Batman, Morrison and Christianity

Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think this is the only way to view Morrison's Batman, in fact I'm not even endorsing this theory, this is just some stuff I thought up while I was mowing the lawn and mulling Batman Inc over. If you enjoy it; great, if not; no harm, no foul :) 


 
A common view of Batman Inc is that Morrison is using the symbol and mythos behind the "Bat" concept to show that Batman is not just one man, and is in fact a legacy all its own, leaving the audience with the idea that Batman isn't just Bruce Wayne. This contention however, is not necessarily accurate. It is important to note that Bruce Wayne is the creator of Batman, the symbol and the ideal. Batman is a concept of a masked human, using ingenuity, intelligence and physical prowess using fear as a means of dispensing non-lethal vigilante justice. In this respect, Batman can be anyone capable of addressing the above criteria, however, Morrison's Batman also lends itself to another interpretation; Bruce Wayne is not Batman. 
 
He is the Bat-God. 
 
"Parting is such sweet sorrow, dearest. Still, you can't say we didn't show you a good time. Enjoy yourself out there... in the asylum. Just don't forget -- if it ever gets too tough... there's always a place for you here." - The Joker.
The term "Bat-God" is used in most fan-circles in a snide manner regarding Bruce Wayne's ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. But Morrison, as he is prone to do, has been building on this idea for some time; in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth; Bruce journeys through a hell while being assaulted both physically and psychologically.
Eventually, he is pierced through the left side with a spear by a monstrous creature (Killer Croc), as well as having his palms cut resembling stigmata, and then reaches his destination worn and damaged. Bruce's struggle is juxtaposed with the agony Jesus Christ suffered (as is evident when a tired Bruce leans against a painting of Christ), and also the human temptations He encountered. Bruce is offered a reprieve from this Hell by the Joker, to accept madness and insanity and leave at home with the inmates of Arkham.
In this regard, Bruce is offered a place on a lower plane if he accepts an easier life of Insanity (taking the place of Sin as a concept for Jesus). Jesus could have remained unmolested on the Earthly plane had he not confessed himself as the Son of God and been without sin. Bruce is essentially offered freedom from pain and despair, if he renounces his ideals. But he does not do so, he continues as a Knight of Faith, much in the vain of Abraham of the Old Testament. He continues on in his quest, relying solely on his Faith in himself and the good inherent in humanity to see him through. His Faith is ultimately rewarded as Two-Face, despite all apparent reason to do the contrary, allows Bruce to leave. Bruce, much like Abraham, had his Faith rewarded.
 
 
 
"I have fouled Paradise beyond repair and broken in the mire the shining cities of the Gods! I have won! Is this vanity? Then I will remake the entire universe in the image of my soul, Desaad. And when at last I turn to look upon the eternal desolation I have wrought...I will see Darkseid, as in a mirror....and know what fear is." - Darkseid
 This leads to the next area for examination; the Symbol of the Bat. Much as the crucifix is the symbol for the Christian Faith, the Bat has become the symbol for the
philosophy of Bruce Wayne. With regard to this symbol, Bruce eventually uses it to destroy the embodiment of Sin himself; Darkseid. Much as Jesus died on the Cross for the
sins of humanity, the Bat strikes down the evil before him and is sentenced to "the life that is death". Darkseid had become all humanity, and it wallowed without a consciousness within his Unholy Church.
Batman, using the weapon fueled by the gods themselves, stands before Evil incarnate, and kills it, ultimately "dying" himself. Bruce sacrifices his own "life" in order to rid humanity and the world of Sin. 
And much like Jesus himself, Bruce is "resurrected", and immediately expels the taint of the evil from his body; effectively returning to him to purity; a pure Bat. Bruce's resurrection is no small feat, he travels throughout human history; confronting evil and surviving as he is further solidified as the Ultimate Human; a being beyond regular humanity, as a being to aspire to.   
  
"Did I finally reach the limits of reason? And find the Devil waiting? And was that fear in his eye?" - Batman.
 Before encountering Sin/Evil, Bruce battled the "Devil", Doctor Hurt. Besting Hurt the first time, Bruce is cursed and destined to die the next time he adopts the symbol of the Bat. However, Hurt returns and wreaks havoc on Gotham "possessing" most of its citizens with a "plague". The Devil sends Gotham into Rapture, the Holy are safe in their Heaven (the Watchtower, where their Savior is risen again). Eventually, Hurt defeats Batman (Dick Grayson) and Robin (Damian Wayne), Emissaries of the Bat, only to lose when the seemingly immortal force of good conquers the Devil himself. Rising from the depths, not alone, with a soon-to-have Holy Army of Batmen (Inc), Bruce Wayne returns to combat evil and the Devil, and when he does so; what is he called?
 
The creator of a Symbol; the Commander of a Holy Army, a sacrificial being that destroyed Sin, the incorruptible warrior, the enemy of the Devil himself; Bruce Wayne has become more than the Batman, he is the Bat-God. 
 
And what does the Bat say to the Devil?
#1 Posted by Stuka69 (117 posts) - - Show Bio

Everything can be,  and too often is explained from religious VP. If you wanna see Bruce Wayne as Jesus H. Christ, by all means, whatever get´s you thru the night... 

#2 Posted by SC (13227 posts) - - Show Bio

Great, well written and interesting thread/points. 

Moderator
#3 Posted by cattlebattle (12986 posts) - - Show Bio

It's funny you wrote this beacause I often think Morrisons work, no matter who he is writing for, always has some allusions to religion. It's almost like his style or something, didn't he writ All Star Superman, didn't Superman have to go through trials, and was generally revealed to be a god essentially himself in the end, thats another story however, good post

#4 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio
@Stuka69: Yes, that's true, but Morrison himself has stated the allusion exists. But you know, if ignoring that helps you sleep at night.
 
@SC
Thanks =]
@cattlebattle
Yeah, Morrison is very fond of Superman being a Christ/God-like being.
#5 Posted by xscarletkittie (594 posts) - - Show Bio

Very interesting read. Well thought out. I can't say I ever got into Morrison's Batman run (excluding Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, really liked that book), but your analysis has definitely piqued my interest.

#6 Edited by Stuka69 (117 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt: Well, hot damn, now that you have proven so eloquently that Bruce Wayne is in fact a " Knight of Faith, much in the vain of Abraham of the Old Testament" and " Much as the crucifix is the symbol for the Christian Faith, the Bat has become the symbol for the  philosophy of Bruce Wayne. With regard to this symbol, Bruce eventually uses it to destroy the embodiment of Sin himself; Darkseid. Much as Jesus died on the Cross for the  sins of humanity" , I`ll just take your word that Morrison´s Batman is in fact a christian parable. Or not. Shit, superhero comics have allways drawn ispiration from myths, fables and religion, but you might want to be bit more careful when stating that Batman reprisents your own particular brand of religion...And, yeah, deliver the Morrison quote, please.
#7 Posted by Fatal (2072 posts) - - Show Bio

That was a very well thought out analysis and a great read.

#8 Edited by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio
@xscarletkittie: Morrison's Batman is great. This was not a comprehensive look at all, I mostly just wanted to write something. But yeh, give his pre-Inc stuff a shot (from Batman and Son to R.I.P), you'll (hopefully) not be disappointed =]
@Fatal: Thank you, glad you enjoyed it :)
 
@Stuka69 said:

@FadeToBlackBolt: Well, hot damn, now that you have proven so eloquently that Bruce Wayne is in fact a " Knight of Faith, much in the vain of Abraham of the Old Testament" and " Much as the crucifix is the symbol for the Christian Faith, the Bat has become the symbol for the  philosophy of Bruce Wayne. With regard to this symbol, Bruce eventually uses it to destroy the embodiment of Sin himself; Darkseid. Much as Jesus died on the Cross for the  sins of humanity" , I`ll just take your word that Morrison´s Batman is in fact a christian parable. Or not. Shit, superhero comics have allways drawn ispiration from myths, fables and religion, but you might want to be bit more careful when stating that Batman reprisents your own particular brand of religion...And, yeah, deliver the Morrison quote, please.


Charming. Firstly, you ought to notice that at the top I said this was just an interpretation that struck me while gardening, and that I wasn't endorsing it, it was your decision to be obnoxious. 
 
It's not a quote, it's a scan from his Arkham book where Bruce is literally leaning on a painting of Jesus Christ, and the above examples from the same book. Additionally, Morrison loves to flood his comics with religious imagery, these are just the examples that, as a Christian, stuck out to me. But hey, continue being rude, it's really endearing.
#9 Posted by Tron007 (7 posts) - - Show Bio

well dude I am big Fan of  batman :) i really nice batman comics :)

#10 Posted by rogue_mar1e (19833 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice blog love, very interesting !

#11 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio
@rogue_mar1e: Thanks, love ^_____^
#12 Posted by TheBatman586 (6316 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice analysis, half that stuff I would never have even realized.

#13 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio
@TheBatman586: I'm glad you enjoyed/got something from it =]
#14 Posted by MrUnknown (1700 posts) - - Show Bio

Very interesting theory. But I guess pretty much any Batman story would have him comparing to a Christ like figure, you know as an incorruptible do gooder, etc. but Morrison utilizes it to full extent.

#15 Posted by Stuka69 (117 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt said:
@xscarletkittie: Morrison's Batman is great. This was not a comprehensive look at all, I mostly just wanted to write something. But yeh, give his pre-Inc stuff a shot (from Batman and Son to R.I.P), you'll (hopefully) not be disappointed =]
@Fatal: Thank you, glad you enjoyed it :)
 
@Stuka69 said:

@FadeToBlackBolt: Well, hot damn, now that you have proven so eloquently that Bruce Wayne is in fact a " Knight of Faith, much in the vain of Abraham of the Old Testament" and " Much as the crucifix is the symbol for the Christian Faith, the Bat has become the symbol for the  philosophy of Bruce Wayne. With regard to this symbol, Bruce eventually uses it to destroy the embodiment of Sin himself; Darkseid. Much as Jesus died on the Cross for the  sins of humanity" , I`ll just take your word that Morrison´s Batman is in fact a christian parable. Or not. Shit, superhero comics have allways drawn ispiration from myths, fables and religion, but you might want to be bit more careful when stating that Batman reprisents your own particular brand of religion...And, yeah, deliver the Morrison quote, please.

Charming. Firstly, you ought to notice that at the top I said this was just an interpretation that struck me while gardening, and that I wasn't endorsing it, it was your decision to be obnoxious.   It's not a quote, it's a scan from his Arkham book where Bruce is literally leaning on a painting of Jesus Christ, and the above examples from the same book. Additionally, Morrison loves to flood his comics with religious imagery, these are just the examples that, as a Christian, stuck out to me. But hey, continue being rude, it's really endearing.
@FadeToBlackBolt: So, now I am rude? Because I dont see very strong merit in your analysis of Batman as a christian parable? And you dont have that Morrison Quote, huh? Strange, considering that you wrote " Morrison himself has stated the allusion exists"! Is there, or is there not a Morrison quote that supports your interpretation of Batman as a " Knight of Faith, much in the vain of Abraham of the Old Testament"?  
 
As an offering of a olive branch, I´ll say this; You have the absolute right to see anything you want in anything you want. And as you stated, as a christian certain things stuck out to you. Cool. I just find Morrison an odd choice for such a strong and biblical christian interpretation. Not saying that there is anything wrong with that, but to me it just seems bit farfetched considering the writer and his body of work. I am happy to continue this discussion with you, but I guess we are only couple posts away from discussing just the religion, and this is not the place for that. Again, interesting personal analysis, to wich I disagree (but could be wrong also). Just be careful not to mix your personal views and wishes with actual quotes. 
  
Let´s both have a good nights sleep, OK? 
 
And here is a actual quote from Morrison regarding christianity (the whole interview can be read at http://www.newsarama.com/comics/100831-Morrison-Superman8.html): 
 

NRAMA: On a personal level, you’ve explored all types of religions and philosophies in your work.  What is your take on religion and how it influences humanity, and the Christian take on Jesus Christ in particular?

GM: I think religion per se, is a ghastly blight on the progress of the human species towards the stars.  At the same time, it, or something like it, has been an undeniable source of comfort, meaning and hope for the majority of poor bastards who have ever lived on Earth, so I’m not trying to write it off completely. I just wish that more people were educated to a standard where they could understand what religion is and how it works. Yes, it got us through the night for a while, but ultimately, it’s one of those ugly, stupid arse–over–backwards things we could probably do without now, here on the Planet of the Apes.

Religion is to spirituality what porn is to sex. It’s what the Hollywood 3–act story template is to real creative writing.

Religion creates a structure which places “special,” privileged people (priests) between ordinary people and the divine, as if there could even be any separation: as if every moment, every thought, every action was not already an expression of  dynamic ‘divinity” at work.

As I’ve said before, the solid world is just the part of heaven we’re  privileged to touch and play with. You don’t need a priest or a holy man to talk to “god” on your behalf just close your eyes and say hello: “god” is no more, no less, than the sum total of all matter, all energy, all consciousness, as experienced or conceptualized from a timeless perspective where everything ever seems to present all at once. “God” is in everything, all the time and can be found there by looking carefully. The entire universe, including the scary, evil bits, is a thought “God” is thinking, right now.

As far as I can figure it out from my own reading and my own experience of how the spiritual world works, Jesus was, as they say, way cool: a man who achieved a state of consciousness, which nowadays would get him a diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy (in the days of the Emperor Tiberius, he was crucified for his ideas, today he’d be laughed at, mocked or medicated).

This “holistic” mode of consciousness (which Luthor experiences briefly at the end of All Star Superman) announces itself as a heartbreaking connection, a oneness, with everything that exists...but you don’t have to be Superman to know what that feeling is like. There are a ton of meditation techniques which can take you to this place. I don’t see it as anything supernatural or religious, in fact, I think it’s nothing more than a developmental level of human consciousness, like the ability to see perspective – which children of 4 cannot do but children of 6 can.

Everyone who’s familiar with this upgrade will tell you the same thing: it feels as if “alien” or “angelic” voices – far more intelligent, coherent and kindly than the voices you normally hear in your head – are explaining the structure of time and space and your place in it. 
This identification with a timeless supermind containing and resolving within itself all possible thoughts and contradictions, is what many people, unsurprisingly, mistake for an encounter with “God.”  However, given that this totality must logically include and resolve all possible thoughts and concepts, it can also be interpreted as an actual encounter with God, so I’m not here to give anyone a hard time over interpretation.

Some people have the experience and believe the God of their particular culture has chosen them personally to have a chat with. These people may become born–again Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, devotees of Shiva, or misunderstood lunatics.
Some “contactees” interpret the voices they hear erroneously as communications from an otherworldly, alien intelligence, hence the proliferation of “abduction” accounts in recent decades, which share most of their basic details with similar accounts, from earlier centuries, of people being taken away by “fairies” or “little people”.

Some, who like to describe themselves as magicians, will recognize the “alien” voice as the “Holy Guardian Angel”.

In timeless, spaceless consciousness, the singular human mind blurs into a direct experience of the totality of all consciousness that has ever been or will ever be. It feels like talking with God but I see that as an aspect of science, not religion.

As Peter Barnes wrote in “The Ruling Class”, “I know I must be God because when I pray to Him, I find I’m talking to myself.”

#16 Edited by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio
@Stuka69: Straight away I said that I didn't endorse this theory, it was just a musing. Your rudeness implicit in your condescending tone, that's all. I couldn't care less that you didn't like what I wrote.
 
And for the record Morrison is against Organised Religion, which is very different to Faith-based themes and even then, God can be represented through science. I'm not debating any of that.
 
Anyways, olive branch accepted, sorry if you felt I was vilifying you for not liking my post, that honestly wasn't my intention.
 
 
EDIT: Also, the Knight of Faith is an Existentialist ideal, not something that specifically refers to someone who believes in a God/god/gods.
#17 Posted by Samimista (20831 posts) - - Show Bio

I like how Morrison uses controversy in his work shows how a good bold writer he is.

#18 Posted by GTG12 (1575 posts) - - Show Bio

very good analysis.
#19 Posted by JonesDeini (3620 posts) - - Show Bio

Very nice read, folk. 

#20 Posted by Feliciano2040 (654 posts) - - Show Bio

Cool analysis.

#21 Posted by batman_is_god (1185 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt:  
F***in awesome article.
#22 Posted by sj_esposito (457 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt: This is quite an interesting viewpoint, although, I don't think it has any merit. To be honest, this is a long stretch at best. I haven't read Akham Asylum in a very long time, and I do remember reading it and kind of thinking about the imagery in the story. However, to extend that to the stuff with Darkseid, Dr. Hurt and Batman, Inc. is kind of unwarranted. 
 
If anything, Batman, Inc. is about Bruce coming to terms with his own humanity. It's about Bruce realizing that Batman is only as strong as he is, and that he won't be around, operating at peak levels for eternity. It's about Bruce realizing that his war on crime transcends his humanity, and the only way to match speed with that infinite battle is to reach out to others and spread his proverbial wings. A lot off people think that Inc. is about Bruce wanting to accelerate his progress in battling crime, and that taking things global is his way of expanding. But I don't think that's it, and I think by the time Inc. is finished, Morrison will reveal the true purpose of the globalization: it was done out of necessity. It was birthed from Bruce's coming to terms with his humanity, analyzing that weakness and turning it into a strength.
 
To compare the bat symbol to the crucifix isn't really merited either. The bat symbol is a symbol of fear. That's a fact. It's a symbol of Bruce's torment, his angst, and it is meant to strike that fear in the hearts of criminals. Now, I happen to believe the symbol of the crucifix was meant to instill fear in people as well, so in that case, yes, they're analogues. But that's not what you were talking about. 
 
And that brings us to his encounter with Darkseid. That, again, seems to be a very long stretch. Batman's sacrifice was important, but not for the reasons that you stated. It's important because it was Batman, using his humanity -- which is generally regarded as his greatest weakness -- to defeat a god like being. 
 
After some thought, I think Batman is exactly the opposite of everything that you think he is. He's a dark, twisted, tormented man saddled with a life of a never ending battle against an unbeatable force of human nature. He's limited by his own mortality and that alone. He is the furthest thing from a god that a character be. Yet, in the face of all this crippling humanity, Bruce Wayne manages to forge ahead, and as of recently -- especially due to Morrison's stories -- he's been able to use that humanity to further his mission. He is not a god, not a legend. He is but a man fighting crime, constantly looking for ways to persevere and claim further victories in his war. 
 
And let us not forget the question of motivation. It's central to Bruce's character, and it's a question that will continue to evolve and produce different answers to over the years. There is a very wide, expansive gap between the (possible) motivations of Bruce and those of Jesus of Nazareth. 
 
Also, you stated that "...   Faith-based themes and even then, God can be represented through science." This is a blatant lie. God cannot be represented through science, in fact, all empirical evidence points to exactly the opposite. Statements like that are an insult to science. 
 
NOTE: It is extremely hard to have intelligible, respectful debates over the internet for many reasons, not the least of which is that it's hard to convey tone via text. That said, I do not wish to come across disrespectful at all. I enjoyed your blog and applaud you for your analysis and the thought that you put into it. I realize that we can have differing views on Batman and what the stories mean or are trying to convey, and that your view point is your right. I'm merely arguing my viewpoints that I feel are more likely interpretations to the situations in question. 
#23 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio
@sEsposito7: I actually agree with you, regarding Batman and Christianity being separate, that actually wasn't what I was going for with my blog, and after seeing people's responses, I realised I wasn't clear at all. 
 
I didn't mean that Batman was analogous of Jesus Christ, but rather, that his adventures have taken on a meaning akin to the journey of Jesus and other Messianic figures. I was trying to say that Bruce's Batman Inc was almost cult-like, the Jesus/Christianity comparison was just the easiest example to illustrate the point. Batman is the "Messiah" of his own "Religion" in Batman. Does that make a bit more sense? =]
 
At no point did I want to take away from Batman's humanity. Thanks for the response :)
#24 Posted by sj_esposito (457 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt: I think there's a point to be made in what you've said. However, I think people think of Jesus as not merely being a messianic man, but a god-man -- that's where I have to say the comparison is a poor one. But, if that's really not were you were going for, then I get it more now.
#25 Posted by lykopis (10746 posts) - - Show Bio

I read this before but didn't comment (I know, I know -- bad reader, BAD) but now as I am perusing your blogs and fan fics, just wanted to point out how interesting I did find this and I appreciate the manner in which you presented your musings. I am an atheist but my knowledge of Christianity and it's ideas surrounding the devil and whatnot was well served here.

Well done.

#26 Posted by RedOwl_1 (1664 posts) - - Show Bio

I've thought about it but only at Batman Inc. where Leviathan is the devil, Batman at the position of God: Give your son (Jesus) or Gotham (the world) will die... and before getting to that point Batman gathered people to fight at his side (phophets) at the end the son will choose to give himself up but will rise (resurect) upon the devil... or sumthing like that o3o

Also I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so (I thought my mom religiousness was affecting me :P)

#27 Posted by JSH92 (417 posts) - - Show Bio

Meh...honestly I prefer to just think of Batman as a really good vigilante and one of the world's greatest detectives.

#28 Posted by Shipster360 (46 posts) - - Show Bio

that was one of the most brilliant things i have read. even if its not true by Morrison's standards I will be sharing this theory whenever I discuss Morrison's run with people.

#29 Posted by FatihBATMAN (1389 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheBatman586 said:

Nice analysis, half that stuff I would never have even realized.

me neither

#30 Posted by chasereis (794 posts) - - Show Bio

Not surprising about the "god" part with Morrison, as he has stated that he has had face-to-face time with many "gods" and told to pass this "message" on. Maybe he is just bat-sh** crazy? Lulz, all good fun.

#31 Posted by rolldestroyer (3508 posts) - - Show Bio

great analysis, im actually surprised and very impressed how well you've put this together

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