The Dark Knight part 2

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At the end of Act I, Bruce Wayne, in his Batman persona, has snatched Mob banker Lau from Hong Kong and delivered him to Jim Gordon. He’s done his job, justice has prevailed, the cops and the lawyers are united against the forces of the underworld and everything in perfect in Batworld.

But of course, it’s not — Lau’s capture is only the beginning. Bruce, in his desire to upset the status quo and rewrite the rules of (out)law and (dis)order in Gotham City creates a wildly unstable new environment, and by the end of Act II, Bruce will be forced to abandon his Batman persona and sacrifice himself, yet again, for the city he loves — that is, until Harvey Dent steals his thunder and turns, in the public eye, from White Knight to Dark Knight.

So: Lau is in custody, questioned by Rachel, with Harvey and Jim lurking in the background. This one thing right here, small as it seems, indicates for me how The Dark Knight earns its place at the top of the "superhero movie" pyramid: the Nolans figured out a way to get Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s love interest and apex of the movie’s romantic triangle, into the plot in a way that feels seamless and organic. Go through the list of superhero movies and list the number of love interests wholly peripheral to the story and you’ll see the coup that the Nolans achieve here. Generally, the love interest exists outside of the protagonist’s superhero world, which is why they end up as damsels in distress. Here, Rachel is part of Bruce’s natural world of interests (she is a law enforcer, after all, she’s almost Harvey Dent her own self — and hey, wouldn’t it have been awesome if it was Rachel instead of Harvey who ended up becoming Two-Face?) and works closely — and professionally — with his allies Jim and Harvey. Rachel manages to get what she needs from Lauin record time, sending him to jail — but whose jail? Again, Jim and Harvey clash over issues of trust — can anyone be trusted in Gotham City? It seems that the gangsters of Act I have a greater sense of trust and loyalty than the law-enforcement officers — again, they are the establishment in Gotham. The fact that all the cops in Gotham are dirty means that the gangsters control the police department as well as the underworld. Harvey, Rachel and Jim (and their weapon, Bruce) are all alone in the city. When Batman acts to rid Gotham of gangsters, he’s stages an assault on the very fabric of the city.

But Harvey is keen to pick up Batman’s baton, and proceeds to use Lau’s confession to round up, literally, every single gangster in Gotham City. (There was a commenter the other day who said that we never see how Harvey got his reputation as Gotham’s White Knight — well, we see him punch out a gangster on the witness stand, then arrest every gangster in the city — how much more of a crusader could he be?

As Jim arrests Maroni, The Chechen and their goons, the crimelords come to see that the Joker is correct — the Batman must be eliminated, at any cost. And so a Joker-led operation goes into effect — the crimelords turn their resources over to a madman to expedite their agenda. "Kill the Batman" is not the end of the Joker’s plan, but they don’t know that.

Harvey meets up with the Mayor, to justify his crazy scheme to arrest every gangster in the city. It turns out, Harvey knows that his grand gesture is baseless and doomed to failure, but has a long-term political goal. And so he demonstrates that he is willing to appear to be foolish in order to achieve something bigger — a notion which will echo throughout the rest of the narrative.

Harvey’s meeting with the mayor is met with the Joker’s first response to Bruce’s plan of cleaning up Gotham as the dead "Hockey Pads" Batman appears outside the Mayor’s window.

(Incidentally, where did the Joker get "Hockey Pads?" Was he still in police custody, or had he been freed on bail, and thence out into the world in his hockey pads again? Have these vigilantes no respect for the law, even after they’re beaten up by Batman?)

Bruce, up until now under the impression that he had set everything straight in Gotham City, learns the news about Hockey Pads as he’s getting ready for his party for Harvey Dent — his ceremonial passing of the baton from Dark Knight to White Knight. "This is how crazy Batman’s made Gotham" says the Joker, again, mixing lies with truth in order to elicit a response. Batman hasn’t made Gotham crazy, he’s cleaned up its streets in the space of a weekend. But, in so doing, he’s created the crime vacuum that allows the Joker to flourish. Now, you’ll notice that the Joker’s plan has subtly changed from the meeting at the restaurant. His stated goal then was to "kill the Batman," but now he only wants to force Batman to reveal his identity. This might seem like a de-escalation, but it points to the Joker’s larger goal, one that won’t be fully revealed until the end of the narrative — namely, that the Joker doesn’t have a goal, doesn’t have an endgame — he wants only to have more and more chaos, murder and insanity in Gotham. Killing Batman solves the problems of the gangsters, but the Joker’s vision of crime is much broader, and doesn’t include the crimelords notions of respectability. Killing the Batman would restore Gotham to its status quo, but revealing the Batman would undermine everything in the city. This is why the Joker in The Dark Knight is such a great villain for Batman to go up against — there is, literally, nothing Batman can do against him that does not further his agenda, even killing him.

(The Joker’s videotape of his torture of Hockey Pads contains images of animal carcasses hanging from the ceiling. This is a visual nod to painter Francis Bacon, and the only link I can find back to the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, who defaced every painting in the Gotham Museum of Art — except for the Bacon.)

The party for Harvey begins. Bruce’s plan is to ensure Harvey’s security the same way he’s ensured his own — with tons of cash. Acknowledging who Harvey is inside, Bruce recognizes him as Daytime Batman and now seeks to turn him into exactly that. And, just so we know that his motives aren’t entirely civic-minded, we learn that his plan to turn Harvey into Daytime Batman involves stealing Rachel away from him. That is, he’s says "You want to be Batman? Great, be Batman — oh, and by the way, that means you can’t have a wife."

Meanwhile, the Joker’s plan to unmask Batman proceeds apace. He kills, at once, the police commissioner and the judge trying the "all gangsters in Gotham" case, and will soon try to kill Harvey. This is good planning on the Joker’s part — by killing the judge and the commissioner, he both applies pressure on Batman to unmask and ensures that all the gangsters will go free — no one will step forward to replace the judge — and the crimelords can then reclaim their place as Gotham’s true power base.

Back at the party, Harvey, feeling perhaps secure in his future, now that he’s gotten the security of Bruce Wayne’s rich friends, proposes to Rachel. Rachel, however, cannot accept — she still loves Bruce on some level, even though his heart is something she can never really have, just as "justice" is something Bruce can never really have, it is only something he can endlessly pursue.

Suddenly, the Joker shows up at the party, in a rare moment of straightforwardness — he wants to kill Harvey Dent, and so he shows up where Harvey Dent is to kill him. No brilliantly devious double-crossing scheme, just storming the penthouse and demanding the goods. Bruce responds by abducting Harvey and stashing him someplace safe (just like Bruce, in a crisis, to assume he knows what’s best for everyone) and then heading off to his Bat-closet to prepare himself for his first confrontation with the Joker. (On the way he disarms a guy with a shotgun, then takes apart the gun without looking at it, a neat echo of a similar beat with Harvey in the courtroom.) The Joker menaces Rachel out in the living room, telling her the second version of his "scars" story. We will, of course, never know how the Joker got his scars, he most likely has an endless supply of stories to tell people. Wherever the Joker came from, whatever formed his psyche, however he came to his world-view, he is infinitely scarier if we’re left in the dark. We can feel compassion for — and even root for — other Batman villains. Ras-Al-Ghul, the Penguin, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, we can disapprove of their crimes but we can still kind of see why they are as they are. This is what has always made the Joker the most interesting and deathless Batman villain, the reason why, back in 1989, when people saw that Jack Nicholson was playing the Joker, everyone said "Well now — that I have to see." Everyone understands that the Joker elicits a stronger response than any other Batman villain, even though they may not understand immediately why. (Wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out that the Joker got his scars because his father offended a monarch.) Batman appears just in time to rescue Rachel from the Joker’s threats, although he must dive out a window and make a rather improbable skydive to do so.

Across town at the MCU, Jim and one of his detectives, Stephens, rue their reversal of fortune — in nothing flat, they have cleaned up the streets of Gotham and then, just as quickly, lost all the ground they had gained. The moment Stephens announces they’ve lost, Harvey, last seen being stuffed into a closet in Bruce’s apartment, shows up, brass balls in place, to take Lau to court, as scheduled. (We don’t know how long Harvey had to wait in the closet before the Joker gave up and went home — a rare instance of a question unanswered in The Dark Knight. Once Bruce dives out the window to save Rachel, what does he do? Put her in a cab and walk back to his underground lair? Call Alfred on his cell phone and tell him to pick him up around the corner?)

Back at the lair, Bruce discusses the situation with Alfred, who provides some perspective on the whole Joker situation with his story about being a soldier in Rangoon. Alfred reminds Bruce that he created this situation when he decided to upset the status quo, and that if he’s thinking of giving into the Joker’s demands he’ll just make everything worse. "We just need to figure out what he’s after" says the World’s Greatest Detective, proving that he is completely unequipped to deal with the Joker — Bruce is a man of relentless, probing intelligence, and the Joker, he will eventually learn, isn’t after anything that Bruce can understand.

That night, Batman stands atop a building with, apparently, some kind of sophisticated listening device. He picks up a piece of information and swoops down to discover a murder scene. Two men, named Harvey and Dent, have been killed — somehow — by the Joker, or his men in any case, for the sole purpose of the Joker issuing a threat against the life of the Mayor.

Batman shows up at the scene and proceeds to perform a little sophisticated detective work, which I can kind of follow in theory but which ultimately stretched my credulity. With only a shattered bullet inside a brick, Bruce is able to procure and set up — by himself — a ballistics lab in his lair to test and analyze different shattered-bullet patterns (I think). Just in the nick of time, this process provides him with exactly the piece of information he needs to get to his next place — the address of the man who shot the gun that put the bullet in the brick. (Who, it turns out, is not the Joker, but one of his minions — about whom we will learn more later.

In the middle of the "detective" sequence is another scene between Fox and Reese — Reese has discovered that Bruce is Batman, and wants to blackmail him. Fox reminds him that Bruce is, after all, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world — and a little crazy to boot — which is enough to get Reese to back down. For now.

Now, we have a smashing set piece set around the funeral for Commissioner Loeb. The Dark Knight is like a miniature film festival — so far, we’ve seen a heist sequence, a fight sequence, a caper sequence, a detective sequence and now a suspense sequence, all executed near the top of their respective genres. Every fifteen minutes or so, The Dark Knight unfurls a set-piece that would be the climax of an ordinary movie — the fact that it manages all this and has a complex, involving plot revolving around serious issues continues to astound. The logic of the sequence, for the record, is: Loeb’s funeral is being held in the streets of Gotham, Bruce arrives at the address of the guy whose fingerprint he got off the shattered bullet, finds a bunch of guys gagged and bound. The gagged and bound guys turn out to be the funeral’s honor guard, and the honor guard down in the street turns out to be the Joker and some of his followers. The Joker’s plan is to shoot the Mayor during the 21-gun salute, and, just to complicate things, he has rigged a timer to open the window-shade of the room where the real honor guard is gagged and bound, to attract the attention of the police snipers ringing the streets. That strikes me as a little too much planning on the Joker’s part, but then again the Joker is not trying to trap Bruce, or anyone else, with his window-shade gag — rather, he wants to draw attention to the window itself, so that the police snipers are looking the wrong way when he turns to shoot the Mayor. Which he does, although Gordon blocks the shot and appears to be shot dead.

Chaos erupts in the street, and Harvey, Daylight Batman, corners one of the Joker’s men in an ambulance. The guy, who is clearly out of his mind, tells Harvey that Rachel is the Joker’s next target, which presses Harvey’s buttons and sends him over the edge — almost. Again, the Joker’s plan is not just to put the crimelords back in power, but to force the few good people in Gotham to turn evil. Somewhere along the way, he’s assembled an army of crazy people, ready to do his bidding (apparently he’s spent some time in Arkham).

Stephens and Ramirez go to tell Gordon’s wife (Barbara, says the IMDb, although she looks a little too old to be this Barbara) about Jim’s death, and she responds by shouting out into the night, to the Batman she knows is listening, "You brought this craziness on us!"  Bruce, filled with guilt and now towering anger, goes to find Maroni and, in the gangland tradition, breaks his legs to get information.  Maroni, however, knows nothing about the Joker, even though he has hired him to restore the status quo.

(Does the Joker have a home? His suit, although custom made, is filthy and ragged, and there is a sense of history about him — the makeup, the scars — that feels lived-in and precise. Has he been living on the street, in abandoned buildings? If you add up all the things we know about the Joker — including the fact that he lies as easily as he breathes — does it add up to a real person? I submit that while the Joker is indeed a fanciful creation, he feels more plausible — and more frightening — than Hannibal Lecter, Hollywood’s last great boogeyman creation.)

Harvey, in the midst of interrogating the Joker’s goon, calls Rachel and orders her to get someplace safe.  Rachel, knowing that Bruce is Batman, says that the only safe place in town is Bruce’s penthouse.  (Although the Joker seemed to be able to get in pretty easily during the party, which should still be uppermost in Rachel’s mind, since she got thrown out a window there.)  Harvey, not knowing about Bruce’s torch for Rachel, pushes her into his apartment.  He’s taking one more step from White Knight to Dark Knight, fulfilling the action begun by Bruce earlier.  And, just as Batman interrogated Maroni and went a little too far, Harvey does the same with the Joker’s goon, in his own style.  Batman stops him before he kills the goon, not knowing that Harvey is merely playing a psychological trick on the assassin.  Batman tells Harvey that the city can’t afford to have Harvey be a vigilante,it would ruin everything.  Harvey must be the face of "good" Gotham, while Batman must remain masked — this is the balance that must be struck to deal with criminals like the Joker.

Bruce gets home and finds Rachel there, and tells her that he’s going to turn himself in, "I’ve seen what I’d have to become to stop men like [the Joker]."  He asks again for Rachel’s love, and Rachel gives it to him, even though they both know that if Bruce turns himself in they could never be together.

Bruce goes to his lair and puts away all his bat-stuff, preparing to give himself in.  The dream is over, Bruce must give up his dream of justice in order to placate a madman.  Essentially, he will sacrifice himself in order to save Harvey, even though it will mean undoing everything he, Gordon and Harvey have done.

He goes downtown to turn himself in — the movie’s not even half over! — but Harvey turns the tables on him, steals his thunder and fulfills his wish at the same time.  Bruce wanted to turn Harvey into Batman, and poof!  Harvey is now Batman.  Under pressure from "the people" of Gotham, Harvey announces that he is The Batman and puts himself under arrest.  Not only does he steal the thunder from Bruce, he steals the act climax as well, and very nearly steals the rest of the plot of the movie.  Act III will trace Harvey’s journey from Batman to Two-Face, as Bruce will become increasingly helpless to recover the ground he has lost through his actions.

Comments

54 Responses to “The Dark Knight part 2”
  1. jwz says:

    not so mysterious

    One of the things that bothered me about this movie was that we’re supposed to believe that Joker is such an enigma to Batman because he’s inscrutable, that Batman just can’t understand him or his motives… but Joker keeps making speeches (two? three?) that just lay it all out there. He comes right out and says, “I’m an anarchist, I just want chaos, for kicks.” How hard is that to understand, really? We’re to expect that Bruce just can’t wrap his head around that?

    I’m glad you mentioned Hannibal Lecter, because that scene in Silence when Clarice first goes down to his cell is such a Joker-in-Arkham scene. “Do not approach the glass. If he offers you anything do not accept it.” The idea that this guy is so Unlike Others that he can kill you with his brain. And I didn’t get that from this Joker. This Joker was just a thug. I loved the look, and the physicality of the character (the lip-licking was such a wonderful tick), but I just didn’t feel the madness of him at all.

    • Re: not so mysterious

      “but Joker keeps making speeches (two? three?) that just lay it all out there. He comes right out and says, “I’m an anarchist, I just want chaos, for kicks.” How hard is that to understand, really?”

      Yes, but he’s lying. He says “I don’t make plans”, but he does-very elaborate plans. He says “I just want chaos”, but that’s not exactly true either… he wants some very specific things, to do with people’s natures.

  2. amara_anon says:

    While watching The Dark Knight this week, I realized for the first time that both Bruce and Joker say the same thing when they arrive at the fundraiser party, “Where is Harvey Dent?” It’s a great parallel that each of them wants to use Harvey as part of their plans for the city.

    It is interesting to note that in the shooting script, during Batman and Joker’s final confrontation, it is heavily implied not only that Joker was going to tell Batman the true scar story, but also how he really got the scars. The Nolans wisely altered it to keep the mystery.

  3. laminator_x says:

    I don’t think that the Joker is an anarchist causing chaos for kicks. I think the Joker is very intent on showing everybody else that they’re just as much of an animal as he is, they just like to pretend that they’re not. All the fear and chaos are just a means to an end.

    • ogier30 says:

      If Bruce Wayne hoped that Batman would be a symbol of hope for Gotham, Joker is committed to inspiring nothing but despair.

    • Todd says:

      “I don’t think that the Joker is an anarchist causing chaos for kicks.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think so either.

      • shocka says:

        I wish you’d state what you do think the Joker is after. He’s a nihilist, who believes in nothing. He has no hope. He wishes for everyone else to be the same way, by showing them as being animals, by perverting justice, and purity, and the icons of hope that has given Gotham the belief that there’s something worth fighting for. Or so I believe.

    • marcochacon says:

      If only there could be a cross over where the Joker meets Watchmen’s Comedian. That’d be pretty damn meta.

      -Marco

  4. rxgreene says:

    (apparently he’s spent some time in Arkham)
    I would say no, as later the police say that they have no fingerprints or medical records that match him. Anywhere.

    I spent some time mulling over this Joker, and wondered – CIA spook? Ex black ops anti-terrorist? He’s good with knives and improvised explosives, so it fits. His clothes are all custom and untraceable (like Batman), but ragged – an affectation? Part of his fall from grace that gave him his scars? Was he a gangster who got screwed over by his partners and is now on a hard path of revenge against the world? WE DON’T AND CAN’T KNOW. If he does tell us, how can we know it is the truth?

    I think that he is great at reading people, assessing their fears, and then exploiting them. Look at how he plays everyone that he comes in contact with (up to now and in the next part). He is calculating and planning and lying his way to his goals. He is going to tell you exactly what you don’t want to hear, the wrong information so that he gets the reaction he needs to advance his agenda. Having the pencil to handle the first goon, to the jacket loaded with grenades. All well planned, methodical, and calculated. He waits for the opportunity to execute one of his contingencies, and then when it arrives does so hlding nothing back.

    • crypticpress says:

      It’s possible he spent time in Arkham but all evidence of his stay is gone. After all, nearly every institution in Gotham is corrupt.

      But still, I get the impression he’s definitely spent time in some sort of mental rehab facility by way of his “I threw up a little in my mouth” delivery of the “therapy sessions” line to the mob.

    • robjmiller says:

      I know that in detective movie world, fingerprints always match up, but in reality few people are that easily identifiable. Have you ever been fingerprinted? I haven’t. If you don’t have any ID on you, no one is going to be able to find medical records.

      He’s just an intelligent guy that plans ahead. There’s no justification for him being some kind of CIA super assassin or whatever. He’s not “good with knives,” he just happens to carry one around that we never see used. His “improvised explosives” are something that practically anyone could make if they tried, especially if they had millions of dollars of stolen mob money.

      • jdurall says:

        I’m assuming that he had a record of murders and activity prior to the events of the film. Gordon mentioned him at the end of the first film… plenty of time for him to get all stabby and build up a rep for it.

      • rxgreene says:

        Have you ever been fingerprinted?
        Yup. State and Fed as a background check.

        Plus, he’s got some prety distingushing marks, which combined with his height and weight allow databases to narrow him down pretty tight.

        His “improvised explosives” are something that practically anyone could make if they tried…

        Yup, and could have blown themselves up pretty good too. Given the way he took out the hospital he has more than an internet guide’s worth of experience with demo work. Plus he burned the mob money.

        • rxgreene says:

          he just happens to carry one around that we never see used.
          How did he kill that first mob boss again? Right before he offered “one opening” in his organization?

        • robjmiller says:

          Well, like most people, I’ve never been fingerprinted. I’ve never been arrested, so any potential “distinguishing features” like facial scars wouldn’t be in a database anywhere. I know how to empty shotgun shells into pipes. I could hook up a battery, spark plug and a relay to make a detonator (I assume the spark would be enough to set off gun powder, but I’d test it first).

          Holy crap, I MUST BE IN THE CIA!

          Maybe he was a demolitions worker, or worked in a mine, or worked with fireworks, or any number of similar things. A lot of people have the knowledge to make a bomb, and most could figure it out if they really wanted to.

    • I am honestly not trying to be rude here, but when confronted with multiple theories on this Joker’s origin, I have to ask — who cares?

      If we’re meant to know any of this stuff, we would. He is MEANT to be unknowable; that’s a big part of what makes him frightening. The rest is just wheel-spinning.

  5. stormwyvern says:

    I think one of the reasons that we see such a different Joker in this film from any we’ve seen before is that the filmmakers chose to interpret “joker” as meaning “wild card” rather than “clown.” This Joker is capable of some dark humor, but it’s not his shtick as much as creating chaos is. Going off of laminator_x’s comment , this Joker’s closest relative may be the Joker in “The Killing Joke,” a guy who sets out to prove that we’re all just one really bad day away from ending up where he is.

    Incidentally, this is also one of the main reasons why my husband didn’t like this movie. To him, the mix of the murderous psychopath and the showman clown is as essential to the Joker as the makeup, purple suit, and green hair and if you lose the clown aspect, it’s not the same character anymore. I think it’s a reimagining that works, especially in the context of the Batman universe that the Nolans are creating. He disagrees. I still love him.

    One way in which the movie did not disappoint either of us is with the Joker’s “origin” stories. When the Joker told his first story of how he got his scars, I was thinking to myself “Well, that’s a story that he tells, but it’s not necessarily the truth” because I was hoping the truth would bear a little more resemblance to something from the comics and the animated series based comic “Mad Love” already had me of a mind that the Joker has any number of stories about his beginnings to suit various occasions. So I was very happy when the movie turned out to feel the same way about the matter.

    I think that the CSI0like moments of detective work in general tend to be the film’s weakest points. As I recall (vaguely, as it was not a highlight of the film for me), the Joker’s next targets are determined by the fact that their DNA is found on the joker cards left at the scene of his last attack. In this case, it’s less that I can’t fathom Batman and his allies being able to figure out the clue; it’s that I can’t buy Joker putting it there. He’s not the Riddler and he’s not a scientist. Blood I could maybe buy, but DNA?

    The moment of Bruce disarming the guy with a shotgun and then taking said shotgun apart as if he’s tying his shoes is a favorite of mine, but it also drives me crazy. Bale just exudes control and confidence here, but for some reason, it all goes away every time he dons the batsuit. Maybe he just never gets the scene to show that level of professionalism while he’s Batman, maybe it’s the other characters being such powerhouses themselves, or maybe the suit just has that effect. Whatever the reason, Bruce makes a more convincing Batman before he gets into costume.

    If Batman does ever have reason to add a ladies room to the Batcave, I assume it will be because the Gordons also have a daughter named Barbara who probably has a different middle name from her mother to cut down on confusion a little. That said, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the whole Batman family making an appearance in this franchise anytime soon.

    • jkcarrier says:

      “Bale just exudes control and confidence here, but for some reason, it all goes away every time he dons the batsuit.”

      That bothered me too. It’s a testimony to how brilliant the rest of the movie is, that it manages to overcome such a fundamental problem: Batman, the putative star, looks, sounds, and acts like a complete doofus most of the time.

    • “…that the filmmakers chose to interpret “joker” as meaning “wild card” rather than “clown.”

      Gotta obliquely disagree with you on this one. I think that the Nolans, who clearly show an appreciation and knowledge of historic conventions, portray Joker in much more of the old court jester role, the one guy in the room who can tell the king that he’s a gas bag without getting his head cut off. In other words, the guy that cuts through the BS and speaks truth to power.

      I think that is what Joker’s real intention is: telling people the ‘truth’ that he sees. Killing people and blowing things up aren’t much different to him than juggling and doing cartwheels to a jester: minor amusements that keep people’s attention while he tries to deliver his real message.

  6. jdurall says:

    Your analysis does unfortunately gloss over one of the film’s slight narrative holes… namely the events at the end of Bruce’s party for Harvey.

    No mention was made about what happened there after Batman’s exit to rescue Rachel. There was the Joker, his goons, a room full of people, Harvey unconscious and in a closet… and then what happened?

    Did the Joker apologize and run? Did they continue to kill Gotham’s brightest and best? Did they continue their search for Harvey?

    • crypticpress says:

      This hole bothers me too, but I think they tried to cover it when the Joker says later that he believed Dent may have been Batman by the way he jumped out the window after his girlfriend.

      But since we don’t see that or how the Joker exits the party it feels unresolved.

      And I’d have been fine with him saying “Well, that’s the end of our show! Sorry for the interruption.” and leaving quietly.

    • mr_noy says:

      That bugged the hell out of me too. Here’s what the screenplay says. I think that OMITTED scene would probably answer our questions about the scene but clearly it was never shot. I have no idea whether the following deleted scene between the Joker and his goon was ever even shot.

      EXT. BUILDING — NIGHT

      They DROP– Batman FIRES his grapple, SNAGGING Rachel’s ankle- activates one wing of his cape- They SPIN and SLOW- Batman envelopes Rachel- they SLAM into the hood of a passing taxi.

      INT. TAXI — CONTINUOUS

      The DRIVER SCREAMS as Batman and Rachel hit the roof- ROLL down the windshield- onto the pavement. Alive.

      INT. CAR — CONTINUOUS

      The Joker looks back as his car SPEEDS away. He’s breathing hard, EXHILARATED. He touches the blood running down his sweaty white makeup. SMACKS the back of the driver’s seat-

      DRIVER
      What do we do about Dent?

      THE JOKER
      I’m a man of my word.

    • greyaenigma says:

      I think at that point, the Joker probably just took off. He’s either lost or achieved his objective (flushing out Batman, in order to unmask him) — sticking around and waiting for the SWAT team without other plans doesn’t seem like his style.

      • jdurall says:

        The Joker’s objective (at least the one he stated out loud) was to get Dent.

        Batman showing up was an obstacle to that objective, and was dealt with by throwing Rachel off the balcony.

    • strumglory says:

      I think it’s pretty simple: Batman had beaten the crap out of the Joker’s goons, so after Batman went after Rachel, Joker was left all alone to deal with the crowd of hostages. The smart thing to do in that scenario is escape, and live to kill another day. Also, if at the time he was “almost convinced” that Dent was Batman, as he states later in the movie, there was no point for him to stick around.

  7. revfish says:


    Stephens and Ramirez go to tell Gordon’s wife (Barbara, says the IMDb, although she looks a little too old to be this Barbara)

    Actually, his daughter is referred to as Barbara by his wife in one scene, IIRC. So his daughter, who would become Batgirl was named after his wife.

    Makes perfect sense as names do have a tendency to work their way down families.

  8. I’ve nothing to add, but I wanted to say thank you.
    A big big thank you.
    Your posts are always fun to read, but this movie has captured me … and you’re explaining part of why. :)

    The other parts including Ledger’s acting, Caine’s acting, the music and the angst of what happens to Rachel. But those I can identify … figuring out the plot/action and explaining why it’s so well done is fascinating to me.
    Thank you!

  9. preachertom says:

    I didn’t think before about how Bruce’s plan to get Rachel is so different from the meticulous plotting and careful intelligence he’s used to. Instead he has a larger general goal (get Rachel) and keeps improvising in that direction as unexpected circumstances arise. I guess I’m seeing it as the one part of his operation that most closely matches the Joker’s.

  10. mr_noy says:

    I’m still not entirely sold on the CSI ballistics business either. With a film this great it’s all too easy to nitpick but it bugs me that Dent tells Rachel about Gordon’s death.

    Ever since the assassination attempt Rachel has been dutifully working alongside the cops in the MCU. She even chastises Harvey for not doing the same – yet during all this time nobody in the MCU has bothered to tell her that their boss was dead? Maybe Dent heard something on the ambulance radio but that’s the only explanation I can think of as to why Dent knows about Gordon’s “death” before Rachel or the entire MCU does. On the other hand, perhaps the rest of the MCU was acting nonchalant about it because they knew all along that Gordon was faking it. I’m convinced that Stephens knew about it (after all, he’s the first one to attend to Gordon after he goes down) but I’m not sure about the others. Presumably had Wertz or Ramirez known they would have informed Maroni who would have informed the Joker.

    • black13 says:

      The CGI business hasn’t bothered me very much. Batman’s Batcave (or in this case, Batbunker) naturally has a fully equipped crime lab. Maybe I’ve been reading too many of the comics. :)

      About Gordon, it’s safe to assume that at least Dent and the people in the truck with Gordon were in the know. It was all part of the plan.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except that Dent says to Gordon, after he reveals himself, “You *do* play your cards close to your chest” (or something similar), indicating his surprise and relief at seeing Ol’ Jim again.

        -Le Ted

        • black13 says:

          Hm. I’ll pay attention when the DVD is released here and I get the chance to watch it. In my memory, Dent was too relaxed throughout the entire affair, so I concluded he was in on it.

          • Todd says:

            The more I watch the sequence, the more it seems to me that no one in the scene is in on any plan — they all have their own.

    • Harvey’s not actually the one to inform Rachel that Gordon is dead, he’s pointing out that because Gordon is dead – “gone” – the men and women of the MCU can no longer be trusted. The clean cop who keeps the others in line is gone, and that means Rachel’s not safe.

      • Todd says:

        Yeah, I got the impression that Rachel has known that Jim is “dead” hours before she gets the call from Harvey.

      • mr_noy says:

        (Sound of hand slapping against forehead)

        Thanks for pointing that out! Clearly I need to watch that scene again but something about Gyllenhaal’s delivery felt (to me anyway) like she was talking about Gordon as though he were still alive and that Dent was the one who had to break it to her. Taken out of context I think the scene could very well play that way but when viewed in the proper context I have to admit that your reading of the scene makes way more sense.

  11. chadu says:

    Or the Narrows, which were exposed to the fear-toxin (bigtime) in BB.

  12. Anonymous says:

    comic reader?

    hey todd, i’ve always enjoyed your venture bros write ups, and yout dark knight analysis has been very interesting. just a quick question that i’ve wondered a few times while reading so far- have you read many batman comics? and were you a fan of the animated series?

    • Todd says:

      Re: comic reader?

      I’ve read lots of Batman comics, and am a big fan of BTAS and the rest of the Timmverse. You can read a lot of my thoughts on this area at my superheroes tag.

      • stormwyvern says:

        Re: comic reader?

        In light of that, I hope you will enjoy my new userpic, which I’ve made in anticipation of more fun and interesting Bat-film analysis to come.

      • Re: comic reader?

        Have you read THE KILLING JOKE (which partly inspired the plot of THE DARK KNIGHT) or ARKHAM ASYLUM (which, along with KILLING JOKE, helped Heath Ledger create his interpretation of the character)?

  13. Anonymous says:

    On the question of where the Joker found all his crazy henchmen:

    The fake newspapers released in the lead-up to “The Dark Knight” rather cleverly wove in events from “Batman Begins,” talking about how the Scarecrow’s fear chemicals remained latent in the city’s water. In a small fraction of the population, they could cause sudden outbursts of incurable psychosis. That explains how the Joker has no shortage of nutcases to recruit for his army — indeed, it may explain where the Joker came from in the first place.

    So Ra’s al Ghul’s plan to destroy Gotham may be working after all — just a little more slowly than he’d expected.

    – N.A.

    • Anonymous says:

      “That explains how the Joker has no shortage of nutcases to recruit for his army — indeed, it may explain where the Joker came from in the first place.”

      Half the inmates of Arkham were still at large after they were busted out; Batman says these are the sort of men the Joker attracts.

      And I think you’re missing the point about the Joker’s motivation–it’s his belief system that drives him.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Colby

    One of the things I enjoyed the most about this act is the scene with Bruce and Alfred in which Alfred tells him about the jewel bandit. I found it very interesting that Bruce says “Criminals aren’t complicated, we just need to find out what he’s after.”

    This is a direct teaching of Rhas Al Ghul(sp) in Batman Begins. This is the only training Bruce has known and it is taken as the Bible to him. Rhas tells him that the criminal isn’t complicated and by Bruce’s own experience, every villian he has faced from Falcone to scarecrow and others has all had a reason be it money, power etc. I thought this was a good line back to the Batman Begins training scenes and sort of goes into the mindset of Bruce.

    I also think that you missed the obivous correlation to terrorists. One of the reasons the Joker works so well in this movie is that he is a terrorist and he is easily relatable to what we are dealing with now. He makes execution videos and puts them out into the media to frighten and sway public opinion against Batman. He, like terrorists, knows that the more grisly stuff you put out there for the world to see and the more frightened you make people feel, the more you can take the fight out of them which is exactly what he does when the public turns on Batman out of fear.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Colby

    Also, the Joker doesn’t need any backstory, he symbolizes chaos and anarchy in society. It illustrates that chaos can come from anywhere at anytime to threaten order and doesn’t necessarily have to have a reason or logic. It will always be a force that competes with order and doesn’t need a beginning as the Joker is to Batman

  16. belannaa says:

    забавапано

    вобщето не всё верно вы описали :)