The Dark Knight is the second Batman film in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and features Heath Ledger in one of his final film roles as The Joker.
This review is the seventh in a series of articles that will examine every theatrically released Batman movie from Batman (1966) to The Dark Knight Rises in honor of The Batman’s release on March 4th.
Heath Ledger’s Joker Is The True Star Of This Film
Heath Ledger’s Joker steals the show from Christian Bale’s Batman in this film, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ledger performs one of the greatest performances in cinematic history as the famous comic-book character.
The Joker is absolutely psychotic and instills fear in both the characters in the film as well as the film audience. While he was insane The Joker was also an incredibly intelligent villain making Batman have to think one step ahead with his every move.
Compared to Jack Nicholson’s version of the character, it’s not even a competition. Ledger blows that version of the character out of the water, which is saying something as Nicholson still had a great performance as The Joker. It is a shame that we were not able to see more of Heath Ledger in the role as he gives a near-perfect performance in this film. Well deserved of the Academy Award.
Christian Bale Further Proves Why He Is One Of The Greatest Batman Actors
Not only has Christian Bale proven himself to be one of the greatest actors of the 21st century, but also one of the best to don the cape and cowl. While The Joker is still the number one highlight of the film, Bale’s Batman still shines better than ever.
Bruce goes through a journey in this film where he contemplates if Batman is truly the best thing for Gotham. Things get further complicated when Rachel starts dating who he sees as Gotham’s true hero, Harvey Dent.
Bruce Wayne / Batman showed more character growth in this film than any of the other previous films in The Dark Knight’s final scene. In this, Batman tells Commissioner Gordon to blame him for all the crimes Dent committed as if Gotham finds out the will lose all hope in the greater good.
This version of Batman will do whatever it takes to do what is best for Gotham. Even if it means that they have to turn on him to get what is best. Bale’s version of the character is willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the people of Gotham, which is what makes him a true hero.
Harvey Dent Is Gotham’s Fallen Warrior
Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent / Two-Face in this film and is a much better version than the one that we saw in Batman Forever. In The Dark Knight, we actually get to see Dent serve the people of Gotham as they truly love and look up to him.
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His injuries after his kidnapping and the death of Rachel are what turn him into a criminal as he gets revenge on those who did this to them. Eckhart portrays both a good Harvey Dent and Two-Face as goes down his tragic path throughout the movie.
His resentment towards Gordon and their past is incredibly important throughout the film as we see their relationship crumble as time goes on. Alongside Ledger’s Joker, this version of Two-Face is high up on the list of the greatest Batman movie villains.
Final Thoughts on The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is a cinematic masterpiece and absolutely holds up in 2022. This film is the best Batman movie that has been released so far and will be incredibly difficult to beat. There is a reason this is one out of two films to be preserved by the National Film Registry, the other being Superman (1978).
The supporting cast and VFX continue to shine in this film as they did in the previous one. This also has to be one of the best screenplays ever written for a comic-book movie as the story paces itself perfectly from beginning to end. Christopher Nolan also continues to shine as director, making him not just one of the greatest comic-book movie directors, but one of the greatest film directors of all time.
This film is followed by The Dark Knight Rises, the last standalone Batman movie before the release of The Batman. The film serves as the finale to The Dark Knight Trilogy and will be our final Batman movie review leading up to The Batman.
The Dark Knight stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Heath Ledger as The Joker, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.
What are your thoughts on The Dark Knight? Do you think the film holds up in 2022? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow The Illuminerdi on social media to be notified of more DC news and reviews like this in the future!