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The Dark Knight Illuminates Heroism and Humanity

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. Heath Ledger as The Joker. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel.

Christopher Nolan’s latest vision of the Batman has been met with nearly universal acclaim for its gripping performances and grim depiction of Gotham under siege, yet in spite of it’s opening date and record-breaking revenue, The Dark Knight is anything but your traditional summer blockbuster.

Cristian Bale returns as the wealthy playboy with an expensive hobby, and again convincingly delivers the heart of Bruce Wayne and the rage of Batman. This is still The Dark Knight’s film, and through his interaction with a stellar cast of characters, the film explores many lofty philosophical concepts, including the nature of Humanity and the many faces of Heroism.

The Joker — as manically animated by Heath Ledger — could very well be the Devil himself. With a peculiar mix of cowardice and reckless abandon, he strikes at the criminal and government establishments alike, hoping to ignite the fearful, selfish nature of Gotham’s citizens. His only goal seems to be revealing the darkest aspects of human nature, and through his anarchistic antics, we are shown the true measure of Gotham’s citizens — for better or worse.

With the ascension of Harvey Dent as a tireless advocate of justice, Bruce Wayne sees a worthy successor to his dark alter ego, and works to support the idealistic District Attorney. Dent’s idealism and determination shine through Aaron Eckhart’s performance, evoking a “white knight” who lead by example and has no need hide behind a mask. But as the Joker intensifies his terror attacks, Harvey seems destined to “… die a hero or live long enough to […] become the villain”.

The innate measure of good and evil in the human soul, and a comparison between the heroes we want and the heroes we need…. they may be weighty topics, but they — along with a complex cast of characters and complexly entwined storylines — are compellingly crafted in what may be the best superhero film to date.

Written by in July of 2008. Last edited March 2019.

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Comments

  • Tony A. - August 24th, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Very well put! Couldn’t agree more! Now we’ll just have to wait and see how it performs at The Oscars next year! I would love to see it get Best Picture and Ledger to win Best Actor posthumously.