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.”