The Dark, Dark Knight

The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, the final movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, is out. Having watched it, my response is…meh.

I saw Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in the theater. I remember enjoying both movies, but if I’m being completely honest, the only good thing from either movie that has stuck with me is Heath Ledger’s brilliant (and tragic) performance in The Dark Knight. I’ve never really had a desire to watch either movie again, except to see if my lasting impressions are wrong and I really do like them. But here’s what I remember about the movies: I didn’t like Batman’s costume; I hated the husky, shouty voice Christian Bale used as Batman; I hated the ATV Batmobile; I thought the choice of having Liam Neeson play Ra’s al Ghul only made sense to trick the audience into thinking Ra’s al Ghul was someone else (but made so sense for the character or the story); I found the movies to be uncomfortably “realistic” and dark.

I’ll admit, Batman’s not my favorite superhero, but there are a hell of a lot of Batman comics I’ve enjoyed. I’m not a fan of grim, dark, pseudo-realistic superheroes. I generally prefer my superhero stories to be colorful, fantastic, uplifting and inspiring. And yes, I think it’s possible for a good Batman story to be like that. (My pal Gregg Winsor just said to me, “Nolan’s Batman isn’t a superhero, and the movies aren’t ‘superhero’ movies.” Which I think nails why I haven’t gotten much lasting enjoyment from them. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that they fail to meet my expectations and my wants.)

As a long-time comics geek, I feel weird admitting that Nolan’s Batman movies aren’t my cup of tea. I can proudly admit that I find Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies, universally reviled as they are, to be camp crap. But to admit that Nolan’s acclaimed Batman movies rub me the wrong way? It’s like admitting some dark, terrible secret. But I’m putting it out there, for all to see. Pelt me with tomatoes and cabbages, if you must.

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