I've never been a particular fan of Batman. For whatever reason, the Batman mythos wasn't a part of my childhood the way those of Superman or Spider-man or the Incredible Hulk were (those are the super-heroes that I remember being aware of the earliest). Although I'm a fan of many movies and TV shows based on comic books, I never read any comics themselves. As a young teen (which in this context would include the ages of 10-12) I watched and enjoyed some episodes of the 1960s "Batman" series, and once a few years ago I tried to watch the 1989 Batman movie, but I couldn't manage it because it was so silly. With the TV show the silliness didn't bother me, because it was supposed to be silly, but in the movie they're trying to take themselves seriously, and yet every time Michael Keaton swoops into the room, I can't help but laugh at his little ears.
Now, I have several friends who are serious Batman fans, and I know that, for the most part, they don't really appreciate how their beloved characters are treated in most of the film and TV versions, but since that's the only exposure I had ever had to it, I've never been able to understand the appeal and how they can take it so seriously.
Well, in 2005 they came out with Batman Begins, and I heard good things about that, and most importantly, I heard good things about it from Batman fans. But, because Batman doesn't hold a special place in my heart, I never got around to watching it until recently, when I got it out of the library a couple of weeks ago.
I found it to be a very good, thoughtful, intelligent, movie. I didn't actually have a strong emotional reaction to it; rather my response to it was mostly intellectual, for lack of a better word. I don't think Batman will ever earn the kind of special place in my heart that Spider-man or even Superman has in my heart, but now I understand the appeal that he has for other people. There was none of the ridiculousness that characterized the earlier incarnations; he still had little ears, but for some reason they stopped being silly. Why? I can't even begin to explain it. And yet, there was about the plot something of the absurd. It was a plot that I could imagine them doing on the old '60s series, but they would have done it in a silly, campy way, whereas in the movie it was presented to be believable given the circumstances of the film, and was therefore more menacing. But I think that in reality, even around the most tragic situations, there often lurks a hint of the absurd, though not necessarily absurd in the sense of "laughable"...but we human beings do many, many things to one another that, when you think about it, really don't make a lot of sense.
Anyway, the reason I made the effort to seek out Batman Begins at the library and watch it, besides the fact that it looked good and came well-recommended by the people qualified to make such a judgment, is in anticipation of its sequel, The Dark Knight, which is coming out this summer. When I heard, way back in 2006, that Heath Ledger was going to play The Joker, I decided right then and there that this is a movie I have to see. If I were to make a list of the greatest male actors under 30, Heath Ledger would probably be at the top of the list (although in another couple years I would have to revise that list again). I don't know when they released the full trailer, but I finally saw it yesterday, and I'm...at a loss for words. I'm amazed and astonished and fascinated and repelled and really, really excited about this movie, and seeing Heath Ledger in this role. The Joker character is kind of the embodiment of what I was talking about earlier, the dichotomy of malice and absurdity.