And then, there’s the film.
It is, in a word, brilliant.
It is everything that a superhero flick should be and I don’t even like superhero flicks. It goes beyond kitsch and pop culture and takes it to a new level of aesthetics and moral ambivalence. How do I love this film, let me count the ways*:
1) Christian Bale. Enough said. (Hey, I’m a girl!)
2) The Joker: The almost-schizophrenia, the blotchy make-up like an actor spent after a show, the intermittent explanations he drops for his hideousness (both inner and outer) each as convincing as the last and yet clearly all false, that he is a monster beyond money and of course, that he is a ‘clown let out of the box’, hilarity that has crossed the bounds of control. It is Heath Ledger’s ultimate performance and the whole thing is tinged with greater tragedy because he did not live to hear the applause and take a bow.
3) The script: Which it turns out was co-written by director Christopher Nolan. The play between the white knight and his dark alter ego (and how it is a love triangle without being trite). The tension between the hero and the anti-hero and the questioning of what it means to be a hero and more fascinating, whether society needs a hero and what kind. The way The Joker – like a good bad guy should – forces society to reckon with the ugliness within and (this is why it remains quintessentially a superhero story) how society overcomes it. And yet, it’s not quite a happy ending, how postmodern.
4) The gadgets.
5) The darkness and the angst. This is why Batman is my favourite superhero. There is something traumatised and creepy about this man-in-a-cave and hey, aren’t we all suckers for brooding hunks?
Favourite moment in the film: When Batman roars by on his bike (I’m conflicted on whether I like that or not, but I’m going with not) and hits a wall and falls off. Some Chinese kids in the audience broke the pin-drop silence with a well-timed “Wahhhh”!
*Ok shoot me for that one, but I couldn’t resist. Can’t you tell I’m sappy, and this is four full days after the fact.