January 30, 2018

How the ‘Dark Knight’ Helped Me Rise

It’s February 4, 2012. I just had a major back surgery at the young age of 25. It was an L4 L5 fusion which would attempt to fix a herniated disk that had also leaked out into my right leg. The doctor would attempt this by removing the disk and replacing it with a bone fusion held together by screws and rods. Unknowingly, my life would change forever. Coming out of surgery was the worst physical pain imaginable. I could not shower, brush my teeth or even walk myself a few short steps without assistance from my parents. This would go on for quite sometime. Other than weekly doctors visits (sometimes twice a day), I’d be bedridden for the next several months. Sometime within those months, my workers comp had just run out. Meaning I no longer had any income. After paying a couple of bills, I was down to my last sixteen dollars in the bank. I never thought I’d let myself get to that point. Luckily, I was living at home with very supportive parents who helped me whenever I needed. But the physical and emotional pain from the surgery, having limited movement, being broke, and the mental ware from an abundance of several different medications had taken its toll on me. I had now become prisoner to my first real state of depression. Enter Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

It was July of the same year, just a few months after my surgery. I was now getting around on my own with aid of a walker and a cane but still only leaving the house for doctor visits and physical therapy. On July 19th my brother had taken me to an early showing of the final film in The Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. My brother and I both loved The Dark Knight so much that this was an obvious must-see, so no dragging by my brother was needed to get me to the theater. We took our seats in the theater (cane in hand) not knowing what to expect other than an end to what was so far a good trilogy. Little did I know, this film would hit home like a bat-punch to the face of one of his foes. 

After a very memorable opening scene of Bane (Tom Hardy) being rescued from an aircraft, we see a tired, beaten and broken Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) with his hair long, facial hair grown out and walking with a cane. A look that was oddly matching mine at the time. I even remember my brother nudging me with his elbow and saying “oh man, is that you?” So it wasn’t just myself seeing the eerie similarities. Never in my life did I think I would have so much in common with Bruce Wayne. If anything, we were almost complete opposites, that is up until that point. The similarities wouldn’t stop there.

Just a few scenes later, Alfred (Michael Caine) and Bruce have a deeply relatable conversation. The conversation went something like this: Alfred – “I’d set you up with a chimpanzee if it brought you back to the world.” Bruce – “There’s nothing out there for me.” Alfred- “And that’s the problem. You hung up your cape and your cowl but you didn’t move on. You never went to find a life… and you’re not living. You’re just waiting, hoping for something to go bad again.” I felt like Alfred was speaking directly to me because that’s exactly how I felt. From the back injury to being nearly broke, it felt like it would just get worse and worse by the day. I stayed locked in my room scared to face what the universe had to throw at me. There I was back at the theater thinking how much more would this film hit me? Then comes the first Batman and Bane fight scene. 

In the one-sided fight scene, Bane dominates an out of touch Batman that has not been in the suit in eight years. At the end of that scene it happens. Bane breaks Batman’s back just like in the comics. Wow, I thought, they actually did it. Now I not only felt the emotional aspects of Bruce’s character but I feel the physical pain of what Bruce has endured. Someone may as well just given me millions of dollars and a bat suit. After the scene Bane puts Bruce in a prison “pit” where Bruce not only has to regain movement but also has to escape the almost inescapable pit. Remember the prison I mentioned earlier? For me, that prison pit was a symbol of my depression. At this point, I get goosebumps and think it’s some sort of joke that this film is an exaggerated version of what’s going on in my life at the time.

Bruce would eventually be nursed back to health and after a few attempts, he would escape that prison pit without gadgets, a suit or money. Bruce did so with will. You can see where I’m going with this.

After the film I realized that even though I had the help of family and friends, I had to get myself out of this prison pit of depression. It would not be easy. In fact, my own will power would have to overcome the mental and physical pain of it all. Not long after watching the film, I would start more extensive physical therapy. I would push myself harder than ever to the point that I had tears in my eyes while going through the therapy and not because of the intense pain I felt, which was there but because I felt weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I was slowly coming back from the darkness and mentally stronger than ever. Not only was I nursing myself back to health but I would soon realize that I had nothing to lose. Though the fusion would not take, which only happens 30% of the time, I started getting back into writing which would lead to writing for a number of different pop culture sites such as this one and even worked with my brother creating our own comic book. Now thirty years old, I recently enrolled into college, trying to major in English, even though I haven’t been to school in over a decade. I still have daily issues with my back and leg but I live life as best as I can.

Why did I write this? It wasn’t because The Dark Knight Rises was the best film out of the trilogy, though it was pretty damn good. Yes, it has its issues but it will always hold a special place in my heart. I also did not write this for anyone to feel sorry for me. I wrote this because if you’re reading this and you have ever felt like there’s a pit that you can not get out of, I assure you that you can. I can attest to the theme of the Dark Knight trilogy. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

About the Author

Chris Salce
Chris Salce
I'm a pop culture fanatic based out of Southern California. My collection of comics and pop culture memorabilia would even impress The Collector. When I'm not busy writing about pop culture news, doing film reviews or interviewing celebs, my brother and I work on a comic book called Blood-RED (And yes, that was a cheap plug). I have a certificate of completion for a children’s storybook writing program.



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