Three Life Lessons From The Dark Knight Rises

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Like many people across the world, I went to see The Dark Knight Rises this past weekend. Although I’m not a huge comic book aficionado, I like a good action movie, plus The Dark Knight was absolutely awesome and Christopher Nolan

is an amazing director. So, going in, I had high expectations.

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie, you probably don’t want to read this. It might ruin the movie and then you’ll be upset. 

Overall, I thought the movie was excellent. I even splurged the extra little bit to see the action-packed film in IMAX. A couple of ideas popped into my head during the movie that weren’t fitness related:

  1. Bane wasn’t nearly as good a villain as the Joker. Admittedly, I was let down by his character.
  2. Anne Hathaway played an amazing role as Cat Woman. I’d never expect to see her in that role, but she did a terrific job.
  3. Bruce Wayne’s recovery from 8 years holed up in his house was pretty amazing. Seriously, next time my back is out I’m hanging myself from a rope and going with a swift punch to the lumbar spine to pop it back in place.

But, along the way, I thought up a few life lessons that I think anyone (including non-comic book fans) can take away. Part of the reason we watch superhero movies is because they are a model for perfect character. They exemplify all of the qualities we envy: fearless, humble, forgiving, genuine, determined, confident, etc. They also happen to have some cool toys as well that I wouldn’t mind driving around, but that’s beside the point. If you look past all of the gunfire, cool cars, and hand-to-hand combat, you’ll find some true life lessons underlying the story.

While watching the movie, three lessons stood out to me. I think they can really be used as teaching moments. If you take them in context and remove all of the superheroesque attributes, they really just mimic everyday situations.

You’re never too old to start.

The entire basis of the movie was Batman returning from an 8 year hiatus to take on a new evil villain and once again save the city of Gotham. He starts out in pretty bad shape (has to use a cane to walk), but then poof, he’s back to kickin’ some tail.

Although Bruce’s recovery was a little unrealistic (by a little I mean extremely), it did illustrate the idea that you’re never
too old to start exercising, and you can make amazing improvements in just a short amount of time. Age should never be an excuse. Sure, you may not get back to where you were in your teens and twenties, but you’ll feel a heck of a lot better than sitting around holed up in your house all day (even IF you live in a house like Wayne Manor with a butler named Alfred).

Key point, don’t try to start out where you left off before taking a break. When you’re Batman, apparently you can strap a knee brace on and kick out a few bricks without getting hurt. However, regular humans have to start out much slower. Most individuals starting back kick up the intensity way too fast leaving them sidelined and frustrated after only a few days. Start gradually and remember that small improvements lead to big results.

Persistence pays off

Ah, the ol’ David and Goliath story. In the film, Batman comes up to face Bane (a much swifter and stronger adversary) in hand to hand combat two main times. It’s Batman, so of course you’re rooting for the good guy. Unfortunately, you have to watch him get his ass kicked and be left for dead the first time. But, it’s Batman so you know that’s not the end of the story.

He gets sent to this ridiculous jail out in the middle of nowhere with a broken back that’s keeping him from even standing up. In true Batman fashion, he rises to the occasion and never gives up. An old man pops his back into place by giving him a swift punch to the back and he rebuilds his strength through sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups. He comes back completely healthy in a few weeks to face Bane again and this time he does the ass-kicking (until he gets stabbed and saved by Cat Woman, but that’s an erroneous part of the story).

Some situations are always going to seem like brick obstacles in your path to success. They often seem insurmountable. That’s part of the reason why we watch superhero movies. They always rise to the occasion. It’s the gratification of seeing someone succeed that brings us back. Nothing is ever too hard, and in true superhero fashion, they’re always standing victorious when the dust settles.

Persistence pays off for regular humans as well. People are always going to tell you that your dreams are too big, and they may often seem as insurmountable as beating a villain that wears a mask full of pain relieving gas. But, as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. The trick is to not give up. Just like Batman, when you get knocked down, get back up again and keep trucking. When you stop thinking your dreams are out of reach, you’ll be amazed what you can do. Take everything in life with the “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality.

Fear holds you back from achieving some awesome things

This is the part of the movie when you knew you were watching a Batman film. He’s trapped in a cave/prison with literally no escape but climbing up through a tunnel. You knew he was going to make it, but just didn’t know how. He attempts the climb for the first time with a rope around his waist, but misses a jump and falls back to the ground. The second time, he slips and again falls, but the rope catches him. The turning point is when the old doc sitting in the cell next to him suggests that he make the climb without the rope and that fear is holding him back from achieving something great. In true Batman fashion, he makes the climb without any safety rope and gets out of the cave.

Although I’m not suggesting go rock climbing without a rope, I do believe that fear holds us back from accomplishing some great things. I’m not necessarily talking about physical fear either like the fear of heights or spiders (I hate spiders), but rather the fear of failure or ridicule. As a society, we care what other people think, often times way too much. We set our sights on an extremely lofty goal, one that almost seems out of reach, but then we let “reality” set in and others tell us how unrealistic our goal actually is. We could achieve so much more if we could just say the hell with it and go for something absolutely crazy. Matter of fact, the more ridiculous and crazy it is, the better. I just read a quote that said “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” I don’t think that could be more true.

In 1899, the rumor is that the U.S. Patent Commissioner said this, “Everything that can be invented – has been invented.” Now, it’s skeptical whether this was actually muttered or not, or whether is was meant as a joke, but the lesson still stays the same. There have been millions of great inventions since 1899, but if everyone would have listened to that guy, how would we check our Facebook?

Gasp!

If you’ve got a dream, go for it. Think big, do something crazy that absolutely terrifies you, but more importantly, don’t listen to anyone else when they tell you it’s crazy. Then, when you make it, you get to say “I told you so”.

So that wraps up a rather large post on Batman. What did you think of the movie? More importantly, what did you think of the stuff in this post? Did it rock your world? Ground breaking? Tell me in the comments below and then share with your friends…all of them!

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