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The Dark Knight Ten-Year Anniversary: One Of The Greatest Films Of All-Time

Ten years ago today, one of the greatest movies of all-time was released. The Dark Knight was a true summer blockbuster if there ever was one, and ten years later many people regard it as being on the Mount Rushmore of films. The best way to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of The Dark Knight is to watch it, and this might not do it justice, but these are some of the main reasons Christopher Nolan’s second Batman movie is an all-time classic.



This doesn’t have a ton to do with the actual worthiness of The Dark Knight being considered one of the greatest films ever, but it’s still worth noting. The hype started back in 2005 in the final scene of Batman Begins, when Commissioner Gordon tells Batman of a criminal that leaves a calling card: A Joker card. It was a perfectly-executed final scene, and from there the hype eventually became overwhelming leading up to The Dark Knight’s release a few years later. The sad and unfortunate accidental overdose death of Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, added extra attention and hype for the movie.


The Dark Knight is grounded in the real world

One of the cornerstones of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight trilogy in general is that while it’s based on a superhero, everything is presented in a real and authentic way. This makes it easier for the film to be seriously considered in the discussion of the greatest films in history.


The Dark Knight is basically a crime drama

Moreover, if The Dark Knight wasn’t based on comic-book characters like Batman, the Joker, and Harvey Dent, it would still work as an enthralling crime drama. The plot is simply fantastic, and it’s on-par or better than any of the great crime movies like The Departed, Heat, or television shows like The Wire.


Gotham City is widely depicted

Similarly, Gotham City in The Dark Knight gives a look across the entire city. Harvey Dent is the District Attorney; we see court proceedings and a meeting with the mayor for a look at politics; we get a look at the criminal underworld and their meetings; the citizens eventually turn on Batman; and the action takes place across the map—including out on the ferries. The setting very much feels real.


Opening scene – Introduction to the Joker

Right from the opening scene of the film, it’s clear The Dark Knight is no ordinary movie. Director Christopher Nolan jumps right in with a heist scene featuring what appear to be a bunch of stooges for the Joker. As they pick each other off one-by-one, two robbers are left. After the one slyly and mysteriously moves around and asserts that he kills the bus driver, the school bus comes flying in to take out the adversary; then, the bus driver is carelessly taken out and Joker is revealed. The opening scene could not have been any better.


The Joker did not need an origin

While mostly everyone knows who the Joker is, they could have decided to have done an origin—whether through a flashback scene or having him become the Joker during the events of The Dark Knight. However, not having an actual known origin is part of what made the character so compelling. Instead of learning about what made the Joker this way, we are just witness to his craziness. It’s perfect. We don’t need to see his origin. What we really see with the Joker is his rise in the criminal underworld into a near emperor-like figure that no one would dare cross.


Harvey Dent’s character arc

The fall from grace for Harvey Dent was simply heartbreaking. He seemingly had it all, which led to him being hailed as Gotham’s “White Knight”. Dent tried to do the right thing to protect Batman and put himself at immense risk with the Joker trying to kill him, but it led to him losing Rachel Dawes, along with half his face as he was put in perpetually agony both mentally and physically. Eventually, Harvey became the villain as Two-Face, as the Joker essentially won a big part of the struggle between good and evil. The rise, downfall, and eventual death of Dent is one of the best character arcs in any movie ever, and it helped make the film what it is.


Great acting

Simply put, the acting in The Dark Knight is just crazy good. Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Michael Caine were all among the exceptional parts of the A+ ensemble. Ledger’s unforgettable performance of the Joker rightfully earned him a posthumous Academy Award. Bale’s gritty, powerful, and unrelenting performance as Batman, along with his emotional and tormented take on Bruce Wayne, probably get overshadowed a bit. Eckhart is just outstanding, both in his look/demeanor as both Dent and Two-Face. And Oldman’s performance might have been the most underrated of them all—including his talk with Batman before the Caped Crusader goes after the Joker: “I HAVE TO SAVE DENT!”


Funny moments

For as gritty and realistic as The Dark Knight was, there were some funny moments that worked so well because they didn’t try so hard to be funny. It was just normal mannerisms, statements, and expressions in everyday conversation that were part of what made things funny. A few examples are “I’m not wearing hockey pads,” the Joker’s meeting with the crime bosses (and other Joker moments in general), when Bruce tells Alfred he’s going to tell the authorities that the whole Batman was his idea, and when Gordon plays it off and acts like he doesn’t know Dent’s “other” nickname.



Aside from the obvious Joker tagline “Why So Serious?” there are so many amazing quotes in The Dark Knight.


“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”


“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”


“If you’re good at something never do it for free.”


“Don’t talk like one of them, you’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke, Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.”


“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”


There are many, many more, as nearly every scene is filled with a quotable line or speech.


Joker vs. Batman (Interrogation)

The interrogation scene started off as funny with the Joker warning Batman not to start with the head because he didn’t feel the next hit, but things escalate from there. The Joker essentially got Batman off the hinges a bit when he mentioned Rachel, and it’s one of the most intense scenes of the film. Also, the Joker made some sense at the start of his speech to Batman about the people dropping him at the first sign of trouble. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better interrogation scene anywhere.


Joker vs. Harvey (Hospital scene)

Clearly, Dent was in a bad spot after losing everything, but the Joker was able to push him over the edge. Joker posing as a nurse was comical, and he was able to convince Dent’s turn to darkness with another classic monologue. Dent’s descension into Two-Face happened here, and the Joker was the first to be on the other end of a fate-determining coin toss.


Bruce Wayne’s torment

The Dark Knight gave a great look at the psyche of Bruce Wayne, which was in opposition to what was going on with the Joker, who we had no idea about motivations. Bruce was doing so much good for Gotham City as Batman, but he wanted a normal life with Rachel and saw the “White Knight” Dent as someone that could make that happen. The scene after Rachel’s death is extremely sad, and the performance by Bale—including his line “Gotham needs its true hero, and I let that murdering psychopath blow him half to hell”—delivers goosebumps.


The Dark Knight is emotional

There is a lot of action and a lot of “crime” in the crime drama element, but the “drama” does not fall short. The emotional scene with Bruce after Rachel’s death has already been mentioned and is about as emotional as it gets, and there’s also the scene where Harvey deals with Rachel’s death, and when Gordon must deal with his family being held hostage by Harvey.


How far is too far?

There are different themes you can pinpoint in The Dark Knight, one of which is: how far is too far? Bruce had been working on a secret project that spied on the citizens of Gotham, which helped get a target on the Joker. Lucius Fox didn’t feel right helping Batman use the computer, but he was satisfied when the task was completed and the computer destroyed itself. This parallels real-life situations with the government taking certain steps to protect its citizens.


Also, Batman’s “one rule” comes awfully close to being broken. The Joker did some things that most would say constitute him no longer deserving to live, but if Batman kills him in cold-blood, is that really justice? It’s a fine line to toe, and it’s something that’s dealt with throughout The Dark Knight.


Ultimately, Batman was incorruptible

In the Joker, Batman faced an adversary he wasn’t sure how to deal with. The motivations for the Joker were unclear, and he wasn’t some imposing presence that would try to get in a fist fight with Batman. It took a while, with some heartbreak occurring in between, but Batman eventually did deal with the Joker by capturing him and not letting him die. The Caped Crusader saving the Joker, who took the person he loved most in the world, shows that he truly was incorruptible, as the Joker said.


Theme (Escalation)

Escalation is seen as another big foundations and theme of The Dark Knight. The final scene, which almost plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy, masterfully shows how things can get so far out of hand. After Bruce Wayne became Batman to fight the crime that plagued Gotham, eventually it led to a supervillain like the Joker (basically an exact opposite of Batman) coming about. Then things kept getting worse and worse until the end of the film when we see the ultimate downfall of Dent conclude. But Batman makes the decision to put everything on him so that the Joker doesn’t win and no one knows about Dent’s crimes, which leads to the final monologue by Gordon to end the film:


“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector… A Dark Knight.”



There probably isn’t ever going to be another movie like The Dark Knight again. It’s a comic-book film that stands alone as a masterpiece crime drama that can hold its own in comparison to the all-time greats like The Godfather.


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