The Dark Knight Rises is loaded with spiritual themes—resurrection, good vs. evil, caring for the helpless (orphans), whether power is used to serve or to be served, and of course, redemption. One of the storylines of has to do with the saving of Selina Kyle. While she isn’t involved in the wholesale evil that Bane and Miranda Tate are given to, she nonetheless feels free to engage in wrongdoing whenever it serves her purposes (“A girl’s gotta eat”, she tells Detective Blake). We find out early in the movie that she is pointedly aware that her use, abuse, and stay-one-step-ahead lifestyle will catch up to her someday so she is in pursuit of a clean slate—a program that will erase her record from all databases and allow her to start over.
In her desperation for this new life, she is willing to temporarily push further into the darkness and work for those who are truly evil in exchange for the clean slate. She is cheated by them (they no have no such device). She then ironically refuses to trust the one person who actually has it and ends up betraying him (in a sewer of all places), in order to save herself. For all of her efforts, she ends up in jail—the very place she was seeking to avoid. Her own attempts to clean her slate and begin a new life have come up despairingly empty. It’s not hard to see the gospel parallels. Her desire for a clean slate is an acknowledgement of her sinful past. Her pursuit of the new life through her guile is the sinner’s fruitless attempt to save them self apart from Christ and His grace. Her betrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman in order to secure her deliverance is not unlike the betrayal of Jesus by Judas or Peter.
In the end, Wayne gives her the device. It’s a free gift—she’s done nothing to earn it and says as much (“You’re going to trust me with that? After what I did to you?”). But there’s a call that comes with the gift. He needs her help. Later, he repeats it when she suggests she is simply going to go her own way. He tells her, “There’s more to you than that.”
And there is.
That’s so like Christ, isn’t it? He reaches out to a woman who has to draw water from a well in the heat of the day because her multiple marriages and loose living have made her a social outcast. He calls a man who makes his living extorting his own people for the benefit of the occupying government to be His disciple. Make no mistake about it, He freely forgives, but He just as fully calls. And like Selina Kyle, we’re in need of both.