“The Dark Knight” – A Longing for Justice and Order
We just finished watching about thirty minutes of home-edited footage featuring cartoon, Asian, and “Splat”-”Pow” Batmen (and we even saw a clip of Christian Bale from Newsies), and the movie was getting ready to start. My wife, Julianna, and I had decided to get our money’s worth out of the new Batman movie, and watch it at the Alamo Draft House – my preferred venue for all movies. We had ordered our food – a grilled chicken club and an Asian Chicken Salad, were ready for our beer, and were patiently awaiting the start of the movie. As time went on, the pre-previews ended, the previews passed, and the movie began – our food had not yet come, and all around us, people were enjoying their pizzas, cheesy fries, and buckets of beer. Where was our food? It just didn’t seem fair. We wanted justice. We wanted order. We wanted the yearning in our bellies to be satiated. We wanted our food.
Watching The Dark Knight was a lot like waiting on our food for over an hour. We couldn’t keep our minds off the pain, the hurt, the hunger, the injustice. With each new pang of disorder that materialized in the plot, we were sucked in further – waiting for justice, waiting for order, waiting for retribution. Isn’t that why we love the Batman stories? This one was no different in plot than any of the others, but it’s portrayal, acting, and even shot selection lended itself toward a much deeper depiction of evil and thus a higher longing for justice than any of the Batman movies before it.
The story is set in Gotham City, a city that has fallen on hard times
but is gaining some semblance of order as Batman hopes to inspire an
incitement for retribution in the citizens. But his oppression of
gangsters and mobsters in Gotham creates an explosive backlash as a new
type of criminal is introduced to the city – the Joker. As opposed to
the criminals before him, the Joker instigates a city of anarchy and
disorder through his psychotic games, needless killing, and valueless
robberies. Rather than becoming the utopian society that Batman longs
to see, Gotham city takes on a “clockwork orange” nihilistic make-over
to further become a dystopian city that is leading more to anomie.
Spoiler Alert – Do Not Keep Reading if You Don’t Want to Know Specifics in the Movie
is a particularly gripping scene in the movie in which the Joker has
succeeded in breaking down all of the established order, and all of the
citizens are attempting to flee Gotham City. While all the streets are
jammed with cars attempting to leave the city, ferry boats appear to
cart citizens to safety. Somehow the Joker rigs two of the ferries to
stop dead, mid-escape. He has loaded each boat with a bomb for which
the other boat has the detonator: one boat is full of criminals while
the other boat is full of law abiding citizens. The Joker tells each
of the members of the boats that if they do not use the detonator, he
will blow up both boats at midnight. So, each ferry is presented with
a moral dilemma. They can either save themselves and sacrifice the
other boat by pulling the trigger, or they can sacrifice both
themselves and the other boat by refusing the play the game.
this dilemma is playing out, Batman is slugging it out with the Joker
from a nearby vantage point on top of an unfinished building. They are
clearly juxtaposed as the epitomes of good and evil. Batman stands for
order and justice, while the Joker is seemingly Batman’s equal
representing chaos and degeneracy. The Joker firmly believes that he
can create a fully dystopian society with his anarchic behavior, and
looks on with glee at his experiment with the ferries. Batman, who has
seemed somewhat naive up to this point in his lack of understanding of
the depravity of Gotham, smiles at the end result as midnight passes,
and neither boat chooses to sacrifice the other, but to stand up for
What makes this scene so riveting is how both Batman and the
Joker underestimate the citizens of Gotham. Batman believes that all
people were good and only needed a heroic example to bring Gotham back
to utopia, while the Joker believes that all people are evil and only
need a push to bring them to madness or a nihilistic state. Hidden in
these assumptions is the truth: the doctrine of common grace. While it
is true that mankind is more evil than we ever could imagine, all of
mankind is loved by a God that has given us common grace. We are
totally depraved, not utterly depraved. Sin has infected everything,
but the Lord has kept us from being as bad as we could possibly be.
We, like the citizens of Gotham, are subject to fear and pandemonium,
but at the same time we have a grace that is common to all of us, and a
longing for order, justice, and even mercy.
non-Christians all yearn for peace and retribution. As Christians we
have the knowledge, hope, and joy of knowing that our “Knight” has
already defeated evil, and that ultimate justice and mercy is coming.
The Dark Knight helps us to see, better than many movies, how everyone
PS: We got our food after about an hour, and it was delicious.
What did you think of the movie?