Sunday, July 22, 2012

Batman Rises and Falls and Rises Again

I am currently conjuring up ideas which I plan to incept into a novel at the moment, so I will be adding to my log whenever I can, whenever I get the chance, whenever I get thirsty for more online mind spewing. But for the moment, let's dip ourselves into a little "bat goo" in honor of the recently released bat flick, The Dark Knight Rises.

And like before, the rise and fall and rise again concept comes to mind.

Like the Star Wars saga, Christopher Nolan's Batman films are all part of one solid shell, one solid story arc that takes the main character and his comrades on many escapades and adventurous debacles. There are catchy themes and values, quotes and morals, and who could forget those classy, yet eminent villains? Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and the newest offspring, The Dark Knight Rises tell the tale of a man who takes tragedy and turns it into an ultimate victory, becoming a black caped vigilante of the night and helping people so they don't face the same horrors he faced as a child. The Batman saga embodies a story of many grand elements. There is tragedy, revenge, justice, courage, corruption, deception, and most importantly, avenging nature. Like many films of today's movie going generation, the Christopher Nolan Batman films take an already existing creation and turn it into something entirely contemporary, realistic, and relatable. In other words, the films take real world situations and realities and mix it in with the Batman we have all come to love and adore.

He's my favorite DC character, not because he does what's right for himself, because he does what he can to dignify and purify his character, touching lives and striking fear into the hearts of the retched in the process. He proves that you don't need to be Kryptonian to make a phenomenal difference and change the world, a world full of insanity and crime causers. He's just a regular, ordinary businessman, still trying to find who he is and what he was put on the Earth to accomplish.

It's not who he is underneath, but what he does that defines him. 

Now, you probably question yourself as to how Batman fits on the pegs of the rise and fall and rise again concept I developed in my Phantom to Jedi essay. Well, I suggest pondering on the matter, and you may understand and see things never before seen. Look from a different perspective and you can set eyes on different things just as I do.

It's all how you look at it. It's all on the hands of your point of view.

And when I looked at it from a certain point of view, it came quite clear to my brain. Batman is just like the heroes of the Star Wars saga. He carries a bit of the tragic greek hero, the Shakespearean outcast, the common folk hero who seems haunting, but ultimately proves beneficially in the story's grand scheme of things. And like Anakin Skywalker, he withstands horrifying events throughout his life. However, unlike Anakin Skywalker, he uses what happens to him as a sword, a sword to bring the retched to their knees so they don't inflict pain on others. He basically uses tragedy to motivate himself to save the day, as all superheroes do at some point. He doesn't believe in revenge and won't kill, because that will make him the same as the guy who murdered his parents. It's like in Return of the Jedi, when Luke is tempted to strike down Darth Vader, only realizing that it will make him as equal as Vader himself.

Batman is the great Greek hero, like Hercules, but in order to take on the "retched pinheads of Gotham" as the Penguin calls them, he must transform himself into his lifelong fear. By taking on the form of a bat, Bruce Wayne becomes that great intimidating hero he wants to be, the great intimidating hero that will send the crooks back to their holes. Like Anakin Skywalker, Batman uses the darkness to not only conceal himself, but to strike terror on his enemies. However, unlike Anakin Skywalker, Batman uses the darkness to drive the wretchedness away, not to promote it. Batman uses the darkness to do good, while Anakin, who has been consumed by the Vader persona, uses the darkness to spread his hatred and disgust for the galaxy all over...well..the galaxy. In a documentary I fluently observed one day, it stated that Bruce Wayne is a lot like Theodore Roosevelt. Like Batman, Roosevelt lost his cherished loved ones and was on the verge of doing evil deeds, however, like Bruce Wayne in the first act of Batman Begins, he pulls himself out of the thick mud and ultimately goes down as a glorified legend, a legend who made a substantial difference in the lives of the many.

In Batman Begins, young Bruce Wayne witnesses something ghastly, something a child should never have to witness. After the death of his parents, Bruce embarks on a revenge mission, a mission to get back at Joe Chill, his parent's murderer. It works very differently than the origin told in Tim Burton's first Batman film from 1989 in which Jack Napier, who eventually becomes the Joker, kills Wayne's parents. In that film, Batman inadvertently drops Napier into a pool of green chemicals which transforms him into the Joker, but Bruce later realizes that it's the same man that murdered his parents. The Joker creates Batman and Batman creates the Joker and they both embark on a quest to get back at one another for what they did to each other. In the end, Batman realizes that revenge is not the answer and although he would go on to stop other villains in the Burton/Schumacher universe (THE ICEMAN COMETH!), he doesn't want to kill anyone, just bring them to their knees so they leave Gotham alone. It's similar to what Chris O'Donnell's Dick Grayson aka Robin suffers from in Batman Forever. But let's get back to Begins, because the Burton and Schumacher Batmans are very diverse from the Nolan Batman.

After the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne is continuously haunted by his horrid past days and when his parents' murderer is finally put on trial, Bruce debates on killing him and getting back at Chill for what he put him through. As Bruce goes to shoot Chill, someone else pulls the trigger and kills him instead. Angered by his failure to stop the man who terrorized his childhood, Bruce embarks on another revenge mission, to hunt down the man who hired the woman to kill Joe Chill. Bruce eventually finds the man, Carmine Falcone, and while talking with him, Falcone taunts him on his parents' murder, saying his father "begged for mercy like a dog". Bruce is beaten by Falcone's men, thrown into the streets, and it's at that moment that he realizes the treachery and chaos he could ensure if he embarks on a revenge mission. If he embarks on a revenge mission against society, then he could become equal to Chill and Falcone instead of defending the innocent against people like them. He realizes what evil he could do and throws his gun into the water, like he's throwing away his inner demon. He later struggles to find his way into society's importance and at one point, he is arrested and thrown into jail. And when he is in jail, he realizes that he could spend the rest of his life behind bars if he follows in the steps of revenge, in the steps of Joe Chill's murderous ways.

He is soon after summoned by Henry Ducard, a warrior under allegiance to Ra's Al Ghul, and Ducard trains him, taunting him and tormenting him just like the criminals he would later face would. Bruce learns many things, learns many arts and defense strategies, but also learns to never take a life for his own satisfaction. As Rachel Dawes once told him, justice is about making society a better place, revenge is only about making yourself feel better. It once again harkens back to the Star Wars saga, as Luke is given the choice to defeat Vader (what Obi-Wan and Yoda want) or join Vader. In Batman Begins, Bruce is given the choice to kill Ra's Al Ghul's prisoner (what Ducard and Al Ghul want) or leave the criminal be, for he has learned his lesson already and death will not make matters better. So Bruce creates another alternative, just as Luke does, to go back to Gotham and fight criminals like Al Ghul's prisoner, and he defies all the things Ducard and Al Ghul want, making a swift escape and burning Al Ghul's home to the ground. As Bruce leaves the unconscious Ducard with a local villager, he sets his coordinates back to Gotham City, establishing the Batcave, building a vast array of weaponry and gadgets, and starting his journeys as Batman, the Caped Crusader.

Batman's early days as Batman don't start out so pleasant. As he is constantly torn to bits by Gotham's adversaries such as the Scarecrow and his reign of "fear gas, Batman once again faces great haunts and perils he wished he'd never have to endure again. In my eyes, Batman Begins has a recurring theme of fear and how to take on that fear, even when that fear is molded into a person who uses it for his or her advantage. The Scarecrow is a villain who feeds on fear, and in the beginning of Batman's story, he uses Batman's fear to push him to his downfall, but Batman uses his experience to guide him in the right directions, just as he did when he decided to become Batman in the first place.

Striking terror in good people like Sergeant Jim Gordon to gain their allegiance, he teams up with them on several occasions to hunt down the twisted mad men who wish to make Gotham City an unpleasant place. In the end, the people of Gotham come to admire Batman as a great "night savior" as he goes onto defeat Ducard, who is revealed to be the real Ra's Al Ghul. Ghul plans to destroy Gotham and poison it's water supply, but Batman, being as cunning and wise as he is, spoils his plans and makes sure all the grotesque things he has in mind go to the waste bin. As he and Ra's fight in the train, Batman, vowing never to kill or take revenge, says that he will not kill Ra's, but he doesn't have to save him. As Batman glides away from the upcoming wreckage, Ra's is killed when the train falls from the broken tracks. Gotham is saved, the baddies are locked up in prison, Gordon is promoted to Lieutenant, and the people of Gotham's feeling towards Batman suddenly shift from suspicions to trust.

Batman becomes a well respected vigilante who is summoned when even the most deadly of clowns rises to spread havoc. And he leaves behind a symbol, a symbol once thought to be terrifying in the eyes of another. He leaves behind the symbol of a bat, and when it is lit up in the night sky, it gives the citizens of Gotham a feeling of hope, a feeling of relief, a feeling of safety. Batman is guaranteed to be there when evil seeps through the cracks once more, and along with Gordon and the other Gotham police officers, he will do everything in his ability to lock up the gnarly enemies that stand in his way. To put it sweet and simple, Batman RISES for the first time, but little does he know that he will fall, fall far from the respect and glory the Gotham people hold for him. The Joker is coming to town, and terrible, monstrous things are about to hit the fan.


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