Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Because it’s important to be nuanced when you’re a psychopath

So, Heath Ledger is going to be the Joker, facing off against Christian Bale’s Dark Knight.

I’m still not sure if I think it’s the best casting choice, but I’m no longer convinced it’ll be a nightmare.

Why? Because of the following.

He adds "It's going to be more nuanced and dark and more along the lines of a Clockwork Orange kind of feel. Which is, I think, what the comic book was after: less about his laugh and more about his eyes."

He’s absolutely right. It is about the eyes. They are, after all, windows to the soul.

The Joker isn’t scary because of what he does, believe it or not. There are other villains who have just as impressive of a body count, or even higher. Heck, the villain in the DC Universe with the highest body count of human beings may very well be Mongul and the Cyborg, Hank Henshaw.

(And no, the Anti-Monitor doesn’t count. Erasing universes is an entirely different matter than killing folks.)

The Joker is scary because of why he does what he does. The Joker is scary because he is an absolute psychotic. He does not share a world with anyone else. His worldview is unique to himself.

It’s all the more important if you take the Killing Joke version of his origin. The Joker’s insanity is all the more terrifying because of the fact that he was just an ordinary person who had One. Really. Bad. Day.

In my last post, I talked about what makes a hero. And the Killing Joke shows us just what kind of a hero Jim Gordon is. It takes a hero to not break when being a cop in the city of Gotham. It takes a hero to withstand what the Joker put him through and not break to his level. Batman couldn’t manage it. Jim Gordon did. I know that I couldn’t. If someone did to Cordelia, or the sibling on the way, what the Joker did to Barbara Gordon, I would want that person’s lungs in my hands.

Heath Ledger being cast as the Joker is significant to the mythos of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But the casting of Gary Oldman as Gordon is just as important. I hope that Nolan and company realize that. There’s no way for the events of Killing Joke to play out in the movie in a natural, organic way, but I want to see the importance of Gordon to Gotham City.

Must we really wait until 2008?

Monday, September 11, 2006


When I started this blog, one of the first things I wrote about what was what makes a superhero. For a blog that is going to be about Superheroes, I figured that was the place to start.

Today, it occurs to me that I ignored a key part of that definition.

The hero. What makes a hero?

A hero isn’t a hero because of their abilities. It isn’t the strength of one’s arms, or the speed of one’s legs, or the amazing devices one can build, or any paranormal power that makes someone a hero.

A hero is someone who recognizes that there is a problem in the world, and who does their utmost to correct it.

You don’t have to be a costumed crime-fighter to be a hero. You don’t have to fight monsters, dragons or demons. You don’t need to be sent on a quest by the gods, and you don’t have to struggle against a curse.

You can be the teacher who stays long hours in an inner-city school to make sure that those students get the education that might make the difference in their lives.

You can be the fireman who rushed into a burning building to save just one more person caught inside.

You can be a musician who speaks truth to power through your words and music, expressing ideas that are unpopular but true.

You can be the young soldier who signed up for their tour of duty following a national tragedy.

You can be the entertainer who put aside their own feelings of pain and hurt to perform for people in desperate need of a distraction.

You can be a parent. A friend. A mentor. A colleague.

In the words of Edmond Dantes,

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout “Do your worst, for I will do mine!”

That’s what it takes to be a hero. The willingness to shout back into the storm. The ability to see a problem, and the willingness to do something about it, no matter the cost to yourself.

Today, I salute those heroes whose sacrifice began five years ago, and continues to this day. The passengers of Flight 93. The workers in the towers and the Pentagon. The rescue workers who tried to save them. The soldiers who fight in their memory.

I do not approve of the choices made by the current administration. I feel that they’ve squandered much, in terms of international goodwill, and in terms of the lives of our young people. But regardless of how one feels about our government, whether you believe they’ve done everything right, everything wrong, or something in-between, the people of this nation have shown countless acts of heroism since that day. And it is to them that I dedicate this entry.