Movies

Why ‘The Dark Knight’ is the Greatest Superhero Movie of All Time

Many have tried, but no Superhero movie has been able to surpass 'The Dark Knight'. I explain why this movie is so special in this article.

At the time of the release of ‘The Dark Knight’, superhero movies were not the rave they are today. The only real popular movie in the genre was the Sam Raimi ‘Spider-Man’ flick, so director Christopher Nolan was taking a risk with this movie. As it turns out, he indeed hit the jackpot.

‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy is one of the best trilogies of all time. Nolan took the famous DC superhero comic and turned it into a cinematic masterpiece. From the directing to the phenomenal acting, this trilogy has it all. There is no debate the best movie of this trilogy is ‘The Dark Knight’.

Even with the recent success of other superhero movies, they still do not compare to the 2008 film. That includes ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, etc. It has everything people look for in movies: drama, suspense, romance, comedy and more. But, what makes it the greatest superhero movie of all time? Well, let me explain it for you. 

‘The Dark Knight’ Director, Christopher Nolan

Like any other great movie for it to be successful, there has to be a good leader, who has a vision on how to tell his story. Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors of all time. Nolan is so talented, that this may not even be his best movie (‘Inception’). His name is up there with all the greats, like Spielberg, Tarantino, Scorsese, Coppola and many others.

Before writing the script for the movie, Nolan never even directed a superhero movie before, so he went to friend David Goyer for help while they were working on ‘Batman Begins’. The script is flat out amazing for ‘The Dark Knight’. It’s brilliantly written, with no plot holes in the movie. That’s pretty spectacular for the amount of detailed story lines in the plot. The script has many famous quotes and great lines in which the actors can unleash their emotions while saying them. From Harvey Dent’s famous line “You either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain,” (forecasting for his character), or one of the Joker’s best lines, “Why so serious?”

‘Batman Begins’ deserves some credit for the success of ‘The Dark Knight’. They set it up perfectly. ‘Batman Begins’ establishes a good foundation for the series. It explains everything you want in a Batman movie related to the comics. The ending of his movie gives us hints that the Joker will be the villain in this next movie. This is shown when Jim Gordon and Batman are on a roof discussing the escaped prisoners, Gordon explains other criminal activities in Gotham and  gives Batman a joker card. 

P.S, I love the last scene of Batman Begins when Gordon tells Batman he never said thank you, and Batman turns around, pauses, and says “And you’ll never have to”, then jumps and flies off the building into the credits. The score in that scene was phenomenal.

‘The Dark Knight’ cast was star studded, all were big name actors who lived up to their roles from Michael Caine to Morgan Freeman. All the actors killed their individual roles. Many of these actors are known for the roles they played in this movie, and did their best work on this screen.

Batman/Bruce Wayne, portrayed by Christian Bale

Christian Bale knocked it out of the park as Batman. In my opinion, he is the best Batman ever. Some may disagree, favoring Keaton or West, but Bale is my number one. In ‘Batman Begins’, he proved that he was a perfect fit for the role. His Batman voice is simply iconic, and helps build his portrayal of batman. He did an excellent job of separating Bruce Wayne and Batman. He shows that he can be the business man Bruce Wayne is portrayed to be, while also showing the side of Batman, fighting villains. His acting is tremendous. Him and Alfred played by Michael Caine have great chemistry on the film together.

The intro to this movie is great. It starts off with a bunch of criminals robbing a bank. This scene goes to show you the true intelligence of the Joker. All these robbers do not know who the Joker is, and he told them to kill each other for sharing less of the money. Truly, it is because he doesn’t have to kill them all by himself, and for him to have it all by himself. Also, while he’s escaping its shown that the school bus he stole blends with the other school buses, thus leading him into plain daylight and not getting caught.

The Joker, portrayed by Heath Ledger

The main reason for the success of ‘The Dark Knight’ was the Joker. The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, featured the greatest acting performance of all time. At the time of the hire, it was said to be a bad hire because people did not believe he could play a psychotic role due to his lighter roles in previous films. To play such a sophisticated role, you have to try to understand the mind of the joker which many can not do, for example Jared Leto in ‘Suicide Squad’. He lived up to expectations and surpassed it.

To explain it with a sports reference, it was like LeBron James in game six vs the Boston Celtics in 2012, or Tom Brady’s second half comeback vs the Falcons. Flawless. Perfection.

The joker is an iconic role. Jack Nicholson and Joaquin Phoenix did a very good job with the role, Phoenix even won an Oscar. However, with due respect to them, they were not as good as Ledger. Getting back to Ledger’s Joker, what made his performance great is the little details he perfected, like how he would lick his lips after every line. His delivery is impeccable, truly showing how a sociopath would actually be saying it.

Ledger would stay in makeup even on days he wasn’t shooting to stay in character.  His makeup was not of the traditional sense, or what we’ve seen from previous Jokers. You could see his fading away as the movie went on, but it was a gamble that paid off.

Nolan has said previously that the Joker is relatively not a character in the literary sense. He is just a presence with no character growth. The Joker just presents himself in that situation, with his back to the camera and mask in hand. The Joker is always one step ahead of Batman and the authorities the whole movie. The Joker is a brilliant villain, who’s actions always have a deeper meaning.

Thanos and Bane are great villains, but they just doesn’t compare.

The Interrogation Scene

Another scene in this movie that put it over the edge is the interrogation scene. If there is one scene that can define this movie, it’s this one. This scene shows the true psychotic brilliance of the Joker. It brings you into the mind of the Joker and how he views Batman in his eyes. The Joker views Batman as similar to him, and that people don’t understand them both. The Joker views people’s philosophies as a joke, and in his world he isn’t the bad guy. He also likes to flex to Batman how much smarter he is than him.

In this scene, we also find out that the Joker has kidnapped Rachel Dawes, and Gotham’s white knight, Harvey Dent. Batman, trying to figure out where they are, attempts to beat it out of Joker, but he doesn’t budge. The only reason the Joker gives the locations of where he kidnapped Rachel and Harvey is to break Batman. Here, he is trying to prove that the Batman’s one rule is wrong by forcing him to choose between lives.

While Gordon and Batman are trying to rescue the two, the Joker intimidates the cop that is watching him by getting into his head. He escapes from custody by rigging the precinct to explode, using a felon who has cell phone bomb sewn into his stomach that activates when called. There is no other super villain like the Joker, or villain in any movie.

Harvey Dent, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart

The Harvey Dent character arc amazes me every time I watch this movie. He starts as the hero in Gotham, but finishes the villain. He was putting everyone in the mob behind bars, cleaning up the streets by ridding them of the drug cartels. He was the face that Gotham citizens could relate to, and the Joker knew it too. The Joker put Rachel Dawes into a situation where she could not survive. Dawes was Harvey’s fiance, and she was also a love interest of Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne. Dent, waking up and realizing that the love of his life has died, decided to take revenge on the world to find out who’s responsible for her death. In doing so, he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon’s son and almost kills him before Batman comes to save him.

Two face (the evil side of Dent) questions why the Batman chose to save him instead of Rachel. As Batman tells him in the final scene, “because you were the best of us. He wanted to prove that someone as good as you could fall.”

Two faces dies in this scene, and so does all of his good work of putting the bad guys in jail.  Batman, being the hero he is, takes the fall so that the people of Gotham don’t lose hope in their city new hope. As Gordon tells his son in the final scene, “he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it’s needed right now.”

The Joker used Dent to prove his philosophy, that anyone can turn evil with just the right push. This is the opposite philosophy of Batman. However, Batman breaks his rule of no killing to save Gordon’s son. He knew he had to break his philosophy to save Gotham.

This movie does an excellent job of showing the world’s true colors. Most superhero movies or movies in general ignore the fact that everyone makes mistakes when we’re faced with tough choices to make. Even the ones who have superpowers. For example, Gordon and Batman lie to the rest of the world, even though it’s for the right reasons, and Batman uses cell phone surveillance to spy on Joker, invading people’s privacy. This is a point other superhero movies fail to tell their audience.

Marvel may own the box office records, but they can’t say that they own the most valuable prize, the greatest superhero movie of all time.

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