(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

Here we are: 10 years later and we’re all talking about The Dark Knight again. But why is this film so widely regarded? One answer: The Dark Knight weaves its story around the identities of its characters in a way that molds the movie into how we perceive it today.

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James Gordon in The Dark Knight

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

For all The Dark Knight‘s talk of the heroes we deserve as the ones we need right now, not enough credit gets given to the film’s true hero. Batman and Harvey Dent can go to Hero Hell: Lieutenant (and later Commissioner) Jim Gordon is the only one of the film’s three hero figures deserving of the title. Read More »

the dark knight rises

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

(The Unpopular Opinion is a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or sets their sights on a movie seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: we sing the praises of Christopher Nolan’s somewhat misunderstood Dark Knight follow-up The Dark Knight Rises.)

I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss.” – Jim Gordon (and Charles Dickens).

How do you follow up The Dark Knight? The movie changed the face of superhero cinema, and became almost instantly iconic. Another sequel wasn’t just required, it was practically demanded by audiences. Director Christopher Nolan had several choices – he could forge ahead with a sequel that copied the layout of The Dark Knight, he could create something completely new, or he could walk away entirely.

To Nolan, the third option seemed most appealing. Despite all the success, despite all the acclaim, the director wasn’t exactly keen making a third film in his Batman series. But over time, Nolan began to form a plan. A plan that seems almost insane in our current age of never-ending superhero sagas: he would craft a conclusion. A film that would actually bring the story he started back with Batman Begins to a close. That film was The Dark Knight Rises.

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Joker and Batman in The Dark Knight

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

It’s considered a cliché to say that the Joker is not only Batman’s greatest villain, but the greatest villain in comic book history. But is it really? It’s not as if The Joker’s status as top villain isn’t earned; he’s consistently kept fans enthralled for decades with his mix of actual comedy and misanthropy, and while his level of nihilism has changed throughout the years, his core message to Batman – that good only exists where there’s evil – remains.

That message rose to its height in The Dark Knight, which brought us the best portrayal of the Joker onscreen (yes, even better than Jack Nicholson). Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime elevated the character from mere “comic book legend” to a relevant and thought-provoking icon, challenging Batman on his core tenets of being a superhero and, indeed, of being a person on the side of good. It’s this challenge that makes the Joker and Batman’s dynamic the best in comic book movie history – and why Marvel, for all it’s Infinity War fervor, needs to sit down and learn a thing or two about how to craft villains with longevity and meaning, meaning that sticks with the viewer long after the ending credits have rolled.

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dark knight wreckage

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

Seeing Heath Ledger in real life on a Manhattan talk show stage. Dressing up as the Joker for Halloween. Receiving a text from a friend in a parked car the night news of Ledger’s death broke. Dressing up as the Joker again for the movie’s midnight premiere. Seeing the movie eight times in the theater. Driving to Austin that summer and witnessing the world’s largest urban bat colony fly out from under a bridge at dusk.

These are among my own personal experiences with The Dark Knight. I can’t speak for everyone but I’d venture to say there are a lot of other movie news nerds out there with memories related to the film’s development and how it intersected with their own lives from 2007 to 2008. Outside the movie theater, the real-world experience of The Dark Knight was its own kind of adventure: a juggernaut of hype that delivered dark drama and became a billion-dollar cultural phenomenon. This is what it was like to be part of the fan culture at that time, at least for one Batman fanboy who went from being a college dropout to a graduate who now moonlights as a movie blogger.

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(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

There has always been a strange appeal to Heath Ledger’s The Joker in The Dark Knight, a playful yet formidable villain capable of making you laugh uncomfortably just as easily as he could throw you off a roof and skip away without so much of a second glance. It’s a fascination propelled by the fact that he not only walks around in a wrinkled purple suit and a face caked with melted clown makeup, but he has a long jagged red scar where his smile is supposed to be. Because as absurd as his maquillage and attire are, The Joker’s scars hide something far more sinister and tell a story about him that, until The Dark Knight, we hadn’t heard before.

But The Joker doesn’t simply recall a haunting tale from his past to appease his curious victims. Rather, he captivates them with the comforting sense that his maniacal behavior is not ungrounded — right before he turns that on its head in the most brutal way.

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(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

Christian Bale’s “Batman voice” was one of the most divisive components of his iconic portrayal of the Dark Knight. Deep and raspy, like a lifelong smoker who just thrashed Marilyn Manson at karaoke, it was intended in-universe as an auditory disguise and intimidation tool – but many audience members found it silly. Regardless of your view on Bale’s bold acting choice, it not only helped define his take on the character, it made his ordinarily intense acting all the more so.

Among the most-imitated aspects of the voice is the way Batman yells. That bellow probably necessitated some kind of insurance policy specifically for Bale’s vocal cords, but it resulted in a wide array of memorable moments. In honour of The Dark Knight‘s tenth anniversary, we hereby present the complete, ranked collection of Batman bellows – 20 of them, across three films, not including anything delivered in a whispered, growled, or “ordinary” speaking voice. Grab a mug of honey lemon ginger tea, and let’s begin.

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(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

A decade ago, Christopher Nolan stepped into an echelon that only a few filmmakers occupy, wherein moviegoers around the world know his name as well as they know any movie star. Only a handful of directors — Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese — can claim entrée into this exclusive club. For Nolan, it’s thanks to his second superhero film, The Dark Knight, celebrating its tenth anniversary this week. There are many reasons why The Dark Knight remains an incredible, exciting, if still very disquieting blockbuster; perhaps the biggest reason of all is the conception, in writing, directing and performing, of Batman’s most feared villain, the Joker.

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Dark Knight Anniversary

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

This week, The Dark Knight turns 10 years old. Its legacy still looms large, for better and worse. Here is the story of how Christopher Nolan changed the face of superhero movies forever. The story of how one movie proved that comic book adaptations could be a lot more than kids stuff. And the story of how some of it backfired, giving birth to a new era of fandom that just wanted to watch the world burn.

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Red Hood Dark Knight Legacy

Though it was released over a year ago, there’s still some debate as to the ending of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises. Is Bruce Wayne alive, or a figment of Alfred’s imagination? Is John Blake going to become Robin, Nightwing or a new Batman? While there are certainly arguments to be made over the first question, the answer to the second is much more cut and dry. Don’t forget Bruce Wayne’s quote from Batman Begins: “As a man, I’m flesh and blood; I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a symbol…as a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.” Even though John Blake’s name is inexplicably “Robin,” the film ends with him rising to become the next personification of that symbol, fulfilling the point of the entire series.

Audiences will see a brand new Batman in theaters in 2015, but we’ll likely never get to see Nolan’s version of Blake’s story. So director Brett Register and other fans of Nolan’s series have created a fan film called The Dark Knight Legacy. It’s set one year after the events of The Dark Knight Rises and follows John Blake as Nightwing, who must defend Gotham City from a new villain known as the Red Hood. Check it out below. Read More »