Last night at 12:01 I found myself sitting in a crowded theater full of people in t-shirts and costumes as the newest installment of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy rolled. Every since I was a little kid, my favorite superheroes were Batman and Spiderman, so you can imagine why this has been a great summer for me as far as superhero movies go. Oh yeah, and the Avengers was sweet too. I've always had a thing for guys like Batman who put what was right before everything else. I've always been fascinated by the journey and life of a hero.
What followed was a dark film. Emotionally taxing to the extreme, and though I knew most of what was coming (I'm pretty acquainted with the traditional Batman "Knightfall" storyline featuring Bane), I still found myself horrified watching the invincible caped crusader raise his shaking hands as a relentless enemy tore him to pieces. What I saw was my hero afraid, terrified, and broken by someone bent on wielding terror. Someone who had once also been broken.
I'll get to the rest of the movie. There's hope to be had here, don't worry.
After forcing myself to sleep in because I made it to bed at 4 am, I found myself faced with the news of what had happened in Colorado. As I sat watching the tale of Batman and Bane, a man not much older than myself opened fire on a dark movie theater full of innocent people with several weapons. Apparently, under his body armor he had died his hair red, said he was the Joker, and his apartment is laced with trip wires and explosives.
So today I posted on twitter, "Prayers go out to the families in Colorado. What a shame to bring terror to a movie about a hero."
Of course, already news sites are overflowing with arguments about gun control. It is a complicated issue. However, there was this guy just earlier this month:
I won't digress on the issues of gun control. It's not my focus right now, and I don't know what would have happened exactly in a given scenario.
So on to my point.
The film I watched, though dark and trying, was about a man standing back up after being broken because he believed that he could create a symbol that would inspire people to do the same. To be heroes.
However, the enemy promised revolution. He demonized the rich, terrorized the poor, enacted martial law, and did away with the hero. He acted as if he was both literally and ideologically "freeing" the people, but in truth he always had his finger on the trigger. He wanted the people to have hope, but only so that he could use is as a bludgeon to turn on them when he incited his ultimate end. But hope, to the enemy, is a red herring. It's a distraction from his real overall tactic: fear. Terror.
Hope is a divisive thing. While the bad guy plans to use it to exacerbate the resolve of the people while keeping them afraid, the hero seeks to restore hope to them in purity in order to destroy fear.
The irony is this: at the end of the Dark Knight, Gotham rejects it's own hero, and he's willing to let it happen. He's so dedicated to doing the right thing that he's willing to let everyone blame him for their problems. But finally, in this newest film, we saw his redemption. He did was he set out to do. He inspired the masses. He gave them hope to stand up to fear.
This is what heroes do.
The Amazing Spiderman gave us something similar. The t-shirts, the graffiti of his insignia in the alley, they all let Peter Parker know that he had inspired people. What he had done meant something.
When Steve Rogers returns in The Avengers and is given his uniform, he says something like "I don't know, aren't the stars and stripes a little old fashioned?" Agent Coulson replies "With all that's happening, with all that's going to be revealed, I think the world could use a little old fashioned right about now."
"Uh, Sam, your point please?"
Here are director Nolan's words on the incident:
"Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.
I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.
The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.
Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."
- Christopher Nolan
A guy on facebook commented this:
Garret Grev "The reason that Baman has resonated for so many years is that at its essence it is a story about honor, justice, self-sacrafice, and heroism. The victims of the Aurora shooting went to experience a movie about something good and respectable. What happened to them is beyond heart breaking. If ever there was a time to believe in heroes it is now. Pray for justice and for healing."
My point is this. What happened in Colorado was tragic. A twisted mind became fixated on evil for whatever reason and disregarded the message of the hero, but let's not do the same. Let's pray for all those involved, but let's not let an act of fear and terror make us forget about Faith, Hope, and Love.