Was thinking while I was watching it tonight that spends way too much time and effort trying to set up and sell the idea that Batman is not just an anti-hero, he's a quasi-villain and that the people of Gotham City---which is to say, people---need a quasi-villain to defend and protect them because they aren't ready for a true hero. Gotham is a fallen world. The people who live there---here, everywhere is Gotham City---are the children of a fall, the fall. The crime that engulfs them is their own fallen, evil nature unleashed and turned against themselves. The Joker is right. For now. Batman is what people both hate about themselves and the only weapon they can use to destroy what they hate about themselves. Batman is the self against the self. That's why his chief Nemesis, the Joker, is his mirror image. Batman is civilization as it is, human nature held in check by a few rules. The Joker is human nature without those rules. There can be no true heroes until people themselves are heroic. They need a savior. The savior will only come when the time is right, which is when the people are ready, which is to say when they don't really need to be saved anymore.
Until then, all we have is Replica Watches Batman.
That seemed to me too much for one movie. But this isn't one movie. It's part of a series of movies and the plan for those movies don't include only one hero.
What The Dark Knight did, and did pretty well, I think, was clear a space in the Batman myth that can only be filled by one hero, who is not Batman. We may not get to see the series completed because his movie, the one that was intended to start the series that was going to intersect with the Batman movies, bombed. But the space for him is there and it doesn't have to be filled on the screen because it's easy to fill it in our imaginations. The ending of the Dark Knight contains the whole story of the Knight of Light.
Well put. Hadn really thought of it that way, but DC has always been really, really keen on drawing those distinctions: that Batman and Superman are a Yin/Yang combination that really need each other to be effective.
(Now if only Warner had let DC be as conscientious about making these connections as Marvel has been.)
Then again, the problem with waiting for saviors is the kind of saviors you get. Sure, Superman is a welcome counterpoint to Batman. but so is Ozymandias. The Watchmen loom large over Nolan Gotham.
Superman is physically invulnerable. Emotionally? I don know. If Luthor hurt Lois Lane, perhaps Superman would take LexCorp apart brick by brick, but I don think he snap and start killing people.
The movie punishes Harvey Dent for trying to be Superman without actually being the Last Son of Krypton.
I admit, I was expecting them to set up Two-Face for the next movie, so I was surprised that they went ahead and unleashed him in the last hour or so. Good lord, but that version of Two-Face made me want my teddy bear last night.
The problem with Dark Knight is that it fails at narrative structure and character development, choosing to instead focus on a morality tale (with the morals actually repeatedly verbalized by the characters themselves). Joker story begins in media res and never really develops into a STORY; instead he is just a force of malevalence and chaos (which he helpfully tells the viewer in case you need it spelled out for you). In the end, the film is just a series of special effects supporting the vague outlines of a story about Batman and allies trying to stop the Joker and various criminals, with a subplot where the citizens of Gotham (and the viewers, by extension) are faced with a prisoner dilemma to illustrate that moral choices are hard. It would be fine as a serial like a comic book or a single episode in a soap opera, but it does not work on its own merits as a stand-alone film. The nearly-instantaneous turn from Harvey Dent to Two-Face is never believable for a minute, and is directly comparable to the change in character in Star Wars Episode 3 from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vadar. In both films, one minute the guy is a boy scout and the next minute he is ready to massacre children. That kind of about face needs to be belieavable or it just looks ridiculous and feels calculated to manipulate emotion.
Dent is definitely the movie big problem. As Luke says, his downfall--which should carry strong dramatic resonance--isn remotely psychologically believable--especially given that, as the prisoners on the boat demonstrate, preternatural goodness IS a possibility in this world. The Joker is mesmerizing, and I don mind--in fact, I LIKE--that he never develops into anything more than a force of chaos, but then Two Face has to be dragged into the mix, and all you can think is, huh. Nice face effect. Great. Um. There Just Us.")
Any of us could be a Joker, even someone as incorruptible as Dent.
Demosthenese, your points don seem swiss replica watches to explain how this film is anything but a medieval morality play with flashy production values. Repeating the moral or point of the film and its characters (as delivered straight from the movie characters mouths) doesn suggest how the FILM was well-executed as a FILM. Special pleading about "comic conceits" doesn either. I love comics, but I want my comic book films to hold together as a film. To me that means a coherent story, some character development, competent acting, and decent cinematography. The Dark Knight really failed the first two, Ledger was the only actor who delivered on the third, and I will give it the fourth (though I found the cinematography to be a tad confused).
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