As always, Spoiler Alert.
Funny how an all-time favourite and an all-time least favourite can be just one movie apart.
I love Batman Begins. I mean, what’s not to love? What’s better than a heaping helping of manly men fighting their way through the dark, gritty grittiness? I love it so much, I don’t even mind the fact that it’s another bloody origin story.
Plus, two words: training montage.
Oh, and none of that’s sarcasm. I actually do love Batman Begins. (Seriously though, filmmakers. Enough with the origin stories, already.) I was never a fan of the previous, cartoony Batman films, with the bright colours and over-the-top performances. It always felt to me like Batman should be stylistically darker than the average superhero film.
And while I may complain about it being an origin story, Batman Begins deals with it in a more overarching and nuanced way than the usual “Parents Murdered In Front Of Him While Young Boom! Batman!” storyline. The film is a study of one man’s slide into toxic masculinity.
Bruce Wayne’s father teaches him lots of healthy things. From, “We fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up,” to explaining the importance of giving back to one’s community, to the active example of being a billionaire who doesn’t need to do a damn thing and choosing to work at a hospital instead, Thomas Wayne is giving his son a pretty solid emotional grounding. And then he gets killed, leaving Bruce in the care of the butler, adrift and looking for revenge, finally finding a new father figure in Ducard (Liam Neeson).
And while Ducard is as urbane and well-spoken as Bruce’s father, when it comes to dealing with crime and injustice, he’s more about fire and destruction than nurturing and healing.
Ducard’s probably my favourite supervillain, partly because he’s less cartoonish than most, and partly because I could happily listen to Liam Neeson recite the phone book. His character is one of the main reasons I enjoy Batman Begins so much.
Conversely, the villain is the main reason I dislike The Dark Knight.
Now how’s that for an unpopular opinion?
Honestly, I was never a fan of Heath Ledger. Not sure why. There was just an undefinable something I didn’t care for, and I didn’t enjoy the few movies of his that I saw. So I went into The Dark Knight trepidatiously, hoping that it would break the cycle, and I’d enjoy Ledger’s Joker.
That didn’t happen. But at least this time, I’ve got a concrete reason for why.
It’s the lip-smacking.
The Joker smacks and slurps and clicks his way through the movie and it drives. Me. Insane. Writing this, just thinking about it, my stomach is in knots. Picking out the clip to share above made me kind of nauseous. And watching the movie so I could write this review had me squirming in my seat.
I don’t know if I actually have misophonia, or if it’s simply the result of a lifetime of conditioning. (My father hated the sound of people chewing, so while I was growing up, we always had the TV on during meals, and having background noise while eating is a habit I’ve continued with.) Either way, the noise absolutely ruined The Dark Knight for me.
It’s kind of disappointing, really, to love the first movie for its surprising complexity, only to hate the second for something so shallow.
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.