“You complete me,” coos Heath Ledger’s scabrous white-caked Joker.
The target of his affections? Christian Bale’s Batman, of course, a born brooder who’d sooner crack skulls than quips.
The line may be a gag — a snide appropriation of Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire declaration — but that doesn’t make it any less illuminating in the context of Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight, which opens in theatres starting late tonight, at 12:01 a.m.
Even after three decades of monster-budget superhero epics, this shadowy opus of morality and identity bends the genre to new dimensions — hinging not on spectacle, but the yin-and-yang pathology of its hero and villain. It’s a gripping, gratifying high-wire act and a startling departure for a genre usually dismissed as effects-driven eye-candy.