“Why So Serious?!”

Urbndervish here. In keeping with my promise to write an analysis of the movie “The Dark Knight” for veteran Raggamuslim, B-Tree, I decided to write this esoteric commentary of the film. (Disclaimer: For those who haven’t seen it yet, there are spoilers.) Hope you enjoy…


First of all, I have to say that I haven’t seen a film with such layered commentary on the danger of the corrupt soul since “Kids”. For those of you who saw “Kids”, it was a pretty dark picture of the consequences of an unchecked soul wantonly running amuck.

“The Dark Knight” depicted the struggle of the individual and collective soul all amongst the backdrop of a dark metropolitan landscape. The film began with the machinations of a demented character simply know as, “the Joker”. As he eliminates his cohorts and drives away in a disguised vehicle, a school bus, it is evident that he is the physical representation and characterization of the anarchistic, self-destructive corrupt soul. He does not have a name or known alias as the other characters, nor does he have an apparent origin. He simply comes on the scene wreaking havoc upon a mobster’s bank and getting away with it.

The use of clowns in representing the various stages of the human soul is not new or unique. One can simply refer to the medieval comedies featuring the likes of Harlequin, Punchinello, etc.: all of which, similarly have no origins, aliases, etc.

The corrupt soul has no aims, only to please itself. Similarly, the Joker did not have the material objective (common to other comic book super-villains) of lots of money or world domination. He did not want to rule the world; rather, he wanted chaos to rule his environs. Even though, he seemingly desired money, as evident in his price for attempting to kill the Batman, he had a practical use for the mountain of paper bank notes: to feed the fire under the bound, Chinese informant. As Alfred Pennyworth, the Batman’s butler, shrewdly surmised, the Joker was a person who “just wants to see the world burn.”

This represents the corrupt soul at its most sinister (no offense to left-handed people) stage. The corrupt soul desires wealth, power, sex, etc. at the expense of others and at the expense of its own potential to rise above its own base desires to achieve spiritual perfection. However, it is to be understood that these desires are not the ends but rather the means to an ultimate end: self-gratification. When that thief shoots his struggling victim to steal money, it is not the money that the thief wants, but it is the gratification that the money can seemingly bring to the thief. Money itself is a useless medium of exchange. Even the things that money is used to exchange are ultimately useless. But it is the gratification and psychological placebo that these products provide that is the ultimate desire of the soul.

However, the anarchistic, corrupt soul realizes the ephemeral nature of the material; and as a result, it comes to hate the material because of it. It has realized the offensive punch line of a joke that everyone else is mindlessly laughing at (Of course, the connection between this “joke” and the image of a maniacal clown, is coincidental). Since, the corrupt soul does not heed to the Guidance that will use this realization to hone in on its potential to supersede the world of the material and ascend, it takes its anger out on the material itself. Consequently, it desires the destruction of everything but itself because it realizes that everything’s destruction is a means to its own desired end, chaos. Since it wants chaos, it will use any means to achieve that.

The corrupt soul’s cohorts (e.g. the body, relationships, emotion, etc.) are easily expendable and eventually eliminated. In the movie, the Joker’s goons were either killed by himself or needlessly sacrificed. One can recall the scene where the arrested goon was implanted with dynamite which was detonated by the Joker. The most dangerous materialist is one who knows the true nature of the material. When things like hope, love, and the like are absent, the corrupt soul becomes anarchistic and self-destructive. It begins deconstructing everything, and nothing is safe from its destructive designs.

The only thing that can stop such a destructive entity is a Justice outside of itself (read: the Batman). This Justice cannot have an ounce of self-gratification in it; otherwise, there is no difference between it and the corrupt soul. It has to look beyond the petty psychological misgivings of the corrupt soul and see the lofty potential of the Spirit. It has to be blind (Of course, the connection between this “blindness” and the image of a man dressed as a bat, is coincidental). Like the anarchistic, corrupt soul, it knows the transient nature of the material; however, instead of seeking its destruction, it seeks to use the material as a means to achieve transcendence from it. It has to be “truly incorruptible”. In the scene where the Batman finally subdues the Joker, the Joker is forced to admit that his adversary is “truly incorruptible”.

This brings us to the “Two-Face” character. He was initially a lawyer, Harvey Dent, who was labeled the “White Knight” because of his pursuit of justice within the environs of the law. He believed in the justice of human institutions; fought for it and was willing to die for it. However, once he was “corrupted” by the Joker, he altered his perspective on the establishment of justice. Because of his loss (Rachel Dawes, his fiancée being killed) he began to confine Fate to the flip of a coin. He, maddened by the physical torture of his being as well as the psychological torture of the loss of his fiancée, started to look at justice as a series of unpredictable, unforeseen circumstances; Luck (with a capital L) and Chance (with a capital C).

His mentality reflects the mentality of many people in this age. In their inability to enact material justice or have material justice enacted on them in the way that they want, human beings began to attribute their experiences to an unintelligible force that neither rewards nor punishes, but rather just is. After all, millions of innocent people lose and millions of guilty people prosper. If this sense of Universal Justice existed, this wouldn’t happen, right? So, we are forced to assume that universal justice has no capital “J” but rather a lowercase “j”. The human condition is decided, not by a Perfect Entity, but rather by a series of unrelated, random events that manifest themselves in the physical world; just as a coin lands on heads or tails simply because. There’s no rhyme or reason, it just happens. There is a 15% chance, 50% chance, 75% chance, etc. There is no ultimate Purpose.

The problem with this mentality, as the film even demonstrated, was that simply exchanging one concept with a capital letter for another one with a capital letter does not change the situation, in particular, or the human condition, in general. The innocent still suffers and the guilty still prospers under Luck and Chance. In the movie, Two Face has the family of Gordon at gunpoint. He considered Gordon guilty of the death of Rachel so he proceeded to subject Gordon to a mock trial in which the judge and jury was his coin. Heads, he lives, and tails, he dies. Luck decided that Gordon survive (although he was, in Two-Face’s mind, guilty), yet the same capital letter entity decided that Gordon’s innocent son dies. It is only when Justice, in the personage of the Batman, acted that the son lived and Two-Face was punished.

Another problem with this theory is that, although an individual may subscribe to the view of unintelligible, random occurrences governing our existence, there are intelligent governing institutions that they look to for justice. If this person was robbed, they would not hesitate to phone the police or any other governing authority to retrieve the stolen goods and punish the robber. I would love to see the face of this robbed individual when they go to the police and the officer says to him/her, “You were robbed, eh? What a shame! However, since life is a series of random occurrences without rhyme or reason, you just had bad luck! Maybe your luck will change. Have a nice day!” I’m reminded of a story I read about a guy who took something that belonged to another person. When he was caught and asked about it, he said that the stolen object is just a bunch of compacted molecules that belongs to no one ultimately. He was thrown in jail and the police officer told him “Why don’t you just walk through the wall, after all, isn’t it just a bunch of compacted molecules?” The point is, many times, people adopt views and positions that suit their corrupt passions, yet when the same is applied to them, they take a different perspective.

These are just some of the themes that presented themselves in the film. Obviously, everyone has a right to their opinion and perspective. So, I hope that you are able to derive benefit from mine.




2 thoughts on ““Why So Serious?!”

Add yours

  1. SubhanAllah! Only a Sufi could take a movie through the various stages of the nafs. Lol, very interesting and insightful, MashaAllah! We Miss you all…As Salaamu Alaikum

  2. ma sha Allah…keep it comin’…eagerly awaiting your next esoteric movie review. i hear you and Umm Zayd are in Tarim, please pray for tawba nasuha for us at the grave of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam

    your brother

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