The Dark Knight part 1


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berkeley314567 asks:

"I wonder if you’re more interested in the structure than the actual content of the script?"

In a screenplay, there is no difference between structure and content, "actual" or otherwise. A screenplay is a collection of scenes devised in a certain way placed in a certain order to achieve a desired dramatic effect. In the same way that "character" is nothing but habitual action, the "actual content" of a screenplay is nothing but the scenes that fill its pages and the order in which they’re placed. To say "I like the screenplay’s structure but I don’t like its content" is to say "I like that guy but I don’t like the things he does."

David Mamet once said that the only question in an audience’s head during a movie should be "What happens next?" The screenwriter’s job is to keep the audience interested in the story. When the screenwriter does his job well, the audience gets sucked into the story and experiences the thrill of drama. When he does his job very well, the thrill of the experience is so powerful that the audience comes back again and again, even though they know how the story turns out. Spectacle may amaze and movie stars may charm, but if the screenwriter has not done his job well, the movie will still turn out bad and the audience will stay home. The Dark Knight engages the audience on a level unseen in movies lately, and does so while employing a number of bold innovations, which I will discuss as we move forward.

ACT I begins with a heist sequence: The Joker has hired a bunch of goons to rob a bank owned by The Mob. We know, although the goons do not, that the Joker is, in fact, part of the masked crew. As the robbery unfolds, we learn that the Joker’s plan involves the goons killing each other as each one completes his job, leaving him to make off with the money. What do we learn from this sequence? Well, we learn that the Joker is meticulous in his planning and duplicitous in his intent. No one is safe when he is around. He lies when it suits his purpose — his goal is not to impress people with his wisdom but to get them to do something. Further, we learn that he is brave enough, or foolish enough, or crazy enough, to steal money from The Mob. Maybe it’s "crazy enough," since we also learn that, under his clown mask, he wears another clown mask. (The Joker’s makeup is one of the boldest design choices made in The Dark Knight — it’s disturbing enough to look at, but it’s even more disturbing to consider the mind of the person who decides to go out in public looking like that.) The robbery also marks a shift in the crime world of Gotham City: whereas once, crime was controlled by "traditional" gangsters, men possessing time-honored notions of respect (they’re running banks, you don’t get much more respectable than that) the Joker represents something new: an amoral, brilliant rogue without respect for anything. (We don’t yet know why the Joker is stealing the Mob’s money, but we will in time.) The force and density of this sequence often leads people to believe that the Joker is actually the protagonist of The Dark Knight, as he seems to set events into motion. We will soon learn that the Joker’s actions are, in fact, a direct result of actions made by protagonist Bruce Wayne. Beginning a narrative in medias res is a good strategy for any movie and The Dark Knight exploits it well, but "the guy you meet first" is not necessarily the protagonist of the movie.

That opening delivers a great deal of narrative for a thrilling six-minute action sequence, and the density of the screenplay does not let up from there. Next, there are a number of brief scenes outlining the current state of crime Gotham City. The mere idea of Batman, we learn, is scaring ordinary criminals off the streets — one could say that Batman is, in his own way, a terrorist, practicing asymmetrical warfare on the Mob, upsetting the status quo of the criminal population, creating a kind of crime vacuum, which allows a costumed freak like the Joker to flourish. The police, we learn, under Jim Gordon’s leadership, encourage Batman’s activities while telling the press otherwise (the Joker is not the sole purveyor of duplicity). We also meet, briefly, detectives Wuertz and Ramirez, who will become important later on.

As street criminals head indoors, the Bat-signal shines over a meeting between a "traditional" gangster, The Chechen, and The Scarecrow, another new costumed freak in the Joker mold. I’m not sure what the point of the meeting between The Chechen and The Scarecrow is, but it seems The Chechen has a beef with The Scarecrow. Again, it comes down to an issue of trust — this new breed of criminals is just not trustworthy. The meeting gets interrupted by a group of imitation Batmen, vigilantes inspired by Batman’s example but lacking his bottomless income. They try to take in Messrs Scarecrow and Chechen, but soon enough the "real" Batman shows up to set things straight. "What’s the difference between you and me?" asks one of the would-be Batmen. "I’m not wearing hockey pads," growls Batman in return — meaning what, exactly? "I spent more money on my suit, therefore I have a greater moral right to be above the law?" Or does Bruce Wayne merely think of himself as "special," because of the physical and mental work he’s done to achieve his Batness? Or is it that Bruce Wayne considers his creation a unique achievement, and disdains his imitators because they aren’t creating their own crazy crime-fighting personae? (Batman, in this scene, also insists that he "works alone," which he does, I guess, if you discount the full support of the entire police force.)

That same night, Jim Gordon checks out the scene of the Joker’s robbery, and soon Batman comes along to horn in on his investigation. Oddly enough, the fact that a costumed freak robbed the bank is of not much concern to Gordon and Batman — they are more excited by the news that the bank belongs to the Mob. That is, thanks to the Joker, Gordon is now able to identify the assets of Gotham’s traditional criminal elite. (The Dark Knight, among its many interesting quirks, is full of unintended alliances.) The Joker gets no more than a cursory glance from Gordon and Batman, who move straight on to discussing how to shut down the Mob banks. For this daring move, they will need the support of the new District Attorney, a man new to both Gordon and Batman, bringing up, again, issues of trust. So it’s not just the criminals who can’t trust each other in Gotham City, it’s the law enforcement officials as well.

It is the next morning. Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred, delivers Master Wayne’s breakfast to his penthouse bedroom to find him gone. He then goes to the super-secret Bat-lair to check in with his boss. Bruce is hurting from the previous night’s activities, but his only concern is that he hasn’t spent enough time (and money) on his equipment. "Batman" is, after all, the ultimate "guy project," a project that calls for the most expensive high-tech gadgets and endless obsession over minutiae, a project that cannot be completed, only endlessly enhanced. At the moment, there is no "endgame" for Bruce Wayne, just a never-ending struggle for justice. (He does not comment that the Scarecrow is back on the streets less than a year after Bruce put him away for conspiring to kill everyone in the city.) (UPDATE: my faithful readers remind me that the Scarecrow went uncaught at the end of Batman BeginsMea culpa.  In which case, let me express my admiration for Batman in not getting more excited at having finally cornered the guy who tried to kill everyone in the city.)

Bruce, with his bank of computer monitors, keeps a close eye on Harvey Dent, the new district attorney, and now we add another wrinkle to an already corrugated story — Dent is dating Rachel, the woman Bruce turned his back on so that he could devote himself to dressing up like a bat and driving around town destroying private property. Chagrined, Bruce notes that he and Harvey are both doing the exact same thing, except that Harvey doesn’t have to wear a mask. And that includes both fighting The Mob and bedding Rachel. Harvey is, essentially, what Bruce would like to be in an ideal world. And, in fact, in the same way that Bruce created the crime vacuum that allowed the Joker to flourish, he also inspired Harvey to step forward and be Batman Without A Mask. Now then: up ’til now, Bruce has seen his struggle as lonely and never-ending, but when he sees Harvey (with Rachel) he begins to see 1) an ally, because Harvey can potentially do Batman’s job, and 2) a reason to quit, because he wants to reclaim Rachel for his own, and regain the life he gave up for this lonely painful pursuit.

Later that day, Harvey enters the courtroom for his big day of prosecuting mobster Maroni. We get a little banter between him and Rachel, involving his "lucky coin" (which we will later learn is not "lucky" in any sense of the word — Harvey, the white knight, is not above deceit himself). Harvey, we see, is a brave and dedicated public servant — when a witness pulls a gun on him, Harvey punches the witness and then continues to question him. Clearly, Harvey is Daytime Batman.

After a brief scene between Harvey and Rachel that places Harvey’s actions in context and reinforces what we already suspect regarding their relationship (ie, they’re sleeping together), Harvey meets with Jim about the whole Mob Bank dragnet that Jim wants to trigger. Jim and Harvey (and Bruce) all want to put the Mob away, and Jim’s plan (aided by Bruce) has a shot at accomplishing that — but Jim and Harvey don’t yet know if they can trust each other. There is some talk of "dirty cops" in Jim’s command, which interests me — was Jim "stuck" with dirty cops in the Major Crimes Unit because no one wanted to work with him, or did Jim select cops with dirty histories for some reason that escapes me? In any case, Jim Gordon’s MCU is not The Untouchables, which apparently neither Harvey nor Jim are happy about. Regardless, Harvey, sensing that Jim knows something (because of his relationship with Batman) okays Jim’s Mob Takedown plan.

Later that same day, Bruce Wayne sleeps through a presentation by this HongKong banker, Lau. Bruce’s company is, apparently, negotiating some kind of merger with Lau’s company. This super-brief scene is played for laughs, but Lau will come to dominate the remainder of the act and become a linchpin of the entire plot.

Right after the board meeting, Lucius Fox is buttonholed by an accountant, Coleman Reece, who has some kind of concern about the Lau deal. Lucius tells Reece to check his figures again, a piece of punishing busywork that will have grave repercussions later.

After Bruce wakes up from his nap (assuming he was actually sleeping through the Lau pitch — which, well why not? He’s got to sleep some time) he talks to Lucius about upgrading his suit and mentions the Lau deal in passing. This updates Bruce’s relationship with Lucius and lays some groundwork for the steadily-increasing Lau plot.

That night, Harvey and Rachel are out dining when Bruce shows up with a blond ballerina. (I wonder — does Bruce ever have sex, or is that off-limits for the man who is the Batman? And, if he has sex, do his conquests ever wonder what he’s doing with his body all covered with bruises and scars?) When we learn that Bruce owns the restaurant, we realize that Bruce, of course, planned to spoil Harvey’s date with Rachel, to check Rachel’s temperature vis-a-vis Harvey, and to take the measure of Harvey himself. Harvey shows himself to be both a true-blue public servant and to have a slight autocratic streak, both of which impress Bruce, and he throws himself fully behind Harvey — again, to relieve himself of the role of Batman, and to earn himself a chance with Rachel.

The next day, or a day soon afterward anyway, the three major "traditional" crime lords meet to discuss their problems. Again, their problem is not the Joker robbing their banks but Jim Gordon and his planned takedown of their organization. And look who’s here! It’s that Lau guy, conferencing via a video monitor, warning the mobsters about the impending crisis. Introduced as the butt of a joke, then looked at sideways a couple of times, Lau is suddenly figuring into the story in a much more troubling way. And none of this has been "explained" to us yet — we need to sit forward and pay attention a little to sort out the plot threads of The Dark Knight. So now we know that Lau is The Mob’s banker, and soon we will learn that Bruce Wayne was never interested in a merger with Lau’s company, the merger was a lure to bring Lau into the open, to get him to show Bruce his books. Bruce, we see, can be as duplicitous as the Joker or Harvey, and in broad daylight, in a way that Batman cannot. As Lau calmly explains to the mobsters his plan for protecting their money, the Joker invades the meeting and presents to them a radical new vision of crime in Gotham City. (I note that all the "traditional" gangsters in Gotham City are colorful ethnics, while the costumed freaks are all WASPs.) The gangsters around the table may be wealthy and powerful, but they fear and respect the Batman while the Joker fears and respects nothing. He unveils the next layer of his plan — to "kill the Batman." So right now, the Joker’s plan seems to be: steal money from The Mob in order to get their attention, to get them to take him seriously as a criminal mastermind, then get them to pay him to "kill the Batman," a payment so lucrative and steep that it will surely make the Joker the new criminal kingpin of Gotham City. As we will learn, this is not the final layer, he’s got a few more layers to go before we come to the rather startling conclusion of the Joker’s plan, but it’s the first thing he says that makes any sense.

So Lau goes off to Hong Kong with the Mob’s money, which forces a crisis among Harvey, Jim and Batman. They meet briefly on the roof of Jim’s MCU to discuss a plan, which involves stepping outside the law to bring Lau to justice (or to Gotham, in any case).

At this point, the narrative of The Dark Knight enters a brief moment of relaxation — Bruce has a plan to get Lau, and for the remainder of the act we get to experience the joy and thrill of seeing the plan unfold. It’s like a ten-minute version of Ocean’s 11, as we see Bruce put his plan together, then execute it with wit, flair and high style. Along the way, he gets to relax on his yacht and spoil another of Harvey and Rachel’s dates. The sequence is a day-seminar on writing a caper: the writer should explain enough of the plan so that we know the basic shape of it, but should withold enough information so that there are some surprises in store for us along the way. Caper plotting is all about what the screenplay tells us, what it does not tell us, and when.

While Bruce implements his plan, still no one is taking the Joker seriously. Except for Gambol, the only gangster in Gotham who is at all challenged by the Joker’s brand of craziness. Why Maroni and The Chechen don’t mind the Joker after he robbed one (more than one?) of their banks isn’t clear, but Gambol has put a price on his head. The Joker, of course, takes Gambol’s bounty and turns it on its head, setting up a situation where he can kill Gambol himself.

The act ends with an unmitigated triumph for Bruce: he captures Lau and brings him back to Gotham, where ally Jim Gordon and new Batman-by-day Harvey can pick up the task where Batman must leave off. What Bruce does not know is that his bold extrication of Lau will set a disastrous series of events into motion that will, at the end of Act II, require him to give up being The Batman altogether.

Comments

131 Responses to “The Dark Knight part 1”
  1. shocka says:

    I don’t always agree with you, but I do love your writing. You make an excellent point about Gambol being the only one who views The Joker as a real human being, a singular threat who can be put down – all of the other gangsters seem to view him as some kind of curiosity akin to Batman himself, something of a mythological figure whose mysteriousness might be equal and opposite to Batman and thus might be able to take him down. This leads to my favourite (and also ad libbed) line in the film:

    Gambol: You think you can steal from us and just walk away?
    Joker: Yeah.

    • I agree!

      not only is that a perfect line, but the delivery was amazing.
      the ad lib nature of it makes sense as there seems to be a too-fast edit/cut right after that line.

  2. nearside says:

    I never got the feeling that it was the Real Scarecrow, just a copy-crow.

    • crypticpress says:

      It was the same actor, so it would seem he’s supposed to be the real scarecrow.

      I appreciated the call back to the previous film. But in retrospect the cameo seems a little cheap. It doesn’t add anything to Scarecrow as a character within the Batman universe.

      • jestermotley says:

        i think it adds to the escalation principle. The scarecrow got churned through the system. It also provides more fodder for the criminal vacuum idea. Normal dealers aren’t delivering so you have to take stuff from a madman.

        And as far as adding anything to the Nolanverse it DOES add something. It demonstrates that these people don’t magically disappear. If they don’t meet a grim fate they’re still around.

        The next film will be incredibly interesting, as the Mob has been all but squashed thanks to the Joker, and the Joker won’t be in it for obvious reasons.

        • crypticpress says:

          “Normal dealers aren’t delivering so you have to take stuff from a madman.”

          I think this is established by the Joker, not by the Scarecrow in his one scene. Remove the Scarecrow from the scene and you still have Batman taking down criminals doing “business as usual”. Earlier in the film we see the Joker hit the mob hard at their bank, again taking down criminals that were doing “business as usual.” The Joker shows up and points out to them that they can’t rely on doing “business as usual.” If the Scarecrow’s scene is to point out that the business has changed and the mob knows it and that’s why they’re dealing with a masked freak like him, then it undermines the Joker making that same point to the mob later. If the mob’s already accustomed to working with wackadoos like the Scarecrow, would working with the Joker be any different? And if the Scarecrow screwed that one mob guy over, why is he the first to trust the next lunatic that shows up?

          “It demonstrates that these people don’t magically disappear. If they don’t meet a grim fate they’re still around.”

          I accepted at the end of the first film that since the Scarecrow didn’t die, he’s still around whether they mention him or not. What I appreciate more is the the same actor who played the commissioner in Begins is back. That, for me, gives more a sense of continuity than a cameo by one of the last film’s villains.

          I do appreciate the effort to incorporate the Scarecrow, but I think his scene makes the character weak and it doesn’t add anything substantial to the film. The dogs introduced in the scene have a bigger impact than anything else.

          • I agree with you, John Green!

            After the opening heist, I was like “huh?” for about twenty minutes, it feels like. I only saw Batman Begins at a theatrical preview and then I saw part of it some guy’s laptop on a plane through a crack in the seats with no sound, so I had only the vaguest idea what was going on.

          • black13 says:

            I half expect the Scarecrow to be back in the next one, degenerating into some kind of running gag. Scarecrow shows up, gets taken down, begin story.

            • crypticpress says:

              So long as his last line is “Curses! Foiled again!” each time.

              • black13 says:

                Works for me.

                The sad thing is, Scarecrow on his own could be a very effective villain.

                What I liked, in Batman Begins, was the scene where Crane and his henchmen were at an apartment. Batman jumps in. Henchmen attack. Crane sneaks away, and Scarecrow emerges moments later.

                That’s usually how the masked heroes behave. That’s why I liked it: the villain taking a moment to disguise himself. (Of course, Crane’s mask served the main use of protecting him from his fear gas…)

                • crypticpress says:

                  I think there’s a fan edit of Begins that cuts out all of Ras Al Ghul and makes the Scarecrow the main villain.

                  I know the Nolan’s are keeping their Batman universe more grounded in reality, though it would’ve been neat (maybe) if Dr. Crane had furthered his Scarecrow persona with more costuming. He does get a heavy dose of his own medicine at the end of Begins, which would be justification enough to make him crazy up his appearance more.

                  Though maybe there’s supposed to be some parallel between Crane, a freak in a nice suit, and Joker, a freak in a wacky purple suit.

      • nearside says:

        Was it really? Huh. Then it was hugely wasted.

        • rjwhite says:

          No- I agree with that jestermotley guy- I thought it was a great, incidental way to show that things are changing in Gotham because of Batman. It’s not wasted, this sort of situation and this sort of criminal is going to become horribly commonplace in the city. It kind of ties in to Gordon’s line at the end of the first film.

          There’s a costumed freak fighting crime, so more costumed freaks are showing up and sticking around to challenge him. Kind of almost like gunfighters showing up in town to challenge the champ.

          The original comics had a lot of gangsters at the outset. But once they started introducing the themed criminals, that was it for the most part. Same thing’s happening here.

          • nearside says:

            Yeah, but The Scarecrow had just had a film to himself. It would be like the Joker turning up in the next movie for a cameo at the start, and being sidelined by the next villain to come along.

            And while I know that’s not the best example (the Joker is more of an iconic villian than SC) I still feel it could have been handled with more aplomb.

            Jestermotley’s point is excellent, though, I think they mishandled it.

            • capthek says:

              Scarecrow just had a film to himself? Did you see how many primary and secondary bad guys there were in the previous film?

              • nearside says:

                He was the primary villain in the first movie, relegated to what was little more than a cameo in the second. What I’m saying is that if they did that to the Joker, it wouldn’t ring true at all.

                • capthek says:

                  Well since you are just repeating yourself with no regard to what I said, I will repeat myself.

                  Henri Ducard/Ra’s Al Ghul=Primary villain
                  Bringing him back for a cameo would have been lame.
                  Carmine Falcone=Secondary villain
                  Scarecrow and Rutger Hauer and the list goes on as tertiary villains who would be fine to bring back.

                  It is not like the Joker coming back as a cameo, it is like any tertiary villain coming back like Eric Roberts, Lau, The Chechen, or anybody who didn’t die.

                  If you just repeat yourself again, well don’t bother, I can reread it myself.

                • black13 says:

                  Actually, Ra’s al-Ghul (Liam Neeson) was the primary villain in the first movie. Scarecrow was nothing more than al-Ghul’s henchman.

                  Maybe that was Scarecrow’s story arc in this one: the henchman trying to establish himself as a player. And getting taken down.

                  • nearside says:

                    Ah, I think he was a little more than just a henchman, but perhaps you’re right – that was part of the complexity of that story. Certainly there was a lot of people thinking they worked for others (or had others working for them) when really they were just facilitating the “bigger picture” all along.

        • Anonymous says:

          When one of the main bad guys from the first flick gets his ass kicked in the first ten minutes like it ain’t no thing, I think it kind of raises the bar a little.

  3. crypticpress says:

    I believe the Scarecrow at the end of Batman Begins doesn’t get round up. I think we last see him riding off on a horse with a tazer in his face. I forget if Gordon mentions having caught him in that last rooftop conversation with him and Bats.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There’s so much here to talk about that I’m limiting my responses to your questions, rhetorical and otherwise:

    1) “I’m not wearing hockey pads,” growls Batman in return — meaning what, exactly?
    All of the things you list. I think the exchange is there to demonstrate an essential element of Batman’s personality: arrogance. He doesn’t even seem to see the irony in his “I work alone” line (a big part of his own self-mythologizing). Not only does he have the police force tacitly backing him up, but he has the emotional and material support of Alfred, Lucius Fox, and Bruce Wayne’s entire company — resources without which he cannot possibly succeed (or even survive).

    2) I wonder — does Bruce ever have sex, or is that off-limits for the man who is the Batman? And, if he has sex, do his conquests ever wonder what he’s doing with his body all covered with bruises and scars?
    I’m guessing that while Batman does not have sex, Bruce Wayne certainly does, but never more than once with the same woman. And certainly his conquests wonder why his body is covered with bruises and scars — they like it — but they know better than to ask him about it.

    Finally, a question, since you speak of “the ultimate ‘guy project,’ … a project that cannot be completed, only endlessly enhanced.” With hundreds of comments pouring into this LiveJournal over the past few days, why has no one yet mentioned your new wallpaper? I like it very much and wonder what inspired the redecorating.

    –Ed.

    • capthek says:

      Scars- His sex partners probably just think he is some weird kinky guy, who knows what a guy like that does for sex anyway, right? He probably has some sadomasochistic and dominance issues, dresses up and who knows what else.

      • ogier30 says:

        Interestingly, Bruce Wayne, The Joker and Harvey Dent are all scarred… and all three have masks. Harvey Dent is called Two-Face by the cops before he’s scarred, even. Just realized this.

      • mimitabu says:

        i’d assume they think he’s a thug/criminal, and he got his scars doing evil acts. i’d assume that about any rich man, especially in a shithole like gotham.

    • Todd says:

      The wallpaper is an untitled painting by Cy Twombly, one of America’s greatest living painters, and I came across it while looking for desktops for my new laptop. It kind of sums up everything I feel about both writing and visual art at the same time, and is one of my top ten favorite paintings of the 20th century.

    • black13 says:

      “And certainly his conquests wonder why his body is covered with bruises and scars — they like it — but they know better than to ask him about it.”

      They probably think he’s into S&M.

      (Looks at Bruce’s night job, and the outfit he wears at the time.)

      There might be something to it, actually.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ?

    “We know, although the goons do not, that the Joker is, in fact, part of the masked crew.”

    -Is this true? One of my favorite elements of that scene when I first watched it was the reveal, when Joker removes his mask, that the mastermind is in on the scene, “getting his hands dirty”, as it were.

    • Re: ?

      I didn’t know, as I tried very hard not to be spoiled about any part of the film, but maybe you and I are the odd ones out.

      • capthek says:

        Re: ?

        I think “we know” as in reflecting upon the scene as his comments take for granted you have seen it and know how things are going to go so he can talk about the entire plot and larger structures reflections in earlier scenes without meaning that we know how the movie was going to end at the time we were watching it.

    • Todd says:

      Re: ?

      We know the Joker is part of the crew because of the big spooky tracking shot we get into the Joker’s back as he’s standing on the streetcorner. We’ve come to see a Batman movie and we’ve seen clowns staging a robbery and we’re told that one clown is special, of course we know it’s the Joker.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: ?

        ah… i guess i seem to be lacking those cinematic intuitions =[

      • stephenls says:

        Re: ?

        I don’t agree. Everyone I’ve seen the film with who wasn’t spoiled by the Internet was surprised by the big “Clown takes his mask off and it’s the Joker underneath” reveal. I think that long shot is intended as forshadowing, like all the stuff in The Sixth Sense that you’re supposed to look back on after seeing the film once and go “Wow, I really should have seen that coming!”

        • charlequin says:

          Re: ?

          I concur. I (largely as a result of low hype that only inflated after other people actually saw the movie and declared it good) knew basically nothing about the movie going in (I wouldn’t have even realized that Dent became Two-Face in this movie if you hadn’t posted the picture of the makeup), and I didn’t realize the Joker was one of the clowns in this sequence.

          • musicpsych says:

            Re: ?

            I agree, too… but the movie was well-hyped even before it was in theaters.

            • charlequin says:

              Re: ?

              I didn’t mean in general; for various specific reasons I, myself, wasn’t paying attention to the movie until it was already out, and so hadn’t seen any of the various teasers, read about the heist scene, etc.

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: ?

          it’s blatantly obvious on first viewing that that’s The Joker in the long tracking shot. who else would warrant such a shot? and his hair is green. ;-)

          • stephenls says:

            Re: ?

            I’ve met people for whom the twist in The Sixth Sense was blatantly obvious on first viewing, too. (And they sort of have a point: It is a ghost movie, and it does open with Bruce Willis getting shot, and then he wears that same shirt throughout the rest of the movie.) That doesn’t mean it was intended to be, or that those people are the majority of viewers.

            The Joker’s green hair is a pretty subtle green — it’s obvious if you’re focusing on it, but the obvious point of focus in that shot is the mask, not the hair of the guy holding it. Personally, on first viewing I thought it was a shot to establish that underneath those Joker masks could be anybody, and you’d never know until they put ‘em on, and beyond that general foreshadowing that yes, this is a Joker film, so he’ll be showing up eventually because hey, here’s a thug holding a clown mask in preparation for a heist.

            It only became obvious to me it was the Joker when he said “I believe…” (though I began to suspect around “No, no, no; I kill the bus driver”) but most viewers I’ve talked to didn’t notice it until he took the mask off and revealed clown makeup underneath.

            I do love that movie intro. In the space of about six minutes it delivers a riveting heist and tells us everything we need to know about the Joker as a character.

  6. swan_tower says:

    In a screenplay, there is no difference between structure and content, “actual” or otherwise. A screenplay is a collection of scenes devised in a certain way placed in a certain order to achieve a desired dramatic effect. In the same way that “character” is nothing but habitual action, the “actual content” of a screenplay is nothing but the scenes that fill its pages and the order in which they’re placed. To say “I like the screenplay’s structure but I don’t like its content” is to say “I like that guy but I don’t like the things he does.”

    Wow. I haven’t read the rest of this post yet, and I’ll probably come back and comment again once I do, but I disagree with you profoundly here.

    From my perspective, to say “I like the screenplay’s structure but I don’t like it’s content” is to say “I don’t like that guy, but he’s really good at what he does.”

    I can admire good structure — that is, the effective delivery of a story’s ideas — separately from my opinion of the ideas. The two obviously aren’t completely separable; ineffective delivery makes it harder to evaluate ideas in the first place. But there have been any number of times where I’ve watched a film (or a TV show, or read a book) and thought, man, there was some good material in there, but it would have worked so much better if the writer had timed those two things together and left out that complication, etc. In other words, things I think of as structural alterations. Such changes shape the ideas, but the two are not synonymous.

    The way you phrase it makes it sound like you think your statement is true of screenplays, but not of prose fiction. Is that the case? If so, I’d be interested to hear you defend it.

    I also happen to disagree about character being nothing but habitual action, but to do that properly I’d have to dig out Delany’s piece on habitual, purposeful, and gratuitous actions. Which, since I’m up at 6 a.m. with insomnia, I’m not about to do right now. But I might follow through on it later. I’m not sure I agree with Delany either; he would, however, give me a starting point for my own argument.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d have to agree in kind with The Swan … I see story and structure differently … to me, Story is what happens and structure (Plot) is HOW it happens … I think one can like the idea of something yet note it’s not properly executed or presented … then again, one can also dislike the content (for me, the SAW movies) yet recognize they’re structured in an effective way.

      Just my opinion, of course.

    • crypticpress says:

      I’m having similar disagreements.

      “Structure”, I would think, would be like “scene: Harvey holds a press conference and admits to being Batman.”

      OK, that’s fine.

      But the “content” would be stuff like dialog, like Harvey saying “The night is darkest before dawn. And there will be a dawn!”

      Bleah.

      In this scene (and many others) I have no problem with the structure, but I do have problems with the content.

      At least, that’s how I look at it.

      As for the “I’m not wearing hockey pads” line, what it tells me is that Batman feels he must respond to this person, that he must justify his actions to this guy. But he SHOULDN’T have to do that. He should say NOTHING to that guy.

      Oh, and an unrelated aside regarding the McGruff Batman voice. The voice itself doesn’t bother me much, but the fact that Christian Bale gasps for air after every other word does. He sounds like his hyperventilating. He does this in scenes where Batman’s not even supposed to be winded. And he lets his mouth hang open during conversations. Even if Batman IS winded, he’s a ninja. He can keep his composition.

      • Todd says:

        The way would put it is: the scene is: Harvey gives a press conference and admits to being Batman, the corny dialogue is: “The night is darkest before the dawn. And there will be a dawn!” The scene still works, in spite of its corny dialogue, because it’s a well-placed scene in a well-structured drama.

    • jasonlove says:

      I don’t want to put words into Mr. Alcott’s mouth. That said, it feels less like he’s saying “there’s nothing in a screenplay except structure” than “nothing in a screenplay matters except structure”. Bad structure will ruin a film with interesting heroes and ideas. Good structure will elevate a film with typical characters and timeworn concepts.

      And, since you brought up Delany: he argued that it’s important to distinguish between the tools available to a writer and the effects perceived by the reader. Things like theme, setting, and even (to a point) character fall in the latter category; while they make for excellent reading, they’re of lesser use when trying to teach writing–and so he spends the rest of the essay talking about structure.

      I’m right there with you on the insomnia and desire to not go searching for quotations, though, so forgive me if this sounds excessively dismissive: just because Todd’s incidental definition of character doesn’t march lock-step with Delany’s established and periodically-republished definition doesn’t mean you have to chew him out over it.

      • swan_tower says:

        And, since you brought up Delany: he argued that it’s important to distinguish between the tools available to a writer and the effects perceived by the reader. Things like theme, setting, and even (to a point) character fall in the latter category; while they make for excellent reading, they’re of lesser use when trying to teach writing–and so he spends the rest of the essay talking about structure.

        Which is something I disagree with Delany about. But my academic training is in anthropology, and 99% of the fiction I write is fantasy, so for me, setting tends to be the foundation upon which I build my story, and very much a tool in my hands as well as those of the reader. Structure is unquestionably useful in teaching writing, but I’d argue that the weighting depends on the writer you’re trying to teach.

        just because Todd’s incidental definition of character doesn’t march lock-step with Delany’s established and periodically-republished definition doesn’t mean you have to chew him out over it.

        I don’t believe I was chewing him out, just disagreeing. Especially since I don’t expect anybody to mark lock-step with Delany, myself included.

        • Todd says:

          For the record, the only Delany I know is the one who’s on Desperate Housewives. But if she’s teaching a course in creative writing, sign me up!

          • swan_tower says:

            <lol>

            Samuel R. Delany, who’s one of science fiction’s favorite examples to trot out when we start arguing about whether we have diversity among our writers or not*. (Seeing as how he’s both black and gay.) A ridiculously intelligent and well-educated man, even if I disagree with some of the things he says. ^_^

            (*The answer, for the record, is “not nearly enough.” There was once a semi-joke that a bookstore shouldn’t schedule a group event for Delany, Octavia Butler, and Nalo Hopkinson, because then if the building blew up we’d lose most of our major black writers of science fiction in one fell swoop.)

    • Todd says:

      I do differentiate between screenplays and prose fiction. Without skillfully employed structure, a screenplay is doomed to failure, but prose has many other ways inside the reader’s mind. A screenplay is a dramatic form, prose fiction can be all kinds of different things.

      Perhaps the confusion comes from the word “content.” To me, content and structure are the same things. I think what you’re talking about is “ideas,” or maybe “messages.” And, for what it’s worth, ideas are necessary to a good screenplay, but messages are to be discouraged.

      • swan_tower says:

        I wondered if you meant something different by “content” than I do. To me, content is what goes inside the structure: the stuff you put into the box or vehicle or whatever metaphor you want to use. Content is a many-faceted thing; I focused too much on ideas alone (probably because of the aforementioned lack of sleep), but it includes character, themes (if you don’t have a knee-jerk aversion to that word), etc. Content is what a screenplay contains; structure is how, the layout of the what.

        I still disagree with the conflation of the words, though. I think it’s valuable to have a collective term for what I call content, and “content” is in fact what most people of my acquaintance call it.

        (I do, however, agree with you that “messages” are to be discouraged, since “messages” are the things you want to talk about taped to the end of a baseball bat.)

        Without skillfully employed structure, a screenplay is doomed to failure, but prose has many other ways inside the reader’s mind.

        My first thought was that I agreed with your second half, but not your first; then I reconsidered. Prose does certain things film really can’t: interiority, for example. On the otherhand, film obviously does things prose can’t: action, most obviously, but it’s also more effective at certain kinds of ambiguity, since it can (frex) leave a character’s reaction more open to interpretation by the viewer. And these are ways it can get into the reader’s mind. Then I realized that I’m conflating film with screenplay, allowing myself to consider aspects of performance along with the words somebody typed on a page, and then I noticed that I (unsurprisingly) have far less practice than you do at divorcing one from the other.

        So I’ll go away and chew on that one some more. I’ve developed a good enough eye for seeing how the two can work together, but peeling them apart isn’t something I’ve tried to do very much.

        • charlequin says:

          I would argue that “contain” is a poor metaphor here. I see two things here:

          a) Theme — the big picture, beginning-to-end, left-brain ideas of the piece, which would include character, leitmotif, all that jazz. I would say that content implements theme, the same way that an actual set of steel bars and stone facades and electrical wires and pipes implement a visual design for a building.

          b) Beats, individual elements of content within a screenplay (like “The Joker robs a mob bank.” I would say that content is built out of these; any given beat in any given script can stand alone or be reinterpreted elsewhere, be lead into by a variety of events and lead to a variety of others, but there’s only one possible structure for one given screenplay. Think of it like Legos: you can use the tall 2×4 brick in many different structures, and even create tiny structures that you repeat in different contexts in different structures, but if you build a specific Lego spaceship, the only way to build that spaceship is out of that specific blueprint of those specific blocks you used.

          (Dialog choices and production design are kind of like the color of the Legos. You can make a green spaceship or a red one, and which colors you choose might make it more attractive or more ugly, but no matter what colors you choose you’ll always have a spaceship if the bricks are assembled in a spaceship shape.)

    • charlequin says:

      But the two things aren’t truly separable. The concept of structure involves, at a fundamental level, what is and what is not included in the movie — what scenes are present, what events inexorably lead to one another, what characters do what things.

      If any of these things change, the structure must change too. If the Joker isn’t lying about which kidnap victim is where, then Two-Face can’t be created. If a script has a good structure, this innate wedding to the content is absolutely necessary — otherwise you simply have events occurring in random order, scenes unconnected to one another without motive force driving their necessity.

      You can talk about them as aspects of a whole, the same way that you can, say, distinguish the role of Gordon in the screenplay from that of Bruce Wayne and judge each differently, but to talk about them discretely, as if you could somehow take the structure of The Dark Knight and plug an entirely distinct “set” of content into it, is nonsensical.

      (An inevitable conclusion of this line of argument, I think, is that miniscule dialog choices like whether or not Harvey’s speech is written a bit too goofily are about on the level of production design when looking at the “content” of the film.)

      • swan_tower says:

        Character and plot aren’t completely separable, either, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same concept.

        • charlequin says:

          They’re separable in the sense that you can disentangle them and use them separately from one another. A character can be lifted from one plot into another, producing new reactions and events that are still understood to be connected by being “the same person”; a plot can be rewritten to feature different characters, or even just performed using different characters without being rewritten at all, producing different resonances without changing the events at all.

          I see structure and content as less separable because the changes to one inexorably alter the other. If you change the “structure” of Rashomon to feature a linear exposition of the same material without flashbacks, you’ve created a completely different movie.

          • swan_tower says:

            And you could put different material into the non-linear pattern of Rashomon; that, too, would create a completely different movie.

            If you swap new characters into a plot and don’t change the events, then the writing wasn’t very good to begin with; the action of a story should grow out of the people who participate in it, and should in turn affect who they are. All of these things interlink; I’ve had it happen, in revising my own novels, that I move the timing (structure) of an event (plot/content) to a different point in the narrative, and it ends up producing a very different change in the protagonist (character/content), which then changes what happens afterward (structure and plot/content) — or sometimes doesn’t, but the effect of what happens afterward looks totally different than it did before.

            • Todd says:

              This happens all the time in story meetings — the producer says “let’s make the guy a carpenter instead of a longshoreman,” and then the writer diligently works through all the changes that that one choice creates, and then the producer yells at the writer because he changed everything in the screenplay.

            • charlequin says:

              I guess this gets back to the question of whether by “character” you mean “the motivating qualities of the figure within the story” or “their name, appearance, and obvious personality” or… something else.

              If it helps, what I was specifically thinking of was stagings of Shakespeare or Antigone or whatever that are recontextualized via an altered setting and new definitions for who the characters are and how they relate to one another. (That said, you might be right that the seperability of character and plot is asymmetrical, with character extractable from plot but not vice versa; I need to ponder this a little more.)

              Re: Rashomon, you can’t put different material into “the non-linear pattern” of the film, unless you pull back so far that you see structure as merely “some people tell different stories about the same event.” The details of what happens to the dagger, and how that impacts both the murder story and the story of the woodcutter are integral to the structure of Rashomon and how its three layers interact, and you couldn’t plug in a totally different story that would maintain this relationship.

              • Todd says:

                As Mamet says, there’s no such thing as a “character.” There are lines on a page, describing actions. Harvey Dent does this, this and this, and says this, this and this. Those actions are then performed by an actor, and the end result is what we call a character. But the “character” is nothing more than the actions the individual performs.

                • swan_tower says:

                  This makes me wish I hadn’t gotten rid of my academic articles on dyadic communication. But you’re probably just as glad I’m not responding with a big ol’ paragraph or six of academic theory on the transmission of an idea (such as “a character”) from the head of the speaker (writer) to the head of the listener (audience). <g>

              • swan_tower says:

                I didn’t get into the Rashomon example because <hangs head in shame> I’ve actually never watched it. But let’s work with an example I do know: Memento. You could take its reversed structure and apply that to another story. Would it be effective? Well, it depends on the content; if you don’t have an equally good reason for the reversal, then it’s going to seem like a pointless trick. But I used a similar structure for something once, where I had a different reason for why the characters did not remember what came before; my content, however, was very different. (How different? It was a 650-year alchemical experiment conducted across multiple lifetimes. That different.) This is obviously “structure” in its broadest sense; the more you dig into the details of any story, the more it intertwines with the content, and therefore becomes less portable to other situations. But, a la what said, the story of Memento would be the same if you watched the scenes in chronological order. It just wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. The viewer’s experience changes, but the facts of the story remain the same.

                (That said, you might be right that the seperability of character and plot is asymmetrical, with character extractable from plot but not vice versa; I need to ponder this a little more.)

                I don’t even think character is that extractable from plot, though here I step over into value judgment. In a Nancy Drew-type story, where everything is purely episodic and the character does not change noticeably within or across episodes, then yes, you can plug-and-play that character into any plot you like without any problems. But I find those stories unsatisfying — hence the value judgment. If character is treated like a dynamic part of a story, rather than a static piece of furniture, then you can’t pull it apart from plot. If you put Bruce Wayne circa Joe Chill’s hearing into Tony Stark’s pre-cave shoes, you’d end up with a story that is neither Batman Begins nor Iron Man.

                • Solely responding here to admit, “650-year alchemical experiment conducted across multiple lifetimes” is the most interesting tease for a story I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

                  • swan_tower says:

                    Alas, that is not the description of any short story or novel of mine, but rather of a role-playing game I ran. (I have no regrets about it, but say “alas” because that isn’t a format that can really be shared with other people.) One part of that story ended up being reworked into my most recent book, Midnight Never Come, but not the alchemical part.

                • charlequin says:

                  I don’t disagree that you can take the very broad “reversed-time” structural conceit of Memento and tell a different story with it. (Wasn’t there a movie that did this a few years ago, starting with a rape and moving backwards through the story?) My point had to do with scale: at the “high-concept” level, you can easily separate structure and content, but you can’t really judge either — both are concepts still awaiting execution.

                  When judging the execution of a script, as Todd is with his effusive praise of TDK, you have to get down to a level where, IMO, the two are no longer distinguishable — you can’t like how the beat-by-beat structure works unless you think that includes exactly the right content, flows pieces of that content together in a good way, etc.

                  I don’t think we disagree on character much here with the difference between static and dynamic characters out on the table. (I think there’s a certain value to a certain kind of quasi-static protagonist that is extremely valuable for serial storytelling, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.)

                  • I don’t disagree that you can take the very broad “reversed-time” structural conceit of Memento and tell a different story with it. (Wasn’t there a movie that did this a few years ago, starting with a rape and moving backwards through the story?)

                    Irreversible, with Monica Belluci.

          • This was exactly the conversation I wanted to start after reading the “content/structure” bit. It seems at best an idiosyncratic semantic preference, at worst just a blatant disregard for defined terms (or maybe the pliability of definitions). No offense to Alcott, it’s just such a weird thing to see put so definitively, when it’s clear you’re just employing a very specific usage of “content” (that seems often enough counter to how the word is frequently used) that works for you.

            To me, the Rashomon example is perfect, and completely disagree with you here Charlequin. When messing with the linearity, the effectiveness of the movie is completely altered because the intriguing structure is neutered, which does make for a completely different movie. But the content is wholly unaltered. As I see it, this all boils down to the relationship between a recipe and a list of ingredients, or the design of a building and the materials used in construction; really at its most literal, a structure and its content. Swan pretty much nailed it earlier: “Content is what a screenplay contains; structure is how, the layout of the what.”

            To me that gets to the very core of what those words mean (and should mean) even in the context of screenplays. Why mess with that by promoting an arbitrary alteration to what these words fundamentally signify?

            I’m obsessed with words and sliding definitions, so I love conversations like this. I could totally be wrong, I’d love to hear why.

            • charlequin says:

              I, at least, am not arguing that content and structure are the same de jure; I’m arguing that they’re the same de facto, in response to the claim that one could like the structure of The Dark Knight but not its content. A deep analysis of the structure of TDK’s screenplay that finds it of high quality must be judging the content within as well, since that content and the structure are entirely symbiotic: to find that the structure is suitable on a fine-grained, beat-by-beat level (as Todd is examining it here) you must find that the relationship of the content within those beats is sound; you must find that the progression of beats from the initial premise is workable, that the ultimate conclusion is suitable to the initial intent, that the story makes sense and the characters behave in a plausible fashion. The only reason I could see one rejecting a film’s content while praising its structure is due to a moral disagreement, but I think it would be a mistake to use this to judge the quality of that content — I find the content of The Dark Knight Returns morally loathsome but would not question the mastery with which it is written, as a tangentially related example.

              I would disagree that in the Rashomon example the content is unaltered, because that would suggest that the order of revelation and the relative plot and emotional importance of events are not actually part of the “content.” If this were true, it would suggest that a “twist ending” is not, in fact, an aspect of a screenplay’s content, which seems like a strange classification to me.

              • The twist ending comment I don’t quite follow; you’re suggesting a result that doesn’t logically follow anything I’ve said.

                I think what you’re talking about in Rashomon is more the overall effect produced by the structure’s manipulation of the content. Rashomon‘s ingredients as it were need to be structured the way they are to produce the movie we know, with its superlative effects. The weight of the thing is derived by the interplay of content and structure, but to me that quality is a separate product. It’s the sum of the parts, but the parts remain distinct.

                As an alternative example to the moral disagreement thing, I know plenty of people that hate Tarantino movies for being overly derivative and cobbled together from others’ work. But plenty of these same people also admit an appreciation for how he often plays with chronology and nonlinearity. They dislike the movies for cribbing content, but approve the unique structure that content is arranged in.

                Though otherwise I agree, it’s normally difficult to truly like one and truly dislike the other in a single film. And this seems to be basically a decision to either look at the end product to define “content”, or break down the end product to arrive at a more specific definition. To me it makes more sense to look at the parts as content, and the arrangement of the parts as structure, versus looking at the whole thing as content.

                • charlequin says:

                  I brought up the twist ending as a simplified way of approaching the “does structure alter content?” question. Imagine two versions of The Sixth Sense: one is the one we’ve all seen, and the other is the same except with the ending at the beginning and the rest of the story told as a flashback. Is the content of these films really the same? Is “twist-ending-ness” really not content, but purely a derived quality based on analysis of how the audience is intended to take the content?

                  I see what you’re saying about the arrangement of parts, but do you disagree that the difference becomes harder to make out as you zoom in further? When you’re examining a film on a beat-by-beat basis, isn’t how each beat relates to, follows from, and sets up its surrounding beats really the primary factor in judging its success and relevance? Because, again, my objection is to the idea that one can consider TDK to have excellent structure, down to the tiniest level, but dislike the content for reasons that aren’t totally external to the script itself, taken in a vacuum.

              • swan_tower says:

                I would disagree that in the Rashomon example the content is unaltered, because that would suggest that the order of revelation and the relative plot and emotional importance of events are not actually part of the “content.” If this were true, it would suggest that a “twist ending” is not, in fact, an aspect of a screenplay’s content, which seems like a strange classification to me.

                Again, I’ll use a different example, since I only know Rashomon through osmosis. Replacing it with The Sixth Sense: yes, actually, that is what I mean. The twist at the end does not alter the events — that would be revisionism, not a twist. What it alters is the audience’s perception of those events (and, in this particular case, the perception of Bruce Willis’ character). In fact, I class twist endings as a structural trick precisely because of that effect: when done well, they put an entirely new spin on events (content) already presented.

                Or let me try presenting this in the context of my own writing, though I’m going to unhelpfully use a novel that won’t be out until next summer. If the alphabet is the chronology of the narrative as the characters experience it, the reader encounters it A-E-B-F-C-G-D-H. In other words, the text cuts back and forth between two narrative tracks, and one begins where the other leaves off. When I talk about the structure of the book, one of the things I mean is my decision to present it that way, rather than as a simple ABCDEFGH. The content, on the other hand, is ABCDEFGH. I could rearrange the book to be linear and the content of the story would not change; the structure, however, would. Since the reader’s experience is born out of the interplay of those two things, this also (obviously) changes that experience. (Probably for the worse, or so I told my editor, when she was less than enthused about my choice to go non-linear.)

                I’m still talking on a macro level, of course, in part because a micro-level discussion doesn’t really fit into a comment thread. (That, and I’d either have to re-watch The Sixth Sense or mail you a manuscript copy of my book.) But I don’t disagree with you that the finer-grained your focus becomes, the less-clear cut this division is; it’s sort of the inverse of the forest and the trees, or an impressionist painting. A given beat is an intersection of structure and content (plot, character, idea, theme, motif, preachy message taped to a baseball bat, whatever); all you see when you look at it is green. But if you step back a bit, some things are more blue, and some are more yellow.

                Man, the more I try to explicate my take on this, the more hapless metaphors I drag kicking and screaming into the fight.

                I don’t expect we’re going to resolve this — not if we haven’t already, with all these comments — but it’s been interesting to try. I’ll just close with two things:

                I, at least, am not arguing that content and structure are the same de jure; I’m arguing that they’re the same de facto […] A deep analysis of the structure of TDK’s screenplay that finds it of high quality must be judging the content within as well, since that content and the structure are entirely symbiotic

                I don’t disagree with you. I think Todd’s analysis does touch on content here and there, though his stated purpose is to look at structure. What I disagree with is the notion that those two things are identical.

                in response to the claim that one could like the structure of The Dark Knight but not its content

                I wouldn’t say “like.” I would say “admire.” Or maybe “respect.” Or whatever word describes the fact that I think Death of a Salesman is a well-constructed tale that I would like to SET ON FIRE after I drop every single character in it off a very high rooftop.

                HATE the play. But I wouldn’t hate it so much if it didn’t do its thing so very well.

      • Anonymous says:

        late question

        “miniscule dialog choices like whether or not Harvey’s speech is written a bit too goofily are about on the level of production design when looking at the ‘content’ of the film.”

        For the sake of argument, would you find the content of The Dark Knight screenplay substantially different if Jim Abrahams & David Zucker had been brought in to rewrite the dialog?

        • Todd says:

          Re: late question

          If The Dark Knight was re-written as an anything-goes comedy late in the game, yes, that would make the characters’ intentions and motivations different, which would change the content of the screenplay. Even if the plot was exactly the same.

          Case in point: when I was asked to work on Antz, the studio asked me to make it, and I quote, Spartacus, with ants, as a comedy.” So I watched Spartacus, and couldn’t help notice that it doesn’t work as a comedy at all, and how the hell was I going to make Spartacus a comedy?

          The writer Zak Penn came up with the answer: to make Spartacus a comedy, you take Kirk Douglas out and replace him with Woody Allen. Keep the plot exactly the same, just replace your leading man with a comedian — the intent becomes different because he has a different response to the same plot-points.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Scarecrow …

    For some reason, when I first saw the film (and actually, I thought the same the second time) I was under the impression that the guy in the Scarecrow mask was also an imposter, like the other batman freaks … he pretended to be Scarecrow to lure the crooks to the fake batmans …

    I don’t think that’s what happened now, but I remember that as my initial reaction … I haven’t cracked open the script yet to check for sure …

    Joshua James

    • capthek says:

      Re: Scarecrow …

      I thought everyone would have clearly recognized his face and known he was the same scarecrow??? I mean, he is very unique looking and recognizable.

  8. stormwyvern says:

    “‘What’s the difference between you and me?’ asks one of the would-be Batmen. ‘I’m not wearing hockey pads,’ growls Batman in return — meaning what, exactly?”

    I think it’s everything you said combined into “You are never going to be able to devote as much to doing this as I can – financially, physically, or emotionally.” We never learn all that much about the wanna-bats, but I would assume that their commitment to pursuing vigilante justice s rather part-time. It’s not to say that they aren’t serious about it, but they probably all have jobs, maybe families, other priorities in life. As we see in this act, Bruce is never completely removed from his Batman job and he’s has to sacrifice having a real personal life in order to be Batman.

    Speaking of which, I kind of doubt Bruce ever does have sex with any of “Bruce’s bimbos,” as my dad liked to call them. I imagine that he doesn’t need to. The mystique of the millionaire playboy, combined with a little help from the Gotham tabloids, is probably sufficient to make most people believe he’s getting laid on a regular basis. And even if you got every woman Bruce had ever dated in a room together, I doubt you would find anyone willing to be the first to admit that she hadn’t been able to see the Emperor’s beautiful new clothes. Like you said, the risk of having a woman notice scars that are a little too many and too major to simply mean that Bruce likes it a bit rough is probably too great.

    • I think it’s everything you said combined into “You are never going to be able to devote as much to doing this as I can – financially, physically, or emotionally.”

      I think the other, unspoken half of the Batman’s answer to the question is “and I’m not carrying a gun.” That is, Bruce Wayne doesn’t accept these men because they are not as devoted to justice as Bruce himself is – the fact that they carry and use lethal weapons, that they are willing to kill criminals, proves it.

      That – not being willing to kill – was the whole reason Bruce burned down Ra’s al-Ghul’s house and left him for dead, after all.

  9. noahvale says:

    On viewing the movie for the second time, I noticed that dogs come up more than once, and in an obvious manner. Once when he’s tussling with the Chechen, Scarecrow, and imitator batmen, once when tussling with the Joker close to the end of the movie, and again when the police come to chase him away at the very end of the movie.

    I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some meaning behind this, or if they just had some dogs in the movie.

    • Anonymous says:

      IIRC, the word “dog” comes up a few times in the dialogue. And then there’s the shot of the Joker with his head out the police car window, like a dog enjoying a Sunday drive.

      So yeah, it’s a definite “thing”, I’d say. Meaning? I”ll leave that to others for now.

      – Kent M. Beeson

    • mr_noy says:

      (The formatting turned out kind of weird. Hopefully this will correct it.- Mr. Noy) Sorry for the long post but in regards to your questions about I’ve been thinking a lot about the way dogs are used in The Dark Knight ever since I first saw it and I’m sure I’m not the only one who picked up on it. Comics have often drawn on animal imagery for inspiration (Batman, Robin, Catwoman, the Penguin, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, etc.) but Nolan does something very different and very specific with dogs in TDK.

      While often portrayed as “man’s best friend”, tame and faithful protectors (back in the 50’s even Batman had a loyal dog) Nolan portrays dogs as wild, unpredictable, vicious and capable of turning on their owners.

      There’s really only one dog image in Batman Begins that I recall, when Falcone tells Bruce that his father “begged for mercy…like a dog” but the dog imagery is rampant in TDK. When the Chechen mobster first appears and sees what he believes to be the Batman he loudly announces “This is why we bring dogs!” as if to intimidate Batman. Sure enough, the dogs tear into the old bat suit and give Bruce his first major injury of the film. Ironically, when he commissions a lighter more flexible suit he finds that it is even more susceptible to knives (the Joker’s weapon of choice) and, you guessed it, dogs.

      The Chechen’s dogs will appear at least two more times. The second time is when the Joker orders that the Chechen be cut into little pieces and fed to his dogs. “Let’s see how loyal a hungry dog really is,” says the Joker, again illustrating his belief that everyone, whether man or animal, is capable of betrayal and acts of savagery when pushed to their limits. The (now deceased) Chechen’s dogs appear for the last time when Batman attempts to save the hostages. Just as the Chechen’s men now work for the Joker, so do his dogs and the first thing the Joker does as his foe approaches is to sic them on Batman. Dogs are literally and metaphorically linked to the Joker throughout TDK.

      Dent compares the Joker to a dog that’s been let off its leash. The Joker even compares himself to “a dog chasing cars” and as he escapes from the MCU he celebrates his freedom by sticking his head out the window of a moving car just like a dog would. In the Nolanverse dogs are unpredictable, capable of turning on their owners, operate without apparant motive or plan and are capable of inflicting great damage against a technologically superior adversary. To cap it all off, as Gordon orders his men to hunt down Batman we see a shot of police dogs hot on his trail. While trained and arguably tame these law enforcement animals pose a huge threat to Batman, as we have seen throughout the film.

      The way dogs are used as symbols of aggression and chaos in TDK leads me to one irrefutable conclusion: Christopher Nolan…is a cat person.

      • Todd says:

        I’ll admit, all the dog stuff went by me.

      • swan_tower says:

        There’s a connection to the Joker, but I wonder if you can’t also map the duality you describe onto Batman and Dent: the latter is the loyal, trustworthy hound, while the former is the feral creature that’s a danger to friend and foe alike.

        (I have no dog icons. So I, as a cat person, will use one of those.)

        • mr_noy says:

          I didn’t want to read too much into it at first but for some reason all of the dog imagery stood out for me. As for applying the “loyal dog”/”mad dog” dichotomy to Dent and Batman I would say you could go further and apply it to society at large. While Batman, Gordon and Dent are all willing to bend the rules to serve justice they still operate according to a set of rules and beliefs that at some time they had to have been conditioned to obey.

          Dogs are animals but they can be tamed, trained to perform certain functions and are capable of making beneficial alliances with their human masters; what is society if not a group of animals (in this case, people) whose coexistence is dependent on obeying certain rules, who are conditioned to conform and raised to be loyal to certain groups and principal beliefs? However, some dogs don’t take to conditioning and can’t be tamed. They won’t obey, they serve no master and they can be extremely dangerous. Of all the animals man has tamed the dog remains the most dangerous. We tend to take our domesticated animals for granted but should they turn on us the dog is the one most likely to harm, even kill, its master. The Joker is the feral dog that has returned to its wild state and refuses to conform to society’s rules and expectations and, for the protection of society, has to be put down.

          And for the record, I’m neither a cat person nor a dog person. I actually like them both equally; not in spite of their differences but because of them. :)

  10. jdurall says:

    (I wonder — does Bruce ever have sex, or is that off-limits for the man who is the Batman? And, if he has sex, do his conquests ever wonder what he’s doing with his body all covered with bruises and scars?)

    I always figured he keeps the lights off, and when asked, he always has some story about a recent skiing or climbing mishap.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m not wearing hockey pads

    “I’m not wearing hockey pads,” seemed to me to be an intentionally weak justification (intentional on the part of the script, anyway).

    It’s the first reference to the fucked-up nature of what it is Bruce is actually doing, even before he discusses it explicitly with Alfred.

    Right from the beginning, it sets up the choice Bruce makes at the end of the movie as the right choice.

    -Doctor Handsome

    • black13 says:

      Re: I’m not wearing hockey pads

      I took it as Batman telling them, “I don’t need to fake being able to do this.”

      Fake Batman, bad attitude, definitely not the necessary training for crime fighting (too fat, out of shape), delusional (thinking that despite all that, he can fight crime)…

      Real Batman: obsessive/psychotic attitude, properly trained, physically extremely capable…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Bruce’s Batter’d Body

    If you look closely at the scene on the yacht, before Bruce dives into the water, you can see a nasty scar on his right side, under his shirt. I thought that was a great call-back to the earlier “Has no limits” scene, though it also made me wonder about how Russian ballerinas feel about that sort of thing.

    -Le Ted

  13. ogier30 says:

    Some quick thoughts jotted down as I read through…

    - The Chechen and The Scarecrow are meeting because the Scarecrow has apparently sold the Chechen some of his fear toxin as a new street drug and the Chechen isn’t too happy that the users go insane, rather than become addicted. A business deal gone bad … another motif repeated through the film, I think. As also mentioned, this reinforces the idea that Batman has affected the “business as normal” aspects of crime in Gotham.

    - We get the first hint that Ramirez is a ‘bad’ cop, in this Act… watch the look on her face when she tells Gordon she’s moved her mom back into the Hospital – a flash of guilt, I think.

    - The Joker’s robbery, I think, actually interferes with the plan Batman and Gordon have been concocting. They’ve been passing irradiated money around and tracking it, using that to identify the dirty banks. What the Joker’s robbery seems to do is push them into acting sooner than they’d originally planned… and taking the chance on trusting Harvey Dent.

    - Not original to me, but notice how Dent dismantles the pistol … an act that Wayne mirrors later when he dismantles one of the Joker Thug’s shotguns.

    - As Gordon says to Harvey, if he didn’t take cops Harvey’s investigated as dirty, he’d have no one in his unit. The MCU is full of dirty cops, because the Gotham Police Department is full of dirty cops, basically. Gordon’s working with the best of a bunch of bad apples… it’s no surprise he’s accepted the help of the Batman. Also, another call out here to Rameriz being a bad cop.

    - You gloss over the restaurant dinner, but it seems an important beat in the film … we have Harvey basically laying out his own downfall and presenting his side of the “argument” that drives much of the film. He does, after all, live long enough to see himself become a villain.

    - The meeting of the mob bosses and the Joker is interesting, as well, because the only mob boss (Gambol) to act out against the Joker is the one he takes out first. Later, he sets up Maroni by pointing Two-Face his direction, and takes out the Chechen himself… but Gamble marks himself as the first target by disrupting the Joker’s message. This meeting also feels like a reflection of the earlier Wayne / Lau meeting.

    - My impression on watching the film is that the bank the Joker robbed was Gambol’s, thus his anger. The scene with Gambol is fascinating, though … we get the first Joker origin story and also the first play at kind of bad choice he’ll offer later in the film. When he tells the 3 surviving men that there’s only 1 position open and tosses them a broken pool cue, I think it’s the pebble in the pond that pays off with the later ferry dilemma… how far do you go to stay alive?

  14. noahvale says:

    It also occurred to me – and I think it may have already been mentioned by Mr. Alcott, that there are repeated instances of the joker having others doing his killing for him. Not because he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty, but instead because he’s all crazy and stuff, and into the flawed nature of men.

    I’m sure there are a number that I overlooked, but first with the bank robbers killing each other. Later when the three black gangsters are given a broken pool stick, when the joker is in dent’s hospital room and puts the pistol to his own head, again when the joker tries to get people to kill the accountant, and again with the ferry scene.

    • Yes, I think it all plays into the point the Joker makes in The Killing Joke and throughout The Dark Knight: people are not inherently good and noble, bad circumstances will strip the civilisation from them and make them animals.

      He’s wrong, of course, in both the comic and the film, but that’s what he believes.

      • pjamesharvey says:

        But if people are not inherently good and noble doesn’t that any elevate good and noble acts to a higher level?

        When the choice is made my both ferries not to blow up the other ferry, it would mean little if the decision were made because everyone was naturally good and noble. As we are shown, the ferry of civilians struggles hard with the problem and it takes a massive effort to decide not to flick the switch, a decision that is significantly more dramatic precisely because the ferry isn’t full of inherently good and noble people.

    • noahvale says:

      oh, and duh. The bit where he let them decide if they wanted to save Rachael or Harvey.

      Which is still confusing to me, even on watching it a second time, it appears that the joker says “Harvey is in place A, Rachael is in place B”, and batman says “I’m going to go get Rachael, go find Harvey in place A!” and leaves, then Gordon tells all the other cops to get to place B. Then batman shows up at place A. What did I miss?

  15. “I wonder — does Bruce ever have sex, or is that off-limits for the man who is the Batman? And, if he has sex, do his conquests ever wonder what he’s doing with his body all covered with bruises and scars?”

    I figure if Bruce does have sex, there are any number of conclusions the girl can come to (extreme sports, that car accident from later in the movie, etc.). Personally, if I were in his shoes I’d spread rumors that I was into really messed up BDSM.

    And if Bruce never sleeps with the girls he takes out, they’ll probably just figure he’s gay/in the closet.

    As usual, I’m enjoying your thoughts on a movie I dearly love.

  16. glumpish says:

    Some fascinating points in here I hadn’t really thought about. Batman as terrorist, & the fact that crime in Gotham is literally an institution (controlling banks & the police force)… The audience is confronted with a lot of ambiguity, and Bruce & Harvey keep trying to reduce it to black & white. Which the Joker thinks is crazy. Hmmm.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hockey Pads line

    “I’m not wearing hockey pads.” I took this as Batman warning the Batmen that they were probably going to get killed. Bruce has no problem risking his own life… I imagine there’s a bit of a suicidal tendency to being the Batman… but if there’s one thing that he can’t handle, it’s being responsible for an innocent person’s death. He feels responsible for his parents’ death, and that led to him becoming the Batman. The Joker deliberately plays Batman against his desire to save everyone later on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: Hockey Pads line

      Come to think of it, by the end of the movie he has driven away the people who do support him (Lucius, the police), leaving him genuinely alone in his fight, except for Alfred. I suppose the next movie might deal the repercussions of this, that his insistence on bearing the full responsibility of saving Gotham has left him actually on his own, and it might not be what he expected.
      –Alex Hart

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: Hockey Pads line

        Were the police ever really on Batman’s side? I might have misread a lot of stuff, but even with Gordon and Dent’s support, he was still an illegal vigilante, and there were enough cops on the mob payroll to prioritise enforcing the laws Batman broke. I got the impression the cops who did work with Batman, eg in the fake Harvey Dent prison convoy were special confidantes of Gordon’s (including Martinez and that other one, and we all saw how well that worked out), or were kept out of the loop about Batman’s involvement.

    • robolizard says:

      Re: Hockey Pads line

      I think the line just sets up the set up for ‘diffirence between you and me’ when Bruce Wayne talks to the Joker. The Joker changes everything, and this line compared to the Joker’s similar line emphasizes that scope. Batman now has to compare himself against mad men when he once compared himself against other vigilantes.

      Or he was just being a dick.

  18. swan_tower says:

    As of the time I start typing this, there are 50 other comments already on this post, so various things I say have already been hit by other people. But:

    I adored the Joker’s makeup, both in terms of what it says about the character and how it fits into the aesthetic of the whole film. It takes something inherently campy from the source material and twists it right around until I personally can’t find a single drop of camp left.

    I don’t think I would call Batman a terrorist, given several of the connotations that word usually carries (such as action against a civilian populace, which the criminals are not). And the asymmetry goes in contradictory directions; he’s at a numerical disadvantage, but a significant technological advantage. I’d stick with calling him what he is: a vigilante. But it’s important to remember that, contrary to our usual mythologizing, a vigilante is not a good thing in comparison to proper law and order.

    The Scarecrow: I like having him reappear, since the default mode of these films is usually to have both villains and love interests vanish without a trace between installments. I do wish more had been done with him here, but I think I assumed the Nolans were making a passing nod because they intend to bring him back in another film, and wanted it not to seem like that was pulled out of their ears.

    The “hockey pads” line: Batman’s an arrogant bastard. I translated that as “I’m for real, and you’re just dicking around.” Did it need to be more than that? You’ve already pointed out that his “working alone” isn’t any such thing.

    Bruce’s sex life: first of all, I’m amused this question has been leapt on by many of your commentators. <g> It’s left open to interpretation; I think I tend to fall into the camp that assumes Bruce is too consumed by his obsession and self-control to have one. Not because women would ask about the scars, but because he can’t let go enough to allow that kind of intimacy to begin with. If he does get any, I suspect he does it for the same reason that he eats and goes on cruises with the starting lineup of the Kirov: to take care of his physical needs and maintain his facade.

    Racial breakdown of the baddies: that’s an interesting observation. I’ll have to think about what to make of it.

    The sequence is a day-seminar on writing a caper

    And if I ever decide to write a caper plot, I’ll probably study this sequence before I tackle something as big and complicated as Ocean’s 11. Because man, caper plotting is THE HARD.

    • Todd says:

      I am also a little taken aback by the number of comments weighing in on Bruce’s sex life. My own assumption is that Bruce, with his heavy cross to bear and strict physical regimen (and his heart that beats for only one unattainable woman) has no time or desire for sex, and uses women as “pinstripes” the same way Frank Abagnale uses the stewardesses in Catch Me If You Can, as a way of distracting people from his true agenda. “Oh, that Bruce Wayne, always with a different girl, certainly he’s not the sort who would dress up as a bat and beat up criminals.”

      • I’m surprised no one reflected on the lines from “Batman Begins” where Alfred tells Bruce he needs to start acting like the rich playboy people think he is before they start a whisper campaign about what he’s really doing. That suggestion leads to the double date (Wayne and two throw-away models), purchase of a hotel for the sake of a swimming pool, and awkward reunion with Rachel. One could argue that the particulars of this reunion are the reasons why Rachael and Wayne aren’t together in “The Dark Knight.”

        Of course he’s dating just to keep up appearances. Wayne didn’t really acknowledge the ballerina’s existence once in the whole scene. He’s too in love with Batman to have a relationship with a woman.

      • stephenls says:

        Grant Morrison, incidentally, who’s been writing Batman comics lately, is of the opinion that Bruce has a lot of sex with women who, like him, see it as a kind of enjoyable physical exercise and nothing more.

        It’s possible that one’s opinion of whether Bruce is having sex or not is tied up to one’s opinion of whether it’s morally okay for Bruce to be having a lot of no-attachment sex with a lot of models and ballerinas while engaging in roundabout pursuit of Rachel by way of setting up Harvey Dent as Batman’s replacement.

        • stormwyvern says:

          That may be true in some cases, but for me personally, it’s less about my personal feelings on whether or not it’s OK for someone to have casual sex – either while pursuing someone that person would like to have a serious relationship or just in general – and more what I think each particular interpretation of Bruce Wayne would do. I’m sure no one wants to hear my feeling on the general subject of casual sex, but I think that the writer’s individual take on Bruce in any medium affects whether that version of Bruce has an active love life, an in frequent love life, or no love life at all. Morrison obviously feels that Bruce is of the mind that having sex is either necessary for his playboy image or completely fine and that so long as everyone is clear that there’s never going to be any longer term commitment or deep emotional relationship, it’s all good. Some writers may feel that Bruce would recognize that even if he was Batman all the time and never slept, he couldn’t eliminate crime completely, so he might as well take a little recreational time for himself so he can go back to his job refreshed. Others may think that Bruce thinks of it more as a necessary (albeit pleasurable) part of keeping up the idea of the millionaire playboy which is something he needs as part of his life’s work. Still other writers may think that Bruce sees having a love life as not necessary and a luxury that he can’t afford, time that he could otherwise be spending battling crime.

          Sorry, Todd, but you did bring it up.

          • True..it depends on the writer. But wasn’t it Alfred who told Bruce in Batman Begins that it might be a good idea to work on his playboy image? i could be wrong here, though.

  19. mr_bix says:

    “What’s the difference between you and me?” asks one of the would-be Batmen. “I’m not wearing hockey pads,” growls Batman in return — meaning what, exactly?

    I think Batman is pointing out that he’s both trained and equipped himself to take on the unique type of crime that villains like the Scarecrow and the Joker commit, not (to steal a line from the Venture Bros.) just slapping on some cardboard stapled to a black bedsheet and immediately going out to fight crime.

    As an aside, the mobsters & Scarecrow identifying the imitation Batman as a fake when he pulls out a gun is a neat shout-out to the comic fans (Batman never uses a gun).

  20. 55seddel says:

    you have me listening with both eyes

  21. Anonymous says:

    A guy like me

    I thought that the Joker repeating “a guy like me” in the proposal scene was significant.

    Even at this point he is looking for a matching lunatic, which he will try to find in Batman. There is a repeated motif of loneliness about the Joker, until the very end of the movie when Batman actually points out to him that he is the only one of his kind–the culminating moment of the Joker’s (apparent) defeat.

    The Joker insists that they are still playmates, will be forever, as he reveals his final twist to Batman. He knows he has found a nut as dedicated to his madness as himself. So Bruce trades one soulmate (who rejects him and dies at the Joker’s hands) for another who loves him to death.

  22. musicpsych says:

    Re: the hockey pads line – I took that as meaning, “You don’t have the equipment you need to really do the job, so quit while you’re ahead (and still alive).” I may be making assumptions about his character with this, but if one of the fake Batmen gets hurt or killed while fighting crime, Wayne/Batman may feel responsible for it (in an odd way – since they are following his example – if not for him, they would be home safe). Though there could be some arrogance there (“I’m the real thing, you’re just an imitation”), I primarily took that line as a warning to stay home and not fight crime they’re not prepared for.

    I like that Mamet quote.

  23. robolizard says:

    Not sure if someone mentioned this here yet, but the beef between the Scarecrow and the Chechen is actually a storyline being finished up from ‘Batman: Gotham Knights’, the Bruce Timm produced Anime’ Batman flick. The Chechen had a Russian Mob and went up against another ethnic based mob (I think it was Italians). The Scarecrow was helping the other gang I think, keeping weapons in the sewers. This all seems really vague, but I last saw the flick in May. Its worth checking out, a midquel between ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘TDK’.

    • crypticpress says:

      I tried watching Gotham Knights when it was on Cartoon Network. I couldn’t get past the first story (which was very reminiscent of the Batman Animated Series episode of three kids describing what they thought Batman was like and incorporated Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns), and when I flipped back later to see if it got any better it didn’t hook me back in.

      Which “chapter” of the movie has the Scarecrow story? I’d be interested to track that one down if it ties that directly to to second film.

      • robolizard says:

        The scarecrow chapter is actually the best one

        The first one is mysteriously reminiscent of BTAS, which is just sort of puzzling. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, but the scarecrow one is indeed fantastic. I think it was called… well, I checked and its called ‘Darkness Dwells’.

        The second short, written by Greg Rucka, is worth checking out too, just for an update on what is going on at Arkham Asylum after the Scarecrow released all the prisoners.

        The only way it really ties into the Dark Knight is that it shows all of the mob infighting and what the Scarecrow has been up to.

  24. black13 says:

    “crime was controlled by “traditional” gangsters, men possessing time-honored notions of respect (they’re running banks, you don’t get much more respectable than that)”

    OTOH, that sequence is sending a completely different message since the movie’s release, doesn’t it?

  25. I’m not sure what the point of the meeting between The Chechen and The Scarecrow is, but it seems The Chechen has a beef with The Scarecrow.

    I appreciated the call back to the previous film. But in retrospect the cameo seems a little cheap. It doesn’t add anything to Scarecrow as a character within the Batman universe.

    For me, the point of the scene was to help establish that though the freaks popping up in Gotham are outlandish, they are, ultimately, simply crooks. The new freak introduces himself via a brilliant heist that scores millions. The old freak argues with The Chechen over money. The Joker’s confrontation with the mob bosses plays like a contract killer (admittedly a deeply disturbed one) offering his services. Run-of-the-mill crime stuff. The expectation for the characters and the audience is that, although new and dangerous, the Joker is nothing essentially different. Just a criminal with unique eccentricities.

    It isn’t until the Joker burns “his half” (ha-ha) of the money that everyone finally realizes that the Joker was never a criminal. He’s a prophet.

    • Todd says:

      That’s what makes the money-burning scene so disturbing. We seem to have reached the end of the Joker’s storyline, and then he pulls the rug out from under us.

  26. sheherazahde says:

    “Hockey Pads”

    I thought the “I’m not wearing hockey pads” line was Batman’s way of saying I’m better equipped to do this. He is better equipped in every way, he has better equipment, better training, and more resources. They are amateurs who are in over their heads. He can do the job, he can protect himself, and they can’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: “Hockey Pads”

      You beat me to it, I said the same kind of thing below. Well said.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m Not Wearing Hockey Pads

    I think that when Batman responded to the fake Batman’s question of what gives him the right with “I’m not wearing hockey pads,” he is making more profound a statement than you give him credit. He’s saying, “I’m prepared, I’m capable, I’ve thought this through. You’re doing this on a whim, you’re playing dress-up, but I am committed to this in a way that you could never understand.”

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thoughts

    The Chechen has a problem with the Scarecrow because his drugs is the poison gas from BB. Chechen didn’t know his drugs would cuase fear and panic when they did their deals with Scarecrow but they had no other choice but to deal with him since Batman locked up most other dealers.

    The Scarecrow still on the loose and the emergence of the Joker are Gordon’s two biggest concerns at the end of BB. Batman says, “We can bring Gotham back.” I believe capturing the scarecrow showed that they are making progress and having success bringing Gotham back as they have just captured the biggest known villian in Gotham up to that point. It also ties up a loose end of BB with Scarecrow being captured, we do not have to wonder about that and can concentrate on the Joker.

    Hockey Pads: I agree with whoever said it is all about Batman saying he is better equipped in every way to handle this as well as the fact that he doesn’t want help because these guys are carrying guns and trying to kill the mobsters and Batman doesn’t want that kind of vengeance or justice. Batman as evidenced by the entire rest of the movie, wants to inspire people to be change do good without a mask, in everyday life. This is why he believes so strongly in Dent and why he takes the fall for him at the end. Batman knows that not everyone can be like him, he doesn’t want people to aspire to be like Batman. He wants to inspire people to be like Dent and be a real hero who works within the confines of he law and normalcy.

  29. Anonymous says:

    The gangster had a beef with the scarecrow because of what his “drugs” did to his customer. (convulsing, panicking, in fear) Because of “something else” in the drugs. (Fear toxin).

    Gangster: “Look what you did to my customers”

    Scarecrow: “Buyer Beware. I said that my compound would take you places. I never said they’d be places you wanted to go.”

  30. wulidan says:

    Air Jordans

    Listen with your eyes. Imaginatively listen to the sounds in a picture. Because a picture gives better impression than just a diagram. But i suppose the blog could only be improved if you posted more often.
    By Air Jordans