I remember when I first saw The Dark Knight. I went to a mates house and we did the usual routine of eating a mountain of food and drinking a lot of beer. Looking for stuff to do, my friend suggests sticking on The Dark Knight which I had not heard all that much about. I had seen Batman Begins so I wasn’t going into the movie completely blind, but nothing prepared me for the two and a half hour thrill-ride that this movie is. I remember being utterly engrossed throughout, to the point where I think me and my friend did not say a word to each other during the movie, and then spent a good hour or so afterwards talking about it. Because of that experience and the sheer quality of the movie, I have no qualms admitting it is in my top-5 favourite movies ever. So bearing that in mind, I am going to attempt to review The Dark Knight and try to articulate why it is so great.


First things first there are two comic books that played key roles in the creation of The Dark Knight, which are the Long Halloween and The Killing Joke, the latter of which being a huge influence on Heath Ledger’s Joker character. Indeed it is The Joker that is the main character in the movie with Batman (Christian Bale) trying to stop him.

Batman Begins ends with a reference to The Joker and the first experience we get of him is in the very first scene of The Dark Knight, a bank heist. From this point on, despite the best efforts of Lieutenant Gordon and new District Attorney Harvey Dent, The Joker continues to reign chaos over Gotham City. As a result Batman is forced to bring himself closer and closer to the line that separates hero and vigilante.

(I won’t go into anymore detail because you need to really see this movie. If you haven’t already, please go and see it).


I have had a tumultuous relationship with Batman as a whole. I have always thought superheroes are very cool as all young kids tend to do, but Batman has been a character that I have always thought about a little deeper. He is not super and he brings himself very close to, and sometimes over the line of what a hero is. So he is supposed to be a superhero, and yet is arguably neither of those things. If you think about it, he is the only superhero you wouldn’t want to be. Spiderman and his swinging through the city looks freeing and fun. Superman is an alien so in all likelihood doesn’t have any real idea about some of the emotions and problems humans have to deal with. Whereas Batman is this individual who is incredibly tormented by his past experiences to the point where he enjoys the pain.

Importantly, I think the Dark Knight illuminates this well. It reveals just how damaged and broken a character he is whilst also finding a way to show how Batman and the Joker really aren’t that different at all. Neither is completely sane, both enjoy the pain and disorder of society albeit for differing reasons, both appear to have gone through serious trauma which has resulted in who they are, they both use fear as a weapon, and both need the other to exist. As The Joker says to Batman when they are face to face; “you complete me.”

Greatest Superhero Movie Ever?

There is a legitimate case to be made that the Dark Knight is the greatest superhero movie ever because aside from a couple of plot holes, in my opinion it is nearly a perfect movie.

Before the Nolan trilogy of Batman movies, most superhero movies took on an almost comedic and silly tone, especially in the Batman franchise. There was a sense that superheroes were supposed to appeal to children and sell merchandise. Whereas Nolan’s trilogy, especially The Dark Knight, totally changed how modern superhero movies were made and totally changed the perception of them. Gone were the corny fight scenes and characters, and they were replaced with real characters with real emotions, motives and issues. No longer were superhero movies just meant for children and selling toys, instead they could create hours of gripping entertainment and storytelling.

It is better than any other superhero movie at putting stuff from comic books, onto the big screen in a very real way. As mentioned above, the movie was based upon two comic books and found a way at bringing the best comic elements into a huge movie in a realistic, dark and gritty way. All the characters are imperfect and the main characters suffer real problems like isolation and loss. When you acknowledge that no one is actually a superhero in the movie, it makes it more emotionally relatable. You can feel the pain of Dent and Batman after the death of Rachel, which is a moment that totally subverts what usually happens in superhero movies. Batman is supposed to save the girl, but we are left distraught at the death of probably the only person that could make Batman happy.

When you add that to amazing action and incredible stunts like the massive truck flipping over (without CGI btw), and you have an intoxicating recipe. But wait there is more. You have an outstanding modern director in Christopher Nolan at the helm, Christian Bale who is perhaps the finest depiction of not just Batman, but also Bruce Wayne, and you have Heath Ledger who put together one of the most iconic performances ever as The Joker (more on this later). I think every other actor in the movie is going all out too.

I couldn’t not mention the music either. Hans Zimmer is just a genius, especially building the tension with violins in many of The Joker’s scenes. It is uncomfortable to listen to but you cant stop listening either, which is a perfect microcosm of The Joker. He is scary and makes you uncomfortable, and yet you cannot look away.

As I said, it is damn near a perfect movie.

Greatest Sequel Ever?

Because of a lot of the things I mentioned above, it is regularly in the conversation as being one of the best sequels ever made. What other movies are in this conversation? Godfather 2, Aliens, Terminator 2, Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future 2, Bourne Supremacy are the ones I think of off the top of my head. In terms of the transition from the first movie, Batman Begins, to the Dark Knight, I think it is the greatest sequel ever because it has clearly surpassed the first. Oh and for what its worth I also think it’s the greatest Christopher Nolan movie ever. I love a lot of his work like The Prestige, Inception, Dunkirk, the other two Batman movies and Interstellar, but I think the Dark Knight tops them all.

Now then, lets get to the categories

Best Quote – “You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push”

I am not going to go for the usual ‘why so serious’ or ‘you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain’ lines. They are great lines and pretty much anything The Joker says can go here but my favourite line is the one above. It perfectly encapsulates the madness of The Joker who has clearly been pushed too far in the past, and it illuminates how just about everyone can succumb to madness under the right amount of torment and tragedy. Any sane person can be driven insane by one bad day and one moment, as shown by the descent of Harvey Dent/Two-Face into madness after the death of Rachel.

Best Scene – Opening Sequence/Chase Scene

I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t decide here.

The opening is absolutely gripping in every single way. We begin with a bank robbery scene which is a homage to Heat, the iconic Michael Mann bank robbery movie starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Unlike Heat though, the robbers in the Dark Knight are slowly killing one another during the heist. The music is tense and builds the tension brilliantly until it eventually explodes with violence. I remember watching this for the first time and as the bus drives away, I felt it was the first time I had taken a breath in about 5 minutes.

Alternatively it also has one of the best chase scenes ever in which the Joker chases Harvey Dent, and Batman chases the Joker. Eventually we see the Batpod and an outstanding stunt in which a giant truck is flipped onto its roof. It is a great moment not just in terms of action, but in character development too. Batman has the opportunity to kill the Joker but he doesn’t because he enjoys the battle between them. Think about how many lives he could save if he just went against his code just once, but he never does because he enjoys the pain and the violence.

Best Performance – Heath Ledger

Very unimaginative I know, but Ledger puts together one of the best acting performances ever in my opinion. He controls every single room, every single scene he is in and he has found a way to make The Joker character his own which is no mean feat given the Jack Nicholson and Joaquin Phoenix performances. Ledger is unhinged, genuinely terrifying and puts together a masterful performance in not overacting the role (Jared Leto are you listening?). His performance is utterly believable because you can feel his rage, and importantly you can feel the other characters rage when they interact with him.

Next time you watch him, don’t focus on the tongue and cheek movements (which were an inspired trait btw), focus on his eyes, his mannerisms and the small details like the way he sits, the way he responds to other people, the way he delivers his lines. His dialogue is outstanding in the first place, but Ledger takes the words to another level. Everything he says is completely believable and every single scene he leaves me with goosebumps. God I could write a bloody dissertation on how good he is.

Stupidest Part of the Movie

I hate to criticise this movie but all the Sonar technology is questionable for me. And the fact that Lucius Fox has essentially been making weapons and arms dealing for decades, and yet this is where he draws the line? Questionable.


Again I hate to criticise this movie but I have to acknowledge its legacy of which I think it has left a pretty negative one. Yes it completely changed how superhero movies were made and received, but unfortunately its incredible success set the blueprint for companies like Marvel to realise that people like superhero movies, and money can be made from them. What’s the problem with that I hear you ask?

Well for me, what makes The Dark Knight great is that time was taken to make it. Every single detail was thought about and I believe the result is a piece of art. Nolan truly crafted and built the Batman trilogy because he wanted to create something truly great in cinema. Whereas I feel like Marvel, and to some extent DC (I am not on either side here), think more about the money than they do anything else.

The technology used in Marvel movies is as up to date and modern as it gets but the basic premise of it’s movies are a step back. It feels like most Marvel movies are aimed more at merchandise and children than anything else and I hate that. The Dark Knight helped create this cinematic world we currently live in. It may be a piece of art but it also created a world in which Ant Man gets made in no time at all, with no real story, with no real desire to create something great. For me there is rarely anything memorable about these movies but if you like action and superheroes and nothing more, then they will likely cater to your needs.

Now I understand that most movies are created to make money but I think Marvel in particular are so blatant about it, it infuriates me. And you know the worst thing about this? It is that Marvel have some great superheroes that could create some excellent stories and movies if they took their time and concentrated more on the craft than the special effects and money.

I know I am completely alone on this island and those of you reading think I am being controversial for clicks, but I promise you I am not. I genuinely believe what I write.

Regardless lets end on a positive note – The Dark Knight is awesome

Things You Didn’t Know

Michael Caine was said to be so scared when he first saw the Joker that he forgot his lines.

The truck flipping scene was completed without CGI.

The Dark Knight was the first superhero movie to make $1 billion at the box office. The budget was $185 million.

Heath Ledger designed the look of The Joker himself and also kept a Joker journal in which he wrote down the darkest things he could think of to get inside the mind of the psychopath.