The Dark Knight (film)

The Dark Knight (film)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'The Dark Knight (film)'
Start a new discussion about 'The Dark Knight (film)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film
Superhero film
A superhero film, superhero movie, or superhero motion picture is: action, fantasy and science fiction film; that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes, individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person and are dedicated to protecting the public...

 directed, produced and co-written by Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
Christopher Jonathan James Nolan is a British-American film director, screenwriter and producer.He received serious notice after his second feature Memento , which he wrote and directed based on a story idea by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. Jonathan went to co-write later scripts with him,...

. Based on the DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 character Batman
Batman
Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

, the film is part of Nolan's Batman film series and a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins
Batman Begins
Batman Begins is a 2005 American superhero action film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Christian Bale as Batman, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson,...

. Christian Bale
Christian Bale
Christian Charles Philip Bale is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses....

 reprises the lead role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, with Michael Caine
Michael Caine
Sir Michael Caine, CBE is an English actor. He won Academy Awards for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules ....

, Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman
Gary Leonard Oldman is an English actor, voice actor, filmmaker and musician.A member of the 1980s Brit Pack, Oldman came to prominence via starring roles in British films Meantime , Sid and Nancy and Prick Up Your Ears , with his performance in the latter bringing him his first BAFTA Award...

 and Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, aviator and narrator. He is noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won...

 returning as Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth is a fictional character that appears throughout the DC Comics franchise. The character first appears in Batman #16 , and was created by writer Bob Kane and artist Jerry Robinson. Alfred serves as Batman’s tireless butler, assistant, confidant, and surrogate father figure...

, James Gordon
James Gordon (comics)
James Worthington Gordon, Sr. is a fictional character, an ally of Batman that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane...

 and Lucius Fox
Lucius Fox
Lucius Fox is a fictional character appearing in Batman comic books by DC Comics. He was created by Len Wein and John Calnan, and first appeared in Batman #307 . As a supporting character, he acts as Bruce Wayne's business manager who supposedly unknowingly runs the business interests that supply...

, respectively. The film introduces the character of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart
Aaron Eckhart
Aaron Edward Eckhart is an American film and stage actor. Born in California, he moved to England at the age of 13, when his father relocated the family. Several years later, he began his acting career by performing in school plays, before moving to Sydney, Australia, for his high school senior year...

), Gotham's newly elected District Attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 and the cohort of Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Rachel Dawes
Rachel Dawes
Rachel Dawes is a fictional character who first appeared in Christopher Nolan's 2005 feature film, Batman Begins. She was portrayed in that film by Katie Holmes and as a child in flashback scenes by Emma Lockhart. Katie Holmes also voiced Rachel in the Batman Begins video game. Maggie Gyllenhaal...

 (Maggie Gyllenhaal
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Gyllenhaal born November 16, 1977) is an American actress. She is the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal and the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. She made her screen debut when she began to appear in her father's films...

), who joins Batman and the police in combating the new rising threat of a criminal calling himself the "Joker
Joker (comics)
The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin...

" (Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger
Heath Andrew Ledger was an Australian television and film actor. After performing roles in Australian television and film during the 1990s, Ledger moved to the United States in 1998 to develop his film career...

).

Nolan's inspiration for the film was the Joker's comic book debut in 1940, and the 1996 series The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween is a 13-issue comic book limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. It was originally published by DC Comics in 1996 and 1997. It was inspired by the three Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials by the same creative team...

, which retold Two-Face's origin. In addition elements of Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers' Dark Detective miniseries as well as the unpublished follow-up were reportedly cannibalised along with other elements of Batman mythology for the story. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, as well as in several other locations in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

. Nolan used an IMAX
IMAX
IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation. IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems...

 camera to film some sequences, including the Joker's first appearance in the film.

On January 22, 2008, some months after he had completed filming on The Dark Knight and six months before the film's release, Heath Ledger died from a toxic combination of prescription drugs
Combined drug intoxication
Combined drug intoxication , also known as multiple drug intake or lethal polydrug/polypharmacy intoxication, is an unnatural cause of human death...

, leading to intense attention from the press and movie-going public. Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 had initially created a viral marketing
Viral marketing
Viral marketing, viral advertising, or marketing buzz are buzzwords referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of viruses...

 campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screen shots of Ledger as the Joker, but after Ledger's death, the studio refocused its promotional campaign.

The Dark Knight was released on July 16, 2008 in Australia, on July 18, 2008 in North America, and on July 24, 2008 in the United Kingdom. The film received critical acclaim, and set numerous records during its theatrical run; it is currently one of only three films to have earned more than $500 million at the North American box office. With over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, it is the tenth highest-grossing film of all time (unadjusted for inflation). The film received eight Academy Award nominations and won for Best Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

 for Ledger's performance.

The film will be followed by a third entry titled The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises is an upcoming epic superhero film. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film will be the third and final installment in Nolan's Batman film series, and is a sequel to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight...

, with Bale, Caine, Oldman and Freeman returning in the original roles.

Plot


In Gotham City
Gotham City
Gotham City is a fictional U.S. city appearing in DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of residence was first identified as Gotham City in Batman #4 . Gotham City is strongly inspired by Trenton, Ontario's history, location, atmosphere, and various architectural styles...

, the Joker
Joker (comics)
The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin...

 and his accomplices rob a bank used by the local mob
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

 as a front for money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

. Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon
James Gordon (comics)
James Worthington Gordon, Sr. is a fictional character, an ally of Batman that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane...

 decide to include new district attorney Harvey Dent
Two-Face
Two-Face is a fictional comic book supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. and is an enemy of Batman. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #66 , and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger....

, who is dating Bruce Wayne's childhood sweetheart Rachel Dawes
Rachel Dawes
Rachel Dawes is a fictional character who first appeared in Christopher Nolan's 2005 feature film, Batman Begins. She was portrayed in that film by Katie Holmes and as a child in flashback scenes by Emma Lockhart. Katie Holmes also voiced Rachel in the Batman Begins video game. Maggie Gyllenhaal...

, in their plan to eradicate the mob. Bruce later meets Dent and offers him a fundraiser after realizing his sincerity. Mob bosses Sal Maroni
Sal Maroni
Salvatore "The Boss" Maroni is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, usually as one of Batman's first enemies, and among the toughest gangsters in Gotham City...

, Gambol, and the Chechen meet to discuss the new pressure on their crime operations. Lau, a Chinese mafia accountant, informs them that he has hidden their money and fled to Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 in an attempt to preempt Gordon's plan to seize their funds and hide from Dent's jurisdiction. The Joker barges into the meeting, warning that Batman will come after Lau, and instead offers to kill Batman for half of the funds. They flatly refuse, and Gambol places a bounty on the Joker's head. Not long after, the Joker kills Gambol and takes control of his gang.

Batman captures Lau in Hong Kong and delivers him to the Gotham City police
Gotham City Police Department
The Gotham City Police Department is a fictional police department servicing Gotham City, as depicted in comic books published by DC Comics, in particular those tied into the Batman books.-History of GCPD:...

; he agrees to testify, allowing Dent and Gordon to arrest the mobsters en masse. In retaliation, the Joker issues an ultimatum to Gotham that people will die each day unless Batman reveals his identity; he immediately makes good on his threat, killing Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb and the judge presiding over the mob trials. Gordon foils the Joker's assassination attempt on the mayor, apparently dying in the process. As a result, Bruce plans to reveal his identity as Batman, but Dent instead names himself as Batman to protect the truth and is taken into protective custody. Escorted across the city, Dent is pursued by the Joker while Batman rushes to his aid. Gordon, who had faked his death, arrests the Joker with Batman's help and is promoted to Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner is in principle the title given to a member of a commission or to an individual who has been given a commission ....

. However, Dent goes missing and the Joker reveals that both Dent and Rachel have been taken to separate buildings on opposite sides of town which will explode at the same time. Batman goes after Rachel, while Gordon and the police go to rescue Dent. At the same time, the Joker escapes custody with Lau using a smuggled bomb. As the Joker has switched around the hostages' locations, Batman finds Dent and rescues him, even as Dent begs him to save Rachel instead. The buildings explode; Rachel is killed, while half of Dent's face is burned in the explosion, leaving him disfigured.

After killing Lau and the Chechen, the Joker threatens to destroy a hospital if Coleman Reese, an accountant at Wayne Enterprises who has deduced Batman's identity, is not dead within an hour. Bruce saves Reese, while the Joker visits Dent in the hospital and convinces him to take revenge against those who played a part in Rachel's death. The Joker blows up the hospital and leaves with a bus full of hostages, while Dent confronts and kills Maroni and the two corrupt cops who gave him and Rachel to the mob.

That night, as civilians are evacuated from the city, the Joker has two ferries rigged with explosives, offering both civilian and prisoner passenger groups a chance to live if they destroy the other boat. Batman asks his confidant Lucius Fox
Lucius Fox
Lucius Fox is a fictional character appearing in Batman comic books by DC Comics. He was created by Len Wein and John Calnan, and first appeared in Batman #307 . As a supporting character, he acts as Bruce Wayne's business manager who supposedly unknowingly runs the business interests that supply...

 to find the Joker using a signal tracking device that will effectively spy on the entire city; Fox reluctantly agrees, but says he will resign from Wayne Enterprises
Wayne Enterprises
Wayne Enterprises is a company in the DC Universe, owned by Bruce Wayne and run by his business manager, Lucius Fox. It was founded by merchant ancestors of the Wayne family in the 17th century as a merchant house, although the company changed when the heir of Judge Solomon Wayne, Alan, utilized...

 immediately afterward if the machine remains intact. Upon discovering the Joker's location, Batman stops Gordon's SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 teams from taking the criminal out, in order to protect the hostages and to capture the Joker himself. The ferry passengers ultimately refuse to kill one another, and Batman apprehends the Joker, who nevertheless says that he has won "the battle for Gotham's soul"; he reveals what he has done to Dent, stating that the citizens of Gotham will lose their newly found hope once Dent's rampage becomes public knowledge. Batman leaves to track Dent down as the Joker is taken back into custody by the SWAT team.

At the remains of the building where Rachel died, Batman finds Dent holding Gordon and his family at gunpoint. Dent judges the fate of Batman, himself, and Gordon's son with three flips of his lucky coin. As the result of the first two flips, he shoots Batman in the abdomen and spares himself. As Dent flips the coin to determine the boy's fate, Batman (who is wearing body armor) tackles him over the side of the building, killing him. Batman convinces Gordon to hold him publicly responsible for the murders so that Dent will remain a symbol of hope for the city; moments later, the police swarm the building, and a manhunt for Batman ensues. Batman retreats on the Batpod, now a fugitive. Gordon later delivers the eulogy at Dent's funeral and destroys the Bat-Signal
Bat-Signal
The Bat-Signal is a distress signal device appearing in the various interpretations of the Batman mythos. It is a specially modified Klieg searchlight with a stylized symbol of a bat attached to the light so that it projects a large Bat emblem on the sky or buildings of Gotham City...

, while Fox watches the signal-tracking device self-destruct and Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth is a fictional character that appears throughout the DC Comics franchise. The character first appears in Batman #16 , and was created by writer Bob Kane and artist Jerry Robinson. Alfred serves as Batman’s tireless butler, assistant, confidant, and surrogate father figure...

 burns the letter written by Rachel revealing her plans to marry Dent.

Cast


  • Christian Bale
    Christian Bale
    Christian Charles Philip Bale is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses....

     as Bruce Wayne / Batman
    Batman
    Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

    , a billionaire dedicated to protecting Gotham City from the criminal underworld by night. Bale said he was confident in his choice to return in the role because of the positive response to his portrayal in Batman Begins
    Batman Begins
    Batman Begins is a 2005 American superhero action film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Christian Bale as Batman, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson,...

    . He continued training in the Keysi Fighting Method
    Keysi Fighting Method
    Keysi Fighting Method is a method of self defense that is based on natural fighting instincts, martial arts and street fighting techniques, developed by Justo Diéguez Serrano from his fighting experiences while raised on the streets of Spain. The system was founded with the help of Andy Norman...

     and performed many of his own stunts, but did not gain as much muscle as in the previous film because the new Batsuit allowed him to move with greater agility. Bale described Batman's dilemma as whether "[his crusade is] something that has an end. Can he quit and have an ordinary life? The kind of manic intensity someone has to have to maintain the passion and the anger that they felt as a child, takes an effort after a while, to keep doing that. At some point, you have to exorcise your demons." He added, "Now you have not just a young man in pain attempting to find some kind of an answer, you have somebody who actually has power, who is burdened by that power, and is having to recognize the difference between attaining that power and holding on to it." Bale felt Batman's personality had been strongly established in the first film, so it was unlikely his character would be overshadowed by the villains, stating: "I have no problem with competing with someone else. And that's going to make a better movie."
  • Heath Ledger
    Heath Ledger
    Heath Andrew Ledger was an Australian television and film actor. After performing roles in Australian television and film during the 1990s, Ledger moved to the United States in 1998 to develop his film career...

     as The Joker
    Joker (comics)
    The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin...

    . Before Ledger was confirmed to play the Joker in July 2006, Paul Bettany
    Paul Bettany
    Paul Bettany is an English actor. He has appeared in a wide variety of films, including A Knight's Tale, A Beautiful Mind, and The Da Vinci Code...

    , Lachy Hulme
    Lachy Hulme
    Lachy Hulme is an Australian-born actor and screenwriter. He wrote the feature film Men With Guns, and co-wrote Let's Get Skase, a comedy-adventure, which Hulme starred in....

    , Adrien Brody
    Adrien Brody
    Adrien Brody is an American actor and film producer. He received widespread recognition and acclaim after starring in Roman Polanski's The Pianist . Winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2003 at age 29, he is the youngest actor to do so...

    , Steve Carell
    Steve Carell
    Steven John "Steve" Carell is an American comedian, actor, voice artist, producer, writer, and director. Although Carell is notable for his role on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he found greater fame in the late 2000s for playing Michael Scott on The Office...

    , and Robin Williams
    Robin Williams
    Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

     publicly expressed interest in the role. Yet Nolan had wanted to work with Ledger on a number of projects in the past (though he had been unable to do so), and was agreeable to Ledger's chaotic interpretation of the character. When Ledger saw Batman Begins, he had realized a way to make the character work that was consistent with the film's tone: he described his Joker as a "psychopathic
    Psychopathy
    Psychopathy is a mental disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness. Psychopaths are highly prone to antisocial behavior and abusive treatment of others, and are very disproportionately responsible for violent crime...

    , mass murder
    Mass murder
    Mass murder is the act of murdering a large number of people , typically at the same time or over a relatively short period of time. According to the FBI, mass murder is defined as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders...

    ing, schizophrenic
    Schizophrenia
    Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

     clown with zero empathy
    Empathy
    Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B...

    ." Throughout the film, the Joker states his desire to upset social order through crime, and comes to define himself by his conflict with Batman. To prepare for the role, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character's posture, voice, and personality, and kept a diary, in which he recorded the Joker's thoughts and feelings. While he initially found it difficult, Ledger eventually generated a voice unlike Jack Nicholson
    Jack Nicholson
    John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

    's character in Tim Burton
    Tim Burton
    Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

    's 1989 Batman film
    Batman (1989 film)
    Batman is a 1989 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, directed by Tim Burton. The film stars Michael Keaton in the title role, as well as Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl and Jack Palance...

    . He was also given Batman: The Killing Joke
    Batman: The Killing Joke
    Batman: The Killing Joke is an influential one-shot superhero graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland. First published by DC Comics in 1988, it has remained in print since then, and has also been reprinted as part of the trade paperback DC Universe: The Stories of Alan...

    and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
    Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
    Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth is a Batman graphic novel written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Dave McKean. It was originally published in the United States in both hardcover and softcover editions by DC Comics in 1989...

    ,
    which he "really tried to read and put it down." Ledger also cited A Clockwork Orange
    A Clockwork Orange (film)
    A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

    and Sid Vicious
    Sid Vicious
    Sid Vicious was an English musician best known as the bassist of the influential punk rock group Sex Pistols...

     as "a very early starting point for Christian [Bale] and I. But we kind of flew far away from that pretty quickly and into another world altogether." "There's a bit of everything in him. There's nothing that consistent," Ledger said, and added, "There are a few more surprises to him." Ledger was allowed to shoot and mostly direct the videos the Joker sends out as warnings. Each take Ledger made was different from the last. Nolan was impressed enough with the first video shoot that he chose to not be present when Ledger shot the video with a kidnapped reporter (Anthony Michael Hall
    Anthony Michael Hall
    Michael Anthony Hall , known professionally as Anthony Michael Hall, is an American actor, film producer and director who starred in several teen-oriented films of the 1980s. Hall began his career in commercials and on stage as a child, and made his screen debut in 1980...

    ). On January 22, 2008, after he had completed filming The Dark Knight, Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose
    Drug overdose
    The term drug overdose describes the ingestion or application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than are recommended or generally practiced...

    , leading to intense press attention and memorial tributes. "It was tremendously emotional, right when he passed, having to go back in and look at him every day [during editing]," Nolan recalled. "But the truth is, I feel very lucky to have something productive to do, to have a performance that he was very, very proud of, and that he had entrusted to me to finish." All of Ledger's scenes appear as he completed them in the filming; in editing the film, Nolan added no "digital effects" to alter Ledger's actual performance posthumously. Nolan has dedicated the film in part to Ledger's memory.
  • Aaron Eckhart
    Aaron Eckhart
    Aaron Edward Eckhart is an American film and stage actor. Born in California, he moved to England at the age of 13, when his father relocated the family. Several years later, he began his acting career by performing in school plays, before moving to Sydney, Australia, for his high school senior year...

     as Harvey Dent
    Two-Face
    Two-Face is a fictional comic book supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. and is an enemy of Batman. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #66 , and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger....

    , the district attorney who is hailed as Gotham's "White Knight." His battle with the Joker transforms him into a murderous, disfigured vigilante
    Vigilante
    A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker....

    . Wayne sees Dent as his heir, recognizing that Batman's war on crime will be a lifelong mission, which heightens the tragedy of Dent's downfall. Nolan and David S. Goyer
    David S. Goyer
    David Samuel Goyer is an American screenwriter, film director and comic book writer.-Early life:Goyer was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attended Hebrew school and has described himself as "half Jewish"...

     had originally considered using Dent in Batman Begins, but they replaced him with the new character Rachel Dawes when they realized they "couldn't do him justice." Before Eckhart was cast in February 2007, Liev Schreiber
    Liev Schreiber
    Isaac Liev Schreiber , commonly known as Liev Schreiber, is an American actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. He became known during the late 1990s and early 2000s, having initially appeared in several independent films, and later mainstream Hollywood films, including the Scream trilogy of...

    , Josh Lucas
    Josh Lucas
    Josh Lucas is an American actor. He has appeared in many films, including Glory Road, A Beautiful Mind, and Poseidon.-Early life:...

    , and Ryan Phillippe
    Ryan Phillippe
    Matthew Ryan Phillippe , better known as Ryan Phillippe, is an American actor. After appearing on the soap opera One Life to Live, he came to fame in the late 1990s starring in a string of films, including I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and 54...

     had expressed interest in the role, while Mark Ruffalo
    Mark Ruffalo
    Mark Alan Ruffalo is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter. He starred in films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Zodiac, Shutter Island, Just Like Heaven, You Can Count on Me and The Kids Are All Right for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best...

     auditioned. Hugh Jackman
    Hugh Jackman
    Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor and producer who is involved in film, musical theatre, and television.Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as action/superhero, period and romance characters...

     was also considered for the part. Nolan chose Eckhart, whom he had considered for the lead role in Memento, citing his "extraordinary" ability as an actor, his embodiment of "that kind of chiselled, American hero quality" projected by Robert Redford
    Robert Redford
    Charles Robert Redford, Jr. , better known as Robert Redford, is an American actor, film director, producer, businessman, environmentalist, philanthropist, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival. He has received two Oscars: one in 1981 for directing Ordinary People, and one for Lifetime...

    , and his subtextual "edge." Eckhart was "interested in good guys gone wrong," and had played corrupt men in films such as The Black Dahlia
    The Black Dahlia (film)
    The Black Dahlia is a 2006 neo noir crime film directed by Brian De Palma. It is based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy, writer of L.A. Confidential and starred Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank. The story is based on the murder of Elizabeth Short...

    , Thank You for Smoking, and In the Company of Men
    In the Company of Men
    In the Company of Men is a 1997 Canadian/American black comedy written and directed by Neil LaBute and starring Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, and Stacy Edwards...

    . Whereas Two-Face is an evil villain in the comics, Nolan chose to portray him as a twisted vigilante to emphasize his role as Batman's counterpart. Eckhart explained, "[He] is still true to himself. He's a crime fighter, he's not killing good people. He's not a bad guy, not purely." For Dent, Eckhart "kept on thinking about the Kennedys
    Kennedy family
    In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

    ," particularly Robert F. Kennedy
    Robert F. Kennedy
    Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

    , who was "idealistic, held a grudge and took on the Mob." He had his hair lightened and styled to make him appear more dashing. Nolan told Eckhart to not make Two-Face "jokey with slurping sounds or tic
    Tic
    A tic is a sudden, repetitive, nonrhythmic, stereotyped motor movement or vocalization involving discrete muscle groups. Tics can be invisible to the observer, such as abdominal tensing or toe crunching. Common motor and phonic tics are, respectively, eye blinking and throat clearing...

    ks."
  • Michael Caine
    Michael Caine
    Sir Michael Caine, CBE is an English actor. He won Academy Awards for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules ....

     as Alfred Pennyworth
    Alfred Pennyworth
    Alfred Pennyworth is a fictional character that appears throughout the DC Comics franchise. The character first appears in Batman #16 , and was created by writer Bob Kane and artist Jerry Robinson. Alfred serves as Batman’s tireless butler, assistant, confidant, and surrogate father figure...

    , Bruce's trusted butler and confidante. His supply of useful advice to Bruce and his likeness as a father figure has led to him being labeled "Batman's batman."
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
    Maggie Gyllenhaal
    Margaret Ruth "Maggie" Gyllenhaal born November 16, 1977) is an American actress. She is the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal and the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. She made her screen debut when she began to appear in her father's films...

     as Rachel Dawes
    Rachel Dawes
    Rachel Dawes is a fictional character who first appeared in Christopher Nolan's 2005 feature film, Batman Begins. She was portrayed in that film by Katie Holmes and as a child in flashback scenes by Emma Lockhart. Katie Holmes also voiced Rachel in the Batman Begins video game. Maggie Gyllenhaal...

    , the Gotham assistant district attorney and Wayne's childhood friend. Before the events of the film, she told Wayne that if he ever decided to stop being Batman, they would be together. She is one of the few people to know Batman's identity. Gyllenhaal took over the role from Katie Holmes
    Katie Holmes
    Katherine Noelle "Katie" Holmes is an American actress who first achieved fame for her role as Joey Potter on The WB television teen drama Dawson's Creek from 1998 to 2003. Her movie roles have included the blockbuster Batman Begins along with art house films such as The Ice Storm and thrillers...

    , who played it in Batman Begins. In August 2005, Holmes was reportedly planning to reprise the role, but she eventually turned it down to do Mad Money
    Mad Money (film)
    Mad Money is a 2008 comedy-crime film starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes, and directed by Callie Khouri. It is loosely based on the 2001 British film Hot Money.-Plot:...

    with Diane Keaton
    Diane Keaton
    Diane Keaton is an American film actress, director, producer, and screenwriter. Keaton began her career on stage, and made her screen debut in 1970...

     and Queen Latifah
    Queen Latifah
    Dana Elaine Owens , better known by her stage name Queen Latifah, is an American singer, rapper, and actress. Her work in music, film and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy...

    . By March 2007, Gyllenhaal was in "final talks" for the part. Gyllenhaal has acknowledged her character is a damsel in distress
    Damsel in distress
    The subject of the damsel in distress, or persecuted maiden, is a classic theme in world literature, art, and film. She is usually a beautiful young woman placed in a dire predicament by a villain or monster and who requires a hero to achieve her rescue. She has become a stock character of fiction,...

     to an extent, but says Nolan sought ways to empower her character, so "Rachel's really clear about what's important to her and unwilling to compromise her morals, which made a nice change" from the many conflicted characters whom she has previously portrayed.
  • Gary Oldman
    Gary Oldman
    Gary Leonard Oldman is an English actor, voice actor, filmmaker and musician.A member of the 1980s Brit Pack, Oldman came to prominence via starring roles in British films Meantime , Sid and Nancy and Prick Up Your Ears , with his performance in the latter bringing him his first BAFTA Award...

     as James Gordon
    James Gordon (comics)
    James Worthington Gordon, Sr. is a fictional character, an ally of Batman that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane...

    , a lieutenant in the Gotham City Police Department
    Gotham City Police Department
    The Gotham City Police Department is a fictional police department servicing Gotham City, as depicted in comic books published by DC Comics, in particular those tied into the Batman books.-History of GCPD:...

     and one of the city's few honest police officers. He forms a tenuous, unofficial alliance with Batman and Dent. When the Joker assassinates Police Commissioner Loeb, Mayor Garcia gives Gordon the position. Oldman described his character as "incorruptible, virtuous, strong, heroic, but understated." Nolan explained that "The Long Halloween
    Batman: The Long Halloween
    Batman: The Long Halloween is a 13-issue comic book limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. It was originally published by DC Comics in 1996 and 1997. It was inspired by the three Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials by the same creative team...

    has a great, triangular relationship between Harvey Dent and Gordon and Batman, and that's something we very much drew from." Oldman added that "Gordon has a great deal of admiration for him at the end, but [Batman] is more than ever now the dark knight, the outsider. I'm intrigued now to see: If there is a third one, what he's going to do?" On the possibility of another sequel, he said that "returning to [the role] is not dependent on whether the role was bigger than the one before."
  • Morgan Freeman
    Morgan Freeman
    Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, aviator and narrator. He is noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won...

     as Lucius Fox
    Lucius Fox
    Lucius Fox is a fictional character appearing in Batman comic books by DC Comics. He was created by Len Wein and John Calnan, and first appeared in Batman #307 . As a supporting character, he acts as Bruce Wayne's business manager who supposedly unknowingly runs the business interests that supply...

    , the recently promoted chief executive officer of Wayne Enterprises
    Wayne Enterprises
    Wayne Enterprises is a company in the DC Universe, owned by Bruce Wayne and run by his business manager, Lucius Fox. It was founded by merchant ancestors of the Wayne family in the 17th century as a merchant house, although the company changed when the heir of Judge Solomon Wayne, Alan, utilized...

     who, now fully aware of his employer's double life, serves more directly as Bruce's armorer in addition to his corporate duties.
  • Ng Chin Han
    Chin Han
    Ng Chin Han , usually credited as just Chin Han, is a Singaporean actor of stage, film and television whose career has spanned over twenty years. He starred in Masters of the Sea, Singapore television's first foray into English-language drama. In recent years he broke into the Hollywood film...

     as Lau, the accountant who handles the money for the mobs.
  • Eric Roberts
    Eric Roberts
    Eric Anthony Roberts is an American actor. His career began with King of the Gypsies , earning a Golden Globe nomination for best actor debut. He starred as the protagonist in the 1980 dramatisation of Willa Cather's 1905 short story, Paul's Case...

     as Sal Maroni
    Sal Maroni
    Salvatore "The Boss" Maroni is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, usually as one of Batman's first enemies, and among the toughest gangsters in Gotham City...

    , a gangster who has taken over Carmine Falcone
    Carmine Falcone
    Carmine "The Roman" Falcone is a fictional character in DC Comics' shared universe, the DC Universe, who made his debut in the four part story Batman: Year One written by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in 1987.- Publication history :...

    's mob. Bob Hoskins
    Bob Hoskins
    Robert William "Bob" Hoskins, Jr. is an English actor known for playing Cockney rough diamonds, psychopaths and gangsters, in films such as The Long Good Friday , and Mona Lisa , and lighter roles in family films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook .- Early life :Hoskins was born in Bury St...

     and James Gandolfini
    James Gandolfini
    James J. Gandolfini, Jr. is an Italian American actor. He is best known for his role as Tony Soprano in the HBO TV series The Sopranos, about a troubled crime boss struggling to balance his family life and career in the Mafia...

     auditioned for the role.
  • Colin McFarlane
    Colin McFarlane
    Colin McFarlane is an English actor and voice artist. He has appeared in several TV series, including The Fast Show, Judge John Deed, Jonathan Creek, Randall & Hopkirk , Jeeves and Wooster, Black Books and The Thin Blue Line. He is also known for portraying Police Commissioner Gillian B...

     as Gillian B. Loeb, the Police Commissioner of Gotham until his murder at the hands of the Joker.
  • Beatrice Rosen
    Beatrice Rosen
    Beatrice Rosen is a French actress. She is also credited as Béatrice Rosen and Béatrice Rosenblatt.- Personal life :...

     as Natascha, Bruce's date


The film's Gotham officials and authorities include Nestor Carbonell
Nestor Carbonell
Nestor Gastón Carbonell is an American actor, known for portraying Richard Alpert in ABC's drama Lost and Mayor Anthony Garcia in the film The Dark Knight...

 as Mayor Anthony Garcia, Keith Szarabajka
Keith Szarabajka
Keith Szarabajka is an American actor and voice artist.-Early life:Szarabajka was born in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Anne, a school teacher, and Edward Szarabajka, a savings and loan officer....

 as Detective Gerard Stephens, Monique Gabriela Curnen
Monique Gabriela Curnen
Monique Gabriela Curnen is an American film and television actress.- Early life :Curnen's mother is from Puerto Rico and her father is of German and Irish descent. Growing up in Framingham, Massachusetts, she attended Framingham South High School, where she was president of the Drama Club and acted...

 as Anna Ramirez, and Ron Dean as Detective Michael Wuertz. While Stephens is an honest and good cop, the latter two are two corrupt officers who betray Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes to the Joker. The film also cast Anthony Michael Hall
Anthony Michael Hall
Michael Anthony Hall , known professionally as Anthony Michael Hall, is an American actor, film producer and director who starred in several teen-oriented films of the 1980s. Hall began his career in commercials and on stage as a child, and made his screen debut in 1980...

 as Gotham Cable News reporter Mike Engel, Nydia Rodriguez Terracina as Judge Janet Surrillo, Joshua Harto
Joshua Harto
Joshua Denver Harto is an American actor, television writer and television producer.He has guest starred in a number of notable television series, including American Dreams, Carnivàle, Crossing Jordan, JAG, Strangers with Candy, The Practice, Cold Case and more...

 as Coleman Reese, Melinda McGraw
Melinda McGraw
Melinda Leigh McGraw is an American actress. She has starred in movies such as Albino Alligator , Wrongfully Accused , and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps , and is also known for her television performances on The Commish, The X-Files and Mad Men.-Early life:McGraw was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, to...

 and Nathan Gamble
Nathan Gamble
Nathan Gamble is an American child actor who made his feature film debut in Babel , for which he was nominated for a 2007 Young Artist Award....

 as Gordon's wife and son, and Tom "Tiny" Lister, Jr.
Tom Lister, Jr.
-World Wrestling Federation :Lister appeared in the 1989 wrestling movie No Holds Barred, which was financed by the World Wrestling Federation and starred Hulk Hogan. Lister's role was Zeus, a brutal monster heel....

 as a prison inmate on one of the bomb-rigged ferries. The film's criminals include Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn...

 as gang leader Gambol and Ritchie Coster
Ritchie Coster
Ritchie Coster is an English film, television and theatre actor. Coster was born in London, England and attended The Latymer School, Edmonton...

 as the Chechen. William Fichtner
William Fichtner
William Edward Fichtner is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Sheriff Tom Underlay on Invasion, as Alexander Mahone on Prison Break, as William Sharp in Armageddon, and as Ken Rosenberg in the video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.- Early life...

 features as the Gotham National Bank manager. David Banner
David Banner
Lavell Crump , better known by his stage name David Banner, is an American rapper, record producer and occasional actor. Banner was born in Jackson, Mississippi and graduated from Southern University. He started his music career as a member of the rap duo, Crooked Lettaz before going solo in 2000...

 originally auditioned for the role of Gambol. Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy is an Irish film and theatre actor. He is often noted by critics for his chameleonic performances in diverse roles and distinctive blue eyes and general sex appeal....

 returns in a cameo as Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow
Scarecrow (comics)
The Scarecrow is a fictional character, a supervillain, that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in World's Finest Comics #3 and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane...

, who is captured early on in the film by Batman.

Musician Dwight Yoakam
Dwight Yoakam
Dwight David Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music...

 was approached for the roles of either the manager or a corrupt cop, but he chose to focus on his album Dwight Sings Buck
Dwight Sings Buck
Dwight Sings Buck is country music artist Dwight Yoakam's tribute album to Buck Owens. The album was released on October 23, 2007 by New West Records.-Track listing:#"My Heart Skips a Beat" - 2:25...

. Another cameo was made by United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Patrick Leahy
Patrick Leahy
Patrick Joseph Leahy is the senior United States Senator from Vermont and member of the Democratic Party. He is the first and only elected Democratic United States Senator in Vermont's history. He is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy is the second most senior U.S. Senator,...

, a Batman fan who was previously an extra in the 1997 Batman & Robin and also was a guest voice actor on Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated series based on the DC Comics character Batman. The series featured an ensemble cast of many voice-actors including Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Arleen Sorkin, and Loren Lester. The series won four Emmy Awards and was nominated...

. Leahy cameos as a guest who defies the Joker when he and his henchmen attack Bruce's fundraiser, saying "We are not intimidated by thugs." Matt Skiba
Matt Skiba
Matthew Thomas Skiba is the lead singer and guitarist of Alkaline Trio.-Early life and family:...

, lead singer of Chicago punk band Alkaline Trio
Alkaline Trio
Alkaline Trio is an American punk rock band that formed in McHenry, Illinois, in 1996. The band's line-up consists of Matt Skiba , Dan Andriano , and Derek Grant...

 made a small appearance in the movie.

Development


Before the release of Batman Begins
Batman Begins
Batman Begins is a 2005 American superhero action film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Christian Bale as Batman, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson,...

, screenwriter David S. Goyer
David S. Goyer
David Samuel Goyer is an American screenwriter, film director and comic book writer.-Early life:Goyer was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attended Hebrew school and has described himself as "half Jewish"...

 wrote a treatment
Film treatment
A film treatment is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, television program, or radio play. It is generally longer and more detailed than an outline , and it may include details of directorial style that an outline omits...

 for two sequels which introduced the Joker and Harvey Dent. His original intent was for the Joker to scar Dent during the Joker's trial in the third film, turning Dent into Two-Face. Goyer, who penned the first draft of the film, cited the DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 13-issue comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 limited series
Limited series
A limited series is a comic book series with a set number of installments. A limited series differs from an ongoing series in that the number of issues is determined before production and it differs from a one shot in that it is composed of multiple issues....

 Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween is a 13-issue comic book limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. It was originally published by DC Comics in 1996 and 1997. It was inspired by the three Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials by the same creative team...

as the major influence on his storyline. While initially uncertain of whether or not he would return to direct the sequel, Nolan did want to reinterpret the Joker on screen. On July 31, 2006, Warner Bros. officially announced initiation of production for the sequel to Batman Begins titled The Dark Knight; it is the first live-action Batman film without the word "Batman" in its title, which Bale noted as signaling that "this take on Batman of mine and Chris' is very different from any of the others."

After much research, Nolan's brother and co-writer, Jonathan
Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan "Jonah" Nolan is a British-American author and screenwriter. His short story "Memento Mori" was used by his brother, director Christopher Nolan, as the basis for the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film Memento. He has also co-written the screenplays for The Prestige and The Dark...

, suggested the Joker's first two appearances, published in the first issue of Batman
Batman (comic book)
Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940...

(1940), as the crucial influences. Jerry Robinson
Jerry Robinson
Jerry Robinson is an American comic book artist best known for his work on DC Comics' Batman line of comics during the 1940s.He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.-Career:...

, one of the Joker's co-creators, was consulted on the character's portrayal. Nolan decided to avoid divulging an in-depth origin story
Origin story
In comic book terminology, an origin story is an account or back-story revealing how a character or team gained their superpowers and/or the circumstances under which they became superheroes or supervillains....

 for the Joker, and instead portray his rise to power so as to not diminish the threat he poses, explaining to MTV News
MTV News
MTV News is the news division of MTV, one of the first and most popular music television network in the U.S., as well as some of MTV's related channels around the world. MTV News began in the late 1980s with the program The Week In Rock, hosted by Kurt Loder, the first official MTV News correspondent...

, "the Joker we meet in The Dark Knight is fully formed...To me, the Joker is an absolute. There are no shades of gray to him – maybe shades of purple. He's unbelievably dark. He bursts in just as he did in the comics." Nolan reiterated to IGN
IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

, "We never wanted to do an origin story for the Joker in this film," because "the arc of the story is much more Harvey Dent's; the Joker is presented as an absolute. It's a very thrilling element in the film, and a very important element, but we wanted to deal with the rise of the Joker, not the origin of the Joker." Nolan suggested Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: The Killing Joke is an influential one-shot superhero graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland. First published by DC Comics in 1988, it has remained in print since then, and has also been reprinted as part of the trade paperback DC Universe: The Stories of Alan...

influenced a section of the Joker's dialogue in the film, in which he says that anyone can become like him given the right circumstances. Nolan also cited Heat as "sort of an inspiration" for his aim "to tell a very large, city story or the story of a city": "If you want to take on Gotham, you want to give Gotham a kind of weight and breadth and depth in there. So you wind up dealing with the political figures, the media figures. That's part of the whole fabric of how a city is bound together."

According to Nolan, an important theme of the sequel is "escalation," extending the ending of Batman Begins, noting "things having to get worse before they get better." While indicating The Dark Knight would continue the themes of Batman Begins, including justice vs. revenge and Bruce Wayne's issues with his father
Thomas Wayne
Thomas Wayne is a fictional character in the Batman series of comic books. Dr. Thomas Wayne was the father of Bruce Wayne, and husband of Martha Wayne, as well as a gifted surgeon and philanthropist...

, Nolan emphasized the sequel would also portray Wayne more as a detective
Detective
A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

, an aspect of his character not fully developed in Batman Begins. Nolan described the friendly rivalry between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent as the "backbone" of the film. He also chose to compress the overall storyline, allowing Dent to become Two-Face in The Dark Knight, thus giving the film an emotional arc the unsympathetic Joker could not offer. Nolan acknowledged the title was not only a reference to Batman, but also the fallen "white knight" Harvey Dent.

Filming


While scouting for shooting locations in October 2006, location manager Robin Higgs visited Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, concentrating mainly along the city's waterfront. Other candidates included Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, Glasgow, and parts of London. In August 2006, one of the film's producers, Charles Roven, stated that its principal photography would begin in March 2007, but filming was pushed back to April. For its release in IMAX
IMAX
IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation. IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems...

 theaters, Nolan shot four major sequences in that format, including the Joker's introduction, which marked the first time that a feature film had been even partially shot in the format. For fifteen years Nolan had wanted to shoot in the IMAX format, and he also used it for "quiet scenes which pictorially we thought would be interesting." The use of IMAX cameras provided many new challenges for the filmmakers: the cameras were much larger and heavier than standard cameras, and produced noise which made recording dialogue difficult. In addition, the cameras had short film loads ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes and the cost of the film stock was much greater than standard 35mm film. Nevertheless, Nolan said that he wished that it were possible to shoot the entire film in IMAX: "if you could take an IMAX camera to Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

 or outer space, you could use it in a feature movie." In addition, Nolan chose to edit
Film editing
Film editing is part of the creative post-production process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling...

 some of the IMAX sequences using the original camera negative
Original camera negative
The original camera negative is the film in a motion picture camera which captures the original image. This is the film from which all other copies will be made. It is known as raw stock prior to exposure....

, which by eliminating generation loss
Generation loss
Generation loss refers to the loss of quality between subsequent copies or transcodes of data. Anything that reduces the quality of the representation when copying, and would cause further reduction in quality on making a copy of the copy, can be considered a form of generation loss...

, raised the film resolution of those sequences up to 18 thousand lines.
Warner Bros. chose to film in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 for 13 weeks, because Nolan had a "truly remarkable experience" filming part of Batman Begins there. Instead of using the Chicago Board of Trade Building
Chicago Board of Trade Building
The Chicago Board of Trade Building is a skyscraper located in :Chicago, Illinois, United States. It stands at 141 W. Jackson Boulevard at the foot of the LaSalle Street canyon, in the Loop community area in Cook County. Built in 1930 and first designated a Chicago Landmark on May 4, 1977, the...

 as the location for the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises
Wayne Enterprises
Wayne Enterprises is a company in the DC Universe, owned by Bruce Wayne and run by his business manager, Lucius Fox. It was founded by merchant ancestors of the Wayne family in the 17th century as a merchant house, although the company changed when the heir of Judge Solomon Wayne, Alan, utilized...

, as Batman Begins did, The Dark Knight used the Richard J. Daley Center
Richard J. Daley Center
The Richard J. Daley Center, also known by its courtyard Daley Plaza and named after longtime mayor Richard J. Daley, is the premier civic center of the City of Chicago in Illinois. Situated on Randolph and Washington Streets between Dearborn and Clark Streets, the Richard J. Daley Center is...

. While filming in Chicago, the film was given the false title Rory's First Kiss to lower the visibility of production, but the local media eventually uncovered the ruse. Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper
Richard E. Roeper is an American columnist and film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times and now a co-host on The Roe Conn Show on WLS-AM...

 of the Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

commented on the absurdity of the technique, "Is there a Bat-fan in the world that doesn't know Rory's First Kiss is actually The Dark Knight, which has been filming in Chicago for weeks?" Production of The Dark Knight in Chicago generated $45 million in the city's economy and created thousands of jobs. For the film's prologue involving the Joker, the crew shot in Chicago from April 18, 2007 to April 24, 2007. They returned to shoot from June 9, 2007 to early September. Shooting locations included Navy Pier
Navy Pier
Navy Pier is a long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. The pier was built in 1916 at a cost of $4.5 million, equivalent to $ today. It was a part of the Plan of Chicago developed by architect and...

, 330 North Wabash, James R. Thompson Center
James R. Thompson Center
The James R. Thompson Center is located at 100 W. Randolph Street in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois and houses offices of the State of Illinois. The building opened in May 1985 as the State of Illinois Center. It was renamed in 1993 to honor former Illinois Governor James R. Thompson...

, LaSalle Street
LaSalle Street
LaSalle Street is a major north-south street in Chicago named for Sieur de La Salle, an early explorer of Illinois. The portion that runs through the Loop is considered to be Chicago's financial district...

, The Berghoff
The Berghoff (restaurant)
The Berghoff restaurant, at 17 West Adams Street, near the center of the Chicago Loop, was opened in 1898 by Herman Joseph Berghoff and has become a Chicago landmark....

, Millennium Station, Hotel 71, the old Brach's factory, the old Van Buren Street Post Office, and Wacker Drive
Wacker Drive
Wacker Drive is a major street in Chicago, Illinois, United States, running along the south side of the main branch and the east side of the south branch of the Chicago River...

. Pinewood Studios
Pinewood Studios
Pinewood Studios is a major British film studio situated in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, approximately west of central London. The studios have played host to many productions over the years from huge blockbuster films to television shows to commercials to pop promos.The purchase of Shepperton...

, near London, was the primary studio space used for the production. Marina City
Marina City
Marina City is a mixed-use residential/commercial building complex occupying an entire city block on State Street in Chicago, Illinois. It lies on the north bank of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago, directly across from the Loop district...

 was in the background throughout the movie.

While planning a stunt with the Batmobile
Batmobile
The Batmobile is the automobile of DC Comics superhero Batman. The car has evolved along with the character from comic books to television and films. Kept in the Batcave, which it accesses through a hidden entrance, the Batmobile is a gadget-laden vehicle used by Batman in his crime-fighting...

 in a special effects facility near Chertsey
Chertsey
Chertsey is a town in Surrey, England, on the River Thames and its tributary rivers such as the River Bourne. It can be accessed by road from junction 11 of the M25 London orbital motorway. It shares borders with Staines, Laleham, Shepperton, Addlestone, Woking, Thorpe and Egham...

, England in September 2007, technician Conway Wickliffe was killed when his car crashed. The film is dedicated to both Ledger and Wickliffe. The following month in London at the defunct Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station located on the south bank of the River Thames, in Battersea, South London. The station comprises two individual power stations, built in two stages in the form of a single building. Battersea A Power Station was built first in the...

, a rigged 200-foot fireball was filmed, reportedly for an opening sequence, prompting calls from local residents who feared a terrorist attack on the station. A similar incident occurred during the filming in Chicago, when an abandoned Brach's
Brach's
Brach's Confections is a candy and sweets company which produces and invented many modern icons of the sugary world; it is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. In November 2007, Brach's Confections was sold to Farley's & Sathers Candy Company and the corporate office moved to Round Lake,...

 candy factory (which was Gotham Hospital in the film) was demolished.

Filming took place in Hong Kong from November 6 to November 11, 2007, at various locations in the CBD, including International Finance Centre
International Finance Centre
The International Finance Centre is an integrated commercial development on the waterfront of Hong Kong's Central District....

, Hong Kong's tallest building. The city's walled city of Kowloon
Kowloon Walled City
Kowloon Walled City was a densely populated, largely ungoverned settlement in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were leased to Britain in 1898....

 influenced the Narrows in Batman Begins. The shoot hired helicopters and C-130
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 aircraft. Officials expressed concern over possible noise pollution and traffic. In response, letters sent to the city's residents promised that the sound level would approximate noise decibels made by buses. Environmentalists also criticized the filmmakers' request to tenants of the waterfront skyscrapers to keep their lights on all night to enhance the cinematography, describing it as a waste of energy. Cinematographer Wally Pfister found the city officials a "nightmare," and ultimately Nolan had to create Batman's jump from a skyscraper digitally.

Design



Costume designer Lindy Hemming described the Joker's look as reflecting his personality, in that "he doesn't care about himself at all"; she avoided designing him as a vagrant
Vagrancy (people)
A vagrant is a person in poverty, who wanders from place to place without a home or regular employment or income.-Definition:A vagrant is "a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging;" vagrancy is the condition of such persons.-History:In...

, but still made him appear to be "scruffier, grungier," so that "when you see him move, he's slightly twitchier or edgy." Nolan noted, "We gave a Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon (painter)
Francis Bacon , was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw imagery. Bacon's painterly but abstract figures typically appear isolated in glass or steel geometrical cages set against flat, nondescript backgrounds...

 spin to [his face]. This corruption, this decay in the texture of the look itself. It's grubby. You can almost imagine what he smells like." In creating the "anarchical" look of the Joker, Hemming drew inspiration from such countercultural
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

 pop culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 artists as Pete Doherty
Pete Doherty
Peter Doherty is an English musician, writer, actor, poet and artist. He is best known musically for being co-frontman of The Libertines, which he reformed with Carl Barât in 2010. His other musical project is indie band Babyshambles...

, Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Though considered an innovator of punk rock, Pop's music has encompassed a number of styles over the years, including pop, metal, jazz and blues...

, and Johnny Rotten
John Lydon
John Joseph Lydon , also known by the former stage name Johnny Rotten, is a singer-songwriter and television presenter, best known as the lead singer of punk rock band the Sex Pistols from 1975 until 1978, and again for various revivals during the 1990s and 2000s...

. Ledger described his "clown" mask, made up of three pieces of stamped silicone
Silicone
Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications , cookware, and insulation....

, as a "new technology," taking less than an hour for the make-up artists to apply, much faster than more-conventional prosthetics
Facial prosthetic
A facial prosthetic or facial prosthesis is an artificial device used to change or adapt the outward appearance of a person's face or head....

 usually requires. Ledger also said that he felt he was barely wearing any make-up. Hemming and Ledger's Joker design has had an impact in popular and political culture in the form of the Barack Obama "Joker" poster
Barack Obama "Joker" poster
The Barack Obama "Joker" poster is a digitally manipulated image of United States President Barack Obama, designed by Firas Alkhateeb in January 2009, that has been adopted by some critics of the Obama administration and described as the "most infamous anti-Obama image"...

, and has since become a meme
Meme
A meme is "an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena...

 in its own right.

Designers improved on the design of the Batsuit
Batsuit
The Batsuit is the costume of the fictional character Batman, a superhero appearing in DC Comics. Though the suit has been drawn many different ways by different artists, and the stories themselves have described Batman as modifying the details of his costume from time to time, it is most often...

 from Batman Begins, adding wide elastic banding to help bind the costume to Bale, and suggest more sophisticated technology. It was constructed from 200 individual pieces of rubber, fiberglass, metallic mesh, and nylon. The new cowl was modeled after a motorcycle helmet and separated from the neck piece, allowing Bale to turn his head left and right and nod up and down. The cowl is equipped to show white lenses over the eyes when the character turns on his sonar
Sonar
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

 detection, which gives Batman the white eyed look from the comics and animation. The gauntlets have retractable razors which can be fired. Though the new costume is eight pounds heavier, Bale found it more comfortable and less hot to wear. The depiction of Gotham City
Gotham City
Gotham City is a fictional U.S. city appearing in DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of residence was first identified as Gotham City in Batman #4 . Gotham City is strongly inspired by Trenton, Ontario's history, location, atmosphere, and various architectural styles...

 is less gritty than in Batman Begins. "I've tried to unclutter the Gotham we created on the last film," said production designer Nathan Crowley. "Gotham is in chaos. We keep blowing up stuff, so we can keep our images clean."

Effects



The film introduces the Batpod, which is a recreation of the Batcycle. Production designer
Production designer
In film and television, a production designer is the person responsible for the overall look of a filmed event such as films, TV programs, music videos or adverts. Production designers have one of the key creative roles in the creation of motion pictures and television. Working directly with the...

 Nathan Crowley, who designed the Tumbler for Batman Begins, designed six models (built by special effects supervisor Chris Corbould
Chris Corbould
Christopher "Chris" Corbould is a British special effects coordinator best known for his work on major blockbuster films and the action scenes on some 11 James Bond films since the early 1980s. He has also worked extensively on the Superman and Batman film series on digital effects and stunts...

) for use in the film's production, because of necessary crash scenes and possible accidents. Crowley built a prototype in Nolan's garage, before six months of safety tests were conducted. The Batpod is steered by shoulder instead of hand, and the rider's arms are protected by sleeve-like shields. The bike has 508-millimeter (20-inch) front and rear tires, and is made to appear as if it is armed with grappling hooks, cannons, and machine guns. The engines are located in the hubs of the wheels, which are set 3 feet (1067 mm) apart on either side of the tank. The rider lies belly down on the tank, which can move up and down to dodge any incoming gunfire that Batman may encounter. Stuntman Jean-Pierre Goy doubled for Christian Bale
Christian Bale
Christian Charles Philip Bale is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses....

 during the riding sequences in The Dark Knight.

Nolan designed Two-Face's appearance in the film as one of the least disturbing, explaining, "When we looked at less extreme versions of it, they were too real and more horrifying. When you look at a film like Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)
Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of fantasy-adventure films directed by Gore Verbinski and Rob Marshall , written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer...

 – something like that, there's something about a very fanciful, very detailed visual effect, that I think is more powerful and less repulsive." Framestore created 120 computer-generated shots of Two-Face's scarred visage. Nolan felt using make-up would look unrealistic, as it adds to the face, unlike real burn victims. Framestore acknowledged they rearranged the positions of bones, muscles and joints to make the character look more dramatic. For each shot, three 720-pixel HD cameras were set up at different angles on set to fully capture Aaron Eckhart's performance. Eckhart wore markers on his face and a prosthetic skullcap, which acted as a lighting reference. A few shots of the skullcap were kept in the film. Framestore also integrated shots of Bale and Eckhart into that of the exploding building where Dent is burned. It was difficult simulating fire on Eckhart because it is inherently unrealistic for only half of something to burn.

Music



Batman Begins composers Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer
Hans Florian Zimmer is a German film composer and music producer. He has composed music for over 100 films, including critically acclaimed film scores for The Lion King , Crimson Tide , The Thin Red Line , Gladiator , The Dark Knight and Inception .Zimmer spent the early part of his career in the...

 and James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard is an American composer best known for his scores to motion pictures. He is one of the most popular and respected composers for cinema, and has scored over 100 films...

 returned to score the sequel. Composition began before shooting, and during filming Nolan received an iPod
IPod
iPod is a line of portable media players created and marketed by Apple Inc. The product line-up currently consists of the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touchscreen iPod Touch, the compact iPod Nano, and the ultra-compact iPod Shuffle...

 with ten hours of recordings. Their nine-minute suite
Suite
In music, a suite is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral pieces normally performed in a concert setting rather than as accompaniment; they may be extracts from an opera, ballet , or incidental music to a play or film , or they may be entirely original movements .In the...

 for the Joker, "Why So Serious?," is based around two notes. Zimmer compared its style to that of Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk is an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008...

, a band from his native Germany, as well as bands like The Damned. When Ledger died, Zimmer felt like scrapping and composing a new theme, but decided that he could not be sentimental and compromise the "evil [Ledger's performance] projects." Howard composed Dent's "elegant and beautiful" themes, which are brass
Brass instrument
A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

-focused.

Marketing


In May 2007, 42 Entertainment
42 Entertainment
42 Entertainment is an American company based in Pasadena which specializes in creating and producing alternate reality games . The company was founded in 2003 as an independently-owned, creative content and interactive agency under the name 4orty 2wo Entertainment. The company started with a...

 began a viral marketing campaign utilizing the film's "Why So Serious?" tagline
Tagline
A tagline is a variant of a branding slogan typically used in marketing materials and advertising. The idea behind the concept is to create a memorable phrase that will sum up the tone and premise of a brand or product , or to reinforce the audience's memory of a product...

 with the launch of a website featuring the fictional political campaign of Harvey Dent, with the caption, "I Believe in Harvey Dent." The site aimed to interest fans by having them try to earn what they wanted to see and, on behalf of Warner Bros., 42 Entertainment also established a "vandalized
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

" version of I Believe in Harvey Dent, called "I believe in Harvey Dent too," where e-mails sent by fans slowly removed pixel
Pixel
In digital imaging, a pixel, or pel, is a single point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable screen element in a display device; it is the smallest unit of picture that can be represented or controlled....

s, revealing the first official image of the Joker; it was ultimately replaced with many "Haha"s and a hidden message that said "see you in December."
During the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con International, 42 Entertainment launched WhySoSerious.com, sending fans on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt is a game in which the organizers prepare a list defining specific items, using which the participants — individuals or teams — seek to gather all items on the list — usually without purchasing them — or perform tasks or take photographs of the items, as specified...

 to unlock a teaser trailer and a new photo of the Joker. On October 31, 2007, the film's website morphed into another scavenger hunt with hidden messages, instructing fans to uncover clues at certain locations in major cities throughout the United States, and to take photographs of their discoveries. The clues combined to reveal a new photograph of the Joker and an audio clip of him from the film saying "And tonight, you're gonna break your one rule." Completing the scavenger hunt also led to another website called Rory's Death Kiss (referencing the false working title of Rory's First Kiss), where fans could submit photographs of themselves costumed as the Joker. Those who sent photos were mailed a copy of a fictional newspaper called The Gotham Times, whose electronic version led to the discovery of numerous other websites.

The Dark Knights opening sequence, (showing a bank raid by the Joker) and closing montage of other scenes from the film, was screened with selected IMAX
IMAX
IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation. IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems...

 screenings of
I Am Legend
I Am Legend (film)
I Am Legend is a 2007 post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith. It is the third feature film adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name, following 1964's The Last Man on Earth and 1971's The Omega Man. Smith plays virologist Robert...

, which was released on December 14, 2007. A theatrical teaser
Teaser trailer
A teaser campaign is an advertising campaign which typically consists of a series of small, cryptic, challenging advertisements that anticipate a larger, full-blown campaign for a product launch or otherwise important event. These advertisements are called "teasers" or "teaser ads"...

 was also released with non-IMAX showings of
I Am Legend, and also on the official website. The sequence was released on the Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Disc is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format. The plastic disc is 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Blu-ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs being the norm for feature-length video discs...

 edition of
Batman Begins
Batman Begins
Batman Begins is a 2005 American superhero action film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Christian Bale as Batman, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson,...

on July 8, 2008. Also on July 8, 2008, the studio released Batman: Gotham Knight
Batman: Gotham Knight
is a 2008 direct-to-DVD animated superhero anthology film of six animated short films set in-between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It depicts Batman battling against the mob of Gotham City, as well as other villains...

, a direct-to-DVD
Direct-to-video
Direct-to-video is a term used to describe a film that has been released to the public on home video formats without being released in film theaters or broadcast on television...

 animated film, set between
Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and featuring six original stories, directed by Bruce Timm
Bruce Timm
Bruce Walter Timm is an American character designer, animator and producer. He is also a writer and artist working in comics, and is known for his contributions building the modern DC Comics animated franchise, the DC animated universe.-Animation:Timm's early career in animation was varied; he...

, co-creator and producer of
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated series based on the DC Comics character Batman. The series featured an ensemble cast of many voice-actors including Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Arleen Sorkin, and Loren Lester. The series won four Emmy Awards and was nominated...

, and starring veteran Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy
Kevin Conroy
Kevin Conroy is an American stage, screen, and voice actor, best known for his acclaimed voice role as Batman in numerous animated television series, feature films, and video games that make up the DC Animated Universe.-Early life:...

. Each of these segments, written by Josh Olson
Josh Olson
Josh Olson is an American screenwriter and director. Olson began his career working as a production assistant in the art department on the 1987 film Masters of the Universe...

, David S. Goyer
David S. Goyer
David Samuel Goyer is an American screenwriter, film director and comic book writer.-Early life:Goyer was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attended Hebrew school and has described himself as "half Jewish"...

, Brian Azzarello
Brian Azzarello
Brian Azzarello is an American comic book writer. He came to prominence with the hardboiled crime series 100 Bullets, published by DC Comics' mature-audience imprint Vertigo.-Career:...

, Greg Rucka
Greg Rucka
Gregory "Greg" Rucka is an American comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on such comics as Action Comics, Batwoman: Detective Comics, and the miniseries Superman: World of New Krypton for DC Comics, and for novels such as his Queen & Country series.-Career:Rucka's writing career...

, Jordan Goldberg
StickK
stickK.com is an American Internet start-up company that enables users to make commitment contracts in order to reach their personal goals.- Service :...

, and Alan Burnett
Alan Burnett
Alan Burnett is a television writer-producer particularly associated with DC Comics and Walt Disney television animation. He has had a hand in virtually every DC animated project since the waning years of the Super Friends, and continues to do so...

, presents its own distinctive artistic style, paralleling numerous artists collaborating in the same DC Universe
DC Universe
The DC Universe is the shared universe where most of the comic stories published by DC Comics take place. The fictional characters Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are well-known superheroes from this universe. Note that in context, "DC Universe" is usually used to refer to the main DC continuity...

.

After the death of Heath Ledger on January 22, 2008, Warner Bros. adjusted its promotional focus on the Joker, revising some of its websites dedicated to promoting the film and posting a memorial tribute to Ledger on the film's official website and overlaying a black memorial ribbon on the photo collage in WhySoSerious.com. On February 29, 2008, I Believe in Harvey Dent was updated to enable fans to send their e-mail addresses and phone numbers. In March 2008, Harvey Dent's fictional campaign informed fans that actual campaign buses nicknamed "Dentmobiles" would tour various cities to promote Dent's candidacy for district attorney.
On May 15, 2008, Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America is a Six Flags theme park in the Chicago metropolitan area, located in Gurnee, Illinois. It first opened in 1976 as Marriott's Great America. Six Flags purchased the park from the Marriott Corporation in 1984, making it the seventh park in the chain...

 and Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is a theme park in Jackson Township, New Jersey, owned by Six Flags Entertainment Corp., the world's largest amusement park corporation...

 theme parks opened The Dark Knight roller coaster
Roller coaster
The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride developed for amusement parks and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first coasters on January 20, 1885...

, which cost US$7.5 million to develop and which simulates being stalked
Stalking
Stalking is a term commonly used to refer to unwanted and obsessive attention by an individual or group to another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person and/or monitoring them via the internet...

 by the Joker. Mattel
Mattel
Mattel, Inc. is the world's largest toy company based on revenue. The products it produces include Fisher Price, Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys, Masters of the Universe, American Girl dolls, board games, and, in the early 1980s, video game consoles. The company's name is derived from...

 produced toys and games for
The Dark Knight, action figures, role play costumes, board games, puzzles, and a special-edition UNO card game, which began commercial distribution in June 2008.

Warner Bros. devoted six months to an anti-piracy strategy that involved tracking the people who had a pre-release copy of the film at any one time. Shipping and delivery schedules were also staggered and spot checks were carried out both domestically and overseas to ensure illegal copying of the film was not taking place in cinemas. A pirated copy was released on the Web approximately 38 hours after the film's release. BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay
The Pirate Bay
The Pirate Bay is a Swedish website which hosts magnet links and .torrent files, which allow users to share electronic files, including multimedia, computer games and software via BitTorrent...

 taunted the movie industry over its ability to provide the movie free, replacing its logo with a taunting message.

Release


Warner Bros. held the world premiere for The Dark Knight in New York City on July 14, 2008, screening in an IMAX theater with the film's composers James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard is an American composer best known for his scores to motion pictures. He is one of the most popular and respected composers for cinema, and has scored over 100 films...

 and Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer
Hans Florian Zimmer is a German film composer and music producer. He has composed music for over 100 films, including critically acclaimed film scores for The Lion King , Crimson Tide , The Thin Red Line , Gladiator , The Dark Knight and Inception .Zimmer spent the early part of his career in the...

 playing a part of the film score live. Leading up to
The Dark Knights commercial release, the film had drawn "overwhelmingly positive early reviews and buzz on Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker." The Dark Knight was commercially released on July 16, 2008 in Australia, grossing almost $2.3 million in its first day.

In the United States and Canada, The Dark Knight was distributed to 4,366 theaters, breaking the previous record for the highest number of theaters held by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End in 2007. The number of theaters also included 94 IMAX theaters, with the film estimated to be played on 9,200 screens in the United States and Canada. Online, ticketing services sold enormous numbers of tickets for approximately 3,000 midnight showtimes as well as unusually early showtimes for the film's opening day. All IMAX theaters showing The Dark Knight were sold out for the opening weekend.

Reception


The Dark Knight was open to universal acclaim among critics, audiences, and culture alike. Based on 277 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

, the film received a 94% approval rating from critics, with an average
Weighted mean
The weighted mean is similar to an arithmetic mean , where instead of each of the data points contributing equally to the final average, some data points contribute more than others...

 score of 8.4/10. Among Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics, which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television, and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 91%. By comparison, Metacritic
Metacritic
Metacritic.com is a website that collates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows and DVDs. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green,...

, which assigns a normalized
Normalization (statistics)
In one usage in statistics, normalization is the process of isolating statistical error in repeated measured data. A normalization is sometimes based on a property...

 rating in the 0–100 range based on reviews from top mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 82, based on 39 reviews. CinemaScore
CinemaScore
CinemaScore is a market research firm based in Las Vegas. It surveys film audiences to rate their viewing experiences with letter grades, reports the results, and forecasts box office receipts based on the data.-Background:...

 polls reported that the average grade cinemagoers gave the film was "A" on an A+ to F scale, and that audiences skewed slightly male and older.

Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 of the Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

describes The Dark Knight as a "haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy." He praises the performances, direction, and writing, and says the film "redefine[s] the possibilities of the comic-book movie." Ebert states that the "key performance" is by Heath Ledger, and pondered whether he would become the first posthumous Academy Award-winning actor since Peter Finch
Peter Finch
Peter Finch was a British-born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as "crazed" television anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a...

 in 1976. Ledger ultimately won the Oscar. Ebert named it one of his twenty favorite films of 2008. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

writes that the film is deeper than its predecessor, with a "deft" script that refuses to scrutinize the Joker with popular psychology
Popular psychology
The term popular psychology refers to concepts and theories about human mental life and behavior that are purportedly based on psychology and that attain popularity among the general population...

, instead pulling the viewer in with an examination of Bruce Wayne's psyche
Psyche (psychology)
The word psyche has a long history of use in psychology and philosophy, dating back to ancient times, and has been one of the fundamental concepts for understanding human nature from a scientific point of view. The English word soul is sometimes used synonymously, especially in older...

. Travers has praise for all the cast, saying each brings his or her "'A' game" to the film. He says Bale is "electrifying," evoking Al Pacino
Al Pacino
Alfredo James "Al" Pacino is an American film and stage actor and director. He is famous for playing mobsters, including Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice in Dick Tracy and Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way, though he has also appeared...

 in The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American gangster film directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo. The film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, chronicling the story of the Corleone family following the events of the first film while also depicting the...

, and that Eckhart's portrayal of Harvey Dent is "scarily moving." Travers says the actor moves the Joker away from Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

's interpretation into darker territory, and expresses his support for any potential campaign to have Ledger nominated for an Academy Award, Travers says that the filmmakers move the film away from comic book cinema and closer to being a genuine work of art, citing Nolan's direction and the "gritty reality" of Wally Pfister's cinematography as helping to create a universe
Fictional universe
A fictional universe is a self-consistent fictional setting with elements that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed or fictional realm ....

 that has something "raw and elemental" at work within it. In particular, he cites Nolan's action choreography in the IMAX-tailored heist sequence as rivaling that of Heat (1995). Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, broadway theatre, books and popular culture...

put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Every great hero needs a great villain. And in 2008, Christian Bale's Batman found his in Heath Ledger's demented dervish, the Joker."

Emanuel Levy
Emanuel Levy
Emanuel Levy is an American film critic and professor.-Life:Emanuel Levy began his studies at Tel Aviv University, where he received B.A. in sociology, anthropology and political science. He did graduate work in sociology, film, and culture studies at Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D...

 wrote Ledger "throws himself completely" into the role, and that the film represents Nolan's "most accomplished and mature" work, and the most technically impressive and resonant of all the Batman films. Levy calls the action sequences some of the most impressive seen in an American film for years, and talks of the Hong Kong-set portion of the film as being particularly visually impressive. Levy and Peter Travers conclude that the film is "haunting and visionary," while Levy goes on to say that The Dark Knight is "nothing short of brilliant." On the other hand, David Denby
David Denby (film critic)
David Denby is an American journalist, best known as a film critic for The New Yorker magazine.-Background and education:Denby grew up in New York City. He received a B.A...

 of The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

said that the story is not coherent enough to properly flesh out the disparities. He said the film's mood is one of "constant climax," and that it feels rushed and far too long. Denby criticized scenes which he argued to be meaningless or are cut short just as they become interesting. Denby remarks that the central conflict is workable, but that "only half the team can act it," saying that Bale's "placid" Bruce Wayne and "dogged but uninteresting" Batman is constantly upstaged by Ledger's "sinister and frightening" performance, which he says is the film's one element of success. Denby concludes that Ledger is "mesmerising" in every scene. Christian Bale's vocal performance was the subject of particular criticism by some commentators, with David Edelstein
David Edelstein
David Edelstein is the chief film critic for New York Magazine, as well as the film critic for NPR's Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning. He lives in Brooklyn, New York....

 from NPR describing Bale delivering his performance with "a voice that's deeper and hammier than ever", while Alonso Duralde
Alonso Duralde
Alonso Duralde is an American writer and film critic.Duralde was the Artistic Director at the USA Film Festival/Dallas for five years. He was also the former Arts and Entertainment Editor at the national gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate...

 at MSNBC said Bale sounded like "a 10-year-old putting on an ‘adult’ voice to make prank phone calls" and said it sounded like "Brenda Vaccaro
Brenda Vaccaro
Brenda Buell Vaccaro is an American stage, television and film actress.-Early life:Vaccaro was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian American parents Christine M. and Mario A. Vaccaro , both of whom were pioneers in Italian cuisine...

 doing a Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz,...

 impression".

The Dark Knight was ranked the 15th greatest film in history on Empire
Empire (magazine)
Empire is a British film magazine published monthly by Bauer Consumer Media. From the first issue in July 1989, the magazine was edited by Barry McIlheney and published by Emap. Bauer purchased Emap Consumer Media in early 2008...

's
2008 list of the "500 Greatest Movies of All Time," based upon the weighted votes of 10,000 readers, 150 film directors, and 50 key film critics. Heath Ledger's interpretation of the Joker was also ranked number three on Empires 2008 list of the "100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time."

Top ten lists


The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.
  • 1st – Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
  • 1st – Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Formerly a daily trade magazine, The Hollywood Reporter re-launched in late 2010 as a unique hybrid publication serving the entertainment industry and a consumer audience...

  • 1st – James Berardinelli
    James Berardinelli
    James Berardinelli is an American online film critic.-Personal life:Berardinelli was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey and spent his early childhood in Morristown, New Jersey. At the age of nine years, he relocated to the township of Cherry Hill, New Jersey...

    , ReelViews
  • 1st – Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
  • 1st – Mike Russell, The Oregonian
    The Oregonian
    The Oregonian is the major daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon, owned by Advance Publications. It is the oldest continuously published newspaper on the U.S. west coast, founded as a weekly by Thomas J. Dryer on December 4, 1850...

  • 1st – Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
    San Francisco Chronicle
    thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

  • 1st – Premiere
    Premiere (magazine)
    Premiere was an American and New York City-based film magazine published by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., published between the years 1987 and 2007. The original version of the magazine, Première , was started in France in 1976 and is still being published there.-History:The magazine originally...

  • 1st – Empire
    Empire (magazine)
    Empire is a British film magazine published monthly by Bauer Consumer Media. From the first issue in July 1989, the magazine was edited by Barry McIlheney and published by Emap. Bauer purchased Emap Consumer Media in early 2008...

  • 2nd – Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Formerly a daily trade magazine, The Hollywood Reporter re-launched in late 2010 as a unique hybrid publication serving the entertainment industry and a consumer audience...

  • 2nd – Nathan Rabin
    Nathan Rabin
    Nathan Rabin is an American film and music critic. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Rabin was the first head writer for The A.V. Club, a position he continues to hold today....

    ,
    The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

  • 2nd – Richard Roeper
    Richard Roeper
    Richard E. Roeper is an American columnist and film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times and now a co-host on The Roe Conn Show on WLS-AM...

    ,
    Chicago Sun-Times
    Chicago Sun-Times
    The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

  • 2nd – Owen Gleiberman
    Owen Gleiberman
    Owen Gleiberman is an American film critic for Entertainment Weekly, a position he has held since the magazine's launch in 1990. From 1981–89, he worked at the Boston Phoenix....

    ,
    Entertainment Weekly
    Entertainment Weekly
    Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, broadway theatre, books and popular culture...

  • 3rd – Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer
    The Charlotte Observer
    The Charlotte Observer, serving Charlotte, North Carolina and its metro area, is the largest newspaper, in terms of circulation, in North Carolina and South Carolina...

  • 3rd – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
    Entertainment Weekly
    Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, broadway theatre, books and popular culture...

  • 3rd – Marc Mohan, The Oregonian
    The Oregonian
    The Oregonian is the major daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon, owned by Advance Publications. It is the oldest continuously published newspaper on the U.S. west coast, founded as a weekly by Thomas J. Dryer on December 4, 1850...

  • 3rd – Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Formerly a daily trade magazine, The Hollywood Reporter re-launched in late 2010 as a unique hybrid publication serving the entertainment industry and a consumer audience...

  • 3rd – Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor
    The Christian Science Monitor
    The Christian Science Monitor is an international newspaper published daily online, Monday to Friday, and weekly in print. It was started in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. As of 2009, the print circulation was 67,703.The CSM is a newspaper that covers...


  • 3rd – Peter Travers
    Peter Travers
    Peter Travers is an American film critic, who has written for, in turn, People and Rolling Stone. Travers also hosts a celebrity interview show called Popcorn on ABC News Now and ABCNews.com.-Career:...

    ,
    Rolling Stone
    Rolling Stone
    Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

  • 3rd – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Formerly a daily trade magazine, The Hollywood Reporter re-launched in late 2010 as a unique hybrid publication serving the entertainment industry and a consumer audience...

  • 4th – Kyle Smith
    Kyle Smith
    Kyle Smith is an American critic, novelist and essayist. He is a staff film critic for the New York Post. His film reviewing style has been called "an exercise in hilarious hostility" by Entertainment Weekly....

    ,
    New York Post
    New York Post
    The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

  • 5th – Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

  • 5th – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

  • 5th – Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
    The Miami Herald
    The Miami Herald is a daily newspaper owned by The McClatchy Company headquartered on Biscayne Bay in the Omni district of Downtown Miami, Florida, United States...

    (tied with Hellboy II)
  • 5th – Scott Foundas, LA Weekly
    LA Weekly
    LA Weekly is a free weekly tabloid-sized "alternative weekly" in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1978 by Editor/Publisher Jay Levin and a board of directors that included actor-producer Michael Douglas...

  • 5th – Wesley Morris
    Wesley Morris
    Wesley Morris is a film critic at The Boston Globe where he reviews films alongside Ty Burr. Morris and Burr also make regular appearances on NECN to discuss the latest films and do the weekly Take Two film review video series on Boston.com...

    ,
    The Boston Globe
    The Boston Globe
    The Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has been owned by The New York Times Company since 1993...

  • 6th – Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
    Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is the newspaper of record in the U.S. state of Arkansas, printed in Little Rock with a northwest edition published in Lowell...

  • 6th – Peter Vonder Haar, Film Threat
    Film Threat
    Film Threat is a former print magazine and, now, webzine which focuses primarily on independent film, although it also reviews DVDs of mainstream films and Hollywood movies in theaters. It first appeared as a photocopied zine in 1985, created by Wayne State University students Chris Gore and André...

  • 7th – Manohla Dargis
    Manohla Dargis
    Manohla Dargis is a chief film critic for The New York Times, along with A.O. Scott. She was formerly a chief film critic for the Los Angeles Times, the film editor at the LA Weekly, and a film critic at The Village Voice. She has written for a variety of publications, including Film Comment and...

    ,
    The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

  • 7th – Marc Doyle, Metacritic
    Metacritic
    Metacritic.com is a website that collates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows and DVDs. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green,...

  • 7th – Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is an online newspaper and former print newspaper covering Seattle, Washington, United States, and the surrounding metropolitan area...

  • 9th – Robert Mondello, NPR
  • 9th – Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club
    The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

  • 10th – Michael Phillips
    Michael Phillips (critic)
    Michael Phillips is a film critic for the Chicago Tribune newspaper. Previously he was the drama critic of the Tribune; the Los Angeles Times; the St. Paul Pioneer Press; the San Diego Union-Tribune; and the Dallas Times Herald....

    ,
    Chicago Tribune
    Chicago Tribune
    The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...



Commentary


Mystery writer Andrew Klavan
Andrew Klavan
Andrew Klavan, is an American author and screenwriter of "tough-guy" mysteries and psychological thrillers. Two of Klavan's books have been adapted into motion pictures: True Crime and Don't Say A Word . He has been nominated for the Edgar Award four times and has won twice...

, writing in
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

, compared the extreme measures that Batman takes to fight crime with those U.S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 used in the War on Terror
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. Klavan claims that, "at some level"
The Dark Knight is "a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 and war." Klavan supports this reading of the film by comparing Batman—like Bush, Klavan argues—"sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past." Klavan's article has received criticism on the Internet and in mainstream media outlets, such as in The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

's "The Plank." Reviewing the film in The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times is a British Sunday newspaper.The Sunday Times may also refer to:*The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times...

, Cosmo Landesman reached the opposite conclusion to Klavan, arguing that The Dark Knight "offers up a lot of moralistic waffle about how we must hug a terrorist – okay, I exaggerate. At its heart, however, is a long and tedious discussion about how individuals and society must never abandon the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

 in struggling against the forces of lawlessness. In fighting monsters, we must be careful not to become monsters – that sort of thing. The film champions the anti-war
Anti-war
An anti-war movement is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term can also refer to pacifism, which is the opposition to all use of military force during conflicts. Many...

 coalition's claim that, in having a war on terror, you create the conditions for more terror. We are shown that innocent people died because of Batman – and he falls for it." Benjamin Kerstein, writing in Azure, says that both Klavan and Landesman "have a point," because "The Dark Knight is a perfect mirror of the society which is watching it: a society so divided on the issues of terror and how to fight it that, for the first time in decades, an American mainstream no longer exists."

Themes and analysis


According to David S. Goyer, the primary theme of
The Dark Knight is escalation. Gotham City is weak and the citizens blame Batman for the city's violence and corruption as well as the Joker's threats, and it pushes his limits, making him feel that taking the laws into his own hands is further downgrading the city. Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 noted, "Throughout the film, [the Joker] devises ingenious situations that force Batman, Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent to make impossible ethical
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 decisions. By the end, the whole moral foundation of the Batman legend is threatened."

Other critics have mentioned the theme of the triumph of evil over good. Harvey Dent is seen as Gotham's "White Knight" in the beginning of the film but ends up becoming seduced to evil. The Joker, on the other hand, is seen as the representation of anarchy and chaos. He has no motive, no orders, and no desires but to cause havoc and "watch the world burn." The terrible logic of human error is another theme as well. The ferry scene displays how humans can easily be enticed by iniquity.

Accolades


Most notable among the nominations were Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger
Heath Andrew Ledger was an Australian television and film actor. After performing roles in Australian television and film during the 1990s, Ledger moved to the United States in 1998 to develop his film career...

's almost complete sweep of over twenty awards for acting, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

, Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Actor in a Supporting Role is a British Academy Film award presented annually by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding supporting performance in a film...

. The Dark Knight also received nominations from the Writers Guild of America
Writers Guild of America
The Writers Guild of America is a generic term referring to the joint efforts of two different US labor unions:* The Writers Guild of America, East , representing TV and film writers East of the Mississippi....

 (for Best Adapted Screenplay
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
The Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay is one of the three screenwriting Writers Guild of America Awards, one that is specifically for film...

), the Producers Guild of America
Producers Guild of America
Producers Guild of America is a trade organization representing television producers, film producers and New Media producers in the United States. The PGA's membership includes over 4,700 members of the producing establishment worldwide...

, and the Directors Guild of America
Directors Guild of America
Directors Guild of America is an entertainment labor union which represents the interests of film and television directors in the United States motion picture industry...

, as well as a slew of other guild award nominations and wins. It was nominated for Best Film at the Critics Choice Awards and was named one of the top ten films of 2008 by the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

.

The Dark Knight was nominated for eight Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for the 81st Ceremony
81st Academy Awards
The 81st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , honored the best films of 2008 and took place February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST / 8:30 p.m. EST...

, breaking the previous record of seven held by
Dick Tracy for the most nominations received by a film based on a comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

, comic strip
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

, or graphic novel
Graphic novel
A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art in either an experimental design or in a traditional comics format...

.
The Dark Knight won two awards: Best Supporting Actor
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

 for Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger
Heath Andrew Ledger was an Australian television and film actor. After performing roles in Australian television and film during the 1990s, Ledger moved to the United States in 1998 to develop his film career...

 and Best Sound Editing. It was additionally nominated for six others, these being Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, and Best Film Editing. Heath Ledger was the first posthumous winner of the Best Supporting Actor award, and only the second posthumous acting winner ever (Peter Finch
Peter Finch
Peter Finch was a British-born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as "crazed" television anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a...

 posthumously won the Best Actor award for his performance in the 1976 film Network
Network (film)
Network is a 1976 American satirical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer about a fictional television network, Union Broadcasting System , and its struggle with poor ratings. The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet...

). In addition, Ledger's win marked the first win in any of the major Oscar categories (producing, directing, acting, or writing) for a superhero-based film
Superhero film
A superhero film, superhero movie, or superhero motion picture is: action, fantasy and science fiction film; that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes, individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person and are dedicated to protecting the public...

. Notably, Richard King's win in the Sound Editing category blocked a complete awards sweep of the evening by the eventual Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Picture
The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

 winner,
Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British epic romantic drama adventure film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan. It is an adaptation of the novel Q & A by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup...

. Although it did not receive a Best Picture nomination, the show's opening song paid homage to The Dark Knight along with the five Best Picture nominees, including host Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman
Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor and producer who is involved in film, musical theatre, and television.Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as action/superhero, period and romance characters...

 riding on a mockup of the Batpod made out of garbage.

A British-American production, the film was nominated for the 2009 Goya Award
Goya Awards
The Goya Awards, known in Spanish as los Premios Goya, are Spain's main national film awards, considered by many in Spain, and internationally, to be the Spanish equivalent of the American Academy Awards....

 for Best European Film
Goya Award for Best European Film
The Goya Award for Best European Film is one of the Goya Awards, Spain's principal national film awards.-1990s:-2000s:-Awards by nation:-External links:**...

. It had a nomination in Japan for the 2009 Seiun Awards under the Science Fiction category with a Japan Academy Prize Award for Best Foreign Film.

Box office


The Dark Knight earned $533,345,358 in North America and $468,576,467 in other territories for a worldwide total of $1,001,921,825. It is the highest-grossing film of 2008 worldwide
2008 in film
This is a list of all major films made in 2008.-Highest-grossing films:Please note that following the tradition of the English-language film industry, these are the top grossing films that were first released in the USA in 2008...

 and the 10th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. It made $199.7 million on its worldwide opening weekend which is the 7th largest for Warner Bros. and ranks 25th on the all-time chart.

As of December 23, 2008, The Dark Knight had grossed $530,833,780 in the North American box office and $465,993,073 in other countries for a worldwide total of $996,826,853.

In an attempt to cross $1 billion in worldwide gross and in order to increase the chances of the film winning Oscars since the voting for the Academy Awards was approaching, Warner Bros. re-released the film in traditional theaters and IMAX theaters in the United States - as well as in other countries- on January 23, 2009. It finally accomplished its goal, to cross the $1-billion-mark, in February 2009. Therefore, as of March 29, 2011, its total worldwide gross standed at $1,001,921,825.
North America
The Dark Knight opened on 9,200 screens at a then-record 4,366 theaters, with $158.4 million on its opening weekend for an average of $36,283 per theater, or $17,219 per screen. This stands as the third-largest per theater average of all time behind Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert is a 2008 American concert film from Walt Disney Pictures presented in Disney Digital 3-D. Released in the United States and Canada originally for one week, February 1–7, 2008, with release in other countries later on...

($45,561 per theater) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 ($38,672 per theater). It sold an estimated 22.37 million tickets during its first weekend with 2008's average admission of $7.08, meaning the film sold more tickets than Spider-Man 3, which sold 21.96 million with the average price of $6.88 in 2007. The film set records for the largest midnight opening ($18.5 million of which $640,000 came from IMAX screenings), the largest opening day gross ($67,165,092), the largest opening weekend ($158,411,483), the largest 3-day and 4-day gross, the largest IMAX opening weekend ($6.2 million), the fastest film to reach the $100-million-mark (2 days), $150-million-mark (3 days) and $500-million-mark (45 days) and the largest second-weekend gross ($75,166,466).

However, these records were broken by other movies in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

It grossed the second largest Saturday gross ($51,336,732) and it still holds the record for the largest Sunday gross ($43,596,151). On its first Monday, it grossed $24,493,313, which stands as the largest non-holiday Monday gross and the 4th largest Monday gross overall, and on its first Tuesday it grossed another $20,868,722, which stands as the largest non-opening Tuesday gross and the second largest Tuesday gross overall. Additionally, it holds the records for the largest 5-day, 6-day, 7-day, 8-day, 9-day and 10-day gross as well as the largest opening week (Friday-through-Thursday). Moreover, it holds the records for the fastest film to reach $200M, $250M, $300M, $350M, $400M and $450M. Finally, it grossed the third-largest third weekend, the fourth-largest fourth weekend and the fifth-largest fifth weekend. Notably, it topped the box office during the second biggest weekend of all time in North America (aggregated total of $253,586,871) and it was the only 2008 film that remained on top of the box office charts for four consecutive weekends.

The Dark Knight is the highest-grossing film of 2008 in the North American box office. Unadjusted for inflation, it is the third highest-grossing film of all time in North America with a total of $533,090,262, behind only Avatar and Titanic
Titanic (1997 film)
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Billy Zane as Rose's fiancé, Cal...

. When adjusted for inflation though, it ranks 28th. The Dark Knights theatrical run was very different from that of Avatar, which broke some of its records, and Titanic, at the time the only movie to gross more than it in North America. While The Dark Knight broke records in its opening weekend, Titanic started out slowly (making $28.6 million in its opening weekend) and then increased ticket sales in the following weekends. The Dark Knight instead slowed down after the first few weekends; 56 other movies had better tenth weekends and 98 had better eleventh weekends. In its fifteenth weekend, The Dark Knight was at No.26 at the box office.

Markets outside North America
Overseas,
The Dark Knight premiered in 20 other territories on 4,520 screens, grossing $41.3 million in its first weekend. The film came in second to Hancock
Hancock (film)
Hancock is a 2008 American action-comedy superhero film directed by Peter Berg and starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron. It tells the story of a vigilante superhero, John Hancock from Los Angeles whose reckless actions routinely cost the city millions of dollars...

, which was in its third weekend, screening in 71 territories. The Dark Knights biggest territory for the weekend was Australia, grossing $13.7 million over the weekend, the third largest Warner Bros. opening and the largest superhero film opening to date. It topped the overseas weekend box office four times but, unlike North America, it wasn't the highest-grossing film of the year overseas. Its $468.6 million overseas gross ranked second behind Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull's $469.5 million total. Citing cultural sensitivities to some elements in the film, and a reluctance to adhere to pre-release conditions, Warner Bros. declined to release the film in mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

. Its highest-grossing market after North America was the UK, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, where it earned $89.1 million. Also, in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, it earned of $39.9 million, still remaining in the all-time top 10 of the country. Other countries where it earned more than $10 million include Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 ($29.7 million), France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 region ($27.5 million), South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 ($25.0 million), Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 ($25.0 million), Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 ($20.2 million), Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 ($16.3 million), Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 ($14.6 million) and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 ($13.9 million).

Home media


The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in North America on December 9, 2008. Releases include a one-disc edition DVD; a two-disc Special Edition DVD; a two-disc edition BD; and a Special Edition BD package featuring a statuette of the Bat-pod. The BD version presents the film in a variable aspect ratio, with the IMAX sequences framed in 1.78:1, while scenes filmed in 35 mm
35 mm film
35 mm film is the film gauge most commonly used for chemical still photography and motion pictures. The name of the gauge refers to the width of the photographic film, which consists of strips 35 millimeters in width...

 are framed in 2.40:1. The DVD versions feature the entire film framed in a uniform 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Disc 2 of the two-disc Special Edition DVD features the six main IMAX sequences in the original 1.44:1 aspect ratio. Additional IMAX shots throughout the film that are presented in 1.78:1 on the Blu-ray release are not, however, included in the DVD's special features. In addition to the standard DVD releases, some stores released their own exclusive editions of the film.

In the United Kingdom, the film had combined sales of 513,000 units on its first day of release, of which 107,730 (21%) were Blu-ray Discs, the highest number of first-day Blu-ray Discs sold. In the United States, The Dark Knight set a sales record for most DVDs sold in one day, selling 3 million units on its first day of release – 600,000 of which were Blu-ray Discs.

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions were released in Australia on December 10, 2008. Releases were in the form of a one-disc edition on DVD; a two-disc edition on DVD; a two-disc edition including a Batmask on DVD and BD; a two-disc Batpod statuette Limited BD Edition; a two-disc BD edition; and a four-disc Batman Begins/The Dark Knight pack on DVD and BD. As of December 19, 2008, the DVD release is the top selling film in the Australian DVD Charts and is expected to break the Australian sales record set by Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo is a 2003 American comi-drama animated film written by Andrew Stanton, directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich and produced by Pixar. It tells the story of the overly protective clownfish Marlin who, along with a regal tang called Dory , searches for his abducted son Nemo...

.

The movie also sold Blu-ray copies worth 370 million yen (US$4.1 million) in Japan, placing it 3rd out of 10 in the top 10 overall Blu-ray category.

In March 2011, Warner Bros. offered The Dark Knight for rent on Facebook, becoming the first movie ever to be released via digital distribution on a social networking site. Users in the United States are able to use Facebook Credits
Facebook Credits
Facebook Credits is a virtual currency that enables people to purchase items in games and non-gaming applications on the Facebook Platform. One U.S. dollar is the equivalent of 10 Facebook Credits. Facebook Credits are currently available in 15 currencies including U.S. dollars, pound sterling,...

to view the film.

External links