Batman Theology

Is it just me, or are comic books taking over our lives?
Anybody feel me on this one?
Donít get me wrong, I love a good ol ìhero vs nemesis,
good vs evil, fate of the world hanging in the balance,î
kind of story just as much as the next guy,
but donít you think itís getting to be a little much?
To be honest, I was thrilled with the first X-Men movie
and the first Spiderman for that matter, but come on.
Iím thinking about the last five years or so, and it seems like
Marvel movie remakes are being thrust upon us like bad reality tv shows.
Think about it. Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Spiderman 1,2, and 3,
three X-Mens, Ghost Rider, the Punisher, Fantastic FourÖtwice, Iron Man,
and is it just me or didnít they just make Incredible Hulk a few years ago?
Is this new one a sequel or are they just trying to pretend
like the first one didnít happen?
Itís out of control, and Iím fearful of what kind of effect
theyíll begin to have if weíre not careful.
Iím not saying they should be banned or anything crazy,
but I think itís fair to say that with the steady influx
of these films infiltrating theatres, commercials,
and the myspace login page, weíd be foolish to say that
they arenít having some effect on our thinking and on our society as a whole.

The new Batman is coming out soon, and admittedly,
I am a bit of a Batman fan myself,
so Iíve been thinking about the last five or six movies lately,
with good reason, and during one such episode a scene from
Batman Begins came on in the movie-quote center of my brain.
Itís a really quick scene, and would probably go unnoticed
and unnoted by most movie goers, but I am a bit of a theatre geek,
especially when it comes to reciting cinema quotes, so of course,
I picked up on it and just couldnít let it go.
And what was really strange was the more I thought about it,
the more I realized that a single line from Bruce Wayne
could actually sum up the philosophy that most of our culture embraces.
For the sake of time Iíd like to call it ìBatman Syndrome.î

I don’t know if you saw the Batman movie I’m referring to here,
but if you havenít, let me paint the scene for you.
Batman has just finished a serious round of cronie pummeling (of course)
when the lady interest of the movie (in this case Katie Holmes)
comes to face to face with the winged crusader.
He’s standing on a precipice of some sort
(what I remember to be an open window of a very high skyscraper)
and is about to make a grand exit when Mrs. Cruise asks, “Who are you?
and being a superhero He canít resist the opportunity for an over-dramatic adieu,
and doesnít miss a beat here. Batman smugly responds, “It’s not who I am,
it’s what I do that defines me.” Cue drastic whooshing sound,
enter symphony over a flying farewell, and that’s the end of the scene.

Now, this is where the nagging voice in my head comes in.
“Mike, that’s not true.”
ìWhat?î I ask myself back.
ìIt isnít true and you know it.î
I don’t know if this happens to you, but it happens to me all the time.
Now before you start worrying about my mental state let me just tell you that
I couldn’t get through Iron Man without some social commentary
interrupting my movie going experience,
so why should I think that Batman would be any different.
Maybe Iím a schizophrenic?
Well, we hope not. (there I go againÖ.)
In any case, the voice continued.
“Mike, that’s not true anymore.”
ìWhat do you mean, self?î
ìYouíre not defined by what you do.î
ìIím not?î
ìOf course not. Thatís the good news that you say you believe.
Youíre no longer a sum of what you do.
You are a sum of what has been done for you.
Isnít that the gospel Mike?
Isnít that what youíve been traveling around telling people?
Youíre no longer defined by your accomplishments or your mistakes,
you are defined by what Christ has done on the cross.
You donít have to be a superhero anymore,
you just need to let yourself be rescued.î

Letís think about that for a bit shall we?

This simple thought that came randomly into my head
watching Batman has become THE question of my life lately.
Do I really believe that Iím defined by what has been done for me,
or am I still struggling to prove myself to people?
Am I still under the pressure of being my own Saviour?
What defines me?
Am I a singer?
Am I a guitar player?
Am I a comic book character?
Am I a song-writer?
Am I a screw up?
Am I a hero?


The gospel says Iím a new creation.
Iím not the sum of my choices, and Iím not the result of my performance.
Iím a royal priesthood. A holy nation. A child of God, holy and dearly loved.
John the disciple called himself, ìthe disciple whom Jesus loved.î
So what does that make me?
(Oh yeah, check it out for yourself.
The only place heís called that is in the book he wrote!
The one disciple who out performs them all
chooses to be known by what had been done for Him, not by what He did.)
And so, Iíve got to remind myself that I am loved.
That I am new.
That in spite of all my failures and all my accomplishments,
I am accepted and known based upon what has already been done for me,
not on how much of a hero I can be.

What about you?
Are you trying to be a hero?
A rock star?
A lover of God?
Why donít you let all that go, and let yourself be loved.
Itís a much easier identity to keep up with,
and you donít even have to wear a cape.
Wear his love, and let that be your alter ego.