Tag Archives: The Dark Knight

Dark Knights and Double Dates

The Dark Night

by Hope Madden

So many superhero movies right now! They put me in a nostalgic mood for that time, somewhat awkwardly and utterly unintentionally, I was a part of my son’s first double date.

I review movies, and Riley always enjoyed seeing the new blockbusters before his friends got to, which is why I knew without asking that he would go with me to screen The Dark Knight.

As I left for work the morning of the screening, I was under the impression that Riley and his buddy Nate, as well as my husband George, would join me at the Rave movie theater in Polaris at 6:30 for the screening. Halfway through the day, though, George decided he couldn’t back out of a softball game, so he’d have Nate’s parents drop the boys off.

But later I learned that I was going to become the fifth wheel of a double date.

This was a first.

It’s not as if things always have gone well when Riley and Nate saw movies with me. Years ago, at the Christmas with the Kranks screening, I left to hit the concession stand, only to return to find that the boys had given away my seat.

At another screening, maybe the second X-Men movie, Nate, Riley and I sat in the old Arena Grand Movie Theatre and tried to answer all the trivia questions during the pre-show entertainment. Because the boys were about 9 years old, I was kicking their butts.

Then came a question about which X-rated films had been nominated for Oscars. I mentioned Last Tango in Paris and Nate asked me about the film.


“Well,” I said, “it’s about a lonely older widower who develops a relationship with a much younger woman.”

I thought I heard Nate say, “That sounds like porn.”

“Oh, no,” I told him. “It’s not porn.”

A perplexed Nate responded, “I said it sounds boring.”

Long, awkward pause.

Then he said, “What’s porn?”

“Who wants popcorn, kids?!”

I’ve made other poor decisions when it comes to bringing youngsters with me to the movies. I once took my son’s entire Little League baseball team to the remake of The Bad News Bears. The problem, of course, was that the kids loved it; many have never forgiven me for my scathing review.

But the point is, I was used to hosting Riley and any number of his little friends. On the car ride home, there was usually some debate over how many stars a film should receive, which X-Man would be the best to have on your team (Mystique, duh!), and how much more grating the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants is when you’re subjected to it for 90 straight minutes.

This screening of The Dark Knight, though, would be different.

This time, Riley and Nate brought girls.

Things went well enough. Mainly because of Riley’s one rule: I may never speak to a girl.

I did have to listen, though, and I noted that Nate’s date does not like mashed potatoes. Maybe that’s not a deal breaker, but come on. What kind of sociopath doesn’t like mashed potatoes?

To be honest, given that the boy was 15-years-old at the time, I was lucky he was willing to be seen in public with me at all—caped crusader or no. And by the time the Christmas blockbusters came out that same year, there would be at least one licensed driver in this foursome who could get them to and from the movies without me.

But they were always late, so luckily they still needed me to save their seats.

This Week’s Countdown of Capes, Masks and Tights

We were impressed enough by the Thor sequel to begin pondering … which are the best superhero movies ever made?

10. Iron Man

Among the most inspired pieces of casting in cinematic history, indie film’s bad boy Robert Downey Jr. shoulders a blockbuster superhero flick and becomes the highest paid actor in history. He may even deserve it. Wry humor, believable bouts of self loathing and narcissism, and the intelligence to pull off the character of Tony Stark, he redefined superhero and caused a ripple effect still being felt in the genre.

9. The Incredibles

Pixar takes on the superhero with heart, humor and the kind of spot-on insight that made their image of toy life, robot romance, and elderly adventure so magnificent. Consistently fun and full of surprises and wisdom, The Incredibles rocks.



8. Batman

Back in the Eighties, goth-god Tim Burton breathed new life into the superhero concept with this dark, stylish, almost campy classic. It would be nearly 20 years before Jack Nicholson’s then-iconic version of The Joker was outdone.



7. X-Men: First Class

Michael Fassbender keeps his pants on for this inspired origins story. Writer Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn, who’d done the genre proud with Kick-Ass just one year earlier, re-team to collect mutants in time to thwart the Cuban Missile Crisis. A killer cast and really clever writing mark this as easily the best X-Men movie.



6. Kick-Ass

Hey, speaking of Kick-Ass – how great was that?! In a sea of mock superhero movies, this one turned out to be fresh, a bit twisted and incredibly funny. It also delivered on action. Endearing, relentlessly entertaining, fearlessly violent yet well-meaning, the film hits on all fronts. Plus, Nicolas Cage, with his Adam West impersonation, is utterly priceless.

5. Batman Begins

Talk about a game changer. When Memento director Christopher Nolan turned his attention to the genre, well, the genre was never the same. Any hint of camp is abandoned. Dark and brooding, the film is as interested in story and character as it is in action and bat-gizmos. For the first time, an outright brilliant actor is cast in the hero’s role, and the weight of the decisions made by a vigilante crime fighter is finally felt.



4. Spider-Man 2

Like Superman 2 back in ’80, the second of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man flicks ponders the ramifications of true love on superherodom. Tobey Maguire’s inherent tenderness helps the most moving scenes stick with you, in a movie that celebrates humanity in a way few films – superhero or no –  have managed to do.


3. The Dark Knight Rises

Finally, someone gets Cat Woman right! Nolan’s trilogy capper is a wildly satisfying, emotionally resonant, dramatically impeccable ride. Every choice is as fitting as it is surprising. He’s responsible to the source material without giving an inch of his own creative control, plumbing cultural currency and comic ethos to create a movie that leaves a mark.


2. The Avengers

Joss Whedon, everybody! He’s every fanboy’s dream. If there any nerdy thing this man cannot do? Buffy, Serenity, The Cabin in the Woods – hell, he even made Shakespeare hip! Plus, he wrote Toy Story – how awesome is that? And while it looked like the Avengers franchise would amount to the gathering of multiple barely interesting individual heroes, plus another Hulk debacle, it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, well crafted, character driven and fun superhero flicks of all time. And someone finally did the Hulk justice! Well played, Mr. Whedon.


1. The Dark Knight

For the first – and likely last – time in history, the villain from a superhero flick earned the actor an Oscar. And it was flat out obvious, because Heath Ledger’s hauntingly perfect performance as The Joker left a blood chilling impression. And though he is the best reason to watch The Dark Knight, he’s hardly the only exceptional element the film has going for it. The emotional weight to some of the scenes will leave you breathless, and though Nolan has established a very dark view in this series, there is a single, blistering scene in this film that emphasizes the deep optimism the filmmaker and his franchise have for humanity.