BATMAN ON FILM, 'The Dark Knight Fansite!' Est. 1998.

OPINION

Spoilers with your TDK? No, PLEASE!
Author: Cary Ashby
Wednesday August 7, 2007

I'll admit it: I'm a "no spoiler kind of Batman fan.“ What's that mean, you ask? It means that fans like me want to know the absolute bare minimum about "The Dark Knight" (TDK) - and that's it.

In my ideal world, here's what I'd like to know about “TDK” (or any anticipated film, for that matter): the film's title, the major cast members, who the villain is and who the creative forces are who are putting it together. Throw in a few spoiler-free publicity pics (such as the one of the new Batman costume released by EW) and I'm a happy camper. Heck, I don't even like reading comic book previews or reviews until I've bought the latest titles.

Just how much of a "no spoiler" stickler am I am? Back in the day before “BATMAN” '89 was released, I bought a bargain price second-hand copy of the novelization and mail-ordered the official movie magazine. As soon as I got them, I made my mother hide them from me, making her swear she wouldn't tell me where they were - even if I begged.

Pardon me for being presumptuous, but here's what you might be thinking: "Give me a break, Cary. You're the same guy who took the time to review BATMAN #1 -- in a great detail, I might add -- in order to speculate on what we could expect from The Joker in ‘TDK.’" (See my op/ed.) "And another thing," you might say, "you even took vacation time to spy on ‘TDK’ filming locations in Chicago."

Guilty as charged. So how can I still be "no spoiler kind of Batman fan?"

First of all, since coming back from Chicago where I shared "war stories" with other Batman fans while speculating to our heart's content while watching the ‘TDK’ crew, I've amazingly discovered that I have had my fill of set reports. Since my return, I may have read four or five set reports. I found myself thinking, "I've been there, done that." Why would I want to read someone else's account of ‘TDK’ spying? What good is it to know even more? My "Chicago Batman Vacation" satisfied my longing to know about the behind-the-scenes goings-on. I now could ALMOST last knowing nothing else about ‘TDK’ until I see it in the theaters.

Don't get me wrong: I'm even more excited now about ‘TDK’ than I was before my trip. But there's something about being there watching the filming process (as boring as it can be at times) that's much more deeply satisfied than reading even the most well crafted, spoiler-free account online.

It's admittedly tough being a "no spoiler kind of Batman fan," especially in the age of the Internet with its instant reporting of news, related blogs, rumors running amok, "civilian journalism" and people sending in filming reports to the Web site(s) of their choice.

It takes a LOT of intestinal fortitude and discipline to avoid clicking on a link that even VAGUELY smells of containing material that may spoil my future enjoyment of a film. Most of the time, thank goodness, most online civilian journalists use language in headlines that basically tell you if you're going to void your own "no spoiler" philosophy by reading it.

It certainly helps when headlines, teasers and reports include phrases like "INCLUDES SPOILERS" and "SPOILERS AHEAD." Occasionally you get a whopper of a headline that spills the beans by telling you everything you need to know, whether you click on the link or not.

Let's say there's something titled "Michael Caine on Heath Ledger." The inner struggle to decide if I'm going to read that account starts with simply interpreting those five words. "Mmmm. It sounds like Michael Caine may have share something juicy about Heath Ledger's approach to The Joker. Then again, maybe it will be TOO juicy. Better be safe and not read it."

Here's the biggest secret: If you read or hear something that makes you think, "Aw man, I didn't want to know that," you know you went too far. What to do? Don't dwell on it. Live and learn -- and move on, I say.

Defining the concept of a "no spoiler kind of Batman fan" is actually fairly challenging. What's a spoiler to one person wets another fan's appetite to know more.

So let me finally answer the question Jett asked me: What do I think about the various material that's been released thus far?

* I stand by my original idea of keeping The Joker's appearance excruciatingly classified until the film is released. What better way to be stunned by the Heath-Joker than seeing him for the absolute first time onscreen with a theater full of Batfans experiencing ‘TDK’ for the first time? On the other hand, revealing Mr. J's face through the "I Believe in Harvey Dent Too" viral campaign was freakin' brilliant. Also, The Joker's "treasure hunt" at Comic-Con has produced even more ‘TDK’ buzz.

* I would have preferred not to know what roles Eric Roberts and Michael Jai White are playing. I still wish I could wipe that info from my personal Batcomputer, otherwise known as my brain.

* I DEFINITELY could cream the person who leaked the "Anthony Michael Hall might be playing." bombshell. You think I forgot to finish that sentence? I don't want the same information forced on you innocent readers, like it was done to me.

* Showing off the new Batman costume and Batpod were acceptable, but not at all necessary. Truthfully, finding out Bats had new wheels while watching ‘TDK’ for the first time would have been a mind-blowing fan moment I would have relished.

* The teaser trailer was just that -- one big tease. We got three bits of dialogue - and the lines from Christian Bale, Caine and Ledger only confirmed the brief synopsis that has been around for months. It didn't tell us one darn thing new about ‘TDK’ -- except for what Ledger's Joker will sound like. And I loved every second of that short trailer because of how close Christopher Nolan kept his cards to his chest - pun intended. Again, brilliant!

* I sure as hell don't want to know anything about the ‘TDK’ finale. That's like finding out what's in your presents before Christmas morning - or worse.

Sure, I found out a few spoiler-ish tidbits when I was in Chicago. But none of that - including what I just mentioned beforehand -- will likely ruin my movie-watching experience. The point is NONE of what I saw or what other fans told me in Chicago gave me any clue as to what to expect from ‘TDK.’ I'm as in the dark (pardon the pun) as the next Batman fan.

And that's the way I like it. And there is the kicker for my whole "no spoiler" philosophy.

If you truly want to know as much as possible about ‘TDK,’ I'm sure there are tons of ways to find out. If you don't think it will spoil the film for you, go for it. Just leave the rest of us alone. A true "no spoiler kind of Batman fan" loves surprises, both the big ones and the small ones.

BOF contributor Cary Ashby writes a twice-monthly comic book column for the "Norwalk Reflector." He is the newspaper’s crime reporter. Cary has an extensive collection of Batman comics and has been an avid fan for nearly 30 years. He can be reached via e-mail at cashby@norwalkreflector.com.

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