Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

I wasn't around to read Bob Kane's original version of The Bat-Man. The Golden Age hero was ruthless, even using a gun at times against his enemies. He was dark, mysterious and frightening--a lot like the decades of the late 30s and early 40s, when he was created.

The 1943, 15 chapter seriel, Batman was the first time Batman was seen on film. Lewis Wilson starred as Batman. Mirroring America at the time, Batman fought a Japanese spy in the seriel.

I wasn't around for this one, either, although I saw an edited version in the 80s.

My first Batman fix came when I was three, during the run of the ABC series Batman. I was too young to care that the show was camp; Batman and Robin were heroic (albeit, over the top) and they never lost. I was hooked.

Batman, as presented in the Silver Age of comics, was written more as The World's Greatest Detective than anything else. I read Batman comics on a monthly basis during the 70s. While I loved the character, it seemed the mystery was more important than the character. Batman of the 70s and early 80s was simply the narrator of the story, not the focal point.

Batman of The Super Friends was all batarang and no balls. And my younger brother kept asking: "Why does Robin sound like Shaggy, from Scooby-Doo?"

I. Hate. Bat-mite.

(Although I watched The New Adventures of Batman every week.) Bat-mite, the 70's version of Scrappy-Doo, nearly ruined the Batman character for me.


Frank Miller.

The Dark Knight Returns.

Yes, he did. And then some.

This was how it was supposed to be, all along.

I was so excited for Tim Burton's Batman. The 1989 flick was good, and I liked Michael Keaton in the lead. I thought Burton's visual depiction of the world Batman lived in was awesome, and that he made clear the psychological aspects of the character that are vital to why Batman does what Batman does.

But Jack Nicholson as Joker?

I prefer Bat-mite.

Batman Begins, in 2005, gave me hope that the character can be portrayed seriously on film. No bat-nipples, no Mr. Freeze, no cool casting stunts, ala Jim Carrey as The Riddler: just a great story, great effects and a great actor in the lead.

I want more.

The Dark Knight is all that, and more. All the bells and whistles of a summer blockbuster plus top-shelf acting plus The Batman the way fans of The Batman want to see the character.


And Heath Ledger as Joker is as good as advertised. Better, maybe. He drives the movie with an effortless control that is beautiful to watch. This is more than just a great comic book movie. This is, simply, a great movie.


Susan said...

First, and most importantly to women everywhere, Christian Bale is indeed the hottest Batman ever or that I can imagine there might ever be.

Secondly, this movie was AWESOME. I felt like I was getting a two-fer. The movie explores both the characters of the Joker and Harvey Dent.

This may be the best superhero movie of all time.

My only disappointment: no appearance by Tony Stark. ;)

patrick said...

Dark Knight is a must see for sure, though it might be a better game plant to go after the crowds die down a bit.

The Film Geek said...

Hey Susan: It DID feel like a two-fer. And about the hottness of the lead actor: I hadn't noticed. No, really. I swear to god. I'm not lyin', I didn't notice. Not once...

And by the way, my wife also said she wished Robert Downey Jr. could have found his way into the flick.

Hiya Patrick, and welcome. True dat. It was almost SRO when I saw the movie. And at 2.5 hours, I gotta pee more than once, so I stepped on a lotta toes getting in and out. :)

Elvis Drinkmo said...

The thing about the sixties show is that the villains were top notch. Burgess Meredith was about 1000 times the Penguin Danny DeVito was. Jim Carey? Hell no- Frank Gorshin, muthaf**ka, Frank Gorshin. The only Riddler.

Sorry, Film Geek, I just had to get those in.

The Film Geek said...

Agreed, Elvis. And no need to apologize. :)

moneytastesbad said...

The wife and I saw this yesterday and it was f'n fantastic. With all the hype surrounding Ledgers performance as the Joker, I went in really wanting to be able to say "ah, he was good, but not as good as everyone is making it out to be. This hype is only because he died." But I can't say that. The Joker was an awesome character.

The Film Geek said...

I hear ya, Money. I didn't expect his performacne to live up to the hype either. A lot of that had to do with the fact that I've always hated the Joker character, found him sort of lame. Not any more, man. This will be an iconic character and performance.

Glad you saw it and liked it too.

Barbie Girl said...

Wow. I just got home from watching this film and I am still speechless.

And I too went into it with the whole, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, Heath Ledger. He's the joker." But man, he fascinated me as the Joker.