You reap what you sow and old saying goes and which could be said about The Dark Knight. After bringing us a gritty, down-to-earth, origin story about Batman this movie continues on the path its predecessor started exploring. Something quite unique in the Batman universe as this is actually the first movie that really connects with the movie it follows. Not only in terms of the central plot, but also in recurring characters. For the first time a villain from a previous movie appears again as does the love-interest. The 90’s Batman movies felt more or less like standalone movies, while The Dark Knight is really a next chapter to Batman Begins.
The mob has been forced into a corner after Batman started guarding the city and certain citizens are mimicking the vigilantism displayed by Batman resulting in them dressing up in hockey pads and wearing shotguns. Gotham City seemingly is trying to cure itself from crime with Batman as their guardian and district attorney Harvey Dent as the man who can make Batman’s existence unnecessary. Something Bruce Wayne himself wants to see happen. What they didn’t account for was the sudden appearance of a seemingly simple bank robber with a taste for the theatrics. Hinted on at the end of Batman Begins this person calls himself The Joker and after robbing the mob of a big amount of their money he offers his services to them as he promises to get rid of their problem; Batman. With no other option available they agree letting The Joker run an anarchic tour the force through Gotham.
The Dark Knight isn’t a simple comic book movie anymore, or at least it proves that comic book movies have grown up after all these years. The Dark Knight is a crime drama with ethical questions placed by and about their characters. Characters that have scarred souls, childhood traumas and hidden agendas. “You complete me” says The Joker at one point to Batman. He’s right, he is the yin to Batman’s yang. Both psychologically scarred at youth, one using that trauma for good, the other for evil. Both trying to be a catalyst for the rest of the city to follow their moral code. In between them stands Harvey Dent, a character that due to a tragedy turns from drawing inspiration from Batman, becomes hating him. His character’s story is not only a round tragic one, but his moral transformation is also synonymous for the people of Gotham who could go through the same as The Joker keeps running havoc and nobody seems to be able to do something about it.
The Dark Knight is a template on how to make a rich and good movie. It builds on the history it has rather than repeating it, it is filled with characters all of with serve a purpose to the story and the story itself isn’t constructed around a standard structure. It has this epic feel and at certain points feels like it could go on forever and as a viewer I didn’t mind it at all. But that is because the world of Gotham is real. For the first time we actually have a Batman Movie that takes place in broad daylight rather than just night. This isn’t some gloomy gothic city, this is a breathing city where people live and work. The Batman movies always took place in the dark, so much that now when a movie has a lot of daylight scenes it actually feels refreshing.
But one of the strongest points of the movie is how the characters are written. Characters like Jim Gordon have a background, family and such. They question their motives, their choices, they are in doubt and insecure. These are real characters of flesh and blood, brought to life by some of the greatest actors out there. The Dark Knight has a good all-round cast completed by Heath Ledger’s Joker. In a memorable performance the Joker has gotten an entirely new re-envisioning. And as people wondered how the performance by Jack Nicholson will be topped, people will wonder the same thing about this performance. This is a one of a kind performance that could get the same cultural impact that Robert DeNiro’s Travis Bickle or Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter had.
The Dark Knight is The Godfather of comic book movies.