THE LATEST Batman movie, “Dark Knight”, is breaking all sorts of box office records, as at least one blockbuster seems to do each summer. I liked the previous movie, “Batman Begins”; it was dark (inevitably) and serious and tried to make Batman believable and threatening. But despite all that, I still liked it.
I’m a fan of American comics but even I can’t quite see the sense in trying to make a serious movie about a superhero. They’re not supposed to be taken seriously – they’re escapism. That’s why the first two Spider-Man movies were so successful – because they didn’t take themselves too seriously – and why Ang Lee’s “Hulk” was so awful – because it took itself far too seriously.
The best superhero movie of all time (and we’re talking movies here, so for “all time” read “last sixty years or so”) was Richard Donner’s “Superman”. It wasn’t brilliant because it took itself seriously, but it wasn’t a spoof either. It had humour, great writing and a charismatic and modest lead actor. But it didn’t try to convince its audience that these events could actually have happened.
Incidentally, I never really understood why most people’s objection to the Superman myth was his Clark Kent disguise. “How can Lois Lane be fooled so easily by a pair of glasses?” is the refrain I’ve often heard. So, you believe the guy’s an alien, and you believe a man can fly, that he’s got super vision and super breath, that he can lift trains with one hand, that he can travel backwards in time by flying round the world really, really fast… but you can’t accept his glasses are a proper disguise?
And if you’re interested in pursuing that line of logic, I recommend you read Larry Niven’s short story, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”.