Murphy’s Law – A dark and stormy knight

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little obsessive when it comes to Batman movies.

On June 23, 1989, my parents took me and my brother to the premiere of Batman starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I had been a fan of the Batman comic books, but seeing my favorite superhero on screen was a dream come true. I absolutely loved the movie. It was everything I could have hoped for – the action scenes were well-done, the performances were dead on and the Batmobile looked really cool.

I have seen every single Batman movie on opening night. The first date I ever went on was when I was in fifth grade – I took Katie Brown to see the premiere of Batman Returns (we had Chick-fil-a for dinner before the movie and my parents and brother were there the whole time – it was quite romantic). I made my dad take me to see Batman & Robin on opening night, even though it was our first night in Iowa for a family reunion and we had flown in, so we didn’t even have a car to get around town. I even went to see the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the god-awful Halle Berry Catwoman movie on their opening nights.

As a kid, I loved the first two live-action Batman films completely. As I’ve rewatched them now that I’m older, there are certain things I don’t like about them (the fact that the bad guys are killed, giving the villains different backstories than they had in the comics, nerdy things like that), but I think Batman especially holds up well and is still my favorite live-action Batman film.

Of course, once Joel Schumacher took over, things went downhill quickly. Nipples on the Batsuit and a campy, Adam West feel to the movies made Batman Forever and Batman & Robin terrible. And, my poor dad, who was nice enough to spend the first night of our Iowa trip watching Batman & Robin with me, had to listen to me bitch and moan for hours about how terrible Alicia Silverstone was and how the movie completely ruined Bane, one of the best villains in the comic books.

When Batman Begins came out in 2005, I was ecstatic. My beloved caped crusader was in dire need of a reset and Christopher Nolan seemed like a good man for the job. I was already a big fan of his films Memento and Insomnia and was looking forward to his take on Batman. Overall, I was really happy with Batman Begins. I thought the direction Nolan decided to take the movie in was the right one and I loved Christian Bale as Batman.

That being said, there were things that bothered me about the film. For one, I think the first hour of the film drags (as much as I love Batman, watching how he became Batman just didn’t turn out to be all that compelling). I also think the Katie Holmes love plot was a complete waste of time. And, worst of all, I think the fight scenes are terrible. I hate the quick cut, shaky camera style action scenes where you can never tell what’s going on. I want to see someone get punched in the face, not a close-up of a fist, then a cut to a guy unconscious on the ground.

Things bothered me about the film, but they weren’t unforgivable. Overall, I really did like Nolan’s version of Batman and hoped that he would continue to build a franchise.

So, when the trailer for The Dark Knight hit the Internet this week (you can see it here), I was cautiously optimistic. I was skeptical about the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker, but I was more than willing to give him and this movie a chance.

From the very first line, I loved the trailer. It was about the time that The Joker fired a rocket launcher that I got goosebumps on my arm. When Christian Bale said, “Then you’re going to love me,” I officially decided that this is going to be the greatest movie in the history of cinema. Honestly, I think if Nolan just showed that trailer over and over again for two hours straight, I’d leave the movie theater happy this summer.

I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve watched the trailer two dozen times at this point. I love Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker. Plus, my biggest problems with the first Nolan film all seem to be ironed out – Katie Holmes has been replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I actually like and respect as an actress; Batman’s backstory has already been covered in the last movie, so this film’s opening shouldn’t drag and best of all, from all accounts, Nolan has learned his lesson and the fight scenes in this movie aren’t of the quick cut, shaky camera variety.

I really want to love a Batman movie again. I may be a bitter, jaded man, but there is still a part of me that wants to feel just like that eight-year-old boy who was seeing his hero on the screen for the first time.

As always, I will be there on opening night with high hopes and high expectations. With any luck, I will leave the film as happy as I was after seeing Batman for the first time. But, even if the film fails to live up to my (admittedly high) standards, I will be taking my girlfriend with me, so hopefully at the very least I will get more action that night than I did from Katie Brown.

Random Thought of the Week:
All I want for Christmas is for this writers’ strike to end (and a copy Rock Band for my Xbox 360).

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

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