Batman: A Modern Hero
"If Hero means sincere man, why may not every one of us be a Hero?” (Thomas Carlyle). In the youth of many, comics and heroes played an important aspect in most of our lives. Growing up most children in the United States and around the world has cherished their comic books and cartoons that demonstrate their favorite heroes courage and self-sacrifice in the face of danger and adversity. Joseph Campbell, in book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, describes his idea of the monomyth. His proposal states every hero, including Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, goes through 17 stages in their journey. By investigating the plot line of a popular superhero multi-million dollar movie, Batman Begins, we will discover the heart of the monomyth outline.
The film opens up with Bruce Wayne as a child stealing an Indian arrow from his friend, Rachel, and almost immediately falling into a feebly covered well. After the fall into the cave, a swarm of bats fly out and surround the terrified boy. This scene plays a huge impact on Bruce’s origins of becoming Batman. As with most heroes, some sort of tragedy or life changing incident happens at a young age. Besides the ‘bat incident’, watching the murder of his parents places a life-changing shift in his life and his way of thinking. As a young man of 21 or 22, Bruce (Christian Bale) confronts his own desire to commit murder when the killer of his parents is released on parole; he does not commit the act, but only because the killer is gunned down in front of him. Rachel (Katie Holmes), now a lawyer, takes him to the underside of Gotham where he gets to see the face of true criminality; after that, he sets out on a journey to learn about the criminal mind (Jones, Paul). This new awareness of crime in Gotham is the first stage in Joseph Campbell’s pattern, the Call to Adventure. Bruce takes off on a seven-year exploration, exploring prisons and criminal masterminds. It is during his travels he is approached by Henri Ducard to join Ras al Ghul and the League of Shadows, and is taught to serve true justice and fight evil. Here he learns to manipulate the fear of others by mastering his own. At this point is where the second step comes to light. After Bruce’s training is complete, he is asked to kill a man for stealing. His rejection of committing murder is in a way a Refusal of the Call. He in fact is not refusing the need to fight justice, but is refusing the ways of the League of Shadows and in turn becomes a true hero.
Returning home to Gotham Bruce states to his Butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), he will “become a symbol, a dramatic example that is incorruptible and everlasting”. It is here Alfred becomes an aid to Bruce by helping him prepare and watch for his protection. This protective figure in Bruce’s life is yet another step in the monomyth. After returning to Gotham and his father’s company, Wayne Enterprise, he begins to work with Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman). Lucious also becomes an aid in Bruce’s life as Batman. His offer of special tools propels Batman’s ability to fly and overcome normal human capabilities.
Bruce Crosses the First Threshold by taking Batman to the streets of Gotham. He approaches a good and honest cop by the name of Gordon to get information on Carmine Falcone, who is the leader over Gotham City's organized crime. Here Bruce announces himself to the people and begins his double identity. Also included in Crossing the First Threshold is his ability to save Rachel from getting mugged and murdered. During this time, Batman goes through the belly of the whale, facing some issues with his human identity and also malfunctions with the bat suit and tools. Through these lessons Batman grows stronger and gains needed improvements to help fight crime and continue onto the road of trials. The Road of Trials involves many scenes of fighting crime and casting fear into the criminals and corrupts in...
Cited: Batman Begins. Dir. Christopher Nolan. 2005. Warner Bros. DVD.
Carlyle, Thomas. “Quotes.” Book Rags. GlamFamily, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2011. .
Jones, Paul M. “Batman Begins.” Paul M. Jones. Word Press, 21 June 2005. Web. 13 Mar. 2011. .
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