After the credits rolled, I wondered aloud if The Dark Knight Rises was even better than The Dark Knight. I walked into this movie expecting to be entertained but also mildly disappointed. The Dark Knight was probably the pinnacle of comic book movies. I don’t even like to call it a comic book movie. I prefer “crime thriller using characters originated in a comic book.” It really deserves it’s own category. To prepare for the final part of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, I re-watched the first two Batman films. I realized I may have thought too highly of The Dark Knight (TDK) and not highly enough of Batman Begins. As amazing as Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was and as intense an experience watching that film was, there were some things that bothered me that I may have ignored in my previous viewings. The movie went a little downhill after the Joker was defeated (truth be told, it should have ended there). While The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) definitely had it’s flaws, I think it was a more consistent film from start to finish.
After watching Captain America: The First Avenger, my second thought1 after walking out of the movie was “Where does this rank amongst comic book movies?” Later that evening, I was inspired to try and rank all the superhero movies I’d seen. That task proved to be too daunting (mostly because I check quibbling with the order) but I didn’t want the idea to go to waste so here are my top 10.
To make it easier on myself, I’m only including movies based on comic books about superheroes (eliminating Road To Perdition, Unbreakable2 and The Incredibles).
This list wasn’t as hard to compile as I thought it would be. When I go to the movies, after I’m sitting there watching the credit, I decide then and there whether I’m going to buy it when it comes out on DVD. I don’t know if anyone shares the same sensation but after I see a movie I absolutely love, I look forward to owning. Not necessarily to watch again (although that’s part of it) but to be able to share the movie with friends who haven’t seen it so they can love the movie too and we’ll have that in common (or they can hate it and it will always be a blemish on their permanent friendship record). So I looked at all the movies that came out in the 2000s and looked for the ones I owned and that made it easy*. I also tried to put them in order of best to least best. Honestly, the only numbers that matter is 1-15. After that it gets pretty interchangeable.
If I ever wrote anything on my blog about the movie, there’s a link to it.
50. The Fountain
49. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
48. Away From Her
47. Casino Royale
45. Tropic Thunder
44. The Hangover
43. Little Miss Sunshine
42. The Way of the Gun
41. The Prestige
40. American Psycho Continue reading
I’m not going to bother trying to list them in order of best to least best but I will say that Wall-E, The Dark Knight and The Wrestler were my three favorite movies of the year (in that order).
In alphabetical order:
Is it the best comic book movie ever? Yes, sorta. I’d say it’s the best one for adults. There is something aesthetically pleasing to the kid in me about movies like Superman II, Spider-Man 2 and X2: X-Men United in that they exist in complete fantasy worlds and appeal to kid and teens. The Dark Knight was made with the conceit that “Let’s pretend that Bruce Wayne actually existed and that there was a terrorist that wore makeup.” This was like Heat with a cape. The Dark Knight is a comic book movie in the way that Road to Perdition and A History of Violence were comic book movies.
What I Loved:
- Heath Ledger as The Joker. Believe the hype. As a guy who can say he’s seen 80% of the movies Heath Ledger has been in, even I didn’t think he had this in him. To get a full range of what we lost with Ledger’s death, compare Ennis De Mar from Brokeback Mountain to The Joker.
- Gary Oldman as James Gordon. Talk about range. It’s already been established what a great actor Gary Oldman is but it’s rare to see him do such restrained work. It’s a shame that his performance is getting lost behind all the (well-deserved) praise Ledger’s Joker is getting
- Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Eckhart is one of my favorite actors and he sold the transition of the “White Knight” to Two-Face. Especially the scenes in the hospital with Gordon and Joker
- The characterization of the Joker and Two-Face. The Joker is a pull from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke where The Joker is convinced that all it would take is one bad day to make someone lose it like him (and Batman) Harvey Dent is pulled from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween where the only killings Two-Face does are to the people he feels are responsible for his situation. Also that’s where the idea of Harvey Dent, Gordon and Batman working together on cases came from. Since these are two of my all-time favorite Batman stories, I was quite pleased.
- Maggie Gyllenthal did what she could with what little she was given but she made me care about her fate. I doubt Katie Holmes could have pulled off her last scene over the phone with Harvey.
- Batman as a detective. I’m glad they didn’t just have Batman figuring stuff out by looking at like he’s Monk.
- The IMAX shots. Holy shit. When you see the picture fill up the entire IMAX screen for the first time, you will be taken aback.
- I’m glad Two-Face wasn’t the main villain. The way this universe that Nolan has created works, it’s not like Harvey Dent was going to start gathering henchmen and start to rob banks.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Bale’s Batman voice. It works when he’s only saying one or two lines but when he’s having full conversations with The Joker, Gordon or Harvey, he starts to sound ridiculous. I know everyone can’t be Kevin Conroy but if there is one thing Michael Keaton had over fellow Batmen is his voice didn’t sound silly.
- Speeches. There were too many speeches driving home the themes of the movie
What Made Me Think:
- Batman sure causes a lot of property damage when he hits the street. I’m not the only one who thinks so. I hope Bruce Wayne is somehow paying for all of this.