The Dark Knight (film)
The Dark Knight is a 2008 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman. The film is a sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins, which rebooted the Batman film series after an eight-year hiatus. Christopher Nolan returns as the director, and Christian Bale reprises the lead role. Batman’s primary conflicts in the film include his fight against the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his strained friendship with district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
For his conception of the film, Nolan was inspired by the Joker’s first two appearances in the comics and Batman: The Long Halloween. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago (as was Batman Begins), as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The director used an IMAX camera to film six major action sequences, including the Joker’s first appearance in the film. The Batsuit was redesigned, with a cowl allowing Bale to move his head. The film also introduces a recreation of the Batcycle, known as the Batpod.
Warner Bros. created an aggressive viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screenshots of Heath Ledger as the Joker. After Ledger’s untimely death in January 2008, however, the studio refocused its promotional campaign. The film will be released on July 17, 2008 in Australia, on July 18, 2008 in North America,and on July 25, 2008 in the United Kingdom.
The Dark Knight opens with Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon, and new district attorney Harvey Dent beginning to succeed in rounding up the criminals that plague Gotham City. They are unexpectedly challenged when a mysterious criminal mastermind known as the Joker, appears in Gotham. Batman’s struggle against the Joker becomes deeply personal, forcing him to “confront everything he believes” and to improve his technology to stop the madman’s campaign of destruction. During the course of the film, a love triangle develops between Bruce Wayne, Dent and Rachel Dawes.
Cast and characters
- Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman: A billionaire who has dedicated himself to protecting Gotham City from the criminal underworld. Bale was confident in his choice to return in the role because of the positive response to his performance in Batman Begins. He trained in the Keysi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. He did not gain as much muscle this time, because of the storyline in which Batman builds a new suit that allows him to move with more agility.
The actor 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 awhile, 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.” According to Dan Join, in Empire, Bale felt that because Batman’s personality was strongly established in the first film, it was unlikely that 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 as The Joker: Heath Ledger described the Joker as a “psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy“.Nolan had wanted to work with Ledger on a number of projects in the past, but had been unable to do so. When Ledger saw Batman Begins, he realized a way to make the character work in that film’s tone, and Nolan agreed with his anarchic interpretation. To prepare for the role, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character’s posture, voice and psychology.While he initially found it difficult, Ledger was eventually able to generate a voice that did not sound like Jack Nicholson’s take on the character in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. He started a diary, in which he wrote the Joker’s thoughts and feelings to guide himself during his performance. He was also given Batman: The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth to read, which he “really tried to read […] and put it down”.Ledger also cited inspirations such as A Clockwork Orange and Sid Vicious, which were “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, adding that “There are a few more surprises to him.”
Before Ledger was confirmed to play the Joker in July 2006,Paul Bettany, Lachy Hulme, Adrien Brody,Steve Carell, and Robin Williams publicly expressed interest in the role. On not being invited to reprise the part, Jack Nicholson said: “You can’t believe the reasons things do or don’t happen. Not asking me how to do the sequel is that kind of thing. … Maybe it’s not a mistake. Maybe it was the right thing, but to be candid, I’m furious.” After the first official trailer was released, director Guillermo del Toro and comic book writer Jeph Loeb praised Ledger’s portrayal of the character, while Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Paul Dini said, “He seems more street than any other version of the Joker. … His attitude is mordant and sardonic as opposed to manic. … No goofy gags or puns for him. This Joker doesn’t split sides: he splits skulls.” Mark Hamill, who voiced the part on Batman: The Animated Series, said “The balls-out debauched psycho approach seems like a great way of reinventing everyone’s favorite scary (and scar-y) clown.”
After filming had already ended, Ledger died, on January 22, 2008, leading to intense press attention and memorial tributes. In March 2008, four months prior to the film’s scheduled release, Larry Carroll reported that “like Batman himself, Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and director Christopher Nolan find themselves shifting gears between being secretive, superheroic and fighting back a deep sadness.” “It was tremendously emotional, right when he passed, having to go back in and look at him every day,” 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.”Nolan has dedicated the film to Ledger’s memory.
- Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face: The Gotham district attorney; Dent’s battle with the Joker turns Dent into a murderous, disfigured vigilante called “Two-Face”.Producer Charles Roven described Dent as initially the “white knight of the city”. Wayne sees Dent as his heir, which comes back to the theme of him realizing that being Batman will be a lifelong mission, and the tragedy that follows when Dent is corrupted. 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, and Eckhart, who has played corrupt men in films such as The Black Dahlia, Thank You For Smoking and In the Company of Men, notes: “[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,” while admitting: “I’m interested in good guys gone wrong.” Nolan and David S. Goyer 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, Josh Lucas,and Ryan Phillippe had expressed interest in the role. 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, and his subtextual “edge”.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes: The Gotham assistant D.A. and childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, she is one of the few people who know that he is Batman. Gyllenhaal has acknowledged that her character is a damsel in distress to an extent, adding that Nolan had sought ways to empower her character so that “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. In August 2005, before the casting of Gyllenhaal, producer Charles Roven had reported that actress Katie Holmes (who portrayed Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins) was going to reprise the role in The Dark Knight; however, in January 2007, Holmes turned down the offer to reprise her role as Rachel Dawes due to scheduling conflicts, and, by March 2007, Gyllenhaal was in “final talks” for the part.
Supporting characters include:
- Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth: Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler and father figure who tends to Wayne Manor.
- Gary Oldman as Lieutenant James Gordon: One of the few members of the City of Gotham Police Department (GPD) who isn’t corrupt. His tenuous, unofficial alliance with Batman and Dent is put in jeopardy when the latter becomes Two-Face.
- Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox: The recently-promoted CEO of Wayne Enterprises who supplies Bruce Wayne with the gear necessary to carry out Batman’s mission.
- Eric Roberts as Sal Maroni: The gangster who now leads Carmine Falcone’s mob family. Bob Hoskins and James Gandolfini were reported to have also auditioned for the part.
- Michael Jai White as Gambol: A gang leader at war with Maroni. David Banner also auditioned for the role.
- Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Anthony Garcia.
- Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow
- William Fichtner as Gotham National Bank Manager
- Anthony Michael Hall as Mike Engel