Saturday, January 3, 2015

And Why Do We Fall?

People who know me in the meat world know that I'm a nerd. I wear it proudly. I grew up idolizing Superman. I remember the giddiness I felt when it was announced that Superman: The Movie, starring the late (really, really) great Christopher Reeve was being made. And the glee has continued through the eleventy billion times I've seen it through the years. The same can be said for nearly every superhero or fantasy epic movie that's come out through the years.

Why am I such a fan? There are lots of reasons, but the main one is the concept of good triumphing over evil. The concept of people, albeit super people, standing against seemingly insurmountable odds and despite the fact that they are often mistrusted and even despised by the very people they're risking their lives to protect, and defeating the enemy. As a Christian, I think there are lots of moral lessons to be learned from this modern mythology.

As I said, Supes was, is, and always will be my hero. But second by the narrowest of margins is Batman. He is, in many ways, the dark yin to Superman's bright yang. Driven by vengeance, he's always running along that razor's edge between heroism and bat-crap (pardon the pun) crazy. Batman Begins is definitely my favorite Batman movie. I don't care what anybody says--Katie Holmes was quite wonderful as Rachel Dawes. I'm not into this gravitas garbage when it comes to comic book movies. She was beautiful and I believed her in the part.

But I digress. Why did I love this movie so much? First, it was just plain fun. The humor was subtle and not over the top, a la Adam West and Tim Burton. Second, Morgan Freeman, as always, proved himself to be able to bring life to every part he plays. Lucius Fox was by far my favorite character in all of the Dark Knight movies.

But more than anything, I loved one of the main messages of the movie, which is revealed in the very beginning and then reiterated at the end. Early in the film we see a flashback to when Bruce falls down a well and is terrorized by bats, thus setting in motion his eventual choice to take on the bat persona. But his beloved father comes to the rescue and, as he carries him into the house to bind his wounds, he reminds Bruce of this important lesson:

Many years later, when all seems hopeless, Bruce's father figure, Alfred, reminds Bruce of this lesson again:

What a powerful teaching. It reminded me that sometimes we need to fall in small ways in order to be prepared to fall and rise again in episodes of greater pitch and moment. Every time we encounter hardship, we can remind ourselves that all that's come before has prepared us to stand up to that affliction and, in turn, this crisis will make us ready when something even more dire comes along.

Fun? Yes. But anyone who thinks superhero movies are nothing more than mindless entertainment just aren't paying attention. I'm a better person because of them. And they make me want to continue to strive to be a better person. That has to be a good thing.

Maybe even a super thing.