Two things were noticeable about the line of people awaiting the 12:01 a.m. Lincoln Square cinema premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight.
First, the affinity most of the waiting masses appeared to feel with the Caped One; second, the bizarre impression many of the waiting seemed to have that they had seen the movie already.
Brandeis University student Andrew Litwin called The Dark Knight "probably one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen."
"I’m not, like, at all obsessed," he said. "I mean I haven’t read all the comics and all that … because I haven’t had enough money to buy all the comics."
This was not the kind of Comic-Con event where everyone is in a costume. At best a smattering of Batman themed T-shirts and the odd, limp cape were mustered.
"I would have done—came in from my work a bit late so we couldn’t get in in time," said Mr. Litwin. "But I would have been the Joker, with white face-paint … it would have been totally cool."
Someone who hadn’t let lengthy working hours get in the way of his costume plans was investment banker Michael Meliniotis, who was waiting with girlfriend Kim Child. He was fully clad as the Man himself, not only with the gloves, cape, mask, suit and boots, but also with the stance and—as he explained to us—the psyche.
"I feel like I want to protect people when I’m wearing this," he said. "I can relate to Batman much more seriously than [the rest of the people in line] can, obviously."
So, what if his fellow bankers could see him now?
"There aren’t many people [at work] who would go around wearing a batsuit to a premiere. I’m not sure they would understand."
He thought for a moment. "I’m sure they would laugh," he said.
But out on the street he was the recipient of indulgences from the public for his ambitious costume.
"We went to a bar earlier and they gave me Batman gifts," Mr. Meliniotis said. "They call me Batman in there."
One of the remarkable things about this movie is the posthumous praise critics have bestowed on Heath Ledger, who, when he died earlier this year from an overdose of prescription drugs, had just recently and very publicly made New York—Brooklyn, even—his home; a rare feat for a summer blockbuster superstar.
"It’s a little sad," said Luke Chao, who had the coveted first position in line. The four-and-a-half hour wait had been getting to him and his companions, who were getting a little raucous as showtime approached.
On the 4 a.m. line, Maria Barrera was first.
"People are so into Heath, so into him," she said as she produced her BlackBerry, the wallpaper of which had been modified into an image of Heath Ledger in his Joker drag.
She’s not really a Batman fan, she said. "But we thought that the 4 a.m. show made sense."
Now it was time for the midnight ticketholders to enter the theater, and the Bat-Banker whooshed by.
What happens to the costume after tonight?
"I wear it about two or three times a year, randomly going around the country and surprising people," he said. "I love the reactions I get."
Especially from his girlfriend, Ms. Child, it seems.
"She thinks it’s sexy."
Have a ball, kids!