NFL vs. Dark Knight
Summer is about the -ions. By -ions of course I mean Relaxation and Anticipation. The kids are out of school, and most likely are just mentally rotting with all the partying they are doing and all the Wiffle Ball they are playing. The company you work for most likely has gone to a nice, relaxed dress code and you and your spouse have saved up your vacation time for the week long trip your taking to LBI or Hawaii if you're so blessed. Summer is the time of year that flat out makes people's lives worth while. Everything is more laid back, everything is just relaxed. But another thing happens during the summer, when a strange smell begins to form in the air. What's that smell you ask? Football. The countdown to Week 1 has begun and we, as loyal sport's fans, are sick with anticipation. Colin Cowherd would contend, with sharp objection to Antonio Vivaldi, "There are two seasons a year: Football season, and waiting for Football season."
There's something different about 2008 though. You see, something else happens during summer time every year. Summer marks the release of the mega blockbusters, namely the comic book, fantasy hero movies. Most of them are stupid, overhyped sequels that spend way too much money and make you so angry you stayed up until midnight on a Thursday to be the first to see it. But 2008 is different. As the NFL lingers, with all the fascinating stories popping up as training camp grows near, the only thing on my mind 24 hours a day is an animal. But it's not a Dolphin, a Bear, a Bengal or any other animal for that matter that is so well represented by various NFL teams. Damnit, I've got Bat Fever!
Just admit it. The Dark Knight looks like it's going to be the best movie you've ever seen (ever). I've already put the trailer for it in my Top 6 favorite movies ever (Somewhere in there around Punisher, Rocky IV, 300, Rock star and Super Troopers). By the way, what does it mean when a consistent component of my favorite movies is either Mark Wahlberg or the half naked muscle man factor? Ehh, better forget I said anything. Any who, you can't tell me that you haven't had flashbacks to yourself at age 13 when you experience all the "changes" your body goes through when you watch that trailer. God, this article is full of Freudian slips. I better balance this out...
Jessica Alba is hot!
Megan Fox is super hot!
Oh the things I would do to Carrie Underwood!
Okay. That should get me back in good with the Catholics.
Here's the dilemma. What should you be more excited for? Let's break it down. We'll compare the upcoming NFL season with The Dark Knight by sorting them into several key dramatic categories. Whichever wins the most categories gets the nod.
Let's hire that computer girl who only will show her fire red lips on screen as she does the announcing for the MTV Movie Awards. She's so Resident Evil she's the only person that can scare me when she says, "Best Female Performance."
NFL: Bill Belichick. Bill Belicheat, the evil mastermind of the NFL. He runs parallel with the typical Mob Boss villain, but he's also a criminal genius. You know the type. He commits his crimes in plain sight of everyone but does just enough so that people still think he's a good guy. South Park put it best:
"This is Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots. He's won three Super Bowls. How? He cheated. He even got caught cheating, and nobody cared."
Belichick is one of those villains that never seem to go away. You think you've beaten him, but he just comes back bigger, better and meaner.
Dark Knight: The Joker. He's the most notable and most recognizable Batman villain. His one and only goal is to kill the hero. He is dark, mysterious, and sadistic. The guy flat out has a screw loose. A very complex character that takes a truly Class A performance to pull off. To date we haven't been disappointed.
Advantage: Tight one, but I have to go Belichick and the NFL. The Joker is great, but I tried to keep how remarkable Heath Ledger looks as the Joker outside of my judgment. I guess the real tipping point is the morality tale angle. In the movies, the bad guy can't win, good has to triumph over evil, but in the NFL, even though he got knocked backward this year, you know Belichick is going to win in the end. His evils transcend the arts.
BEST MARQUEE EVENT:
NFL: The Super bowl. The Super bowl is the biggest event in all of American sports. It's the ultimate showdown. The Super bowl is littered with celebrities, $1 million commercials, epic video packages and Joe Buck. It's a week long event that's always in a hot climate and makes January in Miami look like Spring Break in Cancun. Each night is highlighted with a different rapper's party and Bill Belichick spends the whole week taping practices regardless of if he's participating or not.
Dark Knight: I was torn on which event to talk about. I had to decide between the premiere and the opening night Midnight showing at your local theatre. I guess, since it is tradition, I have to go premiere. It's the opening night extravaganza, the cast and crew as well as all the A-List celebrities will be out for a Monday night of fun in New York. You roll out the red carpet. Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, and E!, they'll all be there. No doubt they'll be some pointless activist group out there trying to protest something the Director did wrong, maybe cruelty to bats and Ferrari's. Don't worry, no one will be listening to them, they will just get in the way of paparazzi trying to sneak in. Afterwards, there is sure to be an all night after party none of us have any chance of ever getting into and the viewing of the masterpiece is going to be watered down with Cristal and Cocaine bought on Lindsey Lohan's tab.
Advantage: NFL again, jumping out to a big lead early. Nothing compares to the Super bowl. Though I personally will get more enjoyment out of seeing the nerds dressed up like Batman and Joker while I wait in line for the Midnight showing, disgracing the Super bowl is in fact a sacrilege and God will show no mercy on my soul.
LEAST LIKELY TO BE AFFECTED BY THE LOSS OF A STAR:
NFL: The NFL lost two big stars after last year, Michael Strahan and Brett Favre. Favre might return, but it's doubtful he will be with the Packers. So, for the first time in like 45 years the original jewel of the NFL will have another QB under center. The league will survive, but it's definitely taking a hit from this. Favre can throw 5 interceptions in a game and The Packers could lose by 40 and he'll still be a more compelling story than Spy gate or Pac man Jones.
Dark Knight: Most of the surviving cast is returning, with the exception of Mrs. Tom Cruise. I'm actually going to go out on a little bit of limb here and say that the movie takes a hit because of this. I thought she was perfect for the role. She has that whole nice, loveable, girl next door quality to her and she's certainly the hottest girl to ever climb a ladder into a bedroom overlooking a creek. At the same time, she's a scientologist so you know she can go Travolta on your ass and Saturday Night Fever all over your face until you Grease her all of your money.
Advantage: Dark Knight. Missing Holmes I think is being overlooked in the pre-release hype of Dark Knight, but the NFL lost its biggest hero here, on top of losing the creator of the "Ballin'!" sack dance.
LEGEND MAKING POTENTIAL:
NFL: There are very few stars left in the NFL that have the opportunity to turn in their first legendary performance. Of the four big contenders, the Pats, Colts, Cowboys and Giants, three out of the four quarterbacks have already made their mark. Brady and Peyton are two of the best QB's of all-time and they already have their rings. Eli got his ring by beating Brady and overcoming his big brother's shadow, so the only legend left to write really would be Tony Romo actually winning a playoff game with a hot blonde there to see him. He's 0-2 so far, I think this year should be Britney's year, she's getting better (I guess?).
Dark Knight: This one is easy. Heath Ledger, who's always been a shared spotlight or B-list actor, straps on the Joker's boots once filled by Big Jack himself. Not only that, Ledger died soon after filming was completed. And now it's looking like he's going to clean up post mortem at the Oscar's, Golden Globes, and even the Valhalla TV Lifetime Achievement Awards live from the Pearly Gates. Ledger could join Bach, Thoreau, Van Gogh and Emily Dickinson on the short list of people whose work achieved legendary status after death.
Advantage: Dark Knight by a mile. Seeing Ledger as Joker is what I'm most pumped about. Somehow, after the performance Christian Bale turned in for Batman Begins, people are more excited about seeing Heath Ledger. Sorry Romo, go cry with your face in Jessica Simpson's large bust, which is an acceptable consolation prize I feel.
MOMENTUM BUILT FROM HOW LAST EPISODE ENDED:
NFL: Super bowl XLII ended as sort of a culmination of sorts. We got to see one of the greatest upsets in professional sports history. I mean come on, there were people saying that the Giants couldn't beat the Bills in Week 16 just to get into the playoffs. They lose by a nose to the Pats in Week 17, then turn around and win three road games, two of them in Dallas and Green Bay, and my God the "Little Giants that could" are in the Super bowl! And it didn't stop there. Those "Little Giants" overcame all odds and actually beat the De Facto best team to ever play on the game's biggest stage. You can't write that any better. Here's the problem. The story plays like the end of an epic movie, one of those movies you don't make a sequel for. It's like if they made a sequel to Miracle, the first one was such an inspiring true story that the second one would have no chance to compare. There's no doubt that this year's NFL will be suspenseful, that's what a salary cap does, but I'm really not working off anything that happened in 2007.
Dark Knight: Batman Begins was set up as a typical first installment of a comic book series. You give the background of your hero, cover all the bases established by years and years of comic books, make him question what his purpose is, and then just throw him right in with an enemy that he dispatches relatively easily. Comic book movies are the best at setting up sequels, and I thought Batman Begins did its job, but I wasn't super pumped for Dark Knight until I saw what Ledger looked like as the Joker.
Advantage: Push. Neither of them spent too much time or had anything spectacular happen that set up the sequel. Sure, the Joker card was sick at the end of the movie, but you weren't even sure they were going to make another one. And the NFL, well NFL Films always finds a way to get you pumped for the next season.
GREATEST CHANCE OF LEAVING ME WANTING MORE:
NFL: There is one thing about professional sports that you sometimes wish you could change: Everything is symmetrical, nothing carries over. I mean, the media will definitely play up story lines in between seasons and build up rivalries with pure here say, but the players don't care. If you win the Super bowl, you do your celebrating on the field, and then in the locker room, then you have your parade, get your keys to the city and move on to the next season. There is very little carryover from year to year. And with free agency, you usually see massive turnover from championship teams from year to year. It's times like this that you wish the NFL could take a page from the WWE, and just be a little scripted every now and then.
Dark Knight: One of the cool things about movies is: they are scripted. It's funny; there are always two sides to these things. In another column I might say, "One of the cool things about sports is: it's not scripted." It's one of those little tricks you can use to make your points sound better, it's all about context. Anyway, Dark Knight is obviously scripted. And you know that if the movie does well, which it's guaranteed to do, Warner Brothers will be foaming at the mouth to pump out a third. So, you know the ending is going to leave you saying, "Holy sh**! When is the next one coming out?" And then two years of anticipation begins and reaches its pinnacle when that first teaser trailer comes out. From there, you openly weep with passion and you furiously try to find your DVD of the Dark Knight that you haven't touched since you watched it the day it came out.
Advantage: Dark Knight. I'm going to get home from this movie at 3am and not even think about the fact that I have to leave for work in three and a half hours and try to stay awake for a lunch with the COO of the Fortune 500 Company I work for. Well, at least I have another year of college to find a job. Moving on…
LOWEST DISAPPOINTMENT POTENTIAL:
NFL: Even if the Super bowl is the Seahawks vs. the Steelers, and you spend the whole time playing Ping Pong and eating Wings that will take you months to work off (true story), there is always something that makes your religious following of the NFL worth while. It's all about the journey in the NFL; your overall enjoyment doesn't rest on the Super bowl. That's the great thing about sports whose playoffs are single elimination. You're almost guaranteed to see a game you'll never forget. You're almost guaranteed to see a team win a game they had no business winning. In the NFL, a team just winning a playoff game is an accomplishment that can make a career, so every time you turn on a football game, you're in for something special.
Dark Knight: I know for a cold hard fact I'm way too excited about Dark Knight. It's nearly impossible for it to amount to everything I think it will. Now, I know Heath Ledger is going to be amazing, and there's no doubt Christian Bale is great, and Michael Caine as Alfred was some of the most brilliant casting I've ever seen. But, I've set the bar so high not just for the movie but also for how crazy the Midnight showing is going to be there's a really good chance I'm going to be disappointed with some aspect of the movie. Prediction on disappointment: Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Advantage: NFL. There are a few things in life that are for certain. Death, taxes, Patriots going undefeated (whoops), USA Basketball winning the Gold (let us pray) and the NFL season not disappointing.
Alright, well, we seem to have a good old fashioned, communist tie. There are three categories for the NFL, three for Dark Knight and a push. Well, at least we can find solace in the fact that you don't have to choose one over the other. Hell, I have 2 TV's in the same room of my apartment. I could watch them both at the same time when Dark Knight comes out on DVD!