If you haven’t seen the movie, and don’t want any hints of what happens, don’t read any further.
I saw the movie yesterday with my two oldest children. Here are a few thoughts:
- At the end, Batman was reckoned a sinner so that the people of Gotham City could be delivered from crime. Joker had tried to show that even the best of the best would become evil in the right (wrong?) situation. Batman decided that Joker couldn’t be seen by the people to win that argument (though to a certain degree, Joker did win the argument: Harvey Dent did go bad). To defeat Joker, Batman bore Harvey Dent’s sin – but only a very few were allowed in on the secret. Jesus bore the sin of many, and did so without compromising on the truth. There was no need to maintain an illusion of the goodness of the people for whom Jesus died. It was pure grace. “Ah, but what about the common attribution of sinlessness?” Batman (falsely) wanted to see a kind of sinlessness attributed to Harvey Dent (how much of this was to cover for his own – as Bruce Wayne – over-reliance on Harvey Dent, on his own will to believe?). I see two things in Jesus’ sinlessness that help us more than Harvey Dent’s. First, Jesus’ sinlessness was in the context of non-violent, non-reactive suffering. He, like Harvey Dent, was truly tempted. He, unlike Harvey Dent, said NO to temptation. Second, as one who was tempted like we are – whether we’re the morally upstanding Harvey Dent’s or the gangster Maronys – Jesus understands our temptations, even our giving in to them, and still extends us mercy.
- Joker saw his larger role as fomenting chaos. Chaos in the Dark Knight is seen as evil. Batman, though operating outside the bounds of order, seeks to prop up order. Is the order good? Well, not exactly. The order – pre-Batman, at least – included organized crime and its depredations on Gotham City. When we see Batman seeking to eliminate the evil in the order, we seem to be moving beyond a simple Manichean order of good and evil in constant warfare. If chaos is a kind of anti-order, perhaps even a prelude to a new order, then Batman himself is an agent of chaos. Joker seems altogether different, however. He seems in favor of no order, no predictability, no security. Jesus brought chaos – I think of his cleansing of the temple – but never served as the agent of chaos like Joker. Jesus was not for Order – just any kind of social stability – he was for the Kingdom of God and its ordering.
- Joker is a kind of satan, some only to “kill, steal and destroy.” He lives as the accuser, the liar, the one who seeks to “help” others stray from the path.