I gotta’ say… it’s kind of disappointing. Maybe it’s because there is very little “Bats” (Ben Affleck) or maybe it’s because this “Mr. J” (Jared Leto) seems like a rip-off of Heath Ledger’s Joker… Will Smith is Will Smith… At least Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) steals the show (as she should!).
Watch it now! Before I spoil it further.
At least it looks a little different than Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Up until this point, we didn’t know if all the DC Cinematic Universe movies would look the same or if directors would be given some room to bring their own style; as Marvel has allowed its directors like James Gunn and Joss Wedon to do. Suicide Squad doesn’t look like a Batman V Superman clone, rather writer/director David Ayer has given us something that feels at least a little bit unique.
That’s not always a good thing as this muddled trailer really doesn’t instill any excitement, aside from a vicious/crazy looking Harley Quinn finally brought to life without animation.
The rest though… all these uninteresting actors like Jai Courtney (who made A Good Day To Die Hard, Jack Reacher, and Terminator Genyis all boring with his generic action hero face) and Joel Kinnaman (who made the Robocop remake boring with his generic hero face) playing equally boring, lesser-known DC characters does not impress. And “Mista J,” The Joker… his look is awful as the reveal image from several months back, his voice is very Heath Ledger, and the laugh is just too damn deep.
Jared Leto should have looked toward Mark Hamill when crafting his Joker, as between Batman: The Animated Series and the Arkham games we have our best version of Joker off the comic page. At least WB finally noticed every non-cinematic version of the Joker doesn’t have scars around his mouth…
This is a quick look at it all, and I hate being a Negative-Nancy, so I’ll reserve judgement at least until the next trailer. Nothing will keep me from seeing this film anyway. And it is exciting to watch all the Batman’s Rogues Gallery come together in Suicide Squad before we get the Ben Affleck written and directed film, The Batman, in 2018!
Suicide Squad comes out Summer 2016. After Bats and Supes fight.
Batfleck Vs. Superman (also known by the silly title ‘Batman V. Superman: Justice Begins’) is still over a year away with a scheduled release date of March 25th, 2016. In the meantime, I think we should all take a step back to admire the greatest comic book movie of all time; Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film ‘The Dark Knight.’
I wanted to do the top 5 scenes of the entire ‘Dark Knight Trilogy,’ but that was too limiting as there are too many fantastic scenes in my ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’ to cover here. I couldn’t even narrow just ‘The Dark Knight’ down to 5 favorite scenes. I need 6 to do the job!
Without further ado, here are the top 6 scenes from ‘The Dark Knight’ in the order they happen in the film’s narrative.
1. The Heist
The Bank Heist is quite the little scene to open and therefore establish the tone of the 2nd movie in Nolan’s Batman Saga. Inspired heavily by the Michael Mann film ‘Heat,’ the scene twists a classic heist into the Joker’s (Heath Ledger) plot, all while setting you on complete edge using the heights of IMAX and the sharp cords of the Joker’s theme… all screaming “Chaos.”
2. Decent Men In An Indecent Time
The Joker’s heist may kick off the movie, but it is a decision made by three men that really set events in motion.
To defeat Gotham’s biggest recognized problem, the mob, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and Batman (Christian Bale) make a pact that will dictate the fate of all three involved, as well as collateral damage of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
“We’re going after the mob’s life savings. Things will get ugly.”
“I knew the risk when I took this job, lieutenant.”
Dent accepts the risk willingly, as do Batman and James Gordon.
It is this pact that will determine the destiny of all three men; destroying them all by the end of the film.
3. Dent’s Dark Side
‘The Dark Knight,’ specifically the scene just covered, is largely based on my favorite graphic novel ‘The Long Halloween’ by Jeph Loeb and by Tim Sale.
In the comic, Dent’s dark side is hinted at early in the story; long before the accident that scars him. Let’s just say he may may have done more than take a henchmen down an alley and flipped a coin to decide his life. But we’ll get to that now.
Dent spends half the movie as Gotham’s “White Knight,” the honest and law-fairing District Attorney bringing hope to Gotham. I would argue that Dent’s dark side is introduced too late in the movie; around the hour mark. Even here, the film form is not as severe as his comic version. Hell, ‘Gotham’ showed Dent’s short fuse in the first episode introducing the young assistant D.A.
The 1st sign something is amiss with Gotham’s White Knight is when he interrogates Joker’s henchmen Shiff Thomas; the man wearing the name tag pegging “Rachel Dawes” as the Joker’s next victim.
Thomas gets the ‘ole coin flip multiple times, gun held to his head, until Batman stops Dent. The Dark Knight warns the D.A. that if anyone saw what Dent was doing, faith in the White Knight and Gotham would fail.
Even going off the cuff, Dent left the fate of Shift Thomas to his double-sided coin. He (likely) meant Shift Thomas no terminal harm.
Still, that Dent darkness has to appear somehow.
4. Batman Interrogates The Joker
Batman’s one rule comes back to bite him in the ass. By a rabid dog chasing cars.
It’s really hard not to love this scene. Though Batman has the Joker in his gauntlets, Joker has all the power.
“You have NOTHING! Nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with your strength.”
It really is powerful to watch Batman wail on Joker to no avail. His “one rule” that prevents him from killing leads to the deaths of others in the film. This same number was over 600 by the time the pair face off for the final time in Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns.’
In this case, his one rule kills Rachel and blows Dent halfway to hell. But it is this rule that separates Batman from the masked villains. Even though he may lose to the Joker this scheme, I think he may get him in the end…
5. An Unmovable Object and An Unstoppable Force
‘The Dark Knight’ breaks the superhero’s genre one rule, established in classic films like 1989’s ‘Batman’ and carried on to nearly-modern day ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) and ‘Batman Begins’ (2005): kill off your villain so the end is nice and tidy.
The Caped Crusader does toss the Clown Prince of Crime off the Pruitt building… only to catch him with his grappling hook, much to the Joker’s disappointment.
“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
Boom! That’s comics in a nutshell.
Spider-Man doesn’t kill the Green Goblin in the comics (well he does, several, but some come back… and, you know, crazy Marvel stuff); they clash again and again and again. And there are very few foes that have been clashing longer in the comics than Batman and the Joker.
6. The White Knight Vs. The Dark Knight
The real finale. The one we were promised when Gordon, Dent, and Batman meet on that rooftop in the first act.
Things got dirty. And all three of these decent men in an indecent time were torn to shreds by the joker, but none more than tragic Harvey Dent.
“What happened to Rachel wasn’t chance. We decided to act! We three!”
Batman knows what’s up! Cause he’s the world’s greatest detective.
But Harvey Dent is the apparent loser in the room, having lost his fiance (and scared his face), with no knowledge that Bruce carried similar feelings for Rachel.
In the comics, Bruce Wayne blames himself for not revealing to Harvey Dent who he was. For not showing Dent who fought alongside him for the soul of Gotham. For remaining anonymous and letting Gordon and Dent take the brunt of mob vengeance.
In the movie, even in this immense time of crisis, Batman is able to vocalize the importance of Harvey Dent to Gotham; why he was chosen.
“Because you were the best of us! He wanted to prove that even someone as good as you could fall.”
So rests the soul of Gotham in these three-warriors-torn-asunder’s final moments together. Harvey “Two-Face” Dent deciding each of their fates with a flip of the coin.
This scene completes the movie. Three young men with rose-color glasses are wrung through the shredder as a promise they made destroyed their partnership and their lives. Classic Nolan/Batman tragedy.
Impressions are fun. But the only one I can do is Christian Bales’ Batman.
It requires yelling, but I nailed “WHERE IS HARVEY DENT?!?” and other great quotes like “Swear to Me!,” “I’m not wearing hockey pads!,”RACHEL!” and “I’m not the hero this city deserves, but I’m the hero Gotham needs.”
I learned the voice and the face (gotta have big lips protruding) from Pete Holmes’ Badman skits where he nails the Batman impression.
I realize the last one is a Commissioner Gordon played by the incredible actor, Gary Oldman. But it works with the rough Batman voice.
And then, everyone can do Borat and Daniel Plainview.
I’m also not terrible at Tom Hardy’s Bane impression. “I wondered what would break first… your soul… or your body!”
Anyway… I’m not writing to tell you what impression I can do, rather the 5 impressions I wish I could do.
A word of warning, it would be great to do a Christopher Walken impression, but that impression is so overused by comedians, so I have left it off the list.
It’s also a countdown. From my 8th favorite impression to my most favorite.
9. Arnold Schwarenegger
8. Heath Ledger’s Joker
Pete Holmes does Batman AND the Joker! He’s a great impressionist! Though he never uses it in his stand up.
Several days ago, on Monday September 16th, I waited in line twice to pick up my pre-ordered copy of GRAND THEFT AUTO V from Gamestop. First, I had to stand in line to get my group number at 6pm. Then, I had to wait in line from 11:00pm to the 12:01am Tuesday release date of the game.
I’m not complaining, bitching, or moaning; I could have (and should have) just picked up the game Tuesday morning and avoided the crowds. After all, I did preorder the game months ago; there would be a copy there waiting for me in the morning.
Though I wish to avoid all lines these days; I’ve waited in my fair share that require arrival hours in advance, whether I am waiting for a hot game system or the latest blockbuster. Each and every time I have found myself in such a line, I come across the same five geek archetypes. Without fail. Continue reading “‘Waiting for GTA V’ or ‘Types of Line Geeks’”→
Each blockbuster villain these days appears to be trying to erase audiences’ memories of the last great antagonist, by going even more eccentric, unique, and disturbing than the previously established norm. I’ll examine the evolution from simple yet scary baddies like Owen Davian (Philip Seymor Hoffman, M:I:III) to the game-changer that was Heath Ledger’s Joker, as well as all the great villains he inspired including what’s to come in 2013.
Villains today out-banter the hero, are streets ahead with a master plan anticipating the protagonist’s every move, like to be captured (“it’s all according to plan“), live by their own, disturbing yet clear moral code, speak in weird voices, and nearly always enjoy their “work.”
I will not only take us through the most recent gem to grace the screen, SKYFALL’s Silvia (Javier Bardem), but beyond as well, looking ahead to what next summer’s blockbusters IRON MAN 3 and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS have to offer.
First off, one nostalgic “childhood” favorite I nearly missed in Part 1:
1999 – Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving)
Okay, so he’s technically a computer program, which more-or-less makes him a machine, which eliminates him from this category (see Part 1 rules).
But the acting is so memorable…
So, I’m shoehorning the good Agent in.
Smith has a moment that is now the cornerstone of the modern villain; the intriguing yet twisted speech that delivers the character’s “philosophy” in a chilling manner. (Nearly all the villains we are looking at today have a great/creepy speech or monologue.)
It’s all about that virus talk he gives Morpheous:
“I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”
With Weaving’s expert delivery, you can feel the mix of hatred and jealousy oozing out of every line of the chilling speech. Now we know that all we are to this great baddie are annoying germs.
Expert writing like this combined with memorable acting are key ingredients for any worthy villain. Smith has similar exchanges with Neo and Cypher, all oozing a certain amount of evil that is hard to fake (don’t know what that says about Red Skull… I mean Hugo Weaving).
Top Villains of the Slightly-Less-Early 21st Century (Modern Era)
I honestly didn’t know PSH had it in him, but goddamn is the man terrifying. Not so eccentric as much as the classic, cold, ruthless boss-type who has his help killed at the drop of a hat (or the stain of a shirt…).
Just. Plain. Scary.
“Who are you? What’s you’re name? Do you have a wife? A girlfriend? Because if you do, I’m gonna find her. I’m gonna hurt her. I’m gonna make her bleed, and cry, and call out your name. And then I’m gonna find you,and kill you right in front of her.”
The above dialogue is so good it’s almost like a reversal of the great TAKEN speech!
Between this threat and the intense interrogation scene of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Owen Davian is by far the strongest Mission: Impossible baddie. He is perhaps also the best example of classic “just-plain-scary” villainy in the past decade.
2007 – Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Almost no one in the US knew Javier Bardem before this role, but after seeing the Coen Bros. darkest yet greatest masterpiece (a Best Picture Oscar winner, none-the-less), it is undeniable that Bardem is one of the world’s greatest acting talents.
He made a bowl cut scary. Nuff’ said.
Though I am going to continue saying (writing) things, anyway.
Terrifying like Davian, Anton is not short his share of eccentricities. From the cattle gun, to his coin toss (“friend-o”), to his very precise yet skewed moral code, Bardem really set the mold for the great antagonists of late. His taking the time to drink a glass of milk in the precisely paced movie is just one example of the extra details that make villains like this fun and memorable.
(Anton is not the only villain on this list who enjoys milk…)
Likewise, characters like Chigurh and The Joker are effective because they have a very strict set of rules or a precise yet skewed “moral code.” They stand by it, all their moves are dictated by it, it makes perfect sense to them, but is just off enough to scare the shit out of us.
It’s not about the money for Chigurh, it’s about honor, keeping your word, and getting the job you were paid to do done.
“This is what I’ll offer – you bring me the money and I’ll let her go. Otherwise she’s accountable, same as you. That’s the best deal you’re gonna get. I won’t tell you you can save yourself, because you can’t.”
Bardem’s fresh and scary antagonistic performance was rewarded with an Academy Award for best supporting actor, a trend that would continue for another year.
Always calm, cool, collected, and with a solution for everything, you do not want Chigurh on your tail.
Instead, Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger chose the “grim jester” take on Batman’s arch-nemesis, making the Joker darker than ever before. The killer clown still had plenty of eccentricities, though his enjoyment in his work is curbed in comparison to Joker as seen in 1989’s BATMAN, THE ANIMATED SERIES, or the comics.
Ledger’s Joker builds on the aforementioned evolution of villains in the 21st century, basically defining many of the strongest that follow.
Everything about Joker was unique, from the way he talked to the way he walked. To the way he licked and smacked his lips. Even non-Batman fans were quoting the trailer months prior to release; “And here… we… go!”
“You’re just a freak in a mask… like me!”
Joker is a “better class of criminal” because his plans are always two to three steps ahead; something now common in today’s action films. His plans were so diabolical that they were never what they seemed, usually accounting for how Batman would respond to each play.
This included allowing himself to be captured, a “plan” used by many of the following villains on this list.
(Davian was even captured, and though it did not appear to be part of his plan, he escaped without much difficulty, giving him access to Ethan’s identity and wife. Anton is also in custody at the beginning of NO COUNTRY, though I can’t remember if there is any indication as to whether this was intentional or not.)
Despite my earlier criticism about his enjoyment with inducing mayhem, Ledger’s Joker does manage to have a fairly decent time: “I like this job! I like it!” The scenes were the Joker lightens up a bit (Why So Serious, Heath?) are the best, setting the standard for memorable villains to follow. Now, I was going to finish this blog here and now, but it has grown far too long as I write it. So, like Peter Jackson and his HOBBIT, I have decided to make the “Better Class Of Criminal” series into 3 parts.
The 3rd post should be out later today or tomorrow, covering all the great villains that follow 2008’s Joker, many sharing quite a lot in common with the grim jester and each-other. I’ll continue onward to three upcoming villains whose trailers suggest they follow this modern design of the antagonist (Mandarin from IRON MAN 3, anyone?).