From the Sidelines: Summer blockbusters

Published 11:21 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2008

They have been the two most well-publicized stories of the summer. “The Dark Knight” and The Brett Favre Saga have monopolized the headlines of their respective fields for the better part of the last three months. But could it be possible that the two tales are very much one in the same?

“The Dark Knight” opened on July 18 with more pre-release hype than any film in recent memory. In its own right, The Brett Favre Saga out-buzzed the Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds fiascoes when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen broke the news that was news to no one, Favre was looking to return.

However, the similarities go far beyond media hype and otherworldly attention the tales have received. From their cast of characters to their twisted plot lines, the two stunningly mirror one another throughout.

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Here is the obligatory spoiler alert for those who have yet to see “The Dark Knight” or, if for some inexplicable reason, have thus far failed to indulge in The Brett Favre Saga.

Gotham City, a once proud then desperate town now clean because of the work of its hero, Batman, provides the backdrop of Christopher Nolan’s cinematic work. On the flipside, Green Bay, a once proud then desperate town now deep in legacy and expectation largely because of the work of its hero, Brett Favre, provides the setting for the NFL’s headline hogger.

In Nolan’s visionary piece, Batman faces a new class of criminal unlike any the city has encountered before when he takes on The Joker. While The Brett Favre Saga has no clear counter for Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the villainous clown, Ted Thompson suffices in the role of chief antagonist for his seemingly devious and somewhat comical antics in mishandling the situation involving his on-again-off-again future Hall of Fame quarterback.

For supporting cast, TDK allows Maggie Gyllenhaal to provide an ample yet uninspiring performance as the mutual love interest of Bruce Wayne and golden boy district attorney Harvey Dent. While the answer to Gyllenhaal’s female lead cannot be immediately discerned from surface analysis, the most applicable person for this role is none other than Aaron Rodgers.

Much like Gyllenhaal is entirely secondary in her portrait of Rachel Dawes, Rodgers, while near the epicenter of the controversy, is an afterthought in the mess that is the Green Bay quarterback picture. Rodgers, ample and uninspiring in his own right, is little more than the sympathy cause of the moment in the saga. He occasionally provides support for the main players on screen, but does a pretty good job of staying out of the way until he is eventually written out of the story. In fact, he may be even more relevant to the tale once he is out of the picture. For example, should Green Bay reinstate Favre as its head signal caller, Rodgers may walk in free agency leaving the Pack with no QB once No. 4 walks away yet again.

All of this goes without mentioning the Packers, in their efforts to endorse their former first-round pick, have unwittingly emasculated Rodgers through continually undercutting his status by refusing to allow him to compete against Favre in an open competition or face his predecessor from the other sideline in the season’s Monday Night Football opener against rival Minnesota. Simply put, the GB brass clearly does not believe their guy is good enough to beat their other guy and it shows around the edges. And through this unintentional emasculation, Rodgers is even more suitable to play the female lead in the story.

Then there is Mike McCarthy. He was well-liked, clean cut and respected. Then, in the midst of all of the airway exchanges between Favre and Packer administrators, McCarthy was painted as one of the bad guys. Through little to no doing of his own, it is widely assumed McCarthy backs Thompson’s efforts to lock Favre out.

McCarthy is the Harvey Dent/Two Face of The Brett Favre Saga. See, in Nolan’s film, The Joker succeeds in turning both of Gotham’s heroes, Batman and Dent, into villains. While he clearly succeeds with Dent more than he does with The Caped Crusader, Batman allows himself to become the bad guy in the end, setting up a third film that should feature a divided city that both loves and hates him.

Whether intentionally or otherwise, Thompson has managed to divide Green Bay, allowing both McCarthy and Favre to join him as less-than-perfect figures in the wake of it all.

What’s more? New police commissioner James Gordon must find a way to deal with it all. His part is not unlike new Packer president Mark Murphy, who took his post in December 2007.

So the storylines may not be exact parallels, but the two most talked about epics of the summer offer the same cast of mediocre bad guys and questionably good antagonists.

For Nolan’s universe, Christian Bale will return for yet another sequel to get Batman out of the line of Gotham hatred.

Unfortunately for Green Bay, it will likely be forced to live with the fallout of its dark night.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Times. You can reach him at 334-289-4017 or