I am a huge Batman fan – have been as far back as I can remember. I have memories of watching Super Friends and just waiting for the Caped Crusader to show up. I’ve been there through the Joel Shumacher period, and (in the comics) the year of Azrael.
I am not however, a fan of the Joker. He is trite to me, just another maniacal genius who must not be all that bright since Batman always catches him. My favorite story arcs with the Joker were always the overboard ones, like “A Death in the Family” and “The Killing Joke” when the Joker killed Robin and paralyzed Bat-girl, respectively. No one ever truly unleashed the insanity that this man should be plagued with. There were several attempts that came close, but it just never made it.
Needless to say, I did not care for the screen representations of the Joker. Caesar Romero was certainly crazy in the show, but it was too campy; and Jack Nicholson’s Joker was too suave, too in control. Neither made me feel that they were truly this maniac.
There was something else that drove me nuts about the Joker – his origin. Even as a child, I had trouble with the fact that there was an explanation. I didn’t want an explanation; and I didn’t want a court jester gone screwy. If you’re going to do the Joker, then do it.
And along came “The Dark Knight.” What can I say? It was magnificent. Unless you see it, you cannot grasp just how amazing the Joker in this film is. Written by Jon and Chris Nolan and brought to life by the late Heath Ledger, this character was finally the Joker we’ve always wanted. Nothing embodies it better than, dressed in a nurse’s uniform, holding a gun casually to Harvey Dent’s head he comments, “I don’t have a plan…I’m an agent of chaos!”
This movie was not entertaining; but it was amazing. Ledger delved into the abyss of the Joker and emerged as the true Clown Prince. He eclipsed the work of everyone who has ever played, drawn or written the character and gave us something truly beyond words.
That is not to say that rest of the cast and the film itself was not also excellent, because they were. The mood, the script, the realism – everything was perfect. Chris Nolan captures the essence of Batman. He was born to write and direct these kinds of films. His work is the standard for comic book based films in my opinion. Christian Bale was great; Aaron Eckhart was excellent; Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine were their usual excellent selves. The story twisted; it turned; and it left me feeling that a magnificent story had been unveiled before me. It took me on a journey like few films I have ever seen.
And, apparently America agreed with me – to the tune of $155 million in three ways. That is three-quarters of what the first film made in its entire run. It broke every box office record there was to break, and it deserved to do so. The only one it probably won’t break is the overall box office record held by “Titanic”, which is sad because this is an amazing picture. Go see it! Twice!
Chris Nolan deserves an Oscar for best picture; Heath Ledger deserves and Oscar for best actor; the set design crew, the FXs team – this film deserves awards, people!