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Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Yesterday the Oscar nomination were announced; to no surprise, Heath Ledger has a spot on the list of Best Supporting Actors (and will certainly win) for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight; to much outcry, The Dark Knight failed to recieve any other major nominations, such as Best Director or even Best Picture. I don’t care, really. As much as I love it, I don’t think it deserves Best Picture (though admittedly I haven’t seen any of the actual nominees this year, to my failure). But the hullabaloo got me thinking about the film again, and why it’s so problematic to me. Because as I addressed in my original essay on the film–the first piece written for this site–I have a lot of issues with The Dark Knight. I already explained what I think is wrong with it, with regards to the ethical position presented by the narrative; now I’d like to expand on that, a bit, but more importantly, explain how to do it right.

The Dark Knight is a film about the myth of the Hero. A cursory view might say that it is a film deconstructing the Hero: it emphasizes, after all, that Batman/Bruce Wayne is not a hero, and this is true, depending on how we define “hero”. The film seems to mean the popular sense of an individual who acts ethically to eliminate injustice and preserve society’s righteousness. I’m not going to dispute that definition too much; in fact, I want to look much closer at several parts of it and what they mean, and how they impact the status of Batman as a Hero.

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I want to tear it down.

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This isn’t a review; so if that’s what you’re looking for, go somewhere else. (Preferably to a theater, where you can buy a ticket to see The Dark Knight.) Nor is this a critical analysis, although that’s closer. I think the best term for it would be a “response” to The Dark Knight–if only because that’s a very general, almost meaningless term. This is my attempt to engage the film on level beyond “holy fuck, that was awesome” (although that is a perfectly legitimate response, and one I agree with completely). In case you haven’t gotten the hint yet, there be spoilers ahead.

I’m going to delineate three phases I went through with The Dark Knight. I didn’t actually go through three distinct phases–as with everything, these categories and definitions and limitations are mere approximations of the true, gradual, undefinable, limitless experience–but they’re useful for what I want to do here, so bear with me.

The first phase, beginning shortly after the film started and continuing for several hours after walking out the theater, was the “holy fuck, that was awesome” phase. I sat in my car with a huge grin on my face, incapable of being distracted or annoyed by anything, completely overcome with joy at the experience of the film. I went straight from the movie to a party with many people who had seen just seen it that day or the night before (this was the Friday it was released) and spent a lot of time discussing the general awesomeness of the film as well as specific moments. (The scene where the Joker makes the pencil disappear seemed to be a favorite. I agree.)

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