Friday, July 18, 2008

Dark Days for Superheros

As a special birthday present to my ever supportive and loving husband, I gave him the choice of picking the dinner and movie we attended in his honor. He chose The Dark Knight, the latest incarnation of Batman. I wasn't surprised at the choice as he is a comic book devote and enjoys the superhero genre of movie. I am a huge fan of Heath Ledger so I figured - heck something for everyone. I will say Heath Ledger plays one phenomenal Joker. Now, I'm a child of the 60's and remember the Cesar Romero version of the Joker - baby, this was nothin' like that! This was Heath as I had never seen him before - convincingly demented and warped. A truly brilliant performance and so sad that it had to be his last.

Now, I know that the original vision of Batman in the 30's played rather dark. That changed around WWII when the need for patriotic and bigger than life superheros played against the evils of the time. The campy Batman of the 1960's was fun but hardly true to the essence of the earlier versions. I was told by my comic book lovin' honey that the "Dark Knight" version of the character arose around 10 years ago in response to a cry for less goofy and more esoteric superheros - also, lets face it, that kind of graphic novel appeals to the soul of many teens. So I see the commercial appeal. (Phew - that was a lot - even for me) Anyway. Well. Um.


Maybe I have become an old lady. But I did go into this with an open mind. My thought after: I don't like this broody, dark batman. I also don't like (SPOILER ALERT) Commissioner Gordon defending Two-Face and sending Batman up the river as a scapegoat. WHAT?!! The defense being if Two Face (AKA - the DA Harvey Dent) can be turned to corruptible evil then the Joker has won and all hope for Gotham City lost. What?! Hey, evil is evil. People choose to be evil. You do have a choice. I mean, true, Harvey went through a lot. But to say the Joker convinced him to be evil. No. He COULD have chosen a different path. And to protect that weakness, poor choice and downright evil. Sorry, the message is lost on me.

I mean come-on - we're talking a PG13 rated film (frankly, that shocked me. I don't want my 13 year old daughter to see this.) This film is violent, bloody, shows cruelty to animals, kidnapping, lying, etc. Yes, a lot of the acting was great. Got to love the underused Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. The action sequences and special effects top notch. But is that all there is to a movie now days? Even a movie directed at teenage boys and men who wish they were still teenage boys? Why must it be dark and brooding? Why must the hero be someone unsure and the line between good and evil so fuzzy? Why did I see people bringing 6 and 7 years olds to see this? (OK, that last one is definitely the mom in me talking.)

So I say - ENOUGH OF THIS TREND. Bring back superheros we can emulate. Sure you can make a thought-provoking superhero movie - but can't it also be fun? I'm all for a good, positive message. Can't my children have their heroes without a side of angst? Let me know when you make one of those, Hollywood, and I might come back. Until then it's back to the Archie comics for me!