I was watching Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight today and I came across my favorite quotation from the film:
“Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”
The message that comes through, if you watch the film, is that Batman (played by Christian Bale) finally realizes that he can fulfill a role beyond what he had previously conceived. He wanted to create a symbol to inspire Gotham City and had to confront that doing this had consequences. His persona as Batman, making a symbol manifest (the signified Justice and Good finding expression in the signifier of Batman), had reverberations, consequences: The Joker and criminal reaction that cost Harvey Dent (and Bruce Wayne/Batman) Rachel Dawes.
This quotation is the moment when Batman realizes, expressing to Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), that he has the ability to be what Gotham, what humanity needs, right then and there. He takes it upon himself, in what some might say is a Christ-like nature but is a common trope and motif of many cultures, the willing to sacrifice his name and reputation to preserve for Gotham a belief in what is good, in what it needs.
Gotham needs to believe in Harvey Dent. It needs to buy into his campaign slogan and believe in him because, as Batman states, “He was the best of us.” Batman wants to do what must be done to maintain Gotham’s belief that things are and will get better. He is willing to do this at the cost of himself and his mission.
Batman’s philosophical expression of faith over truth is a common one that people often deny. Philosophers, Theologians, and Scientists search for “Truth” but there are only a few things in this world that fall under “Truth” with a capital T. In Rhetoric, Truth with a capital “T” is not something up for debate. Rhetoric deals with “truths,” little “t” that are up for debate based on values. Values define what defines “truth” and its not always black and white.
If Truth, with a capital “T” was always at play, then Batman’s statement would be worthless…but it’s not. Comic books, as their movies can prove and often fall short, represent humanity. They represent our ideals, our beliefs, and our hopes for what may be, could be, and sometimes will be. People take it for granted, people overlook them, but far too often they have a power to convey ideas – allegorically or in social commentary – that resonates like thunder.
They speak to children, they speak to adults, and they reveal to us that “truth” sometimes isn’t good enough and that faith, belief, has a place in granting us a way out – a way to see the light of dawn that comes at the end of night.
Something to think about…