He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. —Psalm 113:9

July 18, 2008

More sleep-deprived, uncontrollable Dark Knight Gushing

And more awesome: the trailer for Terminator 4

Aside from the fact that it appears to fit nicely with TSCC, these days, if Christian Bale's in it, I'm pretty much there.

Which segues neatly into more raving on Dark Knight, because it will be a while before I can shut up about how much I love this movie. And I realized just a bit ago that the reason I love this movie so much is because THIS is the movie I've been hoping and waiting for ever since I picked up my first Batman comic. Up until then, I had enjoyed the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton movies, and considered myself a fan based on those, but really, I had no idea.

Then, soon after my introduction to the comics, came the ground breaking Animated Series (and it's subsequent movies), and while it wasn't perfect, it was a hell of a lot closer to what Batman should be. That was also around the time that I became, more specifically, a JOKER fan. Mark Hamill's animated Joker was so very different from Jack Nicholson's live action version, and so very much BETTER. He's also still my favorite version of the Joker, ever. Sorry, Heath fans.

So I had reservations about this movie. When I first heard Heath Ledger was cast as my favorite character, my stomach sank. I couldn't even begin to picture it. Then, when the previews and photos began to circulate, I had mixed feelings. It looked like they were taking the Joker seriously. He wasn't going to be a cartoon character. He would obviously be closer to Hannibal Lecter than Cesar Romero. This was a very good thing. But the nitpicky fangirl in me couldn't help a little nerdgassing (TM Scalzi). He's wearing makeup! The Joker doesn't wear makeup, his skin is bleached! What's with those scars? He's not supposed to have scars! Why aren't they just making The Killing Joke movie that I've been praying for ever since I read that graphic novel? WHY?

But then I talked myself down, and convinced myself that these things don't matter. The writing and the performance are what matters. And, well...

[OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this article will spoil you like Paris Hilton.]

...they had me at "...makes you stranger." Heath Ledger WAS the Joker, pure and simple. He was the embodiment of chaos for chaos' sake, the dim reflection in Batman's dark mirror, the illustration of what Bruce could have become if he zigged instead of zagged when confronted with tragedy. Where Bruce chose to grow stronger and fight the chaos, the Joker chose to give in and embrace it. He's Batman's shadow, and they can't exist without each other. This movie captured that better than I ever hoped. And this Joker was terrifying, and unpredictable, and charismatic, and FUNNY! Everything he should be. I was blown away.

And then, Harvey. My second favorite member of the Rogue's Gallery. The tragedy of his transformation into Two Face was played up so well. Harvey Dent the D.A. was portrayed so well by Aaron Eckhardt as an all-too-human hero, a flawed man who believed in doing the right thing, willing to sacrifice himself for it. But being forced to sacrifice the woman he loved was too much, and it was so believable, and so tragic, and I cried when I saw it coming, and I cried when Two Face woke up in the hospital, and again when he confronted Gordon, and I'm tearing up a little as I write this.

And then we got the nods to the two books that formed the basis of my personal definition of Batman and the Joker, with the rescue of James Jr. by Batman (Year One), and Joker's failed attempt to prove his point to Batman, that people in general are walking cesspools of self-interest bent on self-preservation at all costs; that the average person is as fragile and breakable as the Joker himself turned out to be. The boats-full of strangers he tested his theory on weren't nearly as heart-wrenching and effective as Gordon insisting on doing the right thing, in The Killing Joke, after being physically and psychologically tortured by the Joker; but it got the point across, and it showed how broken and bent the Joker really is, and it showed me that this film's creators get it, and I actually felt gratitude to them for giving me these versions of these characters.

Awesome. There's just no better word to sum it all up. I want to hold this movie tight and never let it go...except to give Batman a hug, because he really needed one by the end.

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