Spiritual Lessons from The Dark Knight Rises


WARNING: Spoilers!!  If you have not yet seen the movie, read at your own risk! I don’t want to be blamed for giving anything away!


Now, before we get into this… My heart goes out to everyone affected by what happened in Aurora. As the first attack scene happened, I couldn’t help but think of their fear. When the football stadium became hostage territory, I couldn’t help but think of their hurt. How far into the movie did it happen? I don’t know. Will they ever be able to watch it without anxiety? I don’t know. But as a blog from one of the survivors that night testifies, “God is always good. Man is not. Don’t get the two confused.”


In no particular order, here are some characters/moments that point to the Gospel:



  • Just like Joseph was brought out of a pit into a position of power to save God’s people during famine (Genesis 50:20)… the movie starts on Dent Day, celebrating the 8 years of peace they have had after years of crime and destruction. Unfortunately, this peace is about to be ripped from them, once again.



  • Born in Darkness: If we humbly understand our need for God, can’t we all admit we were born in darkness?


  • His mask masks the pain. How many of us live like this? Whether the mask is “good girl”… “nice guy”… “bad b_tch”… all our masks do is hide us from the pain, and hide others from truly seeing us.


Harvey Dent/Two-Face:

  • As the city remembers him, the legacy question has to be asked. How do you want to be remembered?? His legacy isn’t tarnished because Batman took the blame for his crimes. Is how you’re remembered more important than how you lived? While Jesus took the blame of your sins, will people remember you for choosing to live because of that pardon… or in spite of that pardon?


Commissioner Gordon:

  • When you don’t tell the truth, you allow others to shame you with it.


  • To Foley: Face your fears or hide in your house.


  • To Batman: People need to know who saved them.  His plea is to remove the mask before Batman’s death. Batman’s reply: “Hero” can be putting coat around a scared little boy telling him things wouldn’t always be like this.


Scarecrow in the role of a Judge:

  • You already ARE guilty… this is a sentencing hearing only.” The only two options for the sentencing hearing are exile from Gotham or death by hanging. “Exile” is, in fact, them being forced out onto the frozen river where the ice can give way at any moment. Though this happens in a twisted state of “martial law”, isn’t it what we will face after death? No time for evidence or witnesses. It will be our sentencing hearing only, for better or for worse.


John Blake:

  • Shield sometimes turns into shackles.


  • Iron sharpens iron: He calls out Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon.


  • Batman tells him the “Batman” is just a symbol – that anyone can take the role. While this set-up for a spin-off makes for a good concept of hero’s, it is important to remind ourselves that the Cross is not just a symbol… more than that, not just anyone could have taken that role.


  • Even in a moment of almost-certain death, he attempts to protect the orphan boys from as much pain as he possibly can.



  • Motivated by a “Clean Slate.” How many of us desire a clean slate from things in our past?? How many of us would want to re-create ourselves given the chance? See II Corinthians 5:17, Ezekiel 36:26.


  • To Batman: “You don’t owe them anything” – we need to remember this. God didn’t owe us anything… & we don’t owe our critics anything. There is always going to be someone that doesn’t approve of what you’re doing… or how you’re doing… or not doing it. As long as you are doing what your Father has asked of you, no one should have the ability to shake your confidence. It’s not that we don’t operate in love… but our only debt is to love one another (Romans 13:8).


  • Even those who do harm aren’t always doing it with harmful intentions. Don’t be so quick to judge those around you by their fruit. Ultimately, the overflow of the heart will show itself true. But in some cases, given the chance, we understand their heart is sweeter than their fruit let on…



  • Being Bruce Wayne’s most consistent support system, he wasn’t afraid to walk away. He didn’t want to co-sign on Bruce’s destructive behavior or enable him. But sharing his dream and being vulnerable allowed him to see his dream become a reality.


Bruce Wayne/Batman:

  • Duty v. Desire – we see him fight to come back to the rescue, but we get a glimpse into his psyche. He took the blame for Dent’s crimes, so his fans turned into the same people who wanted to “crucify” him. Does he want redemption? Or does he just feel obligated?


  • His loss paralyzes him. Because Rachel couldn’t move on, neither could he. Even after Alfred reveals the truth about Rachel, Bruce isn’t convinced. He cannot forgive, even if it is himself he needs to forgive.


  • Mentally & physically broken – reminding us wholeness cannot be achieved until the filth is gone. When Bane puts him in prison, for nearly 5 months, he tells him he wants to kill Batman’s soul first (having to watch the obliteration of Gotham) and then his body later. We need to be careful in our sin…. it will often kill our soul before it manifests in our physical.


  • Escape from the “Hell on Earth” prison. As Bruce attempts to escape out of the pit, he fails the first couple times. Don’t give up!! Be patient enough to stay with it, like Bruce. Don’t throw away your goal or dream at the first obstacle.


  • Rope is seen as a crutch when his back needs to be healed, holding him in place. But the rope is now a hindrance, holding him back and pulling him right back in.


  • Key to freedom is in not using the rope. He is reminded that his lack of a fear of dying doesn’t provide strength, but weakness. As his life is on the line, fear becomes a motivator. The lack of rope also shows that nothing from his past is holding him back; he has been redeemed from all of it, as we have.


Mercenary’s Lover:

  • A legend tells us that a mercenary is locked up in prison for having a relationship with the daughter of the warlord who owned the prison. The warlord intends to kill him. However, what we don’t expect to find out is the woman pleads for the mercenary’s freedom. In exchange, she gives herself up to be imprisoned. Gospel message right here. She gives her life in exchange for her beloved’s freedom.


Miranda Tate/Talia al Ghul:

  • She teaches us a few key things. If you were thrown by the twist as much as I was, she teaches us to be awake. We need to be awake enough (discernment) to not be blindsided (not see it coming). Our villain is crafty. He wants to rock us to sleep so we don’t see his attacks coming. That’s why we’re charged to be alert (I Peter 5:8, I Corinthians 16:13).


  • She’s doing her father’s business. Her focus is very clear: finishing her father’s legacy. Our Father’s business is very different. He doesn’t condemn, but through Jesus, restores (John 3:17).


  • She is able to escape because of her protector. He fights off the others who don’t want her to succeed. When we are in the “pit”… we can be reminded that Jesus protects us as he stands in the gap between us and our haters.



Feel free to add your own to the list…. I am sure I could add more after seeing it another time or two! Be encouraged… God will use ANYTHING He needs to in order to speak to us (Romans 1:20). Just listen!

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