. Plus, TA has the advantage of using the various individual stories, like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk, to assist in character development. That being said, I go with Batman, and, as promised, here is one more theme I enjoyed from TDKR and some closing thoughts on the franchise.

(As always…SPOILERS).

One More Parallel

I mentioned one theme I enjoyed in an earlier post, and a second was the theme of resurrection. After Bane took the formerly reclusive Batman out to the wood shed and broke his back, Batman is then locked in a pit for a time. Even though it seems that our hero may be confined to this sort of prison for good, he eventually rises. After regaining a great deal of strength and returning to his heroic self, Bruce Wayne appears to be ready for battle. But, he continues to fall short until he exercises a great deal of faith to climb out of the pit.

I couldn’t help but think of the resurrection of Christ while watching this. As always, any earthly parallel falls short of Christ, but there are similarities. Jesus Christ, too, seemed to be defeated and locked in a pit (the grave) for a time. He, however, rose victoriously conquering the grave, giving his children the boldness to ask of death, “Where is your victory? Where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55)

I once heard John Piper comment on Christ’s death on the cross as Satan committing suicide. Satan knew what His death meant. The death of death and corruption for all time. Was this not also true of Bane? His severe beating of Batman only aided in Batman’s resurrection and, eventually, defeat of Bane.

Some Final Thoughts on the Batman Trilogy

It wasn’t too long ago when my father and I attended The Return of the King with several other friends. As the film ended, my father remarked, “It’s kind of sad that it’s over.” There was a sense in which we didn’t want an end to Frodo’s journey’s. Although different, a similar feeling occurred as I sat to watch, The Dark Knight Rises. Before the film even began, I didn’t want it to end. There was an anticipation for the lights to go down in the cinema, but I knew that meant the end of a great story. But isn’t that always the case? We don’t want good stories to end. Why is that?

Some of you may have read Christopher Nolan’s farewell letter to Batman. It was excellent and he’s illustrating this deep truth without even knowing it. Read an excerpt below (This forward appears in the book, The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Rises Trilogy):

Alfred. Gordon. Lucius. Bruce . . . Wayne. Names that have come to mean so much to me. Today, I’m three weeks from saying a final good-bye to these characters and their world. It’s my son’s ninth birthday. He was born as the Tumbler was being glued together in my garage from random parts of model kits. Much time, many changes…Michael, Morgan, Gary, Cillian, Liam, Heath, Christian . . . Bale. Names that have come to mean so much to me. My time in Gotham, looking after one of the greatest and most enduring figures in pop culture, has been the most challenging and rewarding experience a filmmaker could hope for. I will miss the Batman. I like to think that he’ll miss me, but he’s never been particularly sentimental.

The conclusion of The Dark Knight trilogy was obviously bittersweet for Nolan, and it should be. You see, we don’t want good stories to end, because the best story never ends. God’s story will last for an eternity for those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Enjoying a good story and not wanting it to end is simply illustrating the fact that we were created for an eternity. I can’t wait to see and enjoy that story more fully!

Hype for The Dark Knight Rises began when the credits rolled for its predecessor, The Dark Knight. Critics and fans agreed that The Dark Knight was not only the best comic book movie ever made, but one of the greatest sequels for any genre of film. It has been the most anticipated film of 2012 and already has the record for a midnight showing (I think).

The success of this film, without a doubt, played a factor in director Christopher Nolan’s recent hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It looks like it is on its way to shattering many more records at the box office, however, the question is, did it live up to the hype? Yes!

My mind is still processing the two hours and forty-five minutes of Bat-action, but it was a well done film and a great ending to the series. While I have some criticisms and disappointments, I really enjoyed it. Check out some random comments/thoughts below, as well as, a theme I enjoyed. I hope to have a second post up on another theme as well – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

Bane: I was a bit disappointed with this character. I really like Tom Hardy and his acting, but had high hopes for this villain, especially after the Joker. You can’t beat the Joker. Overall Bane was okay, but won’t be viewed as a timeless villain.

The Joker: Christopher Nolan is such an excellent writer/director, I had hoped he would mention something about the Joker in this film. Maybe this was out of respect for the passing of Heath Ledger, but I felt that they could have given this character some closure in the last film.

Catwoman: Selina Kyle/Catwoman didn’t bother me that much. I didn’t see Ann Hathaway pulling this character off, but she did a good job. She provided some great scenes and was able to fight well in high heels.

John Blake: I really liked this character a lot. Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to be an up-and-coming actor and I’ve really enjoyed his other roles. (In case you didn’t mind the spoiler warning, you might want to) I also wasn’t bothered that he was Robin. I thought I would hate Robin and laughed at the idea of bringing Robin into the films, but I think Levitt could pull it off. Some of that will be contingent on the costume. We also need to realize that Robin is part of the Batman series and accept him.

The Ending: I really liked the ending. Like I said, the film was a bit different from what I thought it would be and it was slow at some parts, but the ending switched it into high gear pretty fast. I liked the closure they gave between Alfred and Bruce, as well as, the great action sequences with Batman’s newest toy ‘The Bat’.

One theme I enjoyed came from one of the film’s most emotional scenes. However, I must digress a bit in order to discuss. One aspect that bothered me about The Dark Knight was the constant concealing of the truth. Batman’s true identity was concealed, so was Harvey Dent’s, and Alfred burns the letter from Rachel Dawes – there may have been a few other moments of concealed truth. However, The Dark Knight Rises brings the truth to the surface, which is another aspect of the film I enjoyed.

Not only does TDKR bring the truth to the surface, it also shows the effects of concealing the truth. The powerful scene between Alfred and Bruce is Alfred’s confession to destroying the letter from Rachel. Alfred knows the truth of this letter will destroy Bruce, but he also knows this truth can bring him life. He also knows that the truth will most likely destroy their relationship, one that Alfred had since Bruce’s birth, but is willing to sacrifice that if it means it will save his life.

This made me think about the Truth of the gospel. There have been many times in my life when I knew speaking the truth in love meant making people angry. I have lost friends in my life and moved people to hate me, because I knew the truth must be revealed. I guess that’s why this scene resonated with me.

The truth is a powerful thing. And when we speak about the ultimate Truth of the gospel, it’s an offensive thing, it always will be. And I’m convicted that far too often I protect my relationships with people by avoiding the disclosure of Truth. In other words, I don’t show true love to people.

Alfred showed that he truly loved Bruce by his willingness to sacrifice their relationship in order to speak the truth. We must follow that example. Each of us currently have people in our lives who don’t know the Truth of the gospel. Why aren’t we telling it to them? What’s the fear that’s keeping us from doing so? Let’s lay this earthly life on the altar in order that those we love may know the life that’s truly life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [John 14:6]

Our super-hero week continues with thoughts about The Dark Knight Rises.  Most everyone is anxiously anticipating the midnight showing tomorrow (or Friday depending on how you look at it).  With the third, and final, installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman being released, this caused me to reflect on all the previous Batmans.  I loved the 1966 Batman when I was young…very young.  I also loved Tim Burton’s first take on the Capped Crusader, so I wondered what each of you think.  Is Nolan’s Batman the best?  Take some time and let us hear from you.

We are continuing our thoughts on trilogies at Reel Thinking, by looking at films that should not have been made. As you can guess from the title, this list includes films that should have stopped with one. Most of the below mentioned films had excellent inaugural films, but horrific ensuing installments. As you know, Men In Black 3 is released today, therefore, some of you may think that franchise belongs on this list. Let us hear from you.

If you missed the reasoning behind our look at trilogies, it is because the release of The Dark Knight Rises, which could prove to complete one of the best trilogies of cinema in recent years. This is our second part of our three-part series on trilogies (see what we did there?). Our Top 10 Trilogies can be found here and here. Our next list will be the Top 10 films that should have a trilogy/sequel, entitled: Why Oh Why Didn’t You Make a Sequel? Hope you enjoy.

John Perritt’s Top 10:

  1. Jurassic Park
  2. The Matrix
  3. Star Wars (I, II, II)
  4. Indiana Jones IV
  5. Karate Kid
  6. Jaws
  7. Batman (Tim Burton’s; it was good for its time but went downhill fast)
  8. The Silence of the Lambs
  9. Dumb & Dumber
  10. The Sting

Josh’s Top 10:

  1. Never Ending Story
  2. Matrix
  3. Scream
  4. Original Batman (1989)
  5. Free Willy
  6. The Wizard of Oz
  7. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  8. The Sandlot
  9. Transformers
  10. Home Alone

Emilio’s Top 10:

  1. Rush Hour
  2. Matrix
  3. Jurassic park
  4. Robocop
  5. Beverly Hills Cop (Part 2 was great, part 3 was awful)
  6. Anaconda (Does not live up to the expectations after the classic first part)
  7. Scream
  8. Transformers (First one is not good, second one makes no sense whatsoever. Awful.)
  9. Speed
  10. Batman sequels (from pre-Nolan era)

John Kwasny’s Top 10:

  1. Bad News Bears
  2. Beverly Hills Cop
  3. Crocodile Dundee
  4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  5. Jurassic Park
  6. Major League
  7. The Mummy
  8. Ocean’s Eleven
  9. Rush Hour
  10. The Santa Clause

As you already have witnessed, we are giving a lot of press to the next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.  It does have the potential to have the largest opening and be the highest grossing film of all time.  There is also Oscar buzz, as well as, everyone wondering if this third installment will complete one of the best film trilogies in recent history.  Needless to say, this is one of the most hype-filled films in the last decade.  Are you excited about this film?  Do you think this third film will be as good as the previous two?  Take a minute and let us hear from you below.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am a big fan of Batman. I have been since Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman hit the big screen. As I’ve reflected a bit more on Gotham City’s savior, I’ve come to see many parallels to the True Savior. We plan on doing several posts on the recent Batman franchise as The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters in a matter of months.

We previously spoke about the Dark Knight becoming a curse for Gotham City, which is a clear parallel to Christ (Gal. 3:13). Today we will highlight an aspect from Batman Begins that should point us to Christ.

In the 2005 hit, Batman Begins, audiences really got more back-story on the Capped Crusader. We were able to look more deeply into the life of Bruce Wayne. We learned about his fear of bats, which led to a bat being his symbol for justice, “Bats frighten me. It’s time my enemies share my dread.” We saw how Wayne learned how to fight, as well as, the origins of his costume and all of his cool bat-toys, including the Batmobile.

Prior to all of the cool bat-toys, we also learn about the not-so-glorious life of the Wayne family. If you remember, Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered on the streets of Gotham, leaving young Bruce to be raised by the family butler, Alfred. After Bruce grows up and has a few failed attempts at confronting the corruption of Gotham City, he seemingly gives up and disappears.

But the poverty and anonymity Bruce chose is eerily familiar.

After the failed attempt at confronting the evil Carmine Falcone, Bruce goes to the streets getting rid of his wallet, he later leaves Wayne manner, and enters a life of utter poverty. He becomes a nobody, a thug on the streets. He later gets arrested for “stealing” some goods that were being shipped in a warehouse. Although he was accused of stealing, the goods actually belonged to him. His life of poverty kept him from being recognized as the creator of the goods that were taken.

The words of the apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 8:9 rang in my ears as I thought about this story, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Bruce Wayne was rich and somewhat free from the evils of the world. He lived in Wayne Manor, had endless money and possessions, and all the amenities that life had to offer him. However, the desire to rid ‘his city’ of corruption drove him to leave his throne, become poor, take on a ‘new body’, saving his people from evil.

It wasn’t until I began reflecting on the Dark Knight, that I saw the many similarities between him and Christ. Although Batman is a very cool hero, the parallels break down in numerous ways, and he falls infinitely short of the only Hero to ever walk the earth.

So as many of us cheer on Batman this summer at the local box office, let that hero point us to the True Savior of the Eternal City, Jesus Christ.

The hype for what is, most likely, going to be the biggest movie of 2012 (The Dark Knight Rises) is really starting to crank up. The newest poster of Bane with the erie words ‘The legend ends’ has been the talk of many blogs, as well as, the strange website that repeats some form of encrypted message.  There is also the recenlty released trailer, which you can watch below, that has received millions of hits. We are still several months away from the release of this film, yet many are discussing it as if it were being released next weekend.

I have always been a big fan of the Dark Knight, even the Adam West Bruce Wayne/Batman. Therefore, I am eagerly anticipating the release of the latest Batman. However, looking back to the second installment of the newest reboot, I would like to highlight one aspect of the Capped Crusader I appreciated.  But first, check out the newest trailer.

At the end of The Dark Knight (there will be some spoilers here) Lt. Gordon explains to his son why Batman is running from the police. His son is curious, because he knows Batman is bringing justice to the city of Gotham, even though it is vigilante justice. Lt. Gordon says, “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.” Although the Gordon family knows Batman is a ‘good guy’, they allow him to be portrayed as the ‘bad guy’ or ‘dark knight’ in order to deliver the city of Gotham. This got me thinking.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, he makes this statement (3:10-14):

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written,”Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

I have heard many complaints about The Dark Knight being such a ‘dark’ film. And I agree, there is some rather graphic content in the film and it does carry a gritty tone throughout. However, it’s our job, as Christians, to discern on whether or not to view a film, but when we do, mine the depths of truth that are there. To me, although The Dark Knight is a gritty film, I feel this is such a great parallel to Christ.

Batman, although flawed and employing vigilante justice, is still a picture of a savior. He is a savior attempting to deliver Gotham City from its corruption, however, he is misunderstood. Some of the citizens hate him, the media hates him, and even the police hate him. It’s interesting that it’s the evil criminals of the city that actually know who he is. They hate him, but for the right reason. They hate him because he’s bringing justice and expelling corruption. Batman is a hero who is misunderstood. He is a hero who gets the name ‘The Dark Knight’, because of this misunderstanding. He is a hero, who becomes a curse with the hopes of delivering a city from corruption…sound familiar?

Christians have a greater Hero who was also misunderstood. We have a Man who was familiar with sorrows (1 Peter 2:19), One who was not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15), One who was betrayed by those closest to him (Matt. 26:69ff), and One who became a curse for his people in order to deliver them to life everlasting. The Dark Knight is but a small picture of what the True Hero, Jesus Christ, does for the citizens of his Eternal City.