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ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), Part 5

Each week, Chris Sims, David Uzumeri and Andy Khouri take a look back at one of the most successful and influential comic book movie franchises of all time, in ComicsAlliance’s in-depth retrospective on the Batman films.

Chris: Welcome to Cinematic Batmanology and — at long last — the final installment of 2008′s The Dark Knight. When we last left off (one, two, three, four), the Joker had stirred Gotham City into a panic, and Batman had made the morally compromising choice to use his technology to spy on the entire city. Meanwhile, the Joker had successfully terrified the entire population of the city into trying to escape via ferry.

Andy: I can’t believe that at this point in the movie, there’s still nearly 40 minutes left. This thing is dense.

David: Bruce comments on how the sonar phone server is “beautiful,” while Lucius bitches about it being “unethical.” He says he won’t work for Wayne Enterprises as long as this machine is in the building, and Batman points out that the database is “null-key encrypted” and therefore can only be used by Lucius Fox.

Chris: I think “bitching” is a little harsh, Uzi.

David: Now, guys, you know how Skyhook ended up being a real thing? Well, there is no goddamn thing as “null key encryption.”

Andy: Fox’s line, “At what cost?” sums up this final movement of the film for me. There are police helicopters in the sky, people are trying to escape the city, the National Guard is searching bridges and tunnels for bombs with dogs, Batman is spying on literally the entire city, and the population is in a panic. All this because of terrorism. If the goal of terrorism is to kill, then all of these things seem like pragmatic decisions designed to ensure safety. But if the goal of terrorism is to undermine freedom, to force people to compromise their beliefs and morals, then the Joker is winning.

Chris: Yeah, this is really where the allegory hits critical mass, but I think it works very well. It’s one of the testaments to how good this is as the “smart” super-hero movie that it works as both a Batman adventure and this huge political commentary that Nolan’s clearly working with.

Andy: Exactly. As obvious as it is that this film has become a reflection of the post-9/11 atmosphere about security, civil rights and really the West’s attitude about terrorism in general, it is still explicitly a Batman story and the logical evolution of the story that begin in the opening scene — hell, in the closing scene of the previous film.

David: Lucius points out that this is too much power for one person. How can one man have so much power? The clock’s tickin’, I just count the hours. Stop trippin, I’m trippin’ off the power.

Chris: Kanye was actually the first choice to play Batman.

David: Gordon goes to meet Mayor Garcia and ask him to use one of the ferries for the prisoners who were arrested under the RICO case. Garcia doesn’t seem too hot on the idea, but Gordon points out that they must be part of Joker’s plan, so we get one ferry filled with criminals and one filled with yuppies. Then we get one of the most badass scenes in the movie as Two-Face decides to make good on his revenge on Maroni.

Chris: This is another scene that’s constructed so well. You can even see Dent’s hand come in from out of frame as he clubs one of Maroni’s guards, but if you’re following Maroni, the guy the camera’s actually pointed at, it’s so easy to miss.

Andy: I never noticed it until this viewing

David: Maroni, now walking with a cane after his legbreaking expedition with Batman a while ago, walks into a car to see Two-Face already there, coin in hand. Harvey asks Maroni if he loves his wife. Maroni says yes. Harvey asks Maroni how he’d feel if he had to watch her die. Maroni tries to pass off blame to the Joker, but Harvey won’t have it: he’s completely bought into the Joker’s BS about being a “mad dog” who got let off the leash. He wants who let him off the leash. He wants Maroni. So he flips the coin on Maroni. Maroni’s fine. He lives. Then he flips the coin on Maroni’s driver, puts on his seat belt, shoots him in the back of the head and walks out of an exploding car, but not before getting the answer he needs from Maroni: Ramirez is the detective who led Rachel to her doom.

Chris: Just to play Devil’s Advocate, I do think we should point out that this sort of violates the established “rules” of Two-Face. If Maroni’s side came up clean, that should’ve been the end of it. It’s a great scene and I think it really works in the context of the movie, but it does sort of undermine the premise that he believes the coin-flip is “fair.”

Andy: Eric Roberts made a funny joke about this film on his season of Celebrity Rehab. He said, “I had the smallest part in the biggest movie of the year.”

David: Haha wait, Eric Roberts was on Celebrity Rehab for… marijuana addiction?

Andy: You won’t laugh when it’s your turn, Uzi.

David: Oooof.

Chris: Roberts is really, really good in this scene though. He’s one of the few characters in this movie that I think is completely honest every time he appears. He doesn’t do what the crooked cops do and tell Dent that he didn’t know what the Joker was going to do, he just tells him, flat out, “The Joker did this to you.” But by this point, Dent fully believes what the Joker told him in the hospital. Also, it is hilarious that Dent walks away from a car flipping over while speeding on the freeway completely unharmed because he was wearing his seat belt. Good lesson for the kids.

Andy: “BUCKLE UP: It’s The Law And Also Two-Face Will Kill You.”

David: By this point, Maroni’s conscience is starting to come into play, too. Joker is going way too far even for him. That’s why he helped the GCPD find Joker’s gigantic burning money pyramid with Lau at the top (something we totally didn’t notice but got pointed out in comments — he burned Lau alive with the money!!)

Andy: It makes sense, the Joker pegged Lau as a squeeler and he was right.

David: I’m willing to bet Lau squealed like a pig when he basically got Joan of Arced on a pile of money, yeah. Anyway, so predictably, the Joker warned everyone that the bridges and tunnels were rigged specifically to make them all run to the ferries, because guess what? His plan involves the ferries. I don’t know if he expected the other boat to be filled with criminals, but that must have been total icing on the sinister cake when he found that out. I mean, the experiment woulda worked just as well with two groups of yuppies, but now it’s just perfect.

Chris: When Gordon is talking to the Mayor, he tells him that he needs to get the crooks Dent busted out of Gotham because “whatever the Joker’s planning, you can bet it involves them.” He’s completely right, but he’s wrong about what the Joker wants. I assume he thinks that the Joker is going to make an army of crooks, just like Ra’s al-Ghul and the Scarecrow did in Begins. Instead, the Joker just wants them for his little morality lesson. Their value as manpower is completely overlooked — more and more we see that this dude is a one-man show. But since he’s introduced to us by pulling off a six-man heist in which he kills the other five men, we should’ve seen that coming. People are expendable to him

David: The only things not expendable to the Joker are ideas. Joker stops both of the ferries, and people on each boat find the detonator for the other boat’s bomb. Joker claims that at midnight, he’ll blow both ferries up. However, if one of them presses the button to blow up the other ferry, then they get to live. It’s the perfect distillation of every game the Joker’s played: ruining ordinary people by forcing them to choose between another person’s life or death.

Chris: It’s also worth noting that, in case the metaphor wasn’t quite obvious enough, the Ferries are named “Liberty” and “Spirit.”

Andy: Some of our readers have accused me of “name-dropping” in previous installments of this feature, where I’ve referenced conversations I had with the cast and crew in my capacity as a journalist visiting the set as part of the film’s media campaign. It’s obviously not a valid criticism. Any such encounters, conversations or other associations I reference here are with explicit relevance to our studied discussion of this film and not meant to falsely elevate me or suppose a special connection to the production in any way. Along those lines, I wish to point out that the man who says, “Let’s put it to a vote!” is the step-brother of a woman who used to go out with a guy I know.

David: Meanwhile, Lucius is using the Swordfish Sonar Computer to locate where Joker’s talking. Batman convinces Gordon not to attack the Joker’s compound so that he can infiltrate himself, which is good, because Gordon quickly gets distracted: Two-Face has convinced Ramirez to ask Barbara Gordon to take James Jr. to a location where she can be held by Two-Face, who then calls Gordon and basically tells him that his family is in immediate danger. Batman infiltrates the in-construction skyscraper the Joker’s using as a base, beating up Joker’s goons while simultaneously saving the innocents Joker’s placed in Joker masks from being capped by the SWAT team. This entire action scene is Peak Batman.

Chris: One of the things you overlooked about the scene with Batman and the Cops, Uzi: This is one of the biggest moments of conflict between Gordon and Batman, to the point where Gordon actually pulls a gun on him. He’s completely losing it — “We have to save Dent! I have to save Dent!”

Andy: I like that Gordon is at the end of his rope, this is all completely out of control and he is ready to take these clowns out. But Batman knows something is amiss with the “shooting gallery” nature of this situation. Why would the Joker do that? “It’s never that simple.” It’s also important that Gordon assumes Dent is the Joker’s hostage. Neither Gordon nor Batman have any idea that Dent is a goner, for all intents and purposes. They’ve already failed. And then Gordon gets the call.

David: The thing is, Two-Face probably has no idea what Joker’s doing. He’s managed to, seemingly by accident, pick the most harrowing time to put Gordon’s family in danger.

Andy: The scene with Gordon and Batman must be really tense for the cops standing right there while Mom and Dad are fighting.

David: While the Rich Passengers are putting whether or not to kill the entire the boat of criminals, Batman makes his way up to the top level to face the final boss, the Ultimate Enemy of the Bat-Man: dogs. Joker, the Mad Dog, has adorably decided to adopt the late Chechen’s adorable puppies.

Andy: It’s worth noting that Tiny “Zeus” Lister is the noble prisoner in this sequence, and he also appeared as Deebo in Friday, the film we referenced before as one of the most beloved among haters of dogs. There is such intense Batmanning in this sequence with the ropes and the tripping people and the punching them in the face and the explosives and the hanging cops out the window that it breaks my heart it is cut up with all this stupid cellphone sonar stuff.

Chris: Batman’s way of dealing with all the Joker’s men and hostages, tripping up the bad guys with a rope while bringing down an entire building with explosives, saving the good guys from getting shot and beating the bad guys? So awesome. He would’ve gotten so many points in Arkham Asylum for that combo.

David: It’s hard not to make the comparisons to Arkham Asylum, especially since sonar mode is basically Detective Mode.

Andy: The moment where Batman puts his hands up and kicks the daisy-chain of cops off the side of that building was just… beautiful. People were cheering in the theater like they’d seen the most epic touchdown ever.

Andy: It’s a serious “not wearing hockey pads” moment. I love the cops across the way just staring agape, too.

David: It’s up there with Bruce deconstructing the gun while not breaking his stride while his penthouse was attacked.

Chris: As partial as I am to Batman fighting dogs — check out Matt Wagner’s Batman and the Mad Monk for maybe the best example of that — I love the part where he finally starts fighting the Joker. Just the way that the Joker jumps on him and starts wailing on him with these punches and his lead pipe. It’s just this insane manic frenzy of violence that works perfectly for the character.

Andy: The Joker even growls like a dog in that moment.

David: The fight ends with Joker gleefully anticipating the explosion of the boats, which — thanks to the cowardice of Weaselly Dude and the moral fortitude of Zeus Lister — doesn’t happen.

Chris: ZEUS! If only he’d been this good against Hulk Hogan.

David: Joker’s about to blow the master detonator while he has Batman pinned, and then the greatest exchange in the movie happens.

JOKER: Hey, you wanna know how I got these scars?

BATMAN: No, but I know how you got these! [shoots his wrist knives RIGHT IN JOKER'S FACE]

Chris: I love that line so much. It’s so hilarious and badass, but it should not work in this movie. It’s a total action movie moment in this crazy cerebral thriller about people deciding whether they’re going to murder each other for a chance to live, or stand by their morals and die because of it. It should be so out of place, but it works really well.

Andy: The ferry sequence represents precisely what Rachel, Gordon, and Batman have been fighting for through these two films: justice, order and soul. The good people of Gotham refuse to make the choice to kill. Maybe they aren’t strong enough to do it or maybe they don’t believe in it. Either way, Ra’s al Ghul was right. But the criminals of Gotham don’t have those fears or those beliefs, yet they still choose soul over chaos and fear. Ra’s al Ghul was WRONG. And so is the Joker — at least so long as these people, all of them, have some symbol of the best of their world. But as we see in the next scene with the Joker, he’s already robbed the people of that hero.

Chris: The way Lister plays it, there’s also the undercurrent that he believes he deserves whatever society gives him. He’s very much resigned to his fate — and in the process, he resigns everyone on board, even the poor hapless guard who pulls such an amazing “I am going to die now because people suck” face. He has this grim acceptance of whatever happens.

Andy: The choices made by both men on both boats have been foreshadowed throughout the film by the population’s refusal to give in: Rachel, the man at the party who defied the Joker, the callers to Anthony Michael Hall’s news show, the Citizens for Batman. The Joker undermined Gotham’s morality and exposed its systems and authorities as breakable and even in some cases false, but he could not ultimately destroy the soul of the people, not with his crazy plans. The only thing that might break the city for good is the undoing of Harvey Dent.

David: So Batman cuts up Joker, Joker falls, Batman saves him to be arrested by the police. But Joker points out that the real battle’s already been won: the battle for Harvey Dent, the personification of Gotham City’s soul.

Andy: The Joker’s upside down monologue is for me the most intense scene of the film. More than anywhere else, it becomes clear just how insane he is; that he is this force of nature who can never be stopped, the unstoppable force to Batman’s immovable object. It’s so dramatic, I love it. The way the camera rotates is beautifully sinister, and the moment where The Joker says, “I think you and I are destined to do this FOREVER” gives me chills. Excellent. “What did you do….”

Chris: I think it’s insanely important for the development of Batman that Nolan’s working with here that Batman saves the Joker. This is the same guy who rationalized leaving Ra’s al-Ghul to his fate, and the Joker is arguable far worse. He has no reason to save him, to go out of his way to make sure this man lives. It’s not like the cops would judge him, or the people of Gotham.

David: Oh, they’d throw him a damn parade. It’s the absolute 180 of what happened with Ra’s al Ghul. Batman is no longer willing to make moral compromises. He’s seen where they lead.

Chris: Exactly. It’s one of those things that really recontextualizes what I didn’t like about the end of Batman Begins by developing that character. He’s seen that he has to adhere to these rules, even when he can’t, and that’s one of the lessons of this movie, and of life. We don’t have morality for when it’s easy. We have it for when we want nothing more than to do the wrong thing. Is it “wrong” to kill the Joker? Probably not. But if Bruce Wayne is going to be bigger than a man, if he’s going to be something other, his rules have to encompass that. It’s wrong for Batman to kill someone, period. That’s what he’s learned.

David: Except that in ten minutes, he’s going to have to learn that sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice peoples’ understanding of that morality.

Chris: I also love how the Joker laughs as Batman throws him off the building. He thinks he’s won. Saving him is the only way to make him lose, and even then, Batman still loses, because he now needs to deal with this dude FOR. EVER.

David: Cut to the place where Harvey Dent, White Knight, District Attorney, Uncaped Crusader was killed forever by the Joker. Gordon’s arrived. Barbara, Barbara Jr. and James Jr. are all sitting there, basically waiting for Two-Face to exact retribution. Dent blames Gordon for what happened to him, because Gordon never listened to Dent about all the corrupt cops in his department. And honestly, have we ever seen Barbara Jr. at all before in this movie?

Chris: Here’s the thing: Much like this entire movie could’ve ended with Gordon’s return and the Joker’s arrest, a slightly different movie could’ve ended with Batman’s defeat of the Joker. It has all the earmarks of the climax: The big action scene, the punchup with the villain, the moral stand that Batman makes and the lesson that we all learn. But that’s not how this movie ends. It doesn’t end with the Bad Guy getting hauled off to jail. It keeps going, because this bad guy, the Joker, has done what he needs to to perpetuate Batman: He’s created more of himself. He’s the first in a new kind of villain, just as Batman was the first in a new kind of hero. We need to see how that plays out.

Andy: On a pure fanboy level, it really bugs me that Gordon’s kid isn’t Barbara. Batman saving her would be a cool way to inspire the future Batgirl. I know it’s not at all part of this film, but it would have been a fun little Easter egg.

David: Dent even points the gun at each of them and Gordon only starts freaking out when he points it at James Jr.

Chris: I wonder if this James Jr. grows up to be a sociopath like Snyder’s. Having your dad die, then come back, then being held at gunpoint by a scarred-up Harvey Dent? That’s a pretty rough week. I also kind of wonder if Nolan avoided using Babs II for the exact reason that she would’ve been an Easter egg. He’s said before that he doesn’t want Robin in his movies, maybe this was his way of subtly shutting down any idea of sidekicks.

Andy: Harvey laments all that he’s lost, thinking he’s the only one. But Bruce lost just as much as Harvey, maybe more if you count his parents and indeed his life. As Christian Bale said in our interview, Bruce is the mask:

Q: It seems quite sad that [Bruce] really sacrificed his own identity for this decadent fool.

Bale: There’s various layers. Yes, he has sacrificed his life but not to the playboy character — that’s just a necessity of the life he’s chosen — but for Batman.

Q: Is Batman the real person?

Bale: That’s how I’ve always played it, yeah. That is how I view it, yes. That’s the real him. The one that the public knows is the charade. And then there’s the other one he will show only to Alfred and Rachel and nobody else gets to see that side. He’s always had issues, he’s not a pinup of a healthy psyche in the slightest. But within that, I can afford to allow him to enjoy it a little bit at times. But you’re quite right, it is also very sad as well on a different level and we explore all of these things in this movie.

David: Two-Face points a gun at James Jr.’s head while Gordon’s cops make a perimeter, complete with tons of dogs. Batman shows up and points out that what happened to Rachel WASN’T chance, that he and Gordon had made that call and made that play. He flips the coin — it comes up scarred side up, and he shoots Batman, although he must realize a gunshot to the chest won’t punch through his armor.. Then he points it at himself. It comes out clean side up. Gordon attempts to take the full blame for Rachel’s death, but instead he points the gun at his son, asking Gordon to lie and tell him everything’s going to be alright, just like Dent had to do prior to Rachel’s death. And then he gets STRAIGHT UP BATMANNED.

Chris: Batman does tackle the hell out of him. I remember this being a point of contention among fans, too. There was a big debate back when I worked at the shop about whether or not Dent had died, and if so, if Batman had killed him. I honestly assumed that he’d just been KOed, and that they’d faked his death while he was shipped off somewhere to be locked up (for future stories), but… in retrospect, yeah, that was kind of a dumb theory. Sorry, 26 year-old Chris.

Andy: I actually checked the script to make sure it said he was dead and it did in fact specify that.

David: Yeah, Dent’s definitely dead, and they’ve definitely stated repeatedly that that was the case.

Chris: That doesn’t sit well with me. Not Dent dying, but that it can be interpreted that Batman kills him — he does, after all, shove him right the hell off a ledge, even though it’s only about 20 feet or so. I wish the movie would’ve been more explicit about what happened here. Were Dent’s injuries catching up to him? I mean, he was horrifically burned, went through a pretty catastrophic car crash, and so on, but Eckhart gives no indication that he’s feeling anything less than fine. Physically speaking, I mean.

Andy: It definitely could have been clearer, exactly what happened. But I think we’re meant to infer that Batman just kind of tackled him wildly and only one of them made it.

David: Batman realizes that they can’t allow what happened to Dent to get out to the press and public, because that’ll be the end of Gotham. If Dent’s image is ruined in public… the Joker wins completely, and everyone in the town knows that madness truly is like gravity, that even the best can fall. So Batman does the only thing he can do in this situation: he authorizes his own character assassination. From here on out, absolutely nobody in Gotham will trust him. He’s completely ruined any chance he had of standing as a symbol of a better Gotham. I mean, unless James Gordon Jr. just starts telling all his friends in elementary school what actually happened, which is EXACTLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.

Andy: Maybe Batman paid Jimmy off with a telescope.

Chris: Batman also gets his edge back for scaring crooks. The mobsters knew he wouldn’t kill them, but now, for all they know, he saved the Joker’s life, beat up a ton of cops and killed Harvey Dent.

Andy: He killed cops too.

David: Wuertz’s death is squarely on his head. As far as people are concerned. Which other cop did he kill?

Andy: Oh, maybe just the one.

David: Gordon says “Five dead… Two of them cops!” And let’s not forget what else happens during the ending montage: Alfred straight-up burns Rachel’s letter to Bruce, because he realizes a lie is better than the truth when it comes to Bruce’s ongoing mental health, especially since both Rachel and Harvey are now dead. And Lucius inserts his name into the null-key-bulls***-encrypted system, which causes it to self-destruct, allowing him to continue to work at Wayne Enterprises with conscience complete.

Chris: Another example of how Batman is “whatever Gotham needs him to be.” He can be the guy who violates everyone’s civil rights, because he knows Lucius won’t let him be.

Andy: I think the message of the film is that the only real defense against evil is to not become evil. “Endure,” as Alfred said. That’s why The Dark Knight isn’t a neoconservative/Patriot Act-style parable. The film shows what happens when the terrorist gets his way, when the good people give in to fear and compromise their beliefs. But Harvey does give in. Batman has to take the fall, Gordon has to lie, and even Alfred has to lie to Bruce. At the end, everybody is undone, but they do it to themselves for what they believe is the greater good. The Joker won. The Dark Knight Falls. Of course, we remember that Harvey said the night is always darkest before the dawn. The very on-the-nose poetry of the Nolan brothers continues to telegraph the arc of this saga, because we know from that remark and also from the title of the final chapter, The Dark Knight also Rises.

David: “You either die the hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” It’s not as much Johnsian Literalism in this movie as there was in Begins, but the Nolans are absolutely unafraid to bludgeon you over the head with their themes, and how important they are.

Chris: Except that unless that third movie takes a pretty drastic turn, we’re going to see that Batman lives long enough to become a hero again.

Andy: The drama, action and performances are so good that I find myself reveling in the thematic operatics of this film. In that way it is very much like a traditional superhero comic.

HIGH POINTS

David: Uh. This is hard.

Andy: It’s easier to list the low points because there are so few.

Chris: It’s really, really tough to figure out a specific high point for this movie. Ledger as the Joker is the obvious choice, but everyone’s so great in their roles.

Chris: The scene with Joker and Batman at the end sticks out. It’s such a great interpretation of how those two characters work and play off each other.

Andy: I think many people agree the IMAX bank heist sequence is a classic.

David: The IMAX bank heist scene. The skyscraper beatdown. The extraction of Lau from Hong Kong. Bruce absconding with the entire damn Russian ballet. Zeus throwing the detonator out of the window. Practically everything Alfred says in the entire movie, especially the Burma conversation.

Andy: There are so many things I like about this film, but one I don’t see talked about too much in comics circles is the overall look and tone. Batman Begins had a very conspicuous brown/rust color scheme. It was introduced with the opening animation of the bats forming the Batman symbol. In this film, we are given the blue/black animation of the Batman symbol moving through flames. The film follows the color scheme extremely faithfully. Gotham seems cleaner, shinier and cooler in this film and consequently more real.

David: If the last movie was Quake, this one is Max Payne. In terms of overall aesthetic.

Chris: Comparing this movie to Max Payne is coming pretty close to last week’s Dane Cook comment.

David: I mean Max Payne the video game.

Chris: I know what you meant.

David: Which is pretty damn awesome, so shut your mouth. And I’m talking completely about aesthetics. Aw, G.D. you.

Andy: The score of this film, particularly the Hans Zimmer portions, are astonishingly good. There is a documentary on either the Blu-ray or the iTunes version that demonstrates what Zimmer did to create the Joker’s theme “music” — it’s really more of a sound effect than music, but it’s just incredible. Razors on strings, synths, prodigious editing. It’s so deep, this music. You can dive in and swim in it.

Chris: Oh man, and Bruce disassembling the shotgun without even breaking his stirde. It’s a pretty solid picture all around. Except for…

LOW POINTS

Andy: Christian Bale’s Batman voice remains a painful distraction.

Chris: I don’t care what you say, I love it. That bullet reconstruction scene, though. Yeesh.

Andy: There are several moments in the film that seem needlessly confusing, or if they’re presented plainly, they strain believability. Specifically, the business with the Joker card and the DNA, the sonar phones, the bullet reconstruction. I don’t know that we needed such intricate explanations of how those events occurred. Especially with Batman. I can believe that Batman can run around a building in the dark and find hostages and beat up bad guys without some kind of garish sonar graphics that are very hard to look at, especially on the big screen.

Chris: Also, the ambiguity of what happens to Harvey at the end. James Jr. flat out says Batman “didn’t do anything wrong,” but it definitely lends itself to the interpretation that Batman killed Harvey, either willingly or accidentally, which breaks the whole moral structure of what leads up to it. Say what you want about spoon-feeding viewers, but I feel like that could’ve been way more clear.

FINAL THOUGHTS


Andy: I don’t think this was a thesis we were arguing because we are anything but genre snobs, but I believe this discussion of The Dark Knight has demonstrated that it transcended the boundaries of the typical superhero film — including its immediate predecessor, Batman Begins — to become a film that’s actually about something very important, something beyond the morality or redemption stories we usually see in the genre. As David said early on, Nolan targeted this film directly at the zeitgeist, and it’s impossible to identify where the real-life themes have been mapped onto the Batman concept and vice-versa. It’s absolutely seamless. Every scene in the film is an expression of its major themes, of its characters’ evolutions, and of its aesthetic goals. The film is tremendously dense and rewards the viewer with multiple viewings, as made plain by some of the things we’ve missed that the CA readers didn’t. I think The Dark Knight is such a beautiful package of thematic relevance, brilliant acting, exquisite music, design and photography, and popcorn entertainment that it’s unlikely to be repeated in the next film or any superhero film. Regardless of genre, The Dark Knight will always be one of my very favorite movies.

Chris: It’s definitely a good one. It’s got a smart, complex plot — if a little too needlessly complex for its own good at points — and with the arrangement of set pieces that are more dramatic and increase the stakes, and callbacks to earlier bits of the movie (Batman uses those same explosives while making his way to the Joker that he does to get Lau out of Hong Kong), it captures the feel of a comic better than any other movie. Not in terms of the visual tricks that you see in Scott Pilgrim (a movie I really liked), but in terms of pacing. You can see how it’s plotted out as individual pieces of an arc, and that’s really, really enjoyable.

David: This movie was simply — it was lightning in a bottle. Like you two, I’m skeptical that Nolan will be able to recreate what he achieved here in Rises, simply because this is just too singular, too perfect, too well-constructed. I can’t imagine that he’ll have a central thesis that radiates out to every pore of the movie as well as he did with this. It could very easily be as good as Begins, but as good as this? …

Andy: It was sincerely a pleasure to join you guys for this feature.

Chris: Well, we may have come to the end of The Dark Knight, but David and I aren’t finished yet. So join us next week, readers, as we take on the next piece of our cinematic history. But since we’ve come to the end of the Batman movies, what could it be? Find out Monday, right here at ComicsAlliance!

Previous Sessions:

Batman (1989), Part One

Batman (1989), Part Two

Batman Returns (1992), Part One

Batman Returns (1992), Part Two

Batman Forever (1995), Part One

Batman Forever (1994), Part Two

Batman & Robin (1997), Part One

Batman & Robin (1997), Part Two

Catwoman (2004), Part One

Catwoman (2004), Part Two

Batman Begins (2005), Part One

Batman Begins (2005), Part Two

Batman Begins (2005), Part Three

The Dark Knight (2008), Part One

The Dark Knight (2008), Part Two

The Dark Knight (2008), Part Three

The Dark Knight (2008), Part Four

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Register on Comics Alliance quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!