A true storyteller can often have the best insight on human condition. After all, in order to tell our stories, bards must have an intimate understanding of the forces that drive us. Within most of us, there is a struggle, an arc, a journey that is ruled by an internal conflict.
Often the key to said conflict can stare back at us the entire time.
Which brings us to the Dark Knight, the second of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy which I had the opportunity to rewatch the other night.
As for the movie itself, I think everything that needed to be said has been said: Christian Bale was a solid lead; the late Heath Ledger actually surpassed all the hype in his performance and Aaron Eckhart didn’t get the credit he deserved for his role as Harvey Dent.
Throughout the film, Bruce Wayne was seeking a white knight for Gotham. Someone pure of heart who could inspire the masses to be something better (not unlike what Superman does for Metropolis and the rest of the world). With his darkness fueling him as the grim vigilante, Bruce knew he couldn’t be that champion but he hoped someone could do for Gotham in the light of day what he did under the cloak of night.
Bruce finally thought he found that counterpart in Harvey Dent. Beautiful, charismatic and righteous, Dent proved a viable candidate. He was a man who seemed to have the fortitude to stand up to Gotham’s underworld without being corrupted himself. After all, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.
Enter the Joker, a man who simply wants to see the world burn and waged a war for Gotham’s soul. While Batman was incorruptible even in dire straits, sadly the same couldn’t be said for Dent. Ultimately Batman knew that in order to save the work he and Dent had begun, he took the blame for Dent’s murder and allowed himself to become a fugitive.
The irony is that even though he probably never realized it, what lied within Batman was indeed the pure of soul champion he had been searching for, the white knight he thought he found in Dent. For only a man pure of heart would sacrifice himself without hesitation for the greater good. Only a man pure of heart would burden himself with the sins of others. In spite of all of his darkness and brooding , Bruce was the best of them. He always had been.
The lesson here being, the solutions we often search for outside ourselves, that semblance of completion, the resolution to that internal conflict, can usually if not always be found from within.
Funny how that epiphany hit home with me. And funny how I got THAT from a comic book movie.