Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 9/29/14

The midnight premiere of The Dark Rises is tonight, which means Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to an end.

He has changed the way superhero movies are presented, and this will continue next year when Man of Steel (Superman) premieres.

In honor of the premiere I have decided to make a list of the five most memorable aspects from the second film in Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight.

It was one of the top films of 2008 and will always be remembered as one Heath Ledger’s last and best performances.

The film was filled with complex characters and themes, which makes it much more than an average superhero movie.

5. Character Development of Harvey Dent

Aaron Eckhart had the task of portraying a classic character from the Batman universe and did it to perfection.

Harvey Dent, later “Two-Face,” starts out as a man who is trying to rid Gotham City of crime and corruption essentially on his own. As DA, he attempts to arrest the majority of the mobsters in Gotham while putting his life in danger.

He begins as a hero in the eyes of the public, but there is just too much corruption to handle. This proves to be true when cops betray Harvey and Rachel Dawes by taking them to separate locations tied to oil drums, which leads to the death of Rachel and the disfigured face of Harvey.

This event leads to Harvey’s villainous turn and is evident when The Joker meets up with him in the hospital.

 

Through the use of clever dialogue, Nolan has The Joker explain his true intentions to Harvey. This meeting ultimately leads to Harvey seeking revenge against everyone who had ever wronged him. This includes the mob, Gordon, and Batman.

Harvey eventually kidnaps Gordon’s family and is about to kill his son when Batman rescues him. This leads to Harvey’s death, but his actions are hidden from the public as all hope would be lost if it was revealed that their hero turned out bad in the end.

The quote that perfectly explains Harvey’s actions, which is said by Harvey himself:

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

This quote effectively foreshadowed Harvey’s actions at the end of the film.

4. Car Chase Scene

The film is often categorized as an action film, even though it can equally be categorized as a drama. Besides the actual fighting scenes, there are few traditional “action” scenes.

One of these scenes is the car chase scene that takes place when Harvey is being transported by the police and the masked Gordon.

 

The scene is filmed with crashes and explosions, which easily brings in the fans of action sequences. It is also important as it advances the story, as opposed to just being a useless action sequence. This scene leads to The Joker being taken into custody, along with Harvey and Rachel being taken to the separate buildings where they are tied to oil drums.

The most visually pleasing part of the scene comes at the very end, when the semi-truck that carries The Joker is flipped completely over by Batman, who uses wire to flip the truck.

3. Not the Typical Superhero Movie

Christopher Nolan changed the way superhero movies are viewed when he made both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Both films make the hero, Bruce Wayne, out to be more of a regular person fighting believable villains. This stems, in part, from the fact that Batman has no true super powers. He has wealth and the superior fighting and survival skills he learned in Batman Begins.

The Joker’s role as villain also offers a change from the norm.

In the past, The Joker has been portrayed as a silly character, which fits perfectly with the name. In Nolan’s version, The Joker is simply a psychotic man who wants chaos to ensue. His actions are far more believable than other villains such as the Red Skull because The Joker has no actual superpower; his only “power” is his demented mind.

This all makes The Dark Knight more of a film about human heroes and villains, rather than a traditional superhero movie. It is a trend that should continue as more superhero movie reboots are made.

2. Ferry Scene

Social experiments are always very interesting to observe, and the ferry scene is a perfect example of one.

The Joker rigs two ferries with bombs and gives a trigger to blow up the other boat to those on the ferries. One contains citizens of Gotham, and the other one contains prisoners.

A time limit is given and he tells those on both boats that if one fails to blow up the other before the time limit arrives, both boats will blow up.

 

The citizens on their ferry begin to call for the military personnel on the ferry to blow up the other one, but a vote is taken. The people vote to blow up the other ferry, but no one can bring themselves to detonate the bombs. On the prisoners’ ferry, the largest prisoner comes up and takes the detonator, but throws it out the window.

With a minute left before the time is up, one man gets up and takes the detonator. He is about to use it but simply cannot bring himself to do so. This surprises The Joker, who is sitting there waiting to see the ferries explode. But before he can do anything about it, Batman shows up and the two fight.

This scene puts viewers of the film into the situation of holding others’ fates in their hands. The people in the film are faced with killing strangers to protect themselves, but neither group of people can bring themselves to take the lives of the other group. This trumps the plans of The Joker, and leads to his downfall and capture by Batman.

1. Heath Ledger’s Portrayal of The Joker

It is fair to say that Heath Ledger provided one of the greatest performances ever as a comic book villain in history. It may very well be the best.

He changed the way The Joker was perceived, from a goofy character to a mentally insane – but at the same time competent – villain.

He famously took his role extremely seriously, spending much time preparing, and he was given creative control of the character by Christopher Nolan. This type of character is one that is made by the actor, not written by the writers.

Ledger posthumously won Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, but this was no sympathy award. He surely would have won if he was alive at the time. His death was tragic as he was so young, but his performance should be remembered for how great it was, not just because it was one of his last films.

It is tough to pick out the best scenes of The Joker, as there are so many.

The way Ledger delivered his lines was a work of art in itself, along with the actual dialogue. His performance should be the basis for any actor who is portraying the role of a psychotic character.

It is one of the greatest performances in recent film history, and will be remembered for years to come.

 

And it is, without question, the most memorable and indelible part of The Dark Knight.


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