Batman has always been my favourite comic character. Despite the fact that every time I pick apart the specifics (he’s a man, who dresses like a bat, who doesn’t have any real powers) I can’t understand it myself, but it’s always been the case. Since our flight back from Margate was only at 9.30 pm on the Monday following the Loerie Awards, we had quite a bit of time to kill in Durban, so we headed off to Gateway Mall, where we saw they were showing The Dark Knight on Imax. And thus we found a way to spend our time.
In short, I loved the movie. The Imax experience made it all the more special since every time Batman leapt off a building you got the feeling you were remixing your innards to make them more dance-friendly. I was nervous, because Jack Nicholson is a hard act to follow, especially in a role like The Joker. I was even more nervous because I was worried I wouldn’t like Ledger’s performance, and then I would feel really bad since Ledger died and he deserved to go out with a good performance. But the nerves disappeared very fast, to be replaced with goosebumps.
The Joker as played by Heath Ledger is decidedly the most creepy villain to come out of either Marvel or DC stables since I can remember. Nicholson – for me – seemed to coast on his natural creep-factor, while Heath Ledger brought something a lot more frightening to the table – a villain based in a reality that a lot of people in this world face. The fact that his character had his faith in people taken away at an early age, and then he then set out to prove that any good man could be stripped down to his constituent monster if you took away what he loved, managed to scrape at a something sensitive that lurks in my spinal fluid. I guess having spent a lot of time trying to work out why criminals in South Africa cannot be reasoned with in their unflinching disrespect for human life, I have come across this story myself in many different examples. It was both moving and unnerving to see it on the big screen.
What really sold the story to me was the fact that despite the disturbing nature of Ledger’s Joker portrayal, I grew to really like the character. This reminds me of when I read American Psycho for the first time. Sure, he sliced up women and homeless people, but the author inspired empathy in me for the monster, as did Ledger. When I finished that book, I felt as if I’d lost a best friend.
I read somewhere once that characters in stories are merely focused and exaggerated versions of the various characters that live within and make up our minds. Everyone has a Joker, a Patrick Bateman, and only by loving those characters as well as loving the naturally likeable characters in your mind can you ever exercise any control over them. And that’s what makes super villains into just that – super. Liked, despite. Ah, man. I’m so glad this movie didn’t disappoint me. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.