I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I am (or used to be, anyway) an avid comic book reader. I mostly read Marvel titles, my favorites being Uncanny X-Men, Alpha Flight, and The Avengers. I was a casual reader of D.C. comics (except for Green Lantern, to which I subscribed for a while), reading the occasional Justice League or Batman issue. Therefore, it’s with a somewhat heavy heart that I must say that The Dark Knight is the
Best. Superhero. Movie. Ever.
There. I said it. It’s better than any of the X-Men movies (especially the third one, which sucked). It’s better than any of the Spider-Man movies (especially the third one, which also sucked). It’s better than any of the Superman movies (especially the third one, which sucked). Do you see a trend here with third moves?
Heath Ledger as the Joker was just incredible. This is how the Joker is supposed to be. He’s the Joker from the classic graphic novel The Killing Joke (those who have read TKJ will recognize what the Joker’s agenda is in TDK — he claims he doesn’t have one, but he does) crossed with the Joker from the other classic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. He’s funny, but never clownish, and he’s absolutely terrifying. Now I’m even sorrier that Heath Ledger is gone, because I can’t see who they’ll ever get to replace him. All the other actors are excellent (especially Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, and Gary Oldman), but Ledger dominates; and even better, the script gets the relationship between the Joker and Batman exactly right. It also nails all the little details of the relationships between the principal characters, as well as their individual motivations, flaws, and weaknesses; their reactions when the Joker pushes each one of them to their breaking point are natural and utterly believable, and the story never takes the easy way out. Finally, the film is littered with terrific actors in minor roles (Look, it’s Eric Roberts! Look, it’s Anthony Michael Hall!). It’s a pleasure to watch so many true professionals at work.
Being a relatively devious writer myself, I figured out most of the Joker’s plots well before the characters did, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment watching them play out. His final scheme involving a couple of passenger-laden ferries is destined to be a classic.
My wife stayed awake for the entire film. Even though she generally complains about how uncomfortable movie theater seats are, she is still more than capable of nodding off while sitting in them (for instance, she fell asleep partway through Iron Man). Afterwards, she even cared enough about the movie to ask me some questions about the source comics, and to say how good the performances were. Take that, Batman and Robin.
NOTE: The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, but it is quite violent and disturbing if not particularly gory. Of course, it seems to be pretty difficult to get an R rating just for violence. Maybe if Maggie Gyllenhaal had taken her top off (see Secretary) it would’ve gotten an R … anyway, think twice before bringing along young kids.