Could this movie be termed a superhero movie? I doubt that. The only person who is in complete control throughout the movie is the JOKER. And what a fabulous performance by Heath Ledger it is.
From the very beginning as he bumps off each of his colleagues, his performance is riveting. The make up, voice modulation, smacking of the lips and his gait all contribute to the making of possibly the greatest villain of all times. This is a performance that requires Heath to be over the top without making it goofy and he comes out with flying colours. There is a scene where he makes a pencil disappear using a magic trick. That scene is a must watch!!!
All super hero movies have a predictable arc in terms of story line where the hero always wins in the end. The director, Christopher Nolan, has taken immense care in fashioning a story that has all the trappings of a superhero movie while investing immensely in each of the characters and fleshing them out as real people. It's probably the only superhero movie where the superhero appears vulnerable and at times outwitted and outmatched. Batman, as portrayed by Christian Bale, is only a supporting role here which is very strange for a superhero movie. It has nothing to do with the performance of Bale except that the JOKER completely mesmerises everyone each time he appears on screen.
In this movie, Batman has truly met his match and has to deal with a lot of tricky situations where he questions himself and the need to stop being a vigilante anymore. The JOKER tests him continuously without a pause and you could clearly see the composure of Batman cracking. In one sequence, Batman has to make a choice as to whom he is going to save even though he is still going to lose at the end. The inherent complexity in the plot allows for audiences to be glued in even when there is no action taking place. This movie has a perfect balance of action pyrotechnics and story exposition to keep everyone satisfied.
There are numerous supporting characters and they all provide solid support. Special mention needs to be made of Aaron Echkart (who plays the DA), Sir Michael Caine (as the butler) and Morgan Freeman (as the head of Bruce Wayne enterprise). The movie has a bleak tone throughout and is interspersed with dark humour.
Sometimes, being a superhero isn't enough when you need to deal with someone completely evil whose actions aren't based on any logic or rational. The Joker says "This town needs a better class of criminal and I am going to provide it" and what a criminal he turns out to be. One thing that has come out of this movie is the unanimous appreciation for Heath's JOKER portrayal. The Oscar bells are already ringing and it's gonna take one helluva performance from someone else to top this.
The movie could have been trimmed a little towards the end as it does tend to flag and the audiences are left wanting more of JOKER's presence on the screen than Batman. How is that for a superhero movie??? Is this the best superhero movie ever? I am not so sure about that. Does JOKER rank as the best on screen villain ever? The answer to that is a resounding YES.
Don't miss this movie on any account. Go for it and get sucked into the JOKER's world and his own vision of Gotham city!!!