DC 30 Day Meme #16: Favourite Live Action Adaptation

Posted: 08/15/2010 in Comics, Film Review [Archive]

THE DARK KNIGHT

It’s not a prefect movie, it’s not Nolan’s best. I’ve talked about it’s flaws a lot over the years (has it really been that long?), but I was recently reminded of what one of the most important things about the DCU is as far as it’s native medium- the comics- are concerned; the relation of the hero to the mythic structure they represent. That’s what The Return of Bruce Wayne is about, Bruce rebuilding his core components bit by bit. The Dark Knight is probably the only one of DC’s film adaptations to grasp that and build an entire film around it. Despite the heavy action and the almost embarrassingly heavy borrowing from Heat, The Dark Knight is a very symbolic, philosophical film.

The title is more than just a reference to one of Batman’s nicknames, it’s a reference to St. John of the Cross’ The Dark Night of the Soul which a general term for a spiritual crisis, which is what Bruce undergoes in his own way but the theme pervades the entire film to portray an entire world in spiritual crisis. The Dark Knight is essentially about three men who have come to realize that God is dead and how they deal with it. The Joker revels in his release from conventional morality and becomes the ultimate nihilist with no bigger goal than to watch the world burn. Two Face falls into superstition, trying to restore the institutions he believed in with the flip of a coin. Batman places his faith in humanity.

No one outside of comics has ever captured Bruce’s humanism so brilliantly or spun such a rigorously constructed motif into a comic book adaptation. It still baffles me that so few people understand Bruce driving into the sunrise at the end of the film. The Dark Night of the Soul is about spiritual crisis towards the soul’s eventual unification with God. Bruce driving into the sunrise represents his unification with his mythic form, his reconciliation with what it means to be Batman. It just doesn’t get any more elegant than that.

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