Batman’s Dramatic Example

~ People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy, and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting. 
— Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins

~ People need dramatic examples.

I think this is inherently true. Folks need to be inspired; they need to see something to believe in it. People require a transcendent ‘mover of the world’ before them to aspire themselves to rival its presence with their own in some way. Most have a hard time coming up with the vision for what they want out of the world, or in themselves. A paragon, an exemplar, a symbol of their ideal, may be necessary for a person to act at all. {Lest they themselves become that symbol — the most difficult path one can undertake.}

In the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne, soon to be Batman, realized this line of thinking from the seat of a more enlightened perspective. Such perspective was cultivated at the hands of his self-induced hardship within the mountains. It came on the heels of crafting his own purpose: to return to save his city, Gotham, and its people, suffering at the hands of cadres of criminals and a corrupt elite class. His vision for his actions in this return are professed to Alfred in the moment, but they were composed and crystallized in the crucible of his training with Ra’s Al Ghul and the killers making up the League of Shadows. We know he is thinking of Ras’ words when he makes his proclamation to his butler: of devotions to ideals, of the process of becoming a legend.

“If you make yourself more than just a man… If you devote yourself to an ideal… And if they can’t stop you… Then you become something else entirely… Legend, Mr. Wayne.”
~ Ra’s Al Ghul

Batman is the resolution, the answer to Bruce’s mission. Donning the cowl is his way of transcending his flesh and blood, his humanity. As a character, there is a reason why Batman is considered the best comic book superhero of all time. Wielding no superpowers, Batman carries an unwavering, ever-complicated character; the consummate professional, The Caped Crusader never gives up on his mark. And yet, his humanity remains intact underneath the layers of his shadowy persona. Despite the danger and stakes of his mission, he remains capable of displays of kindness and of wryness. The cracks in his emotional armor make him both vulnerable to reprisals and serve to strengthen him at the darkest of hours.

One could argue, in the wide-ranging mythos spanning 80 years of stories now — Batman is the ultimate essence of a hero. He is entirely self-determined. In his actions to retreat from the world, from his easy life of ready wealth, he works towards something greater than himself. No one pushes him to this. There is no single moment of clarity, or a mentor solely plying him for this path. There is a childhood tragedy, and an environment in Gotham of a slow and steady suffering amongst a people at the hands of human darkness. In adulthood, after years of travels and trials, and a final defiance against his most affecting allies in the League, Bruce returns to Gotham changed and ready to begin his work. Despite his vast resources, the character inherent to Bruce Wayne as a person forces him into this aspirational path of vigilante justice. In his own way, by himself, he makes the choice to try and make a difference. And then, he proceeds to devote all his time and energy into becoming the most effective vessel possible for that designed difference — heart, body and soul. He comes back to Gotham City and becomes “Batman.” He becomes that ‘legend.’

What could be more dramatic to the everyman, so full of apathy and the constancy of tedium and of suffering, then the goddamned Batman? Batman is as dramatic as it gets. Incorruptible, everlasting. Indestructible. {Both in the fiction and out of it. Batman stories will likely never, ever end.} He is one man, carried by self-discipline and an iron will, taking on the corrupting shadows of an entire city. Such a decision to forge this persona, made with efficacy from a truly competent person {Bruce Wayne whips ass}, carries with it the possibility to change the paradigm within a community. The everyman rises up to champion the Batman. And those he hunts, the enterprises he crusades against, fear for their ventures and the continuance of their creature comforts with him now stalking their steps. The everyman changes because he bears witness to the indestructibility of justice. The criminal changes because he wishes to survive the swing of the coming hammer of justice. The everyman improves themselves out of an appreciation, out of admiration, out of allegiance to the Batman’s cause. The criminal improves themselves to try their hand at taking out the Batman, to prove out the fallibility of society and its injustice, and to bask in the glory of their ultimate rival’s blood. Or more fortuitously, the criminal changes by casting away the crimes.

Either way, the Batman’s actions cultivate change. These changes are along the lines that Bruce sets out to achieve.

And despite all his devotion, Bruce is mortal. One goon with a gun always poses a threat. A broken bone can lay the Bat low. Bruce is not indestructible. So these changes within the community do matter. As we see in The Dark Knight trilogy, in order for the symbol of Batman to be everlasting, the mantle must eventually be passed on. Bruce’s devotion might be immortal, but his body isn’t. Such a transition requires one equal to the task. And alas, this passage of personnel is no easy task. The Batman, and his legend, must itself change in order to continue its good work against the shadows of Gotham.

~

Meditating on Batman makes one consider how they might cultivate their own actions borne of a dramatic character. In a meta-sense, Bruce Wayne isn’t only providing a paragon of justice to the citizenry of Gotham. To the reader or watcher of Batman fiction, he provides a different sort of dramatic example — of self-determination, self-discipline, self-understanding. What can you not currently see yourself as, but you are entirely capable of becoming? How might you make something of yourself? Why might you make the grand effort to transcend your self? There’s only one way to find out the truth of such matters. {Answer: Do it.}

Batman sets an exemplar for such transformations. Batman shows what one may become given the singular devotion to an ideal. We carry a capacity for grand feats, despite being human, being mortal. All it takes is zeal — and an ideal we can be passionate about. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual powers deliver to us practically limitless energy to cast forth unto our environments and into our companions. It’s up to us to direct these energies towards our passionate ends. If we do, we might just deign to become the Batman of our own singular denouement, with a mission to change those around us and shake them out of their apathy.

In a deeper meta-sense, in consideration of my own writing, here and all elsewhere, I tend to write dramatically. This is both conscious and unconscious. Often my writing can be verbose, lofty, idealistic and even exaggerative and embellishing, depending on your perspective. I think of it as aspirational {even ravishing}. There’s a point to this. I am trying to write my own aspirations into existence within these pages. I am attempting to concretely organize my ideals into forceful cogency via the best, most aptly dramatic language available to me. I cannot think of a better way to thrust someone {me} out of apathy than with words and ideas that are endeavoring to be transcendent, to form something beyond expectation, to inspire the reader and writer alike towards something grander than the sole self.

In my writing, and everywhere else within my life, I am ever seeking change. I aim to move myself and others with meaning in words and actions. This is the ‘dramatic example’ I am setting out to establish.

What about you? ~