The entire trilogy, especially the second film, is a great exploration of the experience of a dark night of the soul. While I doubt the screenwriters were thinking of this connection, the name connection makes the message all the more powerful.
A while ago, I was given the opportunity to get an e-copy of a compilation of the trilogy scripts along with storyboards (stuff I love to see). It's a great collector's piece for fans of the trilogy who like this sort of behind the scenes material.
No matter how much I read or watch about the trilogy, one element of the first film has always unsettled me. An on-going dialogue between Bruce Wayne and his love interest, Rachel Dawes, in Batman Begins was, "It's not who you are underneath; it's what you do that defines you."
In the context of Wayne's lavish, careless lifestyle (or so it appears), this sort of statement makes sense. But I'm troubled by how much the characters in the film never question the statement. And frankly, it's a very theological one. It's much along the lines of the relative importance of faith and works. It also intersects with psychology, as some therapies focus on personality and character traits while other emphasize behavior.
I've always been inclined to lean more on the side of identity being important. It is one's identity (encompassing personality, character, etc.) that drives actions. In the Dark Knight trilogy, Wayne was able to become an amazing Batman because of who he was inside, not just because he did certain actions. This is my primary criticism against a lot of strict behavioral models of psychology. Just because actions are taken doesn't mean internal change occurs. I guess the question is how important internal change really is. And if it's real and can occur. I believe it can, and Matthew 23:26-28 really resonates here for me.
How often do we see people do generous things, but only as long as others know what they do? I think those actions can still be valuable, but I believe there is a different quality to that sort of action and the truly heart-felt behaviors. It's almost a difference between the anonymity of Batman's Bruce Wayne in comparison to the narcissism of Iron Man's Tony Stark (although the latter did do a lot of action for the right reasons).
It's hard to untangle identity from behavior on a surface, almost quantitative level. But qualitatively, there's big difference in behavior based on identity. And who you are underneath really does count.
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