The Dark Knight Rises: Why Batman is Jesus

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.)

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13 Responses to The Dark Knight Rises: Why Batman is Jesus

  1. Will says:

    You missed out Talia’s Judas-esque betrayal. Okay, the symbolism doesn’t quite matchup but Nolan was working from source material.

  2. Nice and thoughtful post…you know I’ve seen the movie 4 times and each time I am more an more persuaded that Batman is Jesus and this is intended on a deep level. Nolan himself said the story was loosely based of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and at Bruce Wayn’e memorial he reads some passages that talk bout the sacrificial death…this is from the very end of the book. The passage right before that passage quotes verbatim the words “I am the ressurrection and the life” from the gospel of John. Hence, Nolan links Bruce Wayne to a Character in Tale of Two Cities who Dicken’s links to Jesus…there are actually so many more things to point out too…not the least of which is the role of the Holy Spirit in the movie. The bat symbol is either white or fire on most movie posters (both of which are symbolic for the holy spirit)…when Batman dies, then He lives in the “sanctuaries” in men’s hearts…like the Holy Spirit…thus providing the means by which anybody could be Batman! So many other things to boot too.

  3. omalone1 says:

    Not to mention the movie stealing some ideas from inception having really ran out of its own

  4. Ewan says:

    dude, really good article. I’m lucky enough to be studying this film at school on some dodgy illegal copies and this really helps with the theme good and evil. cheers

  5. Great analysis. I was just rewatching TDKR and thinking about his ‘no-killing’ policy and being a savior when I thought, Batman is Jesus. So I googled it and found your post. Interesting read. You mentioned a lot of things I hadn’t thought of.

  6. Rob says:

    I can see the similarity

  7. Pingback: The Dark Knight rises as Christian allegory? - Christian Forums

  8. Eamonn says:

    everything’s right, except that Bruce doesn’t die.

    “Batman” dies, in the eyes of the public, and will be “resurrected” (via Robin Blake), further building this ‘everlasting symbol’ that Bruce is trying to create to shake people out of apathy. But Bruce the man doesn’t die.

    Bruce’s journey was never about sacrifice. He was always selfless. He just needed the people to recognize, in this one act, that Batman was selfless, and that Batman was god-like. The end was about mustering the strength to find a way to carry on his own life beyond this heroic purpose, instead of letting himself take the ‘easy way out’ and just explode along with the bomb.

  9. Ron Gibson says:

    Haha! Thank you for this post. After watching Dark Knight Rises for the 3rd time I couldn’t help but notice I was drawn to this particular “episode” as if I was watching it for the first time. I woke up this morning and it hit me…. Batman is symbolic of Jesus… So that’s when I googled to see if anyone else had figured the same. My conclusion was drawn on a significant number of scene and concepts through out the movie. One concept I would like to confirm is the number of people hanging from the bridge in the scene where Bane gives the order to start hanging. It appeared there were 3 bodies hanging (same as Calvary) but I’d have to watch the movie again to get a better look. Regardless, thank you for posting this!

  10. Alexander says:

    batman:resurrection. i like your style

  11. Pingback: Why Read The Bible? | feminarian

  12. Pingback: People Seeking for God 4 Biblical terms | Stepping Toes

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