A Summer Blockbuster Editorial from 2008
Let’s ask the obvious psycho-question first: Is the real reason we’re getting so many superhero big bucks spectaculars this summer (2008) — Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hancock, Hellboy 2 and now the all-conquering The Dark Knight, (and also, if you want to stretch a point, Indiana Jones and the super-heroine of Wall-E) — is the real engine behind all this super-ness, the fact that we feel weaker or more vulnerable or put-upon? A tanking economy, a messed up foreign policy, failing old media and a planet in peril — don’t they all nudge us into wanting to imagine ourselves as super-powered (if sometimes tormented) heroes and heroines? Of course. Batman and Superman themselves were born out of the Depression and thrived during WW2; all their antecedent-heroes just spin out the fantasy further. If you’re feeling weak, you dream you’re a titan. If you‘re down and maybe out, you dream of spectacular victories. And maybe you get them. The really unusual coup for The Dark Knight, though, is its critical grand slam. I haven’t read all the reviews, 95% on Rotten Tomatoes last I looked. But this movie seems to be getting all the near-unanimous plaudits that The Rules of the Game, to name one initially neglected classic, didn’t (at first) or that Rio Bravo, Vertigo or Singin‘ in the Rain to name three genre masterpieces, didn’t either. Not that it doesn‘t deserve its good press. Not that Chris Nolan isn’t something of a wizard. Not that The Dark Knight isn’t personal art as well as mass commerce. But critics used to try to be seekers and arbiters of the great and unusual, as well as affirmers of public taste when it‘s right on — as with the triumphs of the great popular movie artists like Chaplin, Spielberg and Hitchcock. I don’t have any trouble enjoying The Dark Knight. Or finding it. But I hope we’re all just as alert and celebratory when the next under-appreciated “Rules of the Game“ or well-appreciated Citizen Kane comes along.
And for his 2012 review of one of the biggest of all superhero blockbusters, click on this link below.