[Review] God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us About God and Ourselves

God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and Ourselves by Paul Asay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book by serendipity while browsing my library’s digital app for something to read over the Thanksgiving break, and let’s be real, how could I not read it? I mean, it’s a theological book dealing with Batman! I’m doing this book a disservice by reviewing it almost three months after finishing it, but I still want to do it because I thought it was that good, and others need to hear about it.

The first thing Asay does is tell us that he’s no theologian, that he’s a devout Christian and a lifelong Batman nerd who has something to say about God by looking at his favorite superhero. That right there is what sold me 100% on this book: this guy is basically me, someone like me, a man trying to life a Godly life, who likes nerdy things, and tries to find lessons to learn and share in the things he likes.

The next thing Asay does is flat-out tell us that Batman is no Christ figure. I don’t think anyone has ever thought that, but in a book dealing with Christian theology, it is an important point to make. Unlike with Superman, who is very much a Messiah/Christ figure, Batman is all-too human, one of us. Asay builds from that humanity and uses it to show how we can learn from Batman, from his nemeses, and become better Christians, better people, in the process.

Asay deconstructs the Batman figure and mythos, then draws Christian analogies to show how those bat-elements represent things we can relate to, and how we can learn lessons from them. The core figure examined is, of course, Batman himself, and Asay does a wonderful job of acknowledging the strengths and flaws of the man, especially Batman’s spirituality, both whatever little has been shown in, and whatever can be inferred from, the comics and movies (which isn’t much). At the heart of it is Batman’s raison d’être, his crusade, or as Asay argues, his divine calling, for Justice. The book looks at Batman’s city, villains, friends, and even iconic equipment; from each, Asay draws parallels to situations we all encounter on a daily basis, and drawing from Scripture, he shows how each can be a lesson on dealing with life in a Godly way.

God on the Streets of Gotham is the kind of book that many may wonder if it needed to be written at all, and the answer to that is YES. For nerdy Christians, this book is a treasure that connects two seemingly disparate loves in a way that both parents and pastors can approve of. Most importantly, this book shows how anything and everything can be a vehicle for the glory of God, how anything can carry His message, even if it’s hidden under a cowl and a cape.