The Dark Knight At 10: Fun Facts About Christopher Nolan’s Masterpiece
Well here we are. Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece The Dark Night turns 10 this month. The second of the Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan through Batman Begins and especially The Dark Knight delivered something else to the Batman fanboys. It delivered quality and style, 2 qualities that seemed forgotten after the disastrous Batman & Robin movie.
Let’s face it. The caped crusader was not in best shape after Joel Schumacher’s rendition of the Batman and Robin story, and the entire franchise was a laughing stock due to the poor quality of the 1997 movie. However Nolan and his team changed something. Aiming for a darker, more realistic tone compared to the previous films, a primary goal for their vision was to engage the audience’s emotional investment in both the Batman and Bruce Wayne identities of the lead character.
And it worked. The Dark Knight (which was released 3 years later, in 2008) was even better, and not 10 years after the premiere is considered one of the best super-hero movies ever by film critics and fans alike. Nolan’s inspiration for the film was the Joker’s comic book debut in 1940, the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, and the 1996 series The Long Halloween, which retold Two-Face’s origin. The “Dark Knight” nickname was first applied to Batman in Batman #1 (1940), in a story written by Bill Finger.
The Dark Knight was praised particularly for its action, score, screenplay, performances (particularly Ledger’s), visual effects, and direction, and set numerous records during its theatrical run. It earned more than 1 billion dollars at the box office and it also earned Heath Ledger his posthumous Oscar.
But what are some of the cool and fun facts about this movie, 10 years after the release?
The Dark Knight Made more money than Batman Begins (2005)’s entire domestic run in only six days of release.
In preparation for his role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker’s every tic, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh (for the voice, Ledger’s goal was to create a tone that didn’t echo the work Jack Nicholson did in his 1989 performance as the Joker). Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker’s appearance was primarily based on the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell’s character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange (1971).
This was the first comic book movie to reach the one billion dollar mark.
Aaron Eckhart spoke about a unique experience he had with Heath Ledger during the hospital scene. He said that before lines were exchanged, Ledger would just walk around, in character, mumbling to himself in an odd manner. All Eckhart could do at the time, was just watch him while still in character. This went on for several minutes, until Ledger got close to him. Eckhart felt compelled at this point to fiercely raise his hand up. Immediately, Ledger grabbed Eckhart’s raised hand in an equally matched fierce manner. When the scene was over, Ledger, now out of character, told Eckhart “That’s what acting’s all about.”
Heath Ledger’s posthumous Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar win, marks the first time an Academy Award has been awarded, in a major category, to a comic book movie.
Heath Ledger’s posthumous Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, as the Joker, was coincidentally announced on the first anniversary of his death.
Christian Bale got to keep the Batman mask from the movie after filming. He wanted to keep the entire uniform, but he did not have enough room for it.
Like its predecessor Batman Begins (2005), there are no opening credits or titles.
While filming in Chicago, Wanted (2008) was the neighboring production, and Morgan Freeman worked concurrently on both films. At one point, Wanted comic book writer Mark Millar visited the set but without permission. The security and Lauren Shuler Donner (who also visited the set at that time) caught Millar sitting on the Batpod. Millar was escorted away from the set.
After seeing his performance in Thank You for Smoking (2005), Christopher Nolan thought that Aaron Eckhart would be perfect for the role of District Attorney Harvey Dent.
Paul Birchard also acted in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), making him one of the very few actors to have been in both Batman franchises.
According to their father, Heath Ledger’s sister would dress him up as a nurse when they were kids.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, who had mostly acted in independent films, said she was a little scared of doing stunts in this movie.
This is the second time that Christian Bale has acted with an actor (Heath Ledger) who has played The Joker. The first was Jared Leto in American Psycho (2000), who would later play The Joker in Suicide Squad (2016).