This is not a review of The Dark Knight, the latest Batman movie, but it is a post about one of the movie's major themes. A good review can be found at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/movies/a0004153.cfm.
In The Dark Knight, we see the Joker creating chaos and desperation through terrorist attacks upon the citizens of Gotham City. His ultimate goal appears to be to cause enough distress among the people of the city that they will turn on each other, harm each other, and murder each other.
The Joker convinces one police officer to aid him by bribing her. Since she was struggling with paying her mother's hospital bills, she caved in to the Joker's offer and became an accomplice in murder.
In one scene, the Joker rigged two ferry boats with explosives. As the ferries were crossing the bay with people trying to escape the chaos in Gotham City, the Joker cut their power. He provided a trigger devise for each ferry, but each devise would trigger an explosion on the other boat. Then he announced that the people on one boat could blow up the other ferry. If they did so, they would survive. If neither ferry exploded by midnight, the Joker would blow up both of them. The people were facing the choice of murder or be murdered.
The Joker exploited a weakness in human character, a weakness acknowledged in Scripture: As people become more desperate, they become more vulnerable to the temptation to commit evil acts against others. For example, in Deuteronomy 28:53-57, we read, "Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. The most gentle and sensitive woman among you--so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot--will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities" (NIV). As Jesus said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12, NIV).
Unfortunately, we don't need to get very desperate before we are tempted to sin. Losing a few hours of sleep over a few nights can make us vulnerable to impatience and outbursts of anger. A tight budget can tempt us to cheat others out of their money or to refuse to help someone in greater need.
While The Dark Knight has a few flaws, it explores some weighty issues surrounding human nature, sin, and temptation. In showing our vulnerabilities, it humbles us. It reveals how close we may be to becoming villains ourselves.