Exalted Movie Mondays – The Dark KnightNovember 8, 2010
This movie has been a while coming, but it’s worth the wait (and Orrin, you can hush with your snarky. I’ll be happy to make a little fun of this movie in just a minute). The Dark Knight is the latest in the live-action Batman franchise(s), and it’s one hell of a movie. Sometimes considered the film that killed Heath Ledger, it’s also the film that made him a star. Moreover, it has some excellent Exalted influences.
The basic synopsis is that, in response to the appearance of the caped crusader, criminals are stepping up their game or getting driven out of town. The Joker is the answer to Batman, crime’s one hope of answering Gotham’s arms race. At the same time, Gotham’s new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, is a shining beacon of hope, Gotham’s new White Knight, and Batman’s hope that maybe he won’t have to be Batman forever. When Dent and the Joker meet, however, catastrophe follows, and Gotham has to rely, once again, on its Dark Knight.
The movie is about Batman, but this review isn’t. Screw Batman. The most novel thing Christian Bale brings to this movie is a distinct scratching sensation in the throat and a desperate need for some kind of lozenge. This review is about the Joker and Harvey Dent, two of the most interesting and Exalted characters in Batman’s continuity. Sure, Batman is a Night Caste with abandonment issues, but we don’t care about him. The villains are always more fun.
The Joker is probably the single best Scourge/Fiend Infernal I have ever seen in my life. He is a pure anarchist, a madman out to blow up the world because it’s fun. He dons and doffs roles like masks, playing the mob against the cops, playing Batman against the mob, and turning the citizens of Gotham against one another, all for sport. His origins are a mystery, his mind is shattered, and yet he plays the finest con games and Machiavellian schemes I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. He is the spectacle of the film, a man without rules, whose only goal is to make Batman break his own rule. If Batman kills the Joker, the Joker wins. If Batman doesn’t kill him, he continues to kill others, and the Joker wins. It’s a fine game and a spectacular vice in which to trap the obsessive-compulsive crusader.
Harvey Dent, on the other hand, starts the movie as a hero, the shining hope of Gotham. If anything, he is a Solar, or at least a hero with the potential to be a Solar, shining bright as the dawn and promising better things for the citizens. However, anyone who knows the name Harvey Dent from Batman mythology should recognize that, by the end of the film, Aaron Eckhart is going to become the nefarious Two-Face, a bitter man with all his hope destroyed by the Joker, reduced to a lunatic bent only on revenge against the ones he feels let his world be annihilated. He is, in the end, an Abyssal, a nihilistic force of chaos set loose on Gotham by the Joker himself as his ultimate jest against Batman and the city.
I cannot recommend this film enough to people. Ignore the parts you dislike, but Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker is an historic, iconic moment, something that will be discussed among comic book fans for decades to come. It’s worth it for him alone. And I apologize in advance for “the Batman voice.” It’s truly, truly horrific.