Most superhero movies are absolutely terrible. Some guy gets magical powers because of some weird occurrence and eventually, he uses these powers to fight a bad guy. Most of the time these powers are fantastical and not real at all. This is where Batman, especially in the Dark Knight trilogy, differentiates. This superhero looks real, he’s got his ‘powers’ through hard work and training, they didn’t just fall from the sky.
Batman is a hero everyone can be like because his powers and his status come from something that is attainable in the real world through hard work.
This is something that has always made Batman relatable and makes you feel like he could be real.
Most of the Batman movies in the late 1900s were not that good and pretty fantastical, you knew that this wouldn’t be possible at all in real life.
But then came the first movie of the Dark Knight trilogy by Christopher Nolan, and it showed a version of Batman that was realistic and could exist in the real world.
The hero arc Batman goes through in these movies would apply to any person who’d want to be extraordinary:
The arch of finding yourself and your purpose, facing adversity and making yourself tougher, then using this tougher self to do good and help people, once you’re on top you become complacent and fall off, and after that, you can choose to rise again.
For any successful person, in one way or another, this is their life path.
Every movie from this trilogy has a main theme that can be summarized in one word.
For Batman Begins it is fear, for The Dark Knight chaos, and for The Dark Knight Rises it is pain.
I’m going to talk about each of these themes in depth in these 3 blogs.
In this blog I’ll start with the first movie: Batman Begins. I’m going to talk about the main subject and 5 lessons you can extract from this movie that you can directly apply to your own life.
The main subject: Fear.
The topic of this movie is fear and everything in the movie is centered around it. It’s obviously about bruce wayne being afraid, overcoming his own fears, and using fear as a tool to scare criminals. But there are even a lot more layers of fear inside this movie:
In the beginning, a fear-inducing toxin is used on bruce wayne to bring out and exacerbate his fears, this toxic is later weaponized by Crane to terrorize Gotham and destroy the city through fear.
Bruce’s fear starts with him falling down a pit, when a swarm of bats flies out of a pit which scares the hell out of little Bruce, who hereby becomes afraid of bats. Then when he goes to an opera show with his parents, the dancing actors remind him of flying bats, which freak him out. As a result of this, he asks his father if they could leave, which ends up in both of his parents getting killed.
As a result, he believes his parent's death was his fault. He feels that if he wasn’t afraid none of this would have happened, which contributes to him wanting to overcome his fears and becoming Batman, but only later on.
After he finds himself one on one with Falcone, he notices that he is afraid of the criminal mind. Falcone explains to him that it is what you don’t understand that you’ll always fear. This hits Bruce and he goes on a trip around the world to better understand the criminal mind, which makes him end up in the monastery of Rahs al Ghul, training with the League of Shadows.
After he had purged all of his own fears and understood what he was up against, he returned to Gotham to use fear on his opponents, which are Gotham's criminals. He does this in the form of what he feared the most, bats.
So now that we understand what the topic of the movie is and how it relates to Batman, let’s go into what you can learn from this movie, starting with the importance of facing your fears.
“What you really fear is inside of you.” ~ Rah’s Al Ghul
1 Face your fears.
Bruce was afraid, and he felt like his fear cost him the life of his parents. He never forgave himself for this and promised himself to face his fears, so nothing like that could ever happen again.
You need to do the same thing.
Growth is always beyond fear, you need to face that fear and overcome it to become a better version of yourself.
You also can’t put others in jeopardy, or withhold your ability to save others, just because you are afraid. Let me tell you, you’re not going to be able to live with yourself when your wife dies because you were too afraid to protect her from an armed robber. Maybe your chances of winning are low, but that doesn’t mean that you should stand there and do nothing. Fear is going to make you freeze, and we have to prevent that from happening.
Everything worth something in life involves risk, whether you like it or not. Taking risks is always going to be scary, you’re going to feel fear, especially in the beginning.
Therefore it’s important that you overcome your fears by facing them head-on, and discovering that you don’t have to be afraid of them. Most of the time, beyond this fear, is something more amazing than you could’ve ever imagined.
If you want to know more about how to overcome fear, read this blog that tells you the 3 strategies you can use to purge any fear (Link).
“To manipulate the fear in others, you must first master your own.”
2 Discover your purpose
When Bruce went back to Gotham, he knew his purpose in life, he knew what he had to do.
His purpose was to step into the shoes of his parents and save Gotham from all the criminality and corruption.
Now Batman was his only purpose, it became the real him, the actual facade was now the ‘real’ Bruce Wayne that he showed to the world.
His unwavering feeling of purpose made him able to withstand all of the pain necessary to do the things he had to do to save Gotham, he was able to give it his all because it was what he was supposed to do.
You must also acquire a similar feeling of unwavering purpose, something that wakes you up every single morning, ready to get after it. This purpose has to be something made for you, it’s something deeply personal and based on your inclinations. Your purpose is some larger ideal that you want to attain, that you’re willing to do anything for.
Your purpose could be raising your children, helping people with the work that you do, or saving the world. It doesn’t matter how large or small this purpose is, as long as it is yours.
Humans are goal-oriented creatures, we’re always working towards some type of goal with everything we do.
When you’re reading a book, you want to become more knowledgeable or just entertain yourself. When you’re doing martial arts or going to the gym, you want to become stronger and more capable of violence.
Even when people are going to the club, the goal is to enjoy themselves, get hammered, or pick up some girls.
There’s always a goal you want to reach for everything you do, there’s always a reason for every choice you make.
You need to find this clear reason for why you are here, what you want to do, and what you want to dedicate your life to.
Having a purpose is one of the most important aspects missing in most of us today. You just wake up every morning, not wanting to go to work, doing a job you don’t like for the entire day, and after that coming home and putting some bullshit on the TV.
This type of life is extremely depressing, and it is very common, which explains the increasing rates of depression perfectly.
You need to avoid this work repeat die cycle by finding your purpose and working towards it every single day.
You have to get excited when you think about it, and you need to extract energy from that purpose.
Funny how energy is not physical but mental.
Pay attention to your energy levels when you’ve found your purpose, you’ll notice they are through the roof, even though you haven’t changed anything physically.
For instance, Napoleon had this.
He would work day and night, barely getting any sleep, and still feeling more energized than any normal person. Why? Because he had this unwavering purpose of conquering the world and he needed all of the energy he could get to accomplish this, so his mind provided his body with that energy.
Your purpose is the most important thing you’re going to discover in your life. It’s the thing that wakes you up in the morning and provides you with the positive energy that is required to reach your goals. Without it, you’re just a feather in the wind, letting life blow you from place to place, instead of taking control and deciding where you’re going to go.
3 Your moral code goes above everything.
When Bruce Wayne is asked to execute a man as a punishment for the crimes he committed, he refuses, because he finds it morally wrong to kill a man after a wrongdoing and not give him a chance to better his life.
Maybe this is because he can identify with this man, which goes back to earlier in the movie. After the murderer of his parents is on trial, Bruce decides he wants to take revenge by shooting the murderer of his parents. Eventually, he fails in doing that, but what bothers him is that he found himself capable of doing such horrible things. He didn’t know he could stoop that low. This is why he has a very strong moral code later in the movie, because he doesn’t want to experience that feeling of shame again.
Common morality is a thing that is lost in Western cultures nowadays. Because of our previous religious ties and society being underpinned by the rules of religion, morals were taught to everyone and were seen as the standard, that was then.
Because, perhaps, of atheism, these religious values don’t carry that much weight anymore. They’re just rules pulled out of an old book full of stories right? They don’t have any significant meaning, we can just do what we want.
And see where that’s gotten us. Corruption is everywhere, people have become so individualistic that they don’t even know the names of their own neighbors, and betrayal and snakery are seen as something that is not preferred but relatively common.
You need to be different. Like Batman, you need a sense of moral justice. A separation between right and wrong, a hard line that you are not willing to cross, not a line in the sand that you can just blow further anytime it’s convenient.
4 You need adversity to become the best version of yourself
Bruce Wayne didn’t become Batman because he was a spoiled brat, he didn’t become a superhero because everything was just given to him. No, he faced great deals of adversity, some just because of circumstances, like the death of his parents, some self-inflicted, like living amongst criminals and training with the League of Shadows.
Bruce Wayne went through some hard things, which eventually made him stronger. It made him more used to adversity and tough situations, which meant he could better navigate these hard times and make the most of them.
“The more water the higher the boat rises,” is a Japanese saying that illustrates this point perfectly.
The more adversity you face, the higher you will rise and the better you’ll become.
For every big accomplishment you want to reach, there is also going to be a big sacrifice and probably also a big risk. You’re going to have to pull yourself through this adversity if you want to achieve these things and become the better version of yourself.
It’s also a matter of adapting yourself to adversity because it’s going to come your way no matter what. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, bad things are going to happen in your life, and at least a few times really bad things are going to happen.
If you’re not used to adversity and only experience comfort your entire life, you’ll crumble when adversity comes your way. You won’t be ready for the hard blows life is going to deal you and this could have extremely negative consequences for you.
To prevent this from happening, you need to expose yourself to more adversity.
So not only because more adversity most likely equals bigger rewards, but also because you’ll be more ready for when something bad happens. If you’re already used to adversity and discomfort, when something bad, or even really bad happens, it doesn’t hit as hard, especially because you’re always going to compare that event to what previously happened, if the adversity gap is not that wide between the level of adversity you’re accustomed to and the bad event, then you’ll be way better to deal with it than if you hadn’t faced adversity ever before.
5 Don’t do it to impress others, do it for yourself and to help others.
Bruce Wayne leads a double life, he separates himself from his billionaire persona, the charismatic businessman and playboy, and Batman, the person dressed up as a bat fighting criminals at night. He would have gotten a whole lot more attention and admiration if he just told everyone that he was Batman or just beat criminals up without a mask, but he didn’t choose to do that, Why?
Well first, because he wants to protect the ones close to him, and it compromises them and him by making himself a target for his opponents, which makes him more vulnerable. It also adds to the mystique of Batman, no one knowing who he really is, not being able to find him, and not being able to get any leverage over him, which makes him almost untouchable.
But he doesn’t reveal his name, or tell who he is because of one simple reason:
He doesn’t need the recognition. He just does it because it is the right thing to do, not because he wants to receive praise from others. This is beautifully summarized in the final two lines of the movie.
James Gordan asks him a rhetorical question trying to express his gratitude, “I never said thank you.” To which Batman replies: “And you’ll never have to.” (this dynamic is found in each of the Dark Knight movies) This shows the utter selflessness of Batman, he just does it because he knows it’s the right thing to do.
Not because he is superior, but because he knows he is the only person capable of doing these things.
Pride is a sin, they say, though I would counter that and say that having pride is extremely important, but it can be misinterpreted. It’s not about being proud of yourself specifically but wanting to show this to the world and flaunting yourself, feeling like you’re better than other people, and boasting about this imaginary fact.
That’s not how I see real pride. Real pride is about being proud of yourself, of what you’ve done and accomplished, to yourself. It’s the feeling you have about yourself which also gives you a feeling of fulfillment.
It's important that you do it for yourself, for you to feel proud inside of yourself, not for other people to say you’re amazing just to satisfy your fragile ego.
A stable ego never needs to hear other people telling him how great he is, because he knows in his heart that he is doing the right thing, that he is being a good person, and that is good enough for him.
It doesn’t matter what other people say about you, whether it’s good or bad. If you feel deep inside your heart that you’re a good person doing the right thing, that’s all that matters.
Then the opinions of others are just noise.
“It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”