First, I'll confess to being a Christian Bale fan. He's handsome and he can act. I like him. Second, I'm a superhero geek. I read comics as a kid but never collected them. I do, however, love to watching superhero movies. I dig Heroes, the X-Men franchise, both Punisher movies (I thought Tom Jane and Dolph Lungren both made good Punishers) and loved Spiderman when it was a live action show in the late '70s.
That said, I really like the direction the new Batman movies have taken. No more cheesy, schlocky storylines and smaltzy acting. Granted, Nicholson gave a great performance as a campy version of the Joker, but I like a little more reality with my fictional heroes/villains. Odd, but true.
I went last night to see The Dark Knight. Not for children, which should have been obvious from the trailers. Still, I saw a few kids in the theater. sigh The movie had a pulse that carried me through from beginning to end. More than a superhero flick, it had subtle nuances of emotion and character that make it heads and tails above most other action movies. Batman is never black or white. The Joker, portrayed by the incredibly talented, now-deaced Heath Ledger, stole the show. I was doubtful of all the praise lavished on an actor for playing a Batman villain, but Ledger truly gave depth to his character. He made the movie come alive in a way that's hard to describe. You just have to see it.
I recently also saw Hellboy II. Not bad. I'd give it a B-. It had humor and lots of camp, but it didn't reach the intensity that The Dark Knight had in spades.
The Dark Knight: A+