As I write this, I’m enjoying The Dark Knight Rises, by far my favorite Batman movie. I’ve written a little before about how Batman is such a great metaphor for fighting our illnesses, and this movie just proves the idea further.
Towards the end, Bruce is stuck into a pit – a jail supposed to be in a Middle Eastern country that no one can escape due to the nature of it being a pit. People can make the climb with a rope to hold them while they fail and fall back down into the pit.
It’s not ideal for anyone to escape, let alone Bruce in the state he arrives to the pit in. His body is broken literally, with vertebrae sticking out of his back. Other bones are broken and cartilage is missing from his knees and elsewhere.
He tries a number of times and fails, until a doctor gives him the advice that he must fear death again. In order to do this, he must climb without the rope – meaning if he fails, he will perish.
Bruce accomplishes his task, doing all of this while training his body to do this.
Eventually he makes it back to Gotham, fighting Bane who he eventually does incapacitate, leading to this great line from Bane: “I broke you. How have you come back?”
The whole exchange between Bane and Bruce/Batman is not unlike that I’ve had with my illnesses. I have fought hard, exhausting myself against something I cannot beat. I have been broken and down, having to learn how to do things all over again and – once again – starting PT with the very basics. I have climbed out of my own jail pit and returned stronger to fight my foe.
That doesn’t mean I always have a Batman mentality with these illnesses. Sometimes, with my anxiety, depression, and PTSD especially, I hear the negatives about myself. I tell myself how horrid I am, how unworthy I am of the things I’ve participated in. My mental health issues convince me that they are the necessary evil, that they like Bane are here to liberate me from believing in false idols.
It’s amazing the parallels one can find with Batman stories and our illnesses.
Here are a few of the others quotes from this particular film that resonated with me:
Bruce Wayne: Why didn’t you just… kill me?
Bane: You don’t fear death… You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe.
Bruce Wayne: Torture?
Bane: Yes. But not of your body… Of your soul.
Bruce Wayne: Where am I?
Bane: Home, where I learned the truth about despair, as will you. There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth… Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy… So simple… And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to “stay in the sun.” You can watch me torture an entire city and when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny… We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die
Bane: Ah, yes… I was wondering what would break first… Your spirit, or your body?
John Blake/Robin: Not a lot of people know what it feels like to be angry, in your bones. I mean, they understand, foster parents, everybody understands, for awhile. Then they want the angry little kid to do something he knows he can’t do, move on. So after awhile they stop understanding. They send the angry kid to a boys home. I figured it out too late. You gotta learn to hide the anger, practice smiling in the mirror. It’s like putting on a mask.