Why The Dark Knight is the Greatest Superhero Film Ever Made
We have just about reached peak saturation when it comes to superhero films, with a seemingly never-ending list of upcoming releases featuring our favorite characters. While I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I do believe that one superhero film will forever reign superior over all others. Christopher Nolan’s, The Dark Knight sets the bar impossibly high for all superhero films to follow, and I don’t think it has yet to be reached by any others. Sure, we have had the pleasure of seeing fantastic films like Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool, and even Logan, but The Dark Knight is in a league of its own.
The appeal to The Dark Knight stems from the fact that it is driven mostly by its engrossing story and the impact it has on the viewer, rather than its visual and stylistic effects, which are still quite impressive in their own right. Unlike most superhero films that rely on CGI and elaborate special effects, this film keeps it relatively grounded, and each scene is absolutely essential to the main aspect of the movie: its story.
Another aspect that sets this film apart from other superhero movies is its gritty and realistic nature that depicts a grim world where even the best of us can succumb to the temptation of evil. This is objectified when Harvey Dent says his iconic line: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” We quickly see that the current state of Gotham personifies this very sentiment, with crooked cops, politicians, and the criminal underworld having a stranglehold on the city. This is reflected in the many choices Batman is faced with when pursuing the maniacal Joker who is hellbent on being the city’s harbinger of chaos.
This brings us to the brilliant yet unsettling character of the Joker. In my opinion, Heath Ledger gives one of the greatest performances of all time in this film. His subtle ticks and nuanced expressions while portraying the Joker make it so difficult to discern that it is really him beneath that makeup, as he is successful in drawing in the viewer with fascination, yet an overwhelming sense of revulsion at the same time. I don’t think a character in any superhero film has ever been able to accomplish such a feet to the degree he did, and I don’t think any performance will come close anytime soon. The sheer complexity and depth of the character is clouded by his enigmatic origins, as is when he says, “Wanna know how I got these scars?” then proceeds to tell two conflicting stories throughout the film, only adding to the mythos behind him.
Consequently, the character of the Joker allowed Christopher Nolan to introduce a Batman that is different from other iterations. This Batman exudes an unparalleled sense of brutality and anger, as he is in constant conflict with his own moral code, yet he knows it may not be enough to stop the Jokers anarchy. We see how Batman is faced with the dilemma of potentially having to cross the line between what separates him from good and evil, and how that line continues to blur throughout the story’s progression.
The entire film flawlessly straddles the line between suspense, drama, and tasteful action. The acting is superb and the characters perfectly casted. The Dark Knight has everything going for it, and little in terms of any kind of flaws. It is without a doubt a timeless film that will go down in history as the greatest superhero movie of all time.