Ever since Batman Begins came out seven years ago, there has been a theme running through the series– Bruce Wayne is seeking to become more than a man. As Batman, he becomes a symbol for hope, a legend and, hopefully, an inspiration for Gotham City’s people to do good and not accept the evil around them.
The latest trailer for The Dark Knight has something interesting going on – it focuses on sacrifice. At one point, Batman is talking to Catwoman and she says, “You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.”
Calmly, Batman responds, “Not everything. Not yet.”
Bruce Wayne/Batman, it is inferred in the trailer, is willing to take his life’s calling to the end and sacrifice his life for the good of Gotham, the town his parents loved so dearly and worked so hard to build. When they died, he inherited a town that became hopeless, defeated, rife with sin and violence. He commits himself, as Batman, to fight back against the darkness and use his resources for something good.
When we last saw Batman in “The Dark Knight,” he was running from the police and has accepted, in a deal with Commissioner Gordon, responsibility for the deaths of the people Harvey “Two Face” Dent killed. Gordon knew he didn’t do it, but the pair knew how much Dent meant to the city. He was the white knight, while Batman was the faceless enforcer in the night.
Dent’s fall from grace was devastating to everyone and would have crippled the good people of Gotham. Batman shoulders the burden and runs. Gordon accepts the lie in order to preserve peace. He puts the call in and the hunt for Batman begins.
Gordon’s son looks at the commissioner and says, “He didn’t do anything wrong.”
The father responds, “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.”
Now, years later in The Dark Knight Rises we see Bruce Wayne bruised and battered. He’s pushed his body to the brink. If Wayne dies, but inspires someone pure to pick up his mantle, it will have all been worth it.
In comparison, Jesus became man, inheriting his father’s creation. In order to redeem earth’s people, he sustained the taunts, the beatings and accepted death. In death and through his resurrection, Christ was recognized as so much more than the simple son of a carpenter and really as God incarnate. He ignited people all over the world to follow his example of peace, love, charity and sacrifice.
Director Christopher Nolan has said The Dark Knight rises will complete his Batman trilogy. If this particular story of Batman is to end, Bruce Wayne and Batman will need some finality. He can’t fight this battle forever. Someone, after he is gone, will need to spread the message of hope through words and action.
There’s even a scene in The Dark Knight trailer where people are almost waiting in vigil, wondering if Batman is dead and never coming back. They almost seem directionless without him.
Batman isn’t Jesus. But, we see him in the trailer almost emerging from his grave and rising. When he comes back, the people of Gotham will know what to do and together, they can accomplish anything.