If you mention Batman to me, I'll be most likely to think of Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer or Geroge Clooney in the lead role. The Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher era are the Batman films I know best. Indeed, I'll never be able to forget the 1995 film Batman Forever with its baddie Twoface - given that a few days before seeing the film I ended up looking a bit like him, having come off my bike doing something stupid, having cut the face off myself!
For some reason, the newest version of Batman, starring Christian Bale had completely passed me by. Batman Begins came out in 2005, followed up by The Dark Knight in 2008, yet I didn't see either of them. I hadn't intended going to see The Dark Knight Rises, which was recently released, but that's where I ended up last weekend with my newly returned brother-in-law.
It probably put me at a disadvantage to just about everyone else in the cinema, as I didn't know the back story; couldn't immediately relate to what had gone before, but as the movie went on, I think I worked out most of it. I've now got both of the first two films to play catch-up, so don't give anything away in the comments!
So what did I make of it? Well, I was impressed by the film - a lot more realistic and less cartoonish than the previous series of Batman movies. The character portrayals were great, and there were a few twists and turns along the way. It was a long film, almost three hours, although it didn't feel like it at the time.
There were the big name stars - Michael Caine as the butler Alfred; Tom Hardy as the sometimes hard-to-make-out Bane; and perhaps the biggest surprise (at least to me, as she's normally only ever seen in those rom-coms) Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (Catwoman).
However, the scene that sticks out for me (SPOILER ALERT!), was where Bruce Wayne/Batman is in the pit prison 'Hell on Earth' and manages to escape by ascending the sheer walls and making the leap. You might not have noticed, but when he makes it to the top, he throws down the rope from the outside, which will enable all the other prisoners to be freed.
It's as if Batman, the Dark Knight, rises from the inescapable prison, the place of death, the place where there is no hope; and by his resurrection, he enables others to escape as well.
It seems that all of our stories are but echoes and faint re-tellings of THE story of our salvation; the whole world contains these resonances and longings for a superhero, a saviour, but to put our hope in a man in a costume will ultimately fail. There is a Saviour, and his name is Jesus.