Batman is a beloved character and has had more solo live-action movies than any other comic character ever. Whether it be the classic Adam West campy Batman from 1966, the Burton/Schumacher movies from the 80s and 90s, Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy, or Ben Affleck’s latest iteration, most fans agree that Nolan’s The Dark Knight is the greatest singular film of all time.
The Dark Knight was the follow-up to Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins, which was a refreshingly realistic take on The Caped Crusader. Nolan’s Batman films featured a more grounded take on the character, yet they were still giant blockbusters and generated the most buzz around comic book movies in a long time. The Dark Knight trilogy will always be considered one of the greatest trilogies of all time, but it was 2008’s The Dark Knight that stood out the most and will be forever known as the greatest Batman film of all time.
10 The Non-Stop Action Sequences Put The Viewer On The Edge Of Their Seats
The Dark Knight‘s opening scene may go down as one of the most epic first scenes in any movie ever. It paved the way for how the entire movie would play out and the action rarely slowed down. The bank heist was beautifully shot and served as a great introduction to the Joker, who would go on to have several scenes that were action-packed. Of course, Batman was involved in all of the action and his opening scene involved taking down Scarecrow, other Batman copycats, and some drug dealers by crashing on their van from several stories above.
Perhaps the biggest action sequence takes place when Batman and Joker are chasing each other through Gotham, which leads to Joker’s mac truck being flipped completely on its top. Whether it’s Batman capturing Mr. Lau in Hong Kong, the final warehouse scene with Joker’s men and the SWAT team, or the last scene with Gordon, Two-Face, and Batman, there’s never a dull moment and it makes The Dark Knight one of the most rewatchable movies of all time.
9 Hans Zimmer’s Epic Musical Score Added To The Action & The Drama
Hans Zimmer has been a composer on some amazing films, but his work on The Dark Knight is unparalleled. His music captures the moment of every scene, whether it’s a fast-paced action scene or a heartbreaking dramatic moment. Zimmer’s epic music brings life to each scene and helps relay a certain tone to the viewers. Imagine the Joker’s opening bank heist or Batman racing to save Rachel at the warehouse without the heart-pounding music? Even the best of movies would come off very dry and quite boring without the right music, so Hans Zimmer’s musical score is really the heart and soul of the entire film. Zimmer worked on Batman Begins and returned for The Dark Knight Rises, which means his soundtrack was the heart and soul of the entire trilogy.
8 A Great Harvey Dent & A Great Two-Face That Were Taken Seriously
Two-Face is a character that needed to be taken seriously, which is why Tommy Lee Jones’s portrayal of the character in Batman Forever was universally disliked. Thankfully, The Dark Knight made up for it by casting Aaron Eckhart, who was the perfect Harvey Dent and an even better Two-Face. Eckhart was a handsome, charming District Attorney and served as real competition for Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne. His relationship with Rachel Dawes was well done and her death would help bring out the scarier, angrier Harvey Two-Face.
Yet, even before he’s scarred from the explosion and loses Rachel, Dent shows his temper when he captures one of The Joker’s goons and flips a coin to decide whether this psychologically disturbed man lives. Although, it’s a double-sided coin and Dent was just using it to get answers out the criminal. However, Rachel’s death and The Joker’s proposition bring out the truly psychotic Two-Face, which leads to an amazing acting performance by Aaron Eckhart and gave comic book fans everywhere a serious Two-Face who was frighteningly amazing.
7 Christopher Nolan Was Becoming One Of Hollywood’s Best Directors
Today, Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest directors in all of Hollywood and his films always seem to be big in scale, including recent projects such as Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Tenet. In 2008, Nolan’s ascension to the top was just beginning, and after hits like Memento, Batman Begins, and The Prestige, fans really became invested in anything he worked on. Nolan proved with Batman Begins that he could make a great comic book movie and his Joker tease at the end got fans truly psyched for a sequel.
Nolan stated that the Joker card was really meant as an easter egg, however, Batman Begins was so universally loved that Nolan felt he could make a bigger and better sequel. Thankfully, he followed through with his promise, and The Dark Knight, in 2021, is still considered one of the greatest comic book films ever made.
6 The Interrogation Room Scene With Joker & Batman Was Intensely Brutal
While the interrogation room scene takes place about halfway through the film, it actually was the first scene that Christian Bale’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Joker worked on together. The two clearly had explosive chemistry and the scene was so realistic that Bale accidentally hurt Ledger when he’s roughing him up. The Gordon and Joker “good cop, bad cop routine” was priceless and when the lights came back on, Batman was standing behind a sitting handcuffed Joker and slammed his head off the table.
The acting is superb and Ledger truly shines as the psychotic Joker, which leads to Bale’s Batman getting really ticked off and starts to lay the smackdown on him. Joker proves he doesn’t care about anything except chaos and lies to Batman where his men have Rachel and Dent, which leads to Rachel’s death and caps off an award-winning scene.
5 Heath Ledger’s Iconic & Award-Winning Performance Will Be Discussed Forever
Heath Ledger’s untimely death mere months before The Dark Knight hit theaters was terribly sad, mostly because a young man with a young family had been taken away from them. Also, he was an extremely talented actor, and his role as the Joker was universally loved, with many saying his take on The Clown Prince Of Crime will never be topped again. Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson were both excellent Joker’s before Ledger’s performance, and Jared Leto and Joaquin Phoenix had a lot to like about their takes on Batman’s archnemesis.
However, with his untimely passing and the fact that his performance was truly amazing, Ledger’s Joker will never be forgotten and will always be discussed as one of the greatest movie villains in any movie ever. He also posthumously won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, which proved that comic book movies could be taken seriously and set the precedent for other comic movies to be nominated.
4 The Supporting Cast Was Solid (Aside From A Few Very Minor Roles)
Just like a professional sports team needs good bench players, a great movie needs to have a strong supporting cast that compliments the megastars whose names are listed on the marquee. Whether it was Eric Roberts as Sal Maroni, Nestor Carbonell as the mayor, or Michael Jai White as Gambol, the supporting cast played a pivotal role in bringing the story together. Colin McFarlane returned as the Commissioner from Batman Begins, as did Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, which helped bridge the first two movies in a subtle way and didn’t just rely on major characters to understand that this was Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe.
Unfortunately, a couple of the actors they hired for small roles were not very believable and came off cheesy, such as the “No More Dead Cops!” guy or the “What Is That A Boozooka?” guy. Thankfully, the movie was so good these small roles didn’t ruin it and the overall supporting cast was quite brilliant.
3 The Abundance Of Villains Were Not Overused & Fit The Story
Comic book movies seem to be better off when they focus on one main villain, however, The Dark Knight became an exception to the rule. The movie focuses mainly on The Joker and Harvey Two-Face, but other villains are scattered throughout the movie. Sal Maroni and other gangsters, such as Gambol and Chechen, play important roles in the story without stealing the spotlight from Joker and Two-Face.
Also, The Scarecrow returns from Batman Begins as the leader of a Batman copycat group but is caught within the first act and isn’t stuffed into the film’s finale, which is a mistake most comic movies make. Even Reese from Wayne Enterprises and Lau could be considered bad guys, but their motives fit into Joker’s story and everything is explained in a simple, yet effective way.
2 The Main Cast Was Excellent & Featured Several Talented Award Winners
Having a solid supporting cast is great, but it can only take a movie so far. The Dark Knight‘s main cast was exquisite and many of them are considered some of Hollywood’s most talented actors of all time. Almost everyone in the main cast had or would go on to win several acting awards, this includes Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, and several others.
Bale, Caine, Freeman, and Oldman all reprise their roles from Batman Begins and helped further the story for their respective characters in Nolan’s Gotham City, which was growing with the introduction of the amazing Heath Ledger as Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Two-Face. Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal took over the role of Rachel Dawes from Katie Holmes and did a nice job as the love interest for Bruce and Dent. The cast was fully loaded and brought realism to Nolan’s Batman Universe, which is something the DCEU is trying to find more of these days.
1 An Open-Ended Finale That Set Up The Finale Of The Dark Knight Trilogy
The ending of The Dark Knight was just as good as its opening scene and left viewers satisfied, yet it was hard to accept. Batman taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s murders was truly heroic, but was that the ending fans really wanted? It served as great reasoning for Batman being called The Dark Knight and made sense because he fights in the shadows. However, at the time it was hard to think that Batman would be treated like a common criminal and that people would believe he killed innocent people. Although, Gordon’s final words to his son about Batman being “a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight,” still raises the hair on people’s arms and would serve as a great way to set up the finale of Nolan’s Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.
NEXT: Dark Knight Trilogy: 10 Plot Twists Fans Never Saw Coming
The 7 Best Superhero Movie Trilogies Of All Time Ranked, According To IMDb
About The Author