I’ve spent a lot of time recently speculating about some of the characters in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and what their fate and true identity might be in the film. Yet, there’s still one mystery surrounding this movie that’s been nagging at me: The Lazarus Pit.
Back in January, I presented my own theory on how Nolan might interpret the Lazarus Pit should he decide to use it in the movie. I felt his best option would be to reference the story of Lazarus of Bethany, which would be a more literal interpretation of the word “Lazarus” and a far cry from its portrayal in the comics. But some readers suggested that Nolan might actually portray the Lazarus Pit the way it appears in the comics. It may sound absurd, but I decided to take this suggestion to heart and investigate further.
So, assuming Nolan does opt to include the Lazarus Pit in TDKR, I’ll explain how he could do so by taking either the literal route or comic book route, all the while keeping the film grounded in reality.
WHAT IS THE LAZARUS PIT?
In case anyone out there is in the dark about what the Lazarus Pit is and its relevance to TDKR, I’ll give you a brief explanation.
The Lazarus Pit, in the DC Comics Universe, is a pit filled with restorative chemicals that has the ability to heal anyone, even those facing death. They were discovered by Ra’s al Ghul when he was trying to cure the dying son of a sultan he worked for. The pit saved the prince’s life, but he eventually went insane and killed Ra’s al Ghul’s wife. Ra’s was blamed for her death and left to die in the desert before a tribe saved him. From then on, he used the pits restorative powers to prolong his life for centuries.
So what does this have to do with TDKR? Well, we know that Josh Pence will be playing a young Ra’s al Ghul, and it’s been rumored that Liam Neeson, who played Ra’s in BATMAN BEGINS, will also be making a brief cameo. That alone is not enough to send the Lazarus Pit rumor mill spinning, but the pictures below are. Take a look.
These photos were supposedly taken from the TDKR set in Jodphur, India, where Josh Pence was also spotted. The first picture is of the alleged Lazarus Pit, and there have also been reports that a desert scene was shot on location there, too. One person from the set said the scene involved a bald boy climbing out of a hole/well. Could it be Bane emerging from the Lazarus Pit with Ra’s looking on, or something completely different? Regardless, these photos got the rumor started that the Lazarus Pit will be in TDKR.
If, in fact, Nolan decides to incorporate the Lazarus Pit in his Batman finale, I feel he’ll take a more literal/realistic route. As I theorized back in January, I think one interpretation could have Biblical origins. There’s a story in the bible about a man named Lazarus of Bethany, whom Jesus raised from the dead four days after his death. Now, I doubt TDKR is going to have any major biblical or spiritual implications, but in the story of Lazarus, they talk about that man rising again after death. Nolan could certainly draw parallels between Lazarus of Bethany and Bruce Wayne in TDKR.
Another literal route Nolan could take is an interesting one, and was proposed by one of our readers, Aeus. He suggested that the prison Bruce Wayne finds himself in in TDKR is the Lazarus Pit. He says that in the comics, Bane breaks out of a prison in the Caribbean called Pena Duro, so in TDKR, they’ve ditched that prison but kept the same concept, making it Lazarus Pit instead.
In the trailer, we see Bruce in the prison looking down into a pit where chanting is going on, and he’s told by a fat-looking Michael Cane character that the chant means “rise”. Aeus suggested that anyone who rises out of the pit is viewed as immortal by the other inmates, and he believes Bane is the only one to have escaped there until Bruce does.
This theory definitely sounds plausible, since it’s a more literal and realistic interpretation, which we know is Nolan’s forte, and because we’ve seen in the trailer someone climbing up the wall of the pit, so it could, in fact, be Bruce. If Nolan opts to go the literal route, I feel that either of these interpretations would be his best bet.
COMIC BOOK ROUTE
Based on its description in the comics, the Lazarus Pit sounds like a mystical Fountain-of-Youth-like pool, something so supernatural and extreme that you’d say there’s no way Nolan could put it in TDKR without drastically reinterpreting it.
But let’s pretend for a second that Nolan decides not to reinterpret the Lazarus Pit in a realistic fashion. What if he actually chooses to portray the Lazarus Pit the way it appears in the comics? It’s hard to imagine, but I think there is a way he could do this while still keeping the film grounded in reality.
As crazy and supernatural as the Lazarus Pit sounds, it’s essentially just a healing pool. All around the world, natural hot springs are viewed as therapeutic pools that can help heal people with certain disabilities. You’ll find these pools in places like Iceland, Japan, and even Algeria.
Knowing that the set photo of the alleged Lazarus Pit in TDKR was taken in India, I looked into systems of medicine from India to see if there were any legends, myths, or modern day versions of healing pools that might support a comic book interpretation. And while I’m not claiming to be an expert on these practices by any means, I believe I might have found something rather interesting.
There are a trio of ancient medical systems from India: Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani. In the Ayurveda and Siddha system, there is a specialized field of practice called Kayakalpa, which is revered as an ideal treatment for health, vitality, longevity, and a higher consciousness.
Here’s an excerpt describing part of the concept behind Kayakalpa:
“Excess cellular decay or death is balanced by nourishment, enhancing the anabolic process, bringing about and maintaining a healthy rate of cellular renewal. The twin tools of nourishment and purification are intertwined interdependent, and work synergistically to bring the human body, mind and psyche to their peak.”
I know you’re thinking this practice doesn’t sound any more realistic than the Lazarus Pit in the comics, but I feel this could work as a realistic interpretation.
There was an article written in May 2011 about a 92-year-old man in India who underwent a 45-day Kayakalpa treatment in seclusion, and emerged with black strands of hair sprouting in his once-grey beard. After the treatment, he confessed he was feeling “youthful stirrings” and experiencing “amorous feelings” that he abandoned 60 years ago.
Ayurveda physician, Dr. Sethumadhavan, described the process that goes on in a Kayakalpa chamber, saying, “In the chamber, one undergoes the process of change like an embryo in the womb.”
This type of intense treatment, which exists in the real world, could be a way for Nolan to interpret the Lazarus Pit the way it’s portrayed in the comics. There’s been much debate going on about whether or not the shot of Bruce in the prison from the trailer shows him with strands of grey hair. Could this prison also be a chamber of seclusion with a pool where people go in an attempt to heal themselves? Maybe only those with a strong enough will survive the treatment and become immortal in the eyes of everyone else. Bruce could find himself in this chamber after being defeated by Bane, and once healed, returns to Gotham for his final encounter.
I have another reason why a comic book interpretation would fit into the story of TDKR. If this pool does, in fact, have healing powers, it could be what Bane uses in his mask to suppress his pain. It could explain the alleged scene involving a boy emerging from a pit (although that scene seems to have the boy emerging on the surface rather than from a pool in a prison), and the scene in the trailer where Bane’s men are repelling into the prison. And, it could explain the alleged sightings of Cillian Murphy (a.k.a. Dr. Jonathan Crane) on set. We know that in BATMAN BEGINS Crane helped the League of Shadows convert the toxin in their blue flowers into an aerosol hallucinogenic weapon, so maybe he converts the chemicals from the pool into the gas that supplies Bane’s mask.
I’ll admit that a comic book interpretation of the Lazarus Pit by Nolan would be a bit of a reach. The Lazarus Pit has always been one of the more supernatural aspects of the Batman Universe, and it’s hard to imagine Nolan incorporating something like that into his Batman Universe. Again, all the talk about the Lazarus Pit being in TDKR is pure speculation at this point, and we won’t know for sure until the film is released. If Nolan does decide to include it in the film, one has to believe it will be interpreted more literally and realistically than in the comic books. And if he chooses to go the comic book route? Well, sometimes you just have to expect the unexpected.
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