A dissenting view on “the Dark Knight”

Chris Nolan’s latest iteration of Batman that debuted this weekend is breaking records at the box office and receiving high praise all around. While I really enjoyed the film and am glad its doing so well, I’ve got some problems with it that go beyond the simply dorky.

WATCH OUT: there’s spoilers after the jump.

A lot of my problems with the movie come down to trying to pack too much into too little time. Heath Ledger’s creepy ass Joker with his enigmatic origin and flicky tongue was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. But what about Harvey Dent/Two Face–in my opinion, one the figures with the most pathos in the Batman rogues gallery? Both Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four 2 suffered from trying to fit too many bad guys into a one bad guy movie. I would argue that Two Face, like Venom, deserves his own film. If the movie got you itching for more Harvey Dent/Two Face, I would check out Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory–you’ll find that Batman Begins and the Dark Knight largely follow these stories but graft the Joker and a love interest on top of them.

Speaking of the love interest–wouldn’t it be cool to have a superhero movie where a major female character played some roll other than the object of affection of the male lead. You know, women are more than squishy things that men like. Rachel Dawes worked as well as she did in Batman Begins because she played a roll greater than just being the woman that Batman was in love with. She was the District Attorney type fighting corruption from within the judicial system and thus a crucial member of the Batman (masked vigilante) and Jim Gordon (good cop) trinity. With the introduction of Harvey Dent, who until he become Two Face is basically Rachel Dawes with a penis, she becomes little more than a piece of territory for Bruce and Harvey to contest. And the notion that Two Face’s origin is that he was pissed about Batman and Commissioner Gordon for not saving his girlfriend is a little trite if you ask me.

Continuing with that line of thought, I think every Batman movie since the 1989 Tim Burton film has suffered from introduction of a love interest for Batman. He’s the god damned Batman! Do you really think he would prioritize that? The thing about trying to make Batman a dude like you or me is that he’s not. He’s crazy. He’s Batman. Even though there’s a lot of issues with violence against women as plot device in the comic book world, I’m happy Rachel Dawes died. There was no place for her.

I hope the movie continues to do well, if only because superhero comic books need a shot in the arm. My advice to people who are willing to spend $10.50 to enjoy the Dark Knight on the big screen is to drop $10.43 buying one of the Batman stories I mentioned used on Amazon. You’ll find it’s money well spent.

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