First, TOTAL SPOILERS, obvs.
Second, I’m not a fan of slapping religious connotations to pop culture. Every time a character sacrifices their life on film I don’t automatically think, “Yep, Jesus.”
That said, the amount of “The Batman is the Jesus” symbolism The Dark Knight Rises lays out is too much to ignore (at least to me).
1. Let’s start with a little Old Testament. In Batman Begins, Ra’s al Ghul plans to destroy Gotham for all the decadence and immorality. Gotham has sinned, and Ra’s, like a forsaking God, Ra’s will unmake them. Incidentally, how does he intend to destroy Gotham? With a flood, turning all the water into a giant cloud of nightmare steam—sending all of Gotham into a literal hell. Thanks for the Sunday School refresher, Nolan. This has nothing to do with Jesus and more to do with Biblical
2. Speed up to The Dark Knight Rises. Gotham, a modern day Gomorrah, is still a sinner. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Even with the abundance of peace–peace is built on a lie (The Dent Act). Gotham’s golden period is an illusion. All the petty criminals are locked away, just making it easier for the big time criminals (Daggett) to play. Through Bane, Ra’s al Ghul’s plan to wipe Gotham off the face of the Earth wasn’t thwarted; it just went to “Plan B.” Gotham will pay for its sins, once more (and this time with feeling!).
3. Beaten to the brink of death, left with just a sliver of life to endure the pain to come, Batman goes into the pit. There he’s strapped up, despite the pain, left to hang interminably, his arms splayed. Stop me when you’ve heard this one…
4. The device of Gotham’s destruction is sin itself. That’s why Ra’s al Ghul came to town in Batman Begins, like a vengeful god. It’s why Bane takes hold of Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises. The power reactor/nuclear bomb actually represents two of man’s greatest evils: greed (the need to consume unrelentingly, energy in this case) and wraith (man’s unrelenting desire to destroy one another). The bomb is a symbol of Gotham’s (and mankind’s sins).
5. Okay, this is the part where the hero dies for the greater good (insert haphazard) Jesus allegory here. Yes, Batman died for your sins.
6. “But Batman doesn’t die,” you might say. Oh yes he does. If there is one theme this trilogy has hammered into us consistent throughout the three Nolan Batfilms, it’s this: Batman is not a man, he is a symbol.
“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely.” – Liam Neeson/Ra’s al Ghul, Batman Begins.
Batman is not Bruce Wayne, nor is he a man in a Batsuit. Batman is an idea. And that idea, that symbol exploded over the ocean (Gotham Bay?)
7. Finally, let’s not forget Jesus comes back. That’s the non-chocolate eggs and jellybeans part of Easter. From the final shot of the movie, as John (Robin) Blake ascends into the Batcave, it is certain Batman’s resurrection* will come.
*Warner Bros., feel free to use Batman: Resurrection for your next Batman reboot. It’s on the house.**
**No it’s not. I want backend.
(I apologize if this is a little hard to follow. It was hastily created and even less thought out.)