Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ranking the Batman Movies: #1

1. The Dark Knight (2008) 
Directed by Christopher Nolan 
Batman…Christian Bale 
James Gordon…Gary Oldman 
Alfred…Michael Caine 
Rachel Dawes…Maggie Gyllenhaal 
Lucius Fox…Morgan Freeman 
Harvey Dent…Aaron Eckhart 
The Joker…Heath Ledger 
Sal Maroni…Eric Roberts 
The Scarecrow…Cillian Murphy 

For my money, this is not only the best Batman movie but the best superhero movie of all-time and it’s really not that close. A huge part of it is that even as it is giving us what the fanboys want it goes against the grain of what we know superhero movies to be. It works as a crime drama, challenges our notions of right and wrong, gives us one of the best villains in cinematic history, consistently pulls us to the edge of our seats, has a phenomenally unnerving score and wraps it all up by giving us the most daring ending the genre has ever witnessed. In every other comic book flick, the hero is the clear cut winner when all is said and done. The only variation to that is when we see the bad guy is still alive to possibly come back for the sequel (or the emergence of another villain who’ll wreak havoc in the next movie). Even then, there’s no doubt that good has triumphed over evil. In The Dark Knight Batman’s victory is pyrrhic, at best. The cost of it is so great that it comes tumbling down around him in The Dark Knight Rises. Watching it for the first time, you can’t feel good about where our hero is headed when it’s over. Still, Batman, or even Bruce Wayne is hardly the central character. It could be argued that he’s the third most important character behind Jim Gordon and The Joker. Speaking of Joker, I’ve already mentioned that this version is a truly great villain. That’s thanks, in no small part, to the note-perfect performance by Heath Ledger. This Joker is what the die-hards have envisioned for decades and one casual movie goers were suitably horrified by. Gotham City deserved a better class of criminal and he gave it to them.

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