Almost all of us grew up dreaming of becoming a super hero; whether it was G.I. Joe, Superman, the Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, etc. When I was growing up I wanted to be just like Batman. I had all the Batman toys, I watched Batman the animated series, I constantly watched the movies Batman and Batman Returns, I even safety pinned a towel around my neck and pretended to be him. At that point I probably couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was the cool gadgets, or that he was a normal man who could kick ass, perhaps the sweet batcave and huge mansion, who knows but I wanted to be him. Luckily, at the ripe old age of 25 I finally figured out why I want to be him after all these years, because anyone can truly be Batman… I know that might seem like a weird statement but its true. I don’t mean that as far as jumping from building to building, taking down mob bosses and psychopaths, or striking fear into the hearts of criminals. Anyone can be Batman in the sense of what he stands for and the ideals he instills. After watching the last installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, I found myself in an extreme amount of deep thought. I was truly inspired by the trilogy and wanted to understand why I felt so strongly about all three movies, why they hit such a chord with me. I decided to watch all three movies again and pull out quotes that I felt really exemplified the essence of what batman is and what he stands for and how it can apply to everyday life.
“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, then you become something else entirely…. A legend, Mr. Wayne.”
Henri Ducard says this to Bruce when he has found Bruce lost in the shuffle, searching for a way to become something more. We were all like this at one point in our life, being 25 I’m young and still feel like this. When you’re young you search for a way to do something great, to be something more. The problem is that somewhere down the line you start to believe that you’re not great or that you have nothing to offer. If this becomes your mindset then not only do you become lost in the shuffle, you may stay lost your whole life. I don’t know about you but when it’s all said and done I want the people most important to me to know I stood for something more, that I made a difference. And that’s the point of the quote; devote yourself to something bigger than you and you can truly help people and become something else entirely. Why do we know about people like Louie Simmons, Jim Wendler, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Mel Siff? Because they devoted themselves to a purpose bigger than them; they stayed out of the shuffle and on their own path. We can all do this it’s just a matter of choosing too.
“It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”
Batman says this to Rachel towards the end of the movie as almost a thank you to her for never giving up on him. Deep down I believe I am something more, that I’m a good person, that I have the potential to do great things. These are all just feelings though, not actions. I found myself asking do I put these feelings into action in my everyday life and the answer was no, or really, not as much as I could. Too many times do we make excuses for why we don’t live the way we believe we actually are. How often have you not held an elevator door because you were in “too much of a hurry?” How often have you half-assed your job or your workout because “you just weren’t feeling it today?” I’m not trying to be high and mighty because I’m guilty of this as well and I’m tired of it. As corny as it sounds Batman doesn’t do this so I’m not going to either. Because like I said I can feel that I’m this or that but that’s not what counts that’s not what defines me; my actions define me. I can realize my potential, I can do better… You can do better.
The Dark Knight
“Endure. You can be the outcast. You can make the choice that no one else will face - the right choice. Gotham needs you.”
Alfred says this to Bruce when he feels Joker’s rampage has become too much for Gotham to handle and believes turning himself in is the only way to end it. In life when problems arise there will always be an easy way out, and a lot of people will take that route. Can you be different? Can you make the decision that no one else can? This is something we should all strive for because when it comes down to it the easy way out usually only benefits one person, yourself. This opportunity really hasn’t come full circle yet for me but when it does I hope and I feel that I can endure, I can be the outcast where other people cannot. This problem may arise for you and the hard solution might be one that causes people to not think as highly of you, it may cause you to lose a friend but the strength to endure may help those people in the long run. Maybe it arises in the form of a job opportunity that pays a boat load of money but you have the choice of another job that may not pay as much but where you know you can make a real difference in people’s lives. It can come in any form really but we all have the ability to endure we just have to realize it.
“Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now...and so we'll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector...a dark knight.”
Commissioner Gordon tells his son this when he asks his father why the police are chasing Batman at the end of the movie. This goes hand in hand with the other quote from above. The right decisions may not always be the easiest but that’s not the point of a right decision. The point is to make the decision that will benefit your life, your family, and your friends later down the road. They may not like you for it but you didn’t make the hard decision to be liked you made it because you knew it’s what they deserved. I imagine this is something parents are confronted with on a daily basis. I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch your child as you tell them something that might crush them but you know it’s a decision that had to be made. I hope I can be as strong as my parents were and some of the parents I know when it comes time to make a decision that has my kid questioning whether or not I’m truly their “hero.” But sometimes parents and mentors aren’t heroes; they’re silent guardians, watchful protectors.
The Dark Knight Rises
“There’s a point far out there, when the structures fail you. When the rules aren’t weapons anymore, they’re shackles, letting the bad guy get ahead… “
Commissioner Gordon says this to Detective John Blake when Gotham finds out that it was really Harvey Dent (Two-Face) who killed those people instead of Batman. TDKR brings everything back home and relates a lot back to Batman Begins and this quote does just that. Bruce Wayne couldn’t work within the constraints of the law in order to shake people out of apathy. He saw Gotham’s judicial system as a constraint and their rules at that point in time were letting the bad guy get ahead. This goes back to what I was talking about toward the beginning. We know when we are young that we can do great things but soon the rules we feel we must follow become shackles and we no longer feel we are great, we become lost. It’s up to us to overcome these rules, these shackles, we just have to figure out how and if you don’t it’s only a matter of time before you start losing belief in yourself. I have faced this before in terms of a career. When it came down to making the hard decision I realized that if I went the easy route then the rules that would have been put in place by the structures over me would have prevented me from becoming something more. I would have become lost in the shuffle. I chose to take the hard route and devote myself to an ideal. As a side note, this is why I’m so happy with the people I work with because they’ve all been faced with these decisions before. They made the decisions no one else could have.
“A hero can be anyone- even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting their coat around a young boy's shoulder to let him know the world hasn't ended.”
Batman says this to Jim Gordon when he asks Batman who he really is because Gordon feels Gotham should know that it was Bruce Wayne who gave them everything that he was as a man. I’m going to go a little more in depth in just a little bit about why this quote sums up the whole point of the trilogy. You may not know it but you could be doing something heroic everyday of your life. You could be helping someone and not even know it. I recall a couple weeks ago I was having a conversation with one of our athletes and she was talking about some rough stuff she was going through and all of a sudden she started to cry. I felt awful I really had no idea what to do. I felt helpless and all I wanted to do was to help and I didn’t know how. All I did was give her a hug and told her that everything will work out, it may not work out like you want it to but I promise it will work out. I still felt I could have done more, I don’t and still don’t feel what I said was heroic by any means. But maybe what I did was something simple and hopefully reassuring to her. The point is that we can all have an impact on people every day if we just take the time.
This was a long article I know, but it was an article I really wanted to write. You can view it as corny, I don’t care. In the time we live in, there are so few opportunities to be inspired and these three movies were one of my opportunities. As I read different articles about the trilogy when attempting to shape this blog post I stumbled across a blog by just a random guy who I believe really summed up the main theme of this trilogy and really my main reason for writing this post. He said “A major theme in the story is “Who was Batman? He was just Batman; the person under the mask doesn’t matter, because ANYBODY can be Batman.” We hear this several times, and it speaks back to the longstanding concept in the Nolan trilogy that a symbol is eternal and cannot be killed or destroyed, and that is what Batman became — an eternal symbol for Gotham, a symbol that would be anybody.” I couldn’t have said it any better.
We all have these ideals inside of us, these feelings, and this potential to do great things and to make an impact. Right now though, those things are all just underneath and are irrelevant, because it’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.