You want to know a secret? My life is perfect.
I’ve got family, friends, health, and comfort. I’ve got a university that loves me, an ample supply of medium-sized t-shirts, and all the peanut butter and jelly a growing boy could ask for. Sure, my favorite sports teams make it a point to underachieve, but at least I never became a Boston bandwagoner or a Green Bay groupie.
And you want to know something else?
I thought all this before last Monday, when all of that changed. Now, I can no-doubt-about-it claim that perfection has inhabited my being, crafted a lifestyle mimicking my own, and made it a point to touch everything I do.
Because last Monday, I attended the world premiere of The Dark Knight.
As a man-child of 20 years, it is my childhood aspirations — and a dash of Neutrogena Anti-Aging cream — that keep me young. And to those who know me best, there’s one fictional man who ties the mythical, mighty 1990s to the current epoch of malaise and mistrust. Yes, he’s a man in tights, but he’s my man in tights.
From the moment I laid eyes on the hulking, penciled-and-inked incarnation of Batman: The Animated Series, I was hooked. (It also helped that I won a totally rad Super Nintendo in a B:TAS contest). With the darkness of a decayed soul, the reprobate rogues gallery, and those so-close-yet-so-far gadgets (if only my parents upped my allowance), the path to Batman was one I sought to follow the rest of my days.
And follow it I did. Throwing puberty, drinking, and Tupac to the wind, Batman remained pinned to my wall and glued on my television set. I was naïve enough to soak up the gaudy, incandescent Batman and Robin without a moment’s hesitation, arrested by the vibrancy and faux machismo that only a prepubescent child could have enjoyed.
And after a dearth of Batman fodder — stemming from what can only be termed “Bat-nipples” — my beguiling interests in the Caped Crusader yearned for a return to the multiplex. Fortunately, the financial whims of Warner Brothers provided the growling Christian Bale, the erudite Michael Caine, and the genius Christopher Nolan, setting my fervor aglow with the staid, superior Batman Begins.
But you all know the journey the Gotham Guardian has taken.
Now comes the fun part.
From the second that Batman flipped the indubitable sign of the Joker, crouched on the rooftop in conversation with Lt. Jim Gordon, I knew I would make the sequel my own. An inner pact was made: I would follow the development of this movie, from infancy to (hopefully) instant classic, from the very next day forward. From the news of castings to the release of production schedule to the layout of the Chicago freeway system, I would find out every detail the Internet could offer. Hell, if Chris Nolan so much as sneezed, I wanted to know about it.
Had this movie been a person, I’d be in jail for a looong time.
It’s been a trying, mouth-watering three years since Batman, um, began. WB has not disappointed the fanboys — from scavenger hunts to poisoned cakes, bowling balls to nearly an hour of newscasts, the immersion into Nolan’s universe surpassed any marketing scheme ever undertaken previously.
As the countdown shrunk and the Fandango purchases littered my inbox, I kept my wits about me. A New York excursion with that certain special someone reaped as many dividends as I could imagine, and, for the first time in a long time, my mind was out of the Gotham gutter. Well, it was, until a phone call from Mom alerted me to the Batpod’s vacation in Rockefeller Center.
By the time we’d arrived at the Rock, the motorcycle-with-monster-truck-wheels had ridden off before we could capture it on camera. I’d missed my chance at something special, something that would have made those hundreds of hours spent lazily online worth it. But I’d been too slow, too late, too undeserving to earn it. A gloomy lunch was followed by an even glummer bus ride back to the apartment, and I readied myself for three more days of patience.
Until I heard these words: “Hey, isn’t that the Batmobile?”
With my heart in my throat and my ass immediately in the air, I leaned over the disjointed passengers to glimpse a black, polygonal thing that, to those unfamiliar with Nolan’s Bat-universe, could have easily been mistaken for a ground-up garbage truck.
My ever-obliging girlfriend, indulging the greatest nerd-gasm ever seen, joined me at the next stop. With a skip in my step and a stilt in my voice, I realized that something special was afoot. The last time I had glimpsed a Batmobile of any kind was when, as seen on my high school senior page, I considered Juicy Juice the high point of creation.
Now, some 17 years later, I would be once again in the presence of the Batmobile, the crashing point where the fictional and the palpable join together to create what could very well be a rip in the time-space continuum. With a couple clicks of the camera, the moment was immortalized. My day was complete, my circular journey between my childhood and adulthood finalized, and whatever feelings of deservedness and entitlement I had washed away with the proximity to this terrifying tank.
And yet it was not over, for this was no ordinary Batmobile outside an ordinary theater. After the scuttlebutt reached my ear and my eyes, it was plain to see: This was the world premiere of The Dark Knight.
And I’ll be damned if I didn’t get to go.
Waiting idly, peering and poking around, I counted the passing minutes and the press and Bat-fans assembled. The barricades boxed us from the black carpet and steered us plebes away from the ticketed fans, whose slips of blue and white paper provided the gateway into the one theater I would have given a limb for.
At least, that’s how it stood for an hour or so. After the well-attired members of the ticketed fanbase had entered, the water-on-the-brain-sized heads of the security guards removed the cattle fencing, allowing us as close to the carpet as humanly possible. To say I was giddy would be like calling the Teletubbies mildly off-putting — I was on air.
Michael Caine was the first to arrive — I presume he had an early bedtime and wanted to get the premiere out of the way — followed by the diminutive Nestor Carbonell and the gleaming Aaron Eckhart, each of whom pandered to the fans. Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman both sped past the chanting crowd, but Gary Oldman, looking jarringly like a turtle without Gordon’s moustache, made sure to satiate the fans’ autograph appetite.
The stars were obliging, the sun was shining, and the fans were smiling, all feeding off one another, when a tight-dressed woman caught my peripheral. With pamphlet-looking pieces of paper stacked in her hand, fans grappled and grasped for her attention. Making her way toward me, I saw that the pamphlets were instead single pieces of stiff, dim paper, plastered with logos of TDK. ‘How cute,’ I thought. ‘Information about the movie for those who aren’t completely obsessed. Sure I’ll grab one, why not take a memento?’
I have never been happier to find myself wrong.
When one finally reached my outstretched hand, I saw that the slip contained more than just the pertinent information, more than the flashy logos and the action shots of the main characters. This was my ticket in. This was my ticket in. There was the assigned seat, the title of “Screening Pass” scrawled on the top, the microscopic terms and conditions plastered on the back.
Minutes passed, although I’ll never quite remember the bustle and words emanating from the surrounding. My mind was too far in the clouds, ethereally pumped with the realization that I would be attending the first public showing of what could very well be the greatest movie I’ve ever seen.
LSD, ecstasy, speed — they have nothing on this feeling.
With the tightly-dressed woman’s second pass, I snagged another ticket for my certain special someone. Although I didn’t feel mentally prepared — I still had three days left! I had no idea this would be happening! — you would have an easier time taking the teeth from a live gator than taking that voucher from me.
With knees knocking and breath short, we made our way past four, five, six sets of security guards, all flanked by bigger and flashier TDK posters. Since we weren’t going to the Imax presentation alongside all the big-wigs — the best luck can only land you so far — escalators landed us on the top floor, and, after my first movie theater wanding, our seats were taken. Bordered by Ethan Hawke and an actor from Gossip Girl — making my certain special someone’s night — the titillated crowd buzzed the air with anticipation. Tonight was the night. The world premiere. And I was there.
I won’t go into detail about the nuances or the symbolism of the film. As shown by my complete exhaustion following the exit of the theater, the entire experience completed every sort of hype I could have imagined. The film was that good. But dissecting what made it far and away the best Batman film thus far is another discussion for another day. Now, I will simply revel in my fortune, and hope that everyone will attain a moment, a day, and event like this.
In an unfortunate twist, I know I’ve reached my zenith, and, to quote the sneering, leering, eerie(-ing?) Joker, “There’s no going back.” Unless I’m cast as the next Dark Knight, any future experience with a Batman flick will fail to surpass my experience last Monday.
But if that’s the worst complaint I have, then I can’t really complain, can I?
The night, the atmosphere, and the experience were all perfect.
The audience, the circumstances, and the movie were all perfect.
My memory, my company, and my life are all, unequivocally, perfect.