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Batman's Dark Knight

Updated on July 24, 2008

The psychology, the thrill, of Batman

Batman’s Dark Knight has charged the silver screen! In one weekend alone, the movie grossed nearly $150 million! The on screen talent is so strong the Dark Knight could become one of the first super hero movies to walk away with an Oscar. I haven’t met one person who’s seen the movie who hasn’t walked away satisfied. Many people say it’s one of the best movies they’ve seen in a long time, definitely the best movie that’s come out in 2008.

One thing’s certain. The marketing machine behind Dark Knight knows how to connect the heroic tale to the human psyche. Last night I caught a television show that pointed out parallels between Batman / Bruce Wayne and the Gotham City villains he challenges and is challenged by to real life folks many consider to be “heroes / heroines” and their strongest counterparts. Gotta admit, the television show nabbed my attention. It started off displaying Batman’s numerous, fantastic and phenomenal tools and gadgets, letting the viewer see how the tools and gadgets are created and even used by the military and other combat organizations . . . thereby making Batman that much more real, more deeply aligned with our everyday lives.

Equally interesting was the part of the television show that gave the viewer a clear sight of Batman’s personal psychology. It was nearly impossible to watch the show and not wonder at the motivations, the fears, concerns, desires and great hopes, wishes and loves that drive Batman / Bruce Wayne to devote his life to saving a city, to hindering and at times completely stopping the efforts of villains with the psyche to do to anyone else living in Gotham what the man who robbed then shot his parents did to his family and him when he was a young boy. It’s as though Bruce is erasing the deepest hurt in his own mind by working laboriously to disallow that same excruciatingly painful experience from happening ever again – to anyone. One deterred crime at a time, it’s as though Bruce is determined to scrub away a painful stain out of his own personal history.

And perhaps we all do spend many of our present days trying to erase the past, trying to undue a gone experience (which can never be undone or changed) through the way we respond to people, conversations, experiences, highs and lows that parallel prior sharp experiences – experiences that shadow and shape us from birth on.

Gotham’s citizens who learn and act out of a “villainous” psyche – odd as it seems – help to make Batman who he is. They are the very reason Batman exist. It’s no wonder we struggle to admire Batman without holding a bit of admiration for Gotham’s citizens with a villainous bent. The harder they come at Batman, the stronger Batman becomes . . . the sharper, the wiser Batman becomes.

Is Batman, particularly the Dark Knight so well aligned with our everyday lives that we can’t turn away? Do we see bits and pieces of ourselves, somewhere deep in our own psyche, in the struggle, the push and pull that happens on the screen, to Gotham’s citizens who refuse to be ignored or to go away? Do we see our own strain to erase parts of our own past (an impossible task) in the story of Batman without clearly seeing that what we can change is how we respond or react to life’s events – be they borne out of a “villainous” thought or deeply rooted in the hero / heroine that resides within each of us?



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