With the upcoming release of the new Christopher Nolan movie, “The Dark Knight Rises”, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share with you what I learned from Batman.
I’ll start with a brief introduction of Bruce Wayne, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the comic books or — in this case — Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Bruce Wayne was a young boy when his parents were murdered in front of him. Due to this horrible tragedy, Bruce experiences a psychological trauma. As Bruce grows up, he learns to bury his hate and guilt of his parents murder inside as he leaves Gotham City. As he grows up and finishes his education, Bruce spends a year investigating the minds of the underworld. After he becomes “truly lost”, a man named Henry Ducard promises to help him find his path in life. Bruce, eager to learn, is led to a remote village located somewhere in the Himalayas, where he trains several martial arts with ‘the League of Shadows’. It is here that he is taught three of the most important lessons.
The first lesson is that willpower is more important than training. One must possess a strong will in order to achieve something truly great. The second lesson he is taught is that in order to achieve something truly great, he must devote himself to an ideal. If he can do so, he would become more than just a man; he would become a legend. The third lesson he is taught is that in order to manipulate the fears of others, he must master his own. After training for several years, he returns to Gotham with one goal in mind: to fight the means to end injustice.
As a man, Bruce would be corruptible and put the lives of his loved ones in risk. As a symbol, he would be incorruptible. He chooses the bat as a way to embrace his fear and share his dread with his enemies. He uses his wealth to hide suspicion of his identity as Batman.
This is only a brief summary from Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” movie. The Batman portrayed in graphic novels is a much more complex character. There are many things I learned from Bruce Wayne, but it all comes down to three:
- The first thing Bruce Wayne taught me that is that, in order to achieve anything in life, you must be willing to sacrifice. Bruce Wayne sacrificed his wealth and trained several years to fight injustice. He sacrificed love in fear of putting his loved ones at risk. He did all this knowing he would never get recognition for his actions. It’s easy to make choices with no consequences, and harder to make choices knowing that one wrong move can put the lives of your loved ones at risk.
- The second thing Bruce Wayne taught me is that fear is inevitable. Everyone is afraid. All creatures fear. Even the mighty Batman is afraid. He’s afraid of putting his loved ones in risk, not just bats. We’re all afraid, but the real test is going on with our lives despite the fear. Bruce struggled making choices that would harm either one of his personalities as Bruce Wayne and Batman. He embraced his fears and made his enemies share his dread. He made fear his friend.
- The third thing Bruce Wayne taught me is that struggle is a part of our daily lives, and just like fear, it is inevitable. Bruce Wayne may not come from Krypton, have the ability to fly or have any mutational superpowers, but at the end of the day, he’s a hero. Bruce Wayne is an average man just like you and me. His heart can be broken. He struggles like many people do. He struggles in making choices that are good for him and what’s good for Batman. He struggles with his true identity. Is his true face that of Bruce Wayne the billionaire playboy, or a vigilante who fights injustice? We all struggle with our identity. We create different identities for our parents, friends and coworkers. You don’t know need superpowers to become a hero; what you need is discipline and the willpower.
I believe we can all strive to be Batman in our own ways.
To me, Batman is something more than a fictional character from graphic novels. He represents the good and the evil in all of us; the constant struggle we each face in our daily lives, the fear we hide deep within. But most of all he represents hope. My favorite quote from “Batman Begins” is:
“It’s not who you are from the inside, but what you do that defines you.”
Batman might have been a pyshological wreck from the inside, but it was ultimately what he did that defined him. He went through the tragedy of his parents death, which could have destroyed his life. Instead, he devoted himself to an ideal…and truly become a legend.
(Photo credit: Batman Stamp via Shutterstock)