By Dipankar Behera:
“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely.”
The introduction to superheroes and their inspirational stories happen much early in most peoples’ lives. I was no exception. Initially, the degree of fondness towards the superheroes was directly proportional to the variety in their superpowers and the sense of awesomeness induced by them. Superman, Spider man, X-Men etc. used to be my favorites among all simply because of the mind boggling adventures they carried out, showing off their powers in style and saving the lives of thousands of people. However, there was this thing with the Batman which kept him away from my favorites’ list. Batman symbolized darkness. He was not a superhero with cool flying capabilities or web slinging actions. He was an Anti-Hero. The one we deserved, but not the one we needed back then.
As I grew up, there were changes in my viewpoint, thanks to Batman’s epic trilogy. The ‘Nolan’isation of the superhero was critically acclaimed all over the world and proved to be huge money churner for the franchise. I personally feel that it rekindled the lost aura of Batman and kind of helped in its resurrection. Indeed, its interesting how some extraordinary screenplay and camera work coupled with immaculate dialogues and soulful music can do such wonders. Chris Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, Hans Zimmer and a crew of dedicated people made this trilogy memorable.
It started in 2005 with Batman Begins, redefined cinema and acting with The Dark Knight in 2008 and concluded on a high note in the epic 2012 blockbuster ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. I had seen the first two parts but did not really try to get into it. As in, all I expected from Batman were some cool gadgets and action scenes and a couple of stunts. But when I watched ‘The Dark Knight’ again in my freshman year, this time with some respect to the works of Christopher Nolan and more concentration, I found it to be a masterpiece. The movie started with an epic daylight heist at a big bank in the suburbs of fictional city Gotham and the plot revolved around the chaos introduced by the scarred devil – The Joker. Portrayed by Heath Ledger, in what one would say the performance of a lifetime, the Joker immortalized chaos. With dialogues forcing one to simply gape in the awe of the deep hidden meanings to be realized in the later parts of the movie, and Ledger’s innovative tongue slicking maniac like dialogue delivery, The Dark Knight won over the hearts of the people. Sadly, soon the rising stardom of Heath Ledger came to an end due to his untimely death.
And of course, how do we forget the Batman himself. Christian Bale suited up, drove his Lamborghini-Hummer offspring Batmobile, blew it up to reveal a cocooned Batpod and ended up hanging SWAT soldiers off a skyscraper and Joker in the hands of the GCPD. But the emergence of the Two-Face Harvey Dent and the final twist in the story with Batman doing something a typical superhero wouldn’t even think of risking as it meant endangering his/her popularity in the respective fictional worlds. Batman here, on the other hand, chose to be an outcast in the society and won everybody’s hearts. The Dark Knight had a startling effect on me.
Then I started taking interest in the story of Batman. Did some background research on the Caped Crusader, read some classic comics, and got pretty deep into it. I watched both the movies again and again until I was mentally satisfied and physically exhausted and the dialogues literally seeped into my lingo. There were multiple aspects of the movie which affected me, not only me but Batman aficionados around the world. Fear was something that formed the base of the first movie. Vengeance coupled with a cry for justice for the people of Gotham City gave birth to Batman. Bruce Wayne in his struggle for avenging his parents’ death and for the greater good of his city undertook an oath to become a symbol of fear and darkness for the corrupt. Batman was not a man with flashy gadgets and an affection for theatricality, but a symbol of fear- for those who wronged and a symbol of hope, for those who suffered. The actions of a man should inspire people, for only then the real worth of those actions can be measured.
” Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
This line, with its sheer simplicity has had a complex effect on me. While no one really likes to fall, life doesn’t really follow our wishes, does it? This theory of falling only to rise up again and double our efforts to rise up to the threshold and cross the barrier, was predominant in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ as well. Bruce Wayne, with rigorous mental and physical training, climbed the Lazarus’ Pit despite failing in his initial efforts. They coupled it with the theory of conquering the fear, where in he would have to climb the Pit without a rope only to risk his life in case he failed again. The moral of the story was simple – If you are afraid, you are dead. If you don’t rise, then you are as good as dead. So, he climbed the high walls to escape the prison and nearly came back from dead to defeat the supervillian Bane.
We must remember that movies play an extremely important role in modifying our thought processes, and especially when coupled with unparalleled screenplay and cinematography rendered in Nolan movies. Young and budding minds are more prone to these and hence the way Nolan has ethically represented the characters, especially the protagonist (Batman, of course) and the antagonists in the trilogy, is indeed a great. Many argue that Bruce Wayne could afford to be Batman because of his multi-billion dollar empire and his League of Shadows training. But, like Batman says in the last part – ‘Anyone can be a hero’– and by anyone he not only referred to the likes of Commissioner Jim Gordon but any person in general. For the statement is true and shall remain the same- “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely.”