It’s been a rough summer for Colorado. The fires of June left their mark, a burn scar stretching up and over the mountainside looming above Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon fire was only one of several fires that burned throughout the state, yet it’s the one that garnered national attention because of the firestorm that swept down the mountainside on June 26th and into parts of the city. We are recovering from that. Some are rebuilding, others will not. We continue on with grim determination and the knowledge that sometimes this is the price you pay for having the views we do.
And then in mid-July, what should have been a fun and exciting night at the movies ended in the loss of 12 lives and the shattering of many more. The long awaited final piece to the Batman trilogy – The Dark Knight Rises – is now as scarred as the Rocky Mountains.
Oddly enough, if it were going to happen to any movie, this was the one best suited for it. Not because of the violence, or the dark and gritty texture of this incarnation of the Batman, but because if anything Batman teaches us how to pick ourselves up.
“Why do we fall, Master Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”
I’m not going to talk about gun control, or what could have been done to prevent this. I’m not going to talk about children at midnight showings except to mention my niece – who will be seven this November – is the same age as Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest victim of the shootings, and a huge Batman fan. I’m not even going to mention the name of the shooter, because I think it is best if we start a trend in this country where we immortalize the victims of such horrible acts rather than the perpetrators.
In fact, I want to talk about Batman. (bear with me though *laughs* I’m not an expert on this.)
As a hero, Batman is set apart from the other superheroes of comic book fame. He has no special powers, no unique ability. He is human. His strengths are his money and his intelligence. His passion is vengeance.
Or justice, depending on how you look at it.
Bruce Wayne, as Batman forces us to look at the darker side of heroism. He is both worshiped and reviled by the citizens of Gotham. Needed for doing the things they can’t bring themselves to, but feared for the exact same reason. He is the dark knight, without a doubt, his conviction sometimes blurred by his past.
However turned off some might be by the idea of vigilantism, Batman remains one of the most popular comic book heroes. Because we still feel, somewhere deep inside, that the law doesn’t always deliver the justice we seek.
This is real life though, not a comic book and we don’t have Batman.
We do have heroes. Who change this world in a thousand and one simple ways. Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves changed their girlfriend’s worlds – saving their lives at the cost of their own. Carli Richards saved her boyfriend’s life and her own by listening to her instincts and moving the second she smelled the tear gas.
First responders changed lives by their quick thinking, training, and self-sacrificing decisions. Christian Bale, who has done such a stunning job playing Batman in this trilogy, came to visit survivors and stand at the memorial. Even our Hollywood idols can be heroes.
“A hero can be anyone,” Bruce Wayne says toward the end of Dark Knight Rises, “Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.”