It’s been a decade–that’s right, a DECADE–since The Dark Knight released on July 18, 2008, and I know many of us will agree when I say that the film not only still holds up today but also the DC Extended Universe could take a few pointers from it. To celebrate the 10-year-anniversary of the Batman film, we’re looking back to what we loved about The Dark Knight and what made it so iconic.
As a fandom, we have been blessed with many different variations of Batman. The one thing I always admired about this great superhero is that he isn’t really a “super” hero. He doesn’t have any traditional superpowers. He wasn’t born with a gift, he’s not an alien, he wasn’t bitten by a radioactive arachnid… Bruce Wayne is mortal with more tragedy than one should have to deal with. It was his extreme love for his parents that drove him to seek revenge, but also gave him the undying need to protect the innocent and rid his town of wrongdoers. That’s where his power lies.
Batman was a role model
Batman was an easy role model because of the “righteous violence” aspect of his actions. As much as we like to think of Batman having a “no-kill rule,” in the early comics, Batman did carry a gun and had a much more grim outlook on killing criminals and enemies. (I read a very informative article about it on comicsalliance.com) Some of that gets dismissed away by stating that comics are always going to be darker or more graphic, which is not always the case. So how does this tie into the 2008 film, The Dark Knight?
What started as this amazing comic in 1939 developed into many different takes on not just the character but the entire world/franchise of Batman. You can almost guess someone’s age by who was their first Batman. There’s the less popular ones in the ‘40s and campy fun in the 60’s, and then a boom of movies from 1989 to 2005 (some of these we really don’t need to talk about). As much as I love Michael Keaton… something incredible happened in 2008… Christopher Nolan got his brilliant hands on the Batman “torch.”
Christopher Nolan was a fantastic director
One of Nolan’s inspirations for The Dark Knight series actually stemmed from the Joker’s first standalone comics, which I think we can all tell by how incredibly well the Joker’s character, played by Heath Ledger, is depicted in The Dark Knight series. Not only was Nolan’s vision so incredible, but it seemed that they found the perfect team to pull off the greatest set of Batman movies in my lifetime. We start with this vision the Nolan brothers had to make a sequel to Batman Begins so seamless and then they go even further to give us a better understanding of Bruce Wayne’s character. The Dark Knight gives us a better understanding of the man behind the mask.
Nolan’s vision allowed us to get a glimpse of those very first years of the darker side of the Batman universe and we get to see a better internal conflict on what Batman deems as right and wrong. The Dark Knight seemed to be the first superhero movie that was more for adults to enjoy because of the maturity in it. I found myself falling even more in love with this Batman the moment he saves the Joker from falling to his death. What was so amazing about this movie was having that conflict between not being able to save Dent and making that choice to save the Joker. It was those nuances that set the standard for real honest and raw superhero movies.
The cast was on point
Okay, speaking of the Joker AND all the wonderful things about The Dark Knight… I think pretty much anyone could agree that Heath Ledger’s hauntingly perfect portrayal of the Joker can never be matched. (May he rest in peace.) Pretty much every single actor chosen for this project completely nailed their performances. It brought Batman to life in a way I personally don’t think had been done before. Not only because production value has been increased with technological advances, but also because these actors became the characters, so much so that tragically, it may have contributed to Heath Ledger’s psychosis in his final days. It was that dedication, from all the main actors, that made this such an iconic movie. Christian Bale was just the perfect amount of pretty boy and bada**. Gary Oldman as James Gordon was an amazing choice. I could easily write an entire article on just the breakdown of each character.
The action scenes were dope!
The action sequences and all the new gear was a brilliant touch because “all the new shiny” brings in a new audience that was maybe too young to get into the older movies and now they are falling in love with this new and improved bat suit, Batmobile, lair, you name it. The Dark Knight is full of exciting new tech to drool over. Not that the previous Batmobiles weren’t cool but come on … I know you remember the tumbler batmobile scene. (Sidebar – this also applies to the Transformers movies. I didn’t like the show as kid but some of those action sequences in the movies are incredible.)
I, for one, would really enjoy seeing more of the Christopher Nolan Batman universe. I suppose there’s room in the superhero fandom for Zach Snyder’s Batman, but why did we another reboot? Who asked for crossover? Or maybe that’s just me, still being bitter that DC can’t seem to figure out the right formula to give our superheroes the movies they deserve. Can we just tell them to do what Christopher Nolan did? Is there a red phone for this kind of thing? Alas, for now, I shall re-watch The Dark Knight and remember simpler days when Ben Affleck wasn’t Batman.
What do you think dear readers? Does The Dark Knight still hold up today?
Featured image credit: DC Studios and Warner Bros.