Batman Begins – Esoteric Analysis
April 3, 2011 9 Comments
Batman Begins marks a substantive renewal for the popular franchise. Taking the story in a much more serious direction from the 90s version (replete with Prince flopping around, humping the ground), the new version is much more sophisticated. And, along with being much more sophisticated, it also calls for an esoteric analysis. Just as with Christopher Nolan’s Inception I analyzed, so his earlier Batman Begins was modeled along the same lines of Jungian psychoanalysis, mixed with occult and gnostic themes, as well as other prevalent popular conspiracy theories and secret societies, as we will see.
The film begins with Bruce Wayne experiencing childhood trauma where he falls down a well, breaks his leg, and is terrified by a sudden battalion of bats. Falling down wells and trips to the underworld are common in Jungian, gnostic and literary exploits. It’s an archetypal scheme for both the inner subconscious, as well as the exterior metaphysical realm of the dead. The “underworld” of Homer and Virgil, is also, by association the subconscious from which our dreams arise, manifesting archetypal patterns. Bruce Wayne’s falling down the well is also a window into his unconscious mind, just as are the several layers of dreams in Cobb’s subconscious in Inception.
Childhood traumas and fixations are often formed from this stage in development, as both Freud and Jung noted, and this is precisely where Bruce Wayne experiences the defining moment of his future existence—he will eventually become the thing he fears—the dark and the demonic. Now that may sound strange, given that Batman is a good guy, and the Joker and others villains, but once one understands the pagan and gnostic scheme of reality, these words end up purely relative denominators. “Good” as an actual, absolute category is non-existent in this relativistic scheme. This is why Bruce Wayne’s journey will be to become his “higher self,” the alter ego “Batman.” Batman is the embodiment of Bruce Wayne’s “shade” or shadow self, his dark side incarnate.
Batman is not bound by laws, but is instead a Nietzschian vigilante overman, beyond good and evil: rex lex. Since the normative social structure of Gotham City is corrupt, Batman is a law unto himself. This is why Bruce is the billionaire capitalist: he is the representation of elite capital, but which also provides Gotham its vast social programs and welfare system, as well as public transportation, etc. This is yet another hint at the actual system that runs the real world—it is controlled by those at the top who are neither capitalist nor socialist. They are elitist, and who (in their minds) transcend dialectics. The Cold War, for example, was a closely steered conflict that allowed a vast intelligence and surveillance grid to be established under the auspices of nuclear threat. Now, our threats are repackaged as environmentalism and the “global war on terror.” Bruce Wayne thus embodies the “third way” which is where we are headed—a global corporate financial system that is the synthesis of communism and capitalism, under the guise of world “democracy.”
This is also why Bruce Wayne has as his right hand man the sage archetype, “Lucius” (played by Morgan Freeman), who functions as a representation of the vast intelligence/military industrial complex apparatus. Due to Bruce’s billionaire status, he is able to obtain any technology or weapon needed, especially since Wayne Enterprises is who builds it. As with all ages, a cultures art mirrors reality, and modern cinema is far more of a mirror of reality than 99% of the viewing audience realizes, as I (and others) argue at length on my blog.
And, it goes without saying, that “Lucius” brings to mind “Lucifer,” the fallen angel from Isaiah 14 who is cast down from heaven, seeking to exalt his throne above God, under the image of the King of Tyre. “Lucifer” also means the light-bearer and morning star, and so it makes sense that the sage archetype would be the character that molds, shapes and grants Batman his technological “powers.” Recall, of course, that Batman does not have any superpowers. He is merely a technologically empowered elite, and that is again much closer to the real world system than anything else presented in comic books. Batman, then, is unique in that his “power” is technological wizardry from Lucius/Lucifer.
Back to the film: “Ducard” (Liam Neeson) appears early on and represents the criminal underworld and ends up recruiting Wayne in Tibet, who had gone on an extended road trip to find truth, divesting himself from the upper echelon existence he had been raised with. “Ducard” eventually recruits Wayne for his secret society, the League of Shadows, which appears to have some affiliation with Buddhism, at least exoterically. After learning the arts of the ninja, as well as enduring other feats of physical endurance, Wayne undergoes a hallucinogenic initiation where he “travels inward” and confronts his “bat demon” (his shade), shall we say. Notably, this occurs after he climbs a mountain to obtain a rare blue flower from which the powerful hallucinogen is drawn.
This is interesting, inasmuch as many esoteric secret societies do utilize drugs as a path to obtaining esoteric knowledge. It is also interesting that the League of Shadows seems to be based in the mountains of Tibet, and appears as a composite of a number of actual occult orders. Borrowing from the notorious Helena Blavatsky and her Theosophical sect and it’s Tibetan “Great White Brotherhood” of ascended masters, as well as Satanist Aleister Crowley’s groups, and possibly even the Nazi esoteric philosophies of those like Himmler, who also obsessed over Tibetan myths. As with Nazi ideology, the focus of the League of Shadow’s doctrines is the triumph of will. “Will is everything,” Ducard hammers home to Wayne. It also appears to borrow elements of masonic initiation, as Ducard asks Wayne, “What do you seek?” To which the masonic initiate responds, “Light.”
After participating in the criminal underworld to come to know the dark side, Wayne is told that he must exercise judgment and kill a guilty man before the “Ra’s al Ghul,” the League’s current head. Ducard explains that the League has existed for aeons, steering the fates of civilizations until they become too decadent and must be destroyed. When they are destroyed, Ducard explains, it “restores balance.” This, of course, is the classical dualism fallacy that pervades all of Eastern thought, and its western offshoot, gnosticism. In this scheme, good and evil are, again, relative, and actually flip sides of the same coin.
This is why two-face plays a prominent role in the sequel, Batman: Dark Knight. At the end of that film, we learn that Batman and the Joker “need each other.” God needs the devil, you see. To the masses, of course, this unfortunately appears to be wisdom, but upon a few minutes reflection is nothing but contradictory nonsense. If good and evil are flip sides of the same coin, there is no good or evil, and thus the idea of “restoring balance” (assumed to be a good!) is completely useless and contradictory. Further, no one could ever know the “balance” without some sense of standards by which to adjudge excess and balance. While this is painfully obvious, most humans don’t and can’t reason this out.
Another interesting thing Wayne learns from Ducard is the power of the dramatic—the theatrical. This will be the reason Wayne creates the Kevlar bat costume—to make himself into a myth. To hype himself up as a threat, far more than he actually is. This also is relevant to the way the present world system’s control grid operates. The “elites” are, in fact, a miniscule minority to the rest of the population. They consist of a few thousand “superclass” as David Rothkopf explains. However, while they do wield much power and command armies, the globalists are also propped up by a vast mass media and entertainment complex that are avidly involved in the promotion and popularity of “conspiracy” literature and topics. “Full spectrum dominance,” the best description of the modus oprandi of the global powers, crucially employs the talents of the top psychological warfare and social engineering experts.
The largest part of warfare is psychological, in fact, and Bruce Wayne embodies this with his flair for the dramatic that is later used upon Gotham’s criminal syndicates. However, once Wayne learns that the League of Shadows has determined that Gotham is too corrupt and must be destroyed, he backs out. The teachings of the League are too much for him, and constitute a violation of the principles he was taught exoterically. This, too, is common fare amongst secret societies, who have a farcical, watered down teaching given to the “profane” outsiders and neophytes. Bruce ends up destroying the Leagues monastery headquarters, and saved Ducard’s life, but abandons him and returns to Gotham after years of absence. Ducard follows Wayne to Gotham and shows up to destroy stately Wayne Manor, which signifies the death of “Bruce Wayne” with his fears and hangups.
To make a long story short, it turns out the League of Shadows is drugging the water of Gotham City, and is planning on using stolen Wayne Enterprises’ technology to wage an airborne chemical warfare assault on Gotham. The chemical turns out to derive from the flower that Wayne obtained for Ducard, who, it turns out, is not the League’s spokesman, but instead its actual “Ra’s al Ghul.” Interesting that it is possessive, possibly signifying the representative of the Egyptian sun-god, Ra, bringing to light further esoteric associations. Wikipedia states that he is named after a star that means “demon’s head.” Wayne, having now “owned” his dark side/alter ego, “Batman,” has newfound power and is unstoppable. He has now mastered the dark and light side, and is a law unto himself, we are to believe.
It is also relevant to consider that the drugging of the water supply, an old Soviet and Nazi tactic, is, in fact, still practiced today, as much of the United States’ water supply is purposefully drugged in order to chemically attack the masses, reducing Iqs and causing sterilization. See this video. Psychoactive drugs have also been proposed for addition to water supplies, as well as actual antidepressants, rocket fuel and radiation, turning up in samples. Drugs are also being sprayed in geo-engineering and “chemtrail” programs. For the League of Shadows, the purpose is mass insanity directed towards an engineered social collapse. Again, art mirrors reality. The hallucinogen mind control chemical is developed by “Scarecrow” (Cillian Murphy), who is a doctor specializing in mental health and brainwashing. Scarecrow represents the pharmaceutical complex which works in tandem with the military industrial complex to engineer and control society. The Scarecrow character brings to mind the famed MKULTRA program which did experiment with various methods, including drugs, to solve and control the human mind.
The film ends with Batman victorious, and Wayne Manor destroyed. Batman tells his love Rachel that she can join him now, but she knows it cannot work, and tells him that Bruce Wayne is now the mask for Batman—his real identity. All in all, the film is excellent, but the message, though containing many truths about how the world really works, being run by a shadow government, presents a false solution. Instead of looking to a personal, absolute God, the solution presented is to “go within” and become a gnostic, having imbibed a heavy dose of the dark side. Once you’ve been really evil for a long time, you’ll be balanced inside, and your inner demon will come out and control you. The old you must die, as in many occult rituals, and the new, higher self must be “set free,” and is bizarrely also an inner demon. The world really is run like the film presents, but the solution to the world’s problems is not some inward retreat into contradictory, nonsensical eastern philosophies or occultism. As it turns out, Batman’s philosophy isn’t any different from Ra’s al Ghul’s. We may just ask why is it that we are supposed to become evil to become good, if these terms are purely subjective descriptors of inner psychological states, and all things are relative? If this is the case, then we don’t need Batman to defend justice.