Perchance to Dream is a fascinating episode of Batman: The Animated Series. In it, Bruce Wayne is put into a dream where everything in his life is perfect. There’s no pain, there’s no suffering, there’s no loss. He is not Batman and he has no reason to be. Someone else is doing the job for him, and even the crime Batman is shown stopping is petty theft. There aren’t even any guns.
Bruce Wayne realizes it is a dream and is infuriated, because “it’s not real” and “It’s all a lie.” Another review of the episode spun it as an attitude of “There’s work to be done,” and that he can’t just accept a work-free life, but from what he says, it seems to be more. It seems like he can’t even handle the idea that his parents might not be dead. He has shaped his entire being around their death. Changing that aspect of his life jeopardizes his entire reason to live.
It seems like a demented way to live–centering your whole existence on one element of suffering in your life. It seems as though it would lock you down into that suffering and bring you deeper into it, instead of releasing you to move on from it.
Over and over again, in other episodes and in other manifestation of the character of Batman, we see him becoming depressed over the futility of it all, particularly when another person he loves gets hurt. He is more than a crime fighter. He is trying in some way to protect everybody in his life, but that just isn’t possible.
Yet there is something honorable in that Wayne took the suffering and used all his anger toward it to fight the evil that caused it in the first place. And perhaps in a world “under the sun,” in a world without Christ, in a world without redemption, in a world without a good, sovereign God behind it orchestrating events toward an ultimate triumph of good over evil, perhaps the most honorable thing you could do is just what Bruce Wayne does in becoming Batman–fight evil in the interest of those you love. No matter how futile.
But even so, we are drawn by this story and the empty spaces where it comes up short, to the story of Christ and the redemption of the world. While a mere human, or even a body of humans, cannot totally eradicate evil from this fallen earth, Christ is the Savior who can, and who has already begun the process. “Behold, I am making all things new,” the Lord declared to the apostle John (Rev. 21:5), and it was written down for us to see. He changes the world one heart at a time, by covering our sin and our sinfulness in the very blood He spilt for our forgiveness, and then enabling us to stop pursuing sin and evil.