The Dark Knight is quite possibly my favourite movie of all time. Either that or Inception, depends on my mood. This film bored into my very soul and dragged a hidden obsession for all things Batman related to the forefront of my identity. This movie is my Star Wars, the cinematic experience I had young that had such an impact on my life that it’s inconceivable who I would be today without it. This film kick-started everything I now hold dear – my love for comics, Batman, videogames (in a way) and even film. The Dark Knight was the gateway drug to the rest of my life.
Let me start at the beginning.
Picture 2008 me, 12 years old, probably sitting at home enthralled in the Sinho region on my DS. The floor of my room is concealed from view by an army of Bionicles and piles of Matthew Reilly and Rangers Apprentice books. Nary was there a Dark Knight nor film in sight. My addiction had not yet begun.
Now I actually did not see The Dark Knight in cinemas. No, that honour was not bestowed upon me. Instead, I saw it several weeks after it appeared on my local Video Ezy’s ‘New Releases’ shelf. I had seen Begins, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but the marketing material for Knight actually failed miserably for me, as it turned me off the film.
Looking back I adore the posters and trailers, but at the time they appeared far too intense for my immature mind. Note I was not a fan of horror or anything too serious and Knight seemed exactly that – terrifying and grim. So it wasn’t till several weeks after it arrived and it was recommended to me by several friends and the internet at large that I decided to take a leap into personally uncharted territory.
I actually still remember going to get it. Weirdly. It was in the second aisle from the wall, and at the front of the store. I even remember sitting down on the couch after slotting the DVD into our blocky black TV with a bowl of popcorn in hand. And I certainly remembered my first viewing.
Something in my head clicked. Maybe it was because I had never seen anything like it before or I had secretly had an obsession with Batman without me knowing, but from the incredible opening heist sequence, I was hooked. I loved it. There’s no exact moment in the film that I can pinpoint, but midway through I thought to myself ‘this is the greatest thing I have ever seen’. It captured my imagination, my attention and from every moment after it ended, my adoration. I finished it that night, went to bed, and then watched it all over again the next morning.
Now that I’m older and have seen it a few more (hundred) times, there’s a huge plethora of reasons I love this movie. They range from the obvious like Ledgers performance, to even little touches like the red ‘S’ scrawled in front of ‘laughter’ on the Joker’s truck. But looking back, something tells me after that first viewing I wouldn’t have been able to express why I loved it in words. It was just the perfect film shown to the perfect individual at the perfect age.
Following The Dark Knight, I began to fall down a cinematic rabbit hole. Maybe I was trying to reclaim that same feeling with a different film (hint: I did, but I’ll get to that another time) or I was always interested in movies and I just started to explore it. I also became obsessed with all things Batman, an addiction that has taken me on a (possibly) thousand dollar detour to current day. Even my videogame interest was indirectly started by The Dark Knight through Arkham Asylum but that’s a different story.
The Dark Knight was a seminal film. Some may herald it as the best comic book movie ever, but to me it’s more than that. It’s a representation of my childhood, my interests and even my future endeavours. And because of that, I can see The Dark Knight as nothing less than a masterpiece.