Well, that was a bit of a kick in the gut

I saw _The Dark Knight_. It was well-written, generally well-directed, fairly well-acted (except for Heath Ledger, who was amazing), and I have no immediate desire to see it again.

Let me back up a bit: I liked _Batman Begins_ a lot. A *lot*. It was one of the finest super-hero movies ever. I think X2 may have been a *little* better, but I have more affection for the characters. Factor that out, it’s a dead heat.

I don’t mean to be pejorative when I call _Batman Begins_ a super-hero movie. I like super-hero movies. I wait for good ones to come out all the time.

But I contend that, deep down, _The Dark Knight_ is not a super-hero movie–the level of nihilism it displays on all sides far surpasses even its spiritual source material, _The Dark Knight Returns_. The relentlessness with which the Joker drives forward the story is entirely in line with the implacable onslaught of the creature in _Alien_. Like the creature there is no respite from the Joker.

Like _Alien_, when we’re not being asked to imagine the horrors that the creature visits on the crew of the *Nostromo*–and the movies are similar in that most of the real gore is implied, or happens very, very quickly rather than being lingered over and sensationalized–we’re asked to be fascinated with the creature itself; this is the thing that drives Christopher Nolan to show us the Joker lurching out of the hospital in a nurse’s uniform, the same way Ridley Scott would show us the creature unfolding and unpacking itself from some improbable space, moving with an inhuman quality.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a well-made movie. It affected me viscerally. But I don’t find its horror-movie-in-super-hero-clothing to be something I feel the need to repeat any time soon.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.