The Batman’s Choice: Vengeance or Hope?

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The Batman brings us to see the dark hero in his early years. Bruce has only been Batman for two years. Right away the tone is set that Gotham is very dark. We start out with three situations of simultaneous crime, during which we get a voice over from the Dark Knight about how picky he is. We see a couple criminals moving toward a robbery, a single criminal approaching a different situation, and a group of clowns sitting on a train watching a particular target. Then as it follows the clowns in their attack, we start to hear loud footsteps as the Bat slowly steps out of a dark hallway. It was very chilling and portrayed the aspects of theatrics and fear quite well.

Pattinson is a little better as Batman than Bruce Wayne, but also has very few scenes as Bruce. He has been rather reclusive and you get the idea that only those in the know can recognize Wayne’s face. As we travel with the twists and turns of the story, you find it really is a story about corruption and The Riddler wants to force someone to step up and deal with it. He kills and leaves his notes and threatens to kill some more. This is where you find the Bruce Wayne of the story as we find that his father has possibly even been involved in some of this corruption or may even have been killed for some reason related to it.

Corruption is a common theme for Gotham. Look at almost every iteration and it is there. Read the comics, watch the Dark Knight trilogy, watch the TV show Gotham, and it is clear many Gotham cops, even most, are on someone else’s payroll. The 1960s show seems to be the only place where it isn’t highlighted as a main factor.

Corruption is mixed with one other theme: legacy. Bruce and Alfred have a discussion about setting time aside for to focus more on Wayne Enterprises, but Bruce wants nothing to do with the company. He is convinced that his street justice is his parents legacy. The story leads on showing us his detective skills as he hunts this Riddler. So they are pitting the Worlds foremost detective, Batman, against a horror version of the criminal mastermind. He finds that Thomas Wayne had known Falcone and asked him to take care of hiding something. Of course, Falcone went much farther than Wayne wanted. Then after the Wayne murder, while Bruce was very young and grieving, Falcone took over a benefit fund for orphans to use it for illegal gains…along with many politicians and policemen.

So Bruce must make a decision with the new information. Will he continue his focus on vengeance? Or is there a more powerful legacy?

We are told much about corruption of various forms in the Bible. Genesis 6:11 explains that “…the Earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and filled with violence.” So God chose to judge the Earth with the great flood but saved Moses and his family because they had abstained from the corruption. Then later we find it in Israel. Hosea 9:9 says “They have gone deep into depravity as in the days of Gibeah, He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.” Even a cursory view of the Kings of Israel shows that they were often turning away from God and worshipping other spirits. Again and again we find that “this king did what was evil.” So much so that God sent invading armies form Assyria and Babylon.

We must be honest here. The Bible does record that God chose vengeance at certain times. The Great Flood. Invading armies. He did allow that. But He is God. He is One, Singular Being that has the right to act as a Judge. The Old Testament also records that vengeance is not the desire of God. Does He use it? Yes. Jesus did teach about Hell. See Matthew 13:47-52 which speaks of the “blazing furnace” where the wicked are sent. But it isn’t his desire.

The Riddler tried to claim that he and Batman are the same. That they are both about vengeance. This angered Batman who has a rule against killing. As he continued fighting the Riddler he realized he had to change. He needed to become a source of hope. What makes God different from any vigilante? He always moves toward restoration.

Read Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets and you will find discussion of forgiveness, of restoration, of hope. Jeremiah 29 contains a letter sent to those in exile telling them the exile would only last 70 years and that God would bring restoration after that. Micah 7 records a consideration that forgiveness and restoration are the goal even in the middle of discipline.

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
    Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.
Because I have sinned against him,
    I will bear the Lord’s wrath,
until he pleads my case
    and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light;
    I will see his righteousness.

Micah 7:8-9

God does want us to find restoration. 2 Peter also has a verse about restoration.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Jesus Himself was known to speak of forgiveness. He told a man whose friends brought him for healing “Your sins are forgiven” and told the a thief on a cross near him that “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” He freed people from demonic possession and told the Samarian Woman at the well that He is the Living Water and with Him she would not be thirsty.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:5-8

At the end of the film, Batman had realized that he was going down a dangerous road. He also realized that hope is more powerful than vengeance. He started working for hope instead of street vengeance.

God is building a movement of restoration. His wrath is always toward this. His vengeance is only after we have had time to repent. The legacy of Jesus Christ is all about restoration. If you are in a place of doubt, I encourage you to ask Him to reveal Himself to you. If you did at one time walk with Him but have stepped away, just talk with Him. Step back into His trail and He will take you with Him.

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