I cried while I was rewatching The Dark Knight Rises, specifically during this scene. I cried because I’m lonely. I want someone to love, and for that person to love me back.
So as many times as I’ve watched this scene, both as part of the movie or as the standalone YouTube video, today was the first time that I had a different reaction than being awed by the sheer awesome of the music, the outstanding performances and the way this scene ties together the entire trilogy. The most powerful moment of this scene today was when Bruce Wayne threw the rope back down after he escaped.
Despite his claims to the contrary, Batman is an agent of mercy. He doesn’t kill, even though he very easily could. He gives even the worst of his enemies a chance for redemption and growth. He knows nothing about the crimes the men in prison committed, but he knows that they don’t deserve the torture they’ve been subjected to. Where Bane uses hope as tool of destruction, Batman uses hope to inspire.
It might be a little corny to describe that small act at the end of this epic scene as an act of love (and maybe I see it that way because I’m super emotional right now), but I’m not sure what else to call it. Because imagine for a moment if Batman had left those men without a rope to escape. I don’t think it would have dramatically changed the movie, but it would have dramatically changed who Batman is in the Dark Knight trilogy. Love is the underpinning of the entire trilogy, from Bruce Wayne’s initial decision to become Batman, through Harvey Dent’s descent into murderous madness and Bane’s League of Shadows membership. It’s not always romantic love either- Bane didn’t want to marry Talia. He loved her as a symbol for the redemption he sought through caring for another human being in the most difficult of circumstances. That was the same thing Bruce Wayne offered to his fellow prisoners.
Batman has acted with love in the past, whether it’s the romantic love he feels for Selena Kyle or the redemptive love he shows to Harley Quinn. Showing mercy to the least deserving is what makes Bruce Wayne Batman instead of The Punisher. That core humanity is what Alfred was trying to save when he finally revealed Rachel’s letter to Bruce. He can’t just keep giving out love and mercy, he needs to receive it too.
I cried because my loneliness was too much to bear when juxtaposed against the act of warmth and caring a vigilante showed towards presumably hardened criminals. It’s okay though, because just as Bruce Wayne found love in the end, so will I.