The Redemptive Power of Batman

My husband and I are movie freaks. Our earliest dates were to on-campus movies in college. We’ll see all kinds of movies: romance, sci-fi, adventure, documentary, foreign, independent, animated, whatever. Since we live in a small town with limited cinematic offerings, our favorite way to spend a stolen weekend is to go to a city, get a bargain room, and see as many movies as we can. I believe our record for a three-day weekend is eight, which involved having popcorn for dinner. So of course we’ve been looking forward to the new "Batman" movie, both as summer fun and as Heath Ledger’s last finished performance on-screen. A movie reviewer on the radio caught my attention by stating that the long-awaited blockbuster presents such a bleak world view that it is not a bit redemptive. Hey, I thought, that’s our word. We have for several years now evaluated movies we see on a "redemptive" scale. I don’t actually remember how this started, or which one of us started it, but we often talk about the redemptive qualities of a movie or certain characters in it. My husband’s favorite redemptive movie is "The Spitfire Grill", while I am partial to "Dead Man Walking". It is a fascinating lens through which to see movies. While I agree that "Batman" is not a redemptive story for Batman himself, or for the psychopathic Joker so expertly played by Ledger, there is a plenty strong message of redemption during the movie. The good strive to do better, even against hopeless odds. Redemption is best personified in the unlikely bulk of a huge, scarface inmate in an orange jumpsuit, who, suffice it to say, does the right thing. Jesus has many faces. It’s a long movie, with crazy computer enhancements and a lot of unseen gore. But it definitely reads on our redemptive scale. Valerie Schultz

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