Tragically, James Holmes rises as a new “Dark Knight” villain after Colorado shootings

Batman has been a popular superhero since the 1940s and has defeated many enemies – the Joker, Penguin and Catwoman have all come and gone throughout the series. But early this morning in Colorado, fantasy became reality.

James Holmes, the man in custody for allegedly killing 12 theater patrons and wounding scores of others, became the real-life villain at a suburban multiplex where Batman fans flocked just after midnight to see the first showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” one of the most anticipated films this year.

After speaking with his counterpart in Aurora, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said that Holmes “had his hair painted red” and that the suspect had a new identity.

“It clearly looks like a deranged individual,” Kelly said during a news conference in Manhattan. “He said he was the Joker, obviously the ‘enemy’ of Batman.”

Eyewitnesses said Holmes burst through the door of Theater 9 minutes into the movie with a gas mask on his face and weapons in his hands. He threw a gas canister into the audience, shot once into the ceiling, and began firing into the crowd, authorities said.

Aurora police Chief Dan Oates reported that SWAT team members were searching Holmes’s apartment because it appeared to be booby-trapped with sophisticated explosives. Sophisticated enough that police evacuated his building and five more surrounding it. Police also reported finding unknown explosives in the suspect’s car.

The film’s Joker does love the drama of an explosion, such as the hospital scene plotted by Heath Ledger’s character in the previous film. The Joker was also a fan of the long-barreled gun in the 1989 movie, similar to one of the guns police recovered from Holmes’s car.

In the 1986 graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns,” the Joker slaughters a talk show audience with poisonous gas. In the same novel, a distraught man shoots up a movie theater, killing three people with a handgun. If Holmes really does believe he is the Joker, he seems to have done some extensive research before the attack.

Scenes of mass chaos and public mayhem are a good portion of superhero films, and that’s precisely what Holmes meticulously planned. But this wasn’t merely planned – it was downright scripted.

“Clearly, this is something that this individual didn’t think up yesterday,” CBS correspondent John Miller said. “It’s not a spur-of-the-moment caper.”

@ Newsday — Long Island, N.Y.

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