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Batman Context and Critical Reception

The Dark Knight trilogy had it’s first part released on June 17th, 2005. The trilogy as a whole displays massive problems in today’s society. One massive event that happened before the films were even written was the September 11 attacks on the world trade centres in America. This was an event that shook people across the world and the event that followed by the government, such as the “War on Terror”, can be seen reflected in The Dark Knight. Using an article and crash course video on the subject (linked at the bottom) I have seen a few similarities of real world events that can be seen echoed in the Dark Knight:

  • Extraordinary Rendition – This is when governments take somebody from one country to another one, typically to avoid certain torture or interrogation laws. America did this a lot during the war on terror and still happens today. In The Dark Knight, Batman takes Lau from Hong Kong back to America to interrogate and arrest him.
  • Money is Nothing – In the war on terror, hundreds of billion were poured into the military by the US government. This angered many Americans as there was still money issues and poverty on America’s home soil and it seemed like money meant nothing to the government in spite of completing their main objective. Similarly in The Dark Knight, the Joker burns million of dollars as it means nothing to him, he wants to complete his mission and that is all he cares about.
  • Surveillance – In America, freedom and safety are one of the top priorities for the government however these two can clash a lot. After 9/11, the government set up Prism which spied on people phones and messages without them knowing, people got mad as this was a breach of privacy and therefore diminished peoples freedom. In The Dark Knight, Batman uses some methods which can be seen as sketchy and an invasion of privacy for instance, when batman uses peoples cell phones to track people. This is a massive breach of freedom and even Lucius Fox isn’t okay with the technology.
  • Becoming the Villain – Bush did some very very questionable things in his war on terror but it was technically for the greater good and protecting America. This made many Americans look at him negatively and like a bad guy or villain. In The Dark Knight, Batman does everything he must in order to stop the Joker and protect Harvey Dents name, which leads him to becoming the villain that the people of Gotham hate.

Turner, P., 2013. Dark Knight, Dark Ideas. Media Magazine, April 2013, 37 – 41.

Crash Course. (2014). Terrorism, War, and Bush 43: Crash Course US History #46. [Online Video]. 30 January 2014. Available from: [Accessed: 9 December 2019].

The Ultimate Villain (The Joker)

The Joker is the perfect villain for Batman, no question, but what makes the perfect villain/antagonist?

  • Exceptionally good at attacking the hero’s greatest weakness – The protagonist can only be as great as the antagonist. The antagonist must be powerful in order for the hero to face struggle, the harder the struggle, the more compelling the story and journey. The joker is powerful at exploiting and utilising Batman’s weaknesses. Batman uses intimidation to scare off bad guys as he will not kill them. The Joker however, isn’t afraid to die so Batman cannot intimidate him. This makes Batman’s power useless against the Joker as the only way to stop him, is to kill him.
  • Pressuring the protagonist into difficult choices – The difficult choices reveal the characters true nature. The harder the choice, the deeper the revelation, the more the characters true thoughts and beliefs are revealed. The forces of antagonism need to keep putting more and more pressure on the antagonist to make a tough decision, to show the audience what they truly are which is Joker’s plan all along.
  • Competing for the same goal as the protagonist – Both Batman and the Joker want to make Gotham in their vision. Batman wants peace and order whereas Joker only wants chaos and disorder. This leads the protagonist and antagonist to clash as they have views that collide with each other.
  • The Joker makes Batman become wiser – The Joker teaches Batman the limits of his power and how his weaknesses can be used against him. We see this change batman throughout the film and in the decisions he makes.
  • The Joker has a specific and profound effect on the story and the protagonist, he has a purpose in the film that no one except him can full fill.

Advanced Cinematography

Freddie Young utilises the rule of thirds to position the character in an important place, while allowing lots of the scenery outside to be shown. There is also a few lead lines, pointing out the character in the plane.

Freddie Young uses lead lines to guide the audience to the front of the train and beyond which is used to show the scenery surrounding the train and the area in which it’s travelling.

Vittorio Storaro places the characters in the thirds of the scene and uses lead lines along the back wall of the scene.He also breaks the rule of thirds to show the main character of the scene on the right.


The Dark Knight Narrative Analysis

The Dark Knight shares some similarities with the typical narrative of a superhero film. There is low and high points for the protagonist. The Dark Knight is a superhero film, no question about it, but the way that events are structured and the timeline of the film are quite different. The typical hero’s journey narrative follows are structure or sort of ring. This ring explains the full narrative of the story and how events should be laid out. One event that is completely different in the Dark Knight compared to other hero films and story’s is that the end isn’t happy or good. The Dark Knight ends with Batman becoming outcast and painted as the villain. Typically, the hero’s life would return to normal with a key difference or change. In Dark Knight however, the hero is shunned and disgraced by the villain. In addition, the crisis scene shows how Batman, the ‘hero’, is powerless against the villain. The scene I’m talking about is the boat bomb scene where the passengers on the boat have to blow up one or the other. Batman is completely powerless in the situation as it is up to the passengers to decide who lives or dies. However, some parts of the film are similar. In the approach scene, there is a massive car chase in which the villain is captured, which seems pretty typical for a hero narrative. This shows how while some parts of the film do follow the typical structure, overall The Dark Knight takes a chance and strides to add a little bit of spice into the mix.

Batman Genre Analysis

How is the Dark Knight similar to other movies in the superhero genre?

  • Clear antagonist and protagonist
  • Hero must make tough decisions.
  • The hero “defeats” the villain

How is the Dark Knight different to other movies?#

  • The hero loses in the end
  • The girl is killed
  • The hero isn’t a god and can be hurt and damaged physically and mentally.

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