There’s a moment at the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman: The Dark Knight, where Batman signs up to take the fall for Harvey Dent’s death (and all the mess that led up to it). He does it to keep Dent’s name clean, Jim Gordon’s name clean, the entire Gotham PD free from controversy, and because he, as a vigilante outside the law, can shoulder it best. This scene was the lead up to the quote: “He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.”
This might be, for my money, the single most awesome thing about Batman as a character. It’s also the reason Genghis Khan conquered the known world, and why capitalism is so unstoppable. Because Batman, like the Mongols and moguls, doesn’t care what you think of him as long as he achieves his mission.
And this does apply to Fatherhood, but just let me talk about ninjas and samurais.
Yes, it does illustrate the point I’m making.
Also yes, I just want to talk about ninjas and samurais.
Ninjas – historical ninjas, not the turtle kind – didn’t fight that much. They had all the cool weapons, yes, and they had their martial arts yes, but mainly ninjas were spies and saboteurs. Like the CIA, or the guy running sound for Smashmouth, you would only notice them when they messed something up. This is in stark contrast to the samurai, who were all about honor and codes and their (and their family) names. For a samurai, winning a battle was good and all, but if they died in some spectacularly bushido fashion, that was almost just as good, if not better.
But honor has no place at a sleepover.
When you have two boys playing the jungle explorer game with the monkeys and the magic bracelet and the sound device weapon, you are not in a situation for high ideals. The simple dirty truth is that somebody has to “get,” and somebody has to be “gotten,” and you’ve got two little minds who are used to being the one to make up the rules. No matter how good each boy is at sharing (and they are both incredibly good at sharing) sooner or later feelings are hurt and the first sleepover ever ends with ignominy and ruin.
Now, the Samurai Papa would have no time for changing the rules, would have no tolerance for protests from a boy who lost the magic bracelet one time too many. No. A Samurai Papa would get all “teachable moment” on this, and monkeys and explorers would play nicely or all the toys would be put away and we’d do pushups and count staples until we learned the lessons of equitability in play.
I, however, am not a follower of the way of the samurai. No sensei. The mission is fun, and like the Iga, the Koga, and the Watchful Protector of Gotham City, I’ll take the fall so the mission can be achieved. He’s the papa this sleepover deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll jump on him. We’ll hit him with the sound device weapon, because he can take it. Because he’s not our teacher, he’s our sleepy guardian, our hungry protector. Our dork knight.