A Story About Lego Batman and My Younger Son
Our boys have been looking forward to The Lego Batman Movie for months. They watched every trailer that came out over and over. Our oldest memorized the release date and each day asked how many more days until February 10. This is the most excited they have been about anything since Christmas. Finally on Monday, we picked them up from school, gave them matching Lego Batman shirts that EA had found, and went to see the movie.
They loved it. Our oldest asked as we left the theater when the DVD is coming out.
Yet for me the most memorable moment came towards the end of the movie. I'll try my best to avoid spoilers because the third act of the movie is an express shuttle to Crazytown that you wouldn't anticipate from the commercials. But the basic breakdown is this: Batman finds himself in a prison while scores of bad guys are wreaking havoc on Gotham. In order to be able to go save the day, Batman promises to return to prison after he has captured all the villains.
Being a Batman who has learned to rely on his friends, the heroes win the day. The villains are thwarted and Gotham is saved. Batman is preparing to fulfill his agreement to return to the prison, but Robin tries to stop him. The orphan does not want to see his adopted dad leave. Robin has finally found a family again and doesn't want to lose it. I would say it's an unexpectedly emotional scene, but The Lego Batman Movie might be the most honest film representation of the emotional damage and complications that make up the Dark Knight.
While the Caped Crusader was telling Robin why he has to leave, I began to hear these tiny sobs coming from the seat next to me. I glance over and see enormous tears pouring down the face of our youngest son Liam. He is absolutely devastated. The thought of Batman leaving Robin, his favorite superhero, is breaking his little heart.
This wasn't part of our fun-filled plan. It was also some sort of cosmic payback for the time when I broke down crying on my dad during Sesame Street Live when I was roughly Liam's age. I know this because that story became a sermon illustration and now this story is becoming a blog post. Such is the circle of life.
I leaned over and rubbed Liam's back. I whispered that it would be okay. I knew that it was sad now but I thought that Batman would come back. He continued to cry and held on to my arm. Part of me wonders if me being away for so much of the fall made that scene harder for him. I'm not sure. Spoiler alert: Batman did return and Liam was smiling by the time the credits rolled.
I hope that Liam never lets go of the compassion that led to those tears. We live in a culture that often discourages men from showing their emotions. We are told that real men are tough. They don't show vulnerability and they certainly don't cry. People who show sensitivity are sometimes called snowflakes (we won't get into the fact that calling someone names is in itself the act of someone who is overly sensitive). I hope that my sons never buy into those lies. Men can be vulnerable. They can show emotion. They can cry.
I don't want my kids to cry at the drop of a hat. When times get tough, I want them to persevere. But I don't want them to lose that heart that breaks for others. I want them to know the importance of showing vulnerability; something The Lego Batman Movie actually affirms as well. I would rather my son be filled with compassion and occasionally cry than bury it all down deep because of some warped view of what it means to be a man. I want both of my sons to have a heart for those who are hurting. I want that to be a part of their life and their faith.
I guess what I'm saying is that, as much as it broke my heart to see him crying, I saw hope in those tears. All of this from a madcap, meta-heavy, joke-filled Easter egg hunt of a movie starring Lego Batman. Who'd have thought?