Defining The Dark Knight Trilogy

In just a couple days Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy comes full circle. A lot has been said about The Dark Knight Rises – but before we know where we are going, it’s good to know where we have been. So let’s take a look at what I consider the most defining moments and messages portrayed in the series.

Theatricality and deception are powerful agents. – Henri Ducard

Without retelling a story we all know, the lessons learned with the League of Shadows were critical in shaping Bruce Wayne into Batman. Nolan essentially took the hokey concept of a grown man in a mask and brought a sense of realism to it. The discipline learned by Ducard and the League of Shadows is a necessary tool in Batman’s quest to rid Gotham of the criminal and corrupt.

I will go back to Gotham and I will fight men like this, but I will not become an executioner. – Bruce Wayne

Is Batman a vigilante? Yes. Does Batman step outside the law to accomplish his goals? Yes. One important thing to know about Batman is that he has boundaries. These rules and guidelines are what separates Batman from those who would bring harm to the defenseless.

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne, as a man I’m flesh and blood I can be ignored I can be destroyed but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting. – Bruce Wayne

The beginning of Bruce’s journey with the Batman persona starts in a conversation he has with Alfred. Never in Batman lore can I recall such a clairvoyant description of the reason for Batman’s existence. Time and time again this theme is put to the test by villains and situations alike. None challenge the caped crusader like the infamous Joker. Speaking of..

Don’t talk like one of them, you’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me. They need you right now. But when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper. See, their morals, their code… it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you, when the chips are down, these… these civilized people? They’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve. – The Joker

Just the ramblings of a sociopath? Hardly. It defines how polar opposite The Joker’s view of the world is from Batman’s. When anyone thinks of The Dark Knight series, Heath Ledger’s rendition of the clown prince of crime is the most iconic. While I have many high expectations for The Dark Knight Rises, I don’t expect any performance to be as chilling as Ledger’s performance as The Joker.

Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever. – The Joker

Hearkening back to Bruce’s initial description of what Batman must be, the word incorruptible is used yet again. While the Joker was able to corrupt Harvey Dent in such a complete way, he fails to do so with Batman. The message on the surface of The Dark Knight is that Harvey Dent was the best of them – I find that hard to believe. The sacrifices that Bruce Wayne/Batman has made are unmatched, whether anybody knows about them or not.

Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight. – Commissioner James Gordon

The grand finale of The Dark Knight. While Bruce views Batman as a symbol, this statement by newly promoted Commissioner Gordon puts a human spin on it. Setting the table for the grand conclusion of The Dark Knight Rises, we see Batman race off into the night aboard his motorcycle, dogs and cops hot on his trail.

The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming. – Harvey Dent